KIWI RIDER MAGAZINE July 2017 - Page 74

BACK ON THE Words: Jonathan Bentman / Photos: Gas Gas Gas Gas is back – with a new owner and a brand new enduro model. One question, though: is it good enough? JB reports from the European launch. L et’s not beat around the bush, Gas Gas has purposely played centrefield with its new EC/XC300 models. There’s nothing radical to find here, no new innovations – this is tried and tested technology combined with top spec components to make a very efficient, very effective racing motorcycle. And arguably that is a good thing. This is the rebirth of Gas Gas, brought back from the dead, in very short time, by a highly successful young entrepreneur. The future promises exciting developments, but first the phoenix from the flames that is the Gas Gas team are putting down solid foundations, creating a new EC that most certainly will work, will please and hopefully will win –on the track and in the showrooms. PREMIUM KIT LIKE THE OLD, BUT NOT... BOOSTED MOTOR Having for a long time gone its own way on chassis design, with a perimeter frame, this time around Gas Gas has resorted to the tried and tested central backbone type frame, in traditional chro-moly steel, and in the process making a substantial 20% saving on the weight. Aluminum is used for the sub-frame, though, and here too Gasser has made significant savings, dropping 15% off the previous weight, while also creating a bigger airbox (with a no-tool cover/panel removal). The swingarm is new too, this one being 7% lighter than its predecessor. These weight savings contribute significantly to the now superlight 102kg that’s claimed for the XC300 (the EC300 weighs 105kg). What you’ll notice fairly readily is how the frame and swingarm now resemble that of a well-known Austrian brand, particularly the crossbrace to the top mount of the shock and the swingarm. This is no bad thing, this gentle nuance of familiarity – especially to such a quality brand. And just as KTM needed to return to linkage suspension to crack the US motocross market, so toeing-the-line on frame technology puts Gas Gas right back in the enduro game. KYB – Kayaba – is one top shelf suspension manufacturer; for years the Japanese brand has helped make Yamaha YZs and WRs great. And fitted to the new EC300 the cartridge type Kayabas (with air and oil separation - AOS) really do help elevate the product – something of a masterstroke, both in terms of performance and caché. The EC motor is also much changed, but retains enough of its architecture and layout as to be recognisable as the old motor warmed over. A new cylinder and cylinder head have released a sizeable boost to the power and torque, right through the rev range. The EC250 now steps up from just over 40 to a full 50hp, while the EC300 has jumped 10hp from 45 to 55hp – those are big gains. We should note – and this is consistent across the industry, save for KTM/Husky now they have TPI – that this performance only comes in derestricted ‘closed course competition’ set-up. To meet the stringent Euro 4 emission regulations the EC will leave the factory with a diminutive Del ‘Orto carburettor, a full-on plumber’s nightmare of emissions paraphernalia plus a strangling exhaust pipe – a bunch of expensive stuff that’s all destined for immediate disposal. Full power comes with the fitting of the ubiquitous Keihin PWK38 carb (you’ll be supplied one on purchase of the machine) and the FMF expansion chamber. The XC model sidesteps all such issues and is full power from the get-go.