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2014 Gas Gas EC300 Review

 King For A Day

2014 Gas Gas EC300

2014 Gas Gas EC300

A funny thing happened on my trip to Tennessee to go dirt biking. I fell back in love with the Gas Gas.

Testing motorcycles is an interesting and challenging proposition. It really is work. Things like photos and technical details often eat up more of the time than the riding does. These are the mundane things that make for a good story, not having lots of fun riding. Truth be told, there is often less riding done than anyone would like to admit to. The business end of magazines and websites gets in the way of that part.

One of the real challenges is to just let yourself go, both mentally and physically, to see where the riding takes you. There are so many variables to testing motorcycles. In one sense it requires routine to help develop a consistent base line for comparisons. On the other hand it sometimes requires completely stepping out of the normal to follow wherever the path leads. It is a lot more work than it appears and a constant learning process.DSC_0172

So let’s take the Gas Gas as an example. I have tested three over the last 4 years. I raced one at the Idaho City qualifier, one at the Tecate Hare Scrambles and the 2012 at our local open terrain enduro. I found plenty to like about each of those bikes as well as few things to complain about too. But stepping back for a broader look, it has been over a decade since I raced a Gasser in a National Enduro. I mean true old school, nasty, “when will this ever end” enduro. But I do remember thinking that my GG  XC250 was a true friend back in those days.

So it is about time I really step out of my west of the Rockies comfort zone and go do some testing in the East. In the East, where I always feel slow and untalented. For this trip, it was off to Tenn. to ride Sherco and Gas Gas. Both share the same roots, Sherco was founded by a group of GG defectors about 15 years ago. Other than some common trials heritage, each have gone different directions to build their vision of the best enduro bikes.DSC_0315

In Tennessee I was greeted by a couple of inches of fresh snow and cool temperatures. With the daytime hovering just above freezing, the snow was melting on the southern faces and turning to mud. In other spots the ground remained frozen and icy. The riding was extremely challenging as it was a constant battle against the slick surfaces of mud, ice, rocks and leaves. Add in plenty of downed logs and deep water crossings and it was near sensory overload for me.

Climbing on the EC300 delivered an instant rush of all things Gas Gas. No matter how many years have passed, the EC still has that very distinctive muted Spanish exhaust note. The chassis feels long and low. This was the first version that I have tested with the bulky looking electric start. The switch gear on the bars is new and a bit clumsy. The new odometer display is nice and has an ignition key (of all things) mounted right next to it.P1010506-001

The bars are an interesting choice, they are oversized with a crossbar, a Twinwall copy. The AJP clutch pull is ultra light, even lighter than the KTM DDS system, something I would really appreciate over a couple of days riding. The seat is only slightly softer than a 2×6. I really take back the complaints I have voiced about other brands seats. The GG is in a class of its own.

Down the trail we start and I am hoping for the best. It always takes me a full day of riding in the sloppy stuff to get a bit of the feel back. It is like having to learn everything over again. Consequently, I am looking for as much help from the bike as possible. In the desert I feel at ease enough with the terrain to compensate for most difficulties with the bike. I can simply adjust my riding. But in the mud I don’t have that sense of ease to change up my riding style. I am stuck with whatever the bike gives me.

Fortunately the Gas Gas was working for me, not against. The raked out front end makes the bars feel very light. It takes little effort to steer. The long stance  lets the bike track very smooth through the ruts. It tends to stay on line even when the terrain wants to buck it around. All around the bike felt very neutral under me. That was a boost for confidence.

Adding to the confidence is the ultra smooth motor. In the past much of my testing has been more about pure power in open terrain and at times the EC has not quite been up to par with the competition. For this day of riding it quickly demonstrates where it was the king. On the slick trails, the power delivery is so seamless that it would be easy to assume it was auto clutch equipped.

For that matter, using the clutch lever is almost optional. Riding mostly in third gear, the 300 asked for nothing but a steady throttle hand. Shifting and clutch use were seldom needed. The 300 is happy at anything from 3 mph to 45 in one gear. There is never any unwanted wheel spin, just smooth power to the ground.

When I ride, I often think about exactly how I can explain ride characteristics of any bike. When we hit the first big hill climb I knew I had stumbled upon the way to tell the story, the perfect demonstration. It didn’t look like much of a hill. But with a few ruts, snow, oak leaves and no approach, I could see it would be interesting.

I was the first of our group up the hill. As it turned out, it  didn’t really feel like much of a challenge. But reaching the top I realized no one else made it up. Sensing an opportunity to make myself look good, I flipped on my GoPro, rode back to the bottom and climbed the hill again as the other riders pushed their way up. I know how to capitalize on an advantage!

But that isn’t really the story. We went back to the truck, swapped bikes and headed back to the hill climb. My next attempt was on the Sherco 300 2t. Two tries later I realized I just wasn’t going to get back up that hill. Next I tried a Husaberg TE250, again no dice. Now it’s starting to look like it wasn’t really me that was looking so good, rather the Gas Gas.

The following day we did a longer ride with more people in the group. Time after time the Gas Gas chugged up hills that others struggled on. Needless to say I kept the bike for myself, I wasn’t going to let go of  the GG when it made me look so good. Besides, I was just having a great time riding it. There are very few days when I feel so completely in tune with one bike. The nastier the trail, the more it shined.

As for the fantastic traction, I tried to identify the source. We were running the OEM Metzeler FIM tires at 12 lbs and there was really nothing else that was out of the ordinary. It just seemed to be the combination of motor, chassis and suspension all working in unison. In a way that itself says something; at times in the past Gassers have felt more like collections of parts than a complete package.

