MotoOnline.com.au reviews 2021 GasGas EC 350F, EC 250F, EC 300 and EC 250.
Words: Guy Streeter
GasGas has taken a bold new stance under KTM ownership, becoming the group’s ‘fun’ brand, which has resulted in a mix of more attainable models without denying riders of the sheer performance that you would expect from the Austrian company.
Further insights on the EC range – comprising an EC 350F, EC 250F, EC 300 and EC 250 – can be found in this previous Detailed article, as this time around we dive deeper into our riding impressions at the national media launch held at Shooters Hill in New South Wales recently.
From the moment we arrived for the pre-ride presentation, everything surrounding the GasGas brand had an emphasis on community, grassroots and – here it is again – fun! It’s all about getting the whole family involved vibe, as well as continuing with its racing background.
The following day, we were able to test out the new range from GasGas at the Learning to Fly MX complex, where we travelled from to experience an enduro loop set out by Ben Grabham around the general area, which included pine forest and good, old Aussie bush over a number different terrains.
GasGas has actually changed hands on a number of occasions, but none more significant than this most recent acquisition of the KTM Group in 2019, placing the Spanish-bred brand alongside KTM and Husqvarna Motorcycles in the line. As a result, there’s been a complete revamp of the enduro roster.
So, what was the point of KTM Group bringing GasGas in alongside KTM and Husky? Essentially, the reasoning was aimed at attracting newer riders to the sport at a more cost-effective entry point, while also no doubt retaining the expected capabilities of its existing Austrian platform.
With this in mind, the 2021 GasGas enduro fleet is not as extensive as the other KTM Group brands. Instead, GasGas is focused on motorcycles that are aimed at introducing people to the sport, so what you won’t find here are large-capacity 500cc or 450cc models.
You may be sitting there thinking, ‘it’s just a red KTM!’, but there are several differences that are unique to GasGas in comparison to the KTM brand. You will instantly notice a couple of distinctive things that separate them from the base platform, being linkage rear suspension, Braktec brakes front and rear, as well as a Braktec hydraulic clutch.
What is shared across all KTM Group brands is mass centralisation, low weight and outright performance. All of the ECs share the same chassis, starting with the frame, which is built using laser-cut chromium-molybdenum steel and has been powder-coated red, as well as the hollow cast aluminium swingarm.
The GasGas range features 22mm off-set forged triple clamps, offering three-way handlebar adjustments forward, middle and backwards, making it easier for riders of all sizes to adjust the Neken handlebars exactly to their preference.
WP Xplor 48mm USD forks feature a split design with springs and compression within the left fork leg, while rebound is in the right. In addition, a WP Xact rear shock is connected to a linkage system similar to the Husqvarnas, but is different from the KTM’s PDS. Both the fork and shock have internal settings specific to the GasGas range.
Additional features that enhance the models are electric start, toolless air-filter access, and ODI grips that enable adjustments of the throttle cam, which we didn’t get the opportunity to try, but it is an interesting point that we’d like further time with.
It turns out that the Braktec brand has also been acquired by KTM Group, boasting a significant background in braking and also clutch development. If you weren’t familiar with trials bikes you could be forgiven for thinking twice as to the performance.
I know I was curious as to how they would perform, having never used them previously and barely even being able to recall the brand. Apart from the way the lever feels on your finger, it’s tough to pick the difference between these and the more traditional Brembos.
Now given this was on a brand-new bike, there may be changes down the track as wear comes into play, but the initial feeling was fine. Both the front and rear brakes are strong, smooth, predictable and perform well out on the trail.
Similarly, the Braktec hydraulic clutch performs as you would expect. The clutch feel is light and precise, consistent the whole ride. It features a Damped Diaphragm Steel (DDS) clutch using a single diaphragm spring, which is different from the more common coil spring design and makes it easier on the maintenance side of things.
The GasGas enduro range features an 8.5-litre translucent fuel tank, which makes it plenty easy to know how much fuel you have left, but in case you were having too much fun and missed how much fuel you have been through, there is a level sensor also.
