Riding Impression: 2011 Gas Gas XC 250 - Dirt Rider Magazine

If you're a fan of exotic bikes, then you've certainly heard of Gas Gas. The Spanish manufacturer has previously been known as a boutique brand, but the bikes are steadily becoming more mainstream in off-road circles as the technology improves and the dealer network increases. Part of this rise in popularity is due to the fact that a new Gas Gas US importer has been named: Gas Gas Offroad US, a joint venture between brothers Clay Stuckey and Ted Stuckey, is now handling distribution of the Spanish-built Gas Gas enduro line in the United States. Luckily for customers, the Stuckey brothers love to ride and are putting themselves into the brand full-force.At the recent Indiana National Enduro, Dirt Rider got to test a brand new 2011 XC 250. Developed through years of race experience from Gas Gas' world enduro effort, the XC 250 has a number of changes for 2011 including a redesigned headlight, new settings to the 48mm Marzocchi fork, different oil in the shock and a redesigned radiator cap. Additionally, an FMF Q-Stealth silencer comes stock on the bike. Before the enduro, my race bike was outfitted with Enduro Engineering hand guards, Michelin tires with foam inserts and a 5mm-shorter brake pedal adjuster bolt to allow for a lower setup.My first ride aboard the two-stroke the day before the race revealed that the engine is incredibly brawny. The smooth hit is surprisingly strong, and you can easily loft the front wheel without the clutch simply by rolling it on. The jetting is very clean for a stock 250cc two-stroke, and the FMF Q-Stealth silencer is magical and oh-so quiet, producing the perfect two-stroke exhaust note. I can't overstate this feature enough; it really is great to see this component come stock on a bike. Down low, the power has the ability to lug down low and chug up nasty hills, but it will still wind up when called to. Thankfully, there isn't as much vibration up top as other 250cc two-strokes, making for fully useable, well-rounded power. The stock V Force3 Reed Valve is an awesome out-of-the-box feature as well.Whichever way you look at it, this bike looks great. The red frame is very sharp, and the redesigned headlight looks like what BMW was trying to build. I dug the black rims and swingarm as well, and the choke as a hot start lever is a nice touch. On the bike, the ergos allowed me to get way up on the tank, although the seat is fairly flat. In turns, the Gas Gas corners well without needing to arc or set up much; it just drops right into an inside line with ease. In both dry and muddy conditions, the front end felt like and precise, a good combination for off-road applications.On the tight, root-heavy trails that I tested the XC 250 on, the suspension made for solid absorption masked by a slightly harsh feel. I was able to tune a fair amount of this out with the clickers in order to take some of the busyness out of the front end. The terrain still had a lot of exposed roots that deflected, even more so with the foam insert in the front, but for the most part the suspension held up well. I'm told that the production version of the suspension will be slightly different from what I rode, so some of the issues that I had may well already be resolved.After a day of testing, I had the chance to race the bike in the final round of the National enduro series, and the event was a blast. You'll have to wait to read the January issue of Dirt Rider to see the full race test and in-depth opinion after 73 miles of rugged terrain, but I can say that the Gas Gas really surprised me in terms of performance and durability in the brutal conditions. To keep you held over until the issue comes out, go to www.ggor.us for more into on this exotic brand's solid line of bikes and dealers. See you soon!