Personally I think we just found the type of terrain where the Gas Gas really displays all of its strengths. The uglier the trail, the better the performance. If I  was headed back to Romaniacs again, the EC300 would be at the top of my wish list.  For climbing and the super tricky stuff, it seems easily on par with the Husaberg TE300 I rode last year.  I would have missed this riding experience if I were testing somewhere around home or in the desert.

2014 Gas Gas Notes

  • The overall clutch feel and engagement seem to be improved
  • The Galfer rotors and Nissin brakes give the same performance as found on the previous Six Day models
  • The E start is a little finicky, the starter clutch would not always engage
  • Footpeg to shifter distance seems more open on this frame
  • The composite subframe is gone, replaced by aluminum
  • Foot peg mounts are now bolted to the frame
  • Plastic skid plate is pretty lightweight looking
  • There is a claimed 7 pound reduction in the 2014 model, I did not get the opportunity to weigh it
  • The headlight actually puts out some decent power

I guess it is time for some disclaimers. In two days of testing I probably never got out of 4th gear or went over 30 mph. For what we did, the suspension worked fine. The shock was very smooth, even though it was under sprung for my weight. Overall the forks felt good too. They had a few harsh spots, but traction and feel were always good. But we really never got to terrain where I could challenge the suspension with speed or big hits. To a certain extent the same can be said for the motor and new frame. It was amazing for what we did. Yet I don’t think I ever got it on to the main jet either.

For one day, actually two days, the Gas Gas EC300 was king. If I lived in that kind of terrain, it would play king far more often. It is a real hero maker. Smooth, easy to ride and pure joy when the going gets tough, that is the calling card of the Spanish marque.

 2014 Model Highlights

  • New lighter frame, 2 kilos lighter
  • New Reiger shock
  • Excel wheels
  • V-force reed
  • 48mm Marzocchi CC fork with PFP valve
  • Redesigned side number plates
  • New cast aluminum clutch cover
  • New head and cylinder
  • New water pump
  • Galfer wave rotors
  • Composite skid plate
  • FMF exhaust
  • Machined bar clamps
  • New brake pedal
EC Racing 300 $8,499 / EC Racing 300E $8,599
Engine 2-stroke Single-cylinder, liquid-cooled
Displacement 299,3 cc
Bore x stroke 72,0 x 72,0 mm
Starter Kick (Electric optional)
Ignition Electronic
Gearbox 6 speed gearbox with foot control
Clutch Multidisc in oil bath
Carburettor Keihin PKWS 38 mm
Intake system Direct reed valve VForce 4
Exhaust muffler FMF
Bodywork Unbreakable plastic
Handlebar GasGas Double Force
Frame Perimeter frame in chrome-molybdenum
Subframe Tubular aluminum alloy
Swingarm Aluminium, progressive system with tie rods
Front fork Marzocchi shiver inverted ø48 mm, closed cartridge
Suspensión travel 305 mm
Adjustability Spring preload, rebound and compression
Shock absorber Reiger Mono shock, Special settings
Adjustability Spring preload, rebound and compression high/low speed
Suspension travel 298 mm
Rim type Excel Aluminium spoke rim
Rim – tyre Front: 1.6 x 21 – Metzeler Six Days Extreme 90/90 – 21
Rim – tyre Rear: 2.15 x 18 – Metzeler Six Days Extreme 140/80 – 18
Front brake 260 mm Galfer wave disc, 2-piston Nissin caliper
Rear brake 220 mm Galfer wave disc, 1-piston Nissin caliper
Fuel 9,5 l (2-stroke-oil/fuel mixed 1:50)
Claimed Dry weight 106 kg / 109 kg (240 lbs)
Dimensions Length x width x height: 2.200 x 830 x 1.260 mm
Wheelbase 1.480 mm
Seatheight 950 mm
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RSSComments (14)

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  1. Steve says:

    I ride the 2013 300 xc . Trust me these bikes are good .
    My friend who has always been a hard core 450 fan who
    Laughed at me when I bought the 300 gasser now owns
    One himself . His cross country , enduro riding has improved
    Immensely . The electric start is the only issue it just will not
    Engage 40 percent of the time , come on gas gas ,sort it.
    Thanks for the honest article.
    Steve

  2. Jock Stucki says:

    What a beautiful motorcycle. Thanks for a back east test.

  3. Tim says:

    Hi

    Really seriously looking at Gas Gas – coming from RMZ250 2011. Would likely chose EC300 2013

    This write up indicates this bike and me could be good friends

  4. Barry says:

    Love the Gas Gas …..I am about to purchase …..either a EC300 or a 450 R . both I want to ride both on and off rd …..I liked the article more confused than ever……opinions please

    Barry

  5. Hein says:

    I also rode many enduro bike brands over the years,but the Gas Gas is the best of them all hands down.Most complete package money can buy. I will stay with Gas Gas as long as I can ride!

  6. Michael says:

    I’m another South African Gas Gas realist, my first was a 2001 EC 300 which I bought back then after much speculation with my sceptical honda / ktm riding buddies and was immediately stoked, have had a bunch since. I’m 44, a lifelong mx / enduro racer and have always been a huge RM250 2t fan (please bring them back Suzuki), so much so that since 2001 I have kept and ridden RM 250′s and EC300′s concurrently, they both have their own special place but the EC300 excells in the technical terrain although it is no slouch in the fast outdoor stuff… I’ve also owned and raced most of the other brands available (even the orange ones) but the Gas Gas quite simply rocks and is well worth trying….

  7. Martin says:

    Also have a 2012 Gasser.
    That bike handles better than anything, and the faster you go the more stable it becomes compared to anything I have been on. Definate 20% faster, on downhills, pruely because of inspired rear wheel NOT stepping out