Connecting you to the ground, you will find CNC-machined hubs with lightweight spokes and silver alloy wheels, which come fitted with Maxxis MaxxEnduro medium compound tyres. These were a standout for me and even a clear improvement on previous generations that I’d ridden on.
In terms of bodywork, the GasGas is very similar to KTMs for obvious reasons, but are slightly different nonetheless. The cockpit of the bike feels neutral and also quite natural for my average height with its flat seat, as moving around with comfort wasn’t an issue whatsoever. The seat also had more grip than I’d anticipated when looking at it.
The two-stroke models feature TPI-based fuel injected engines, making them very efficient. Another feature of the two-stroke motor is the crankshaft balancer, reducing vibration considerably. There are six-speed transmission and, collectively, it’s an impressive package with a broad spread of power characteristics.
For me, the EC 250 was a standout, since I usually prefer the larger capacity two-strokes. It just seemed to have a strong amount of power down low, so in tighter terrain it meant using more of the gearbox and generally less clutch. The power of the EC 250 certainly made it easier to ride in general.
Onto the EC 300, which is usually my preference, it still packs plenty of power and, like with most of the big-bore two-strokes, it loves to be ridden a gear higher and lugged a little more. Things come at you quickly on this, the most powerful of the GasGas enduros, but it handles all that the engine can give.
As for the four-strokes, they’re perfectly suited for the intended GasGas customers, being two of the easiest bikes to ride, while still providing all that you need out of a 250F or even the 350. My preference could be swayed in either direction here, depending on the terrain and conditions.
The EC 350F has a strong amount of power off the bottom and it keeps pulling all the way through the range, so in many ways you can be a little more consistent and less precise than when you’re on the EC 250F. It can assist you in getting out of ‘sticky’ situations.
However, if you are the type of rider that loves to ring the bike’s neck, the EC 250F is probably the one for you. Although both of these EC-F models are almost the same weight at 106.6kg for the 250 vs 106.8kg for the 350, the EC 250F certainly feels a little bit more nimble.
On all of the models acorss the board, the proven WP fork and shock combination feels comfortable and plush over all of the terrain that we encountered, never really lacking at any time even if we admittedly didn’t really experience anything too rough or technical.
Overall, the 2021 GasGas EC range are sleek and will definitely standout, all the while delivering the type of quality ride that we have appreciated from the KTM Group over many years now and saving you around $1000 off the showroom floor depending on the model! What’s more, you will set yourself apart from the crowd on these deep red enduro variants. Plus, check out our Overview for more from the launch.
Engine type (EC 250F): 349.7cc, liquid-cooled, single-cylinder, four-stroke
Bore/stroke (EC 350F): 88mm x 57.5mm
Engine type (EC 250F): 249.9cc, liquid-cooled, single-cylinder, four-stroke
Bore/stroke (EC 250F): 78mm x 52.3mm
Engine type (EC 300): 293.2cc, liquid-cooled, single-cylinder, two-stroke
Bore/stroke (EC 300): 72mm x 72mm
Engine type (EC 250): 249cc, liquid-cooled, single-cylinder, two-stroke
Bore/stroke (EC 250): 66mm x 72mm
Clutch: Braktec hydraulic
Front suspension: WP Xplor 48mm fork
Rear suspension: WP Xact shock
Front brake: Braktec two-piston calliper, 260mm disc
Rear brake: Braktec one-piston calliper, 220mm disc
Tyres: Maxxis MaxxEnduro
Weight (EC 350F): 106.8kg (without fuel)
Weight (EC 250F): 106.6kg (without fuel)
Weight (EC 300): 106.2kg (without fuel)
Weight (EC 250): 106.2kg (without fuel)
Price (EC 350F): $13,750
Price (EC 250F): $12,940
Price (EC 300): $14,155
Price (EC 250): $12,940
Availability: April 2021
Further information: www.gasgas.com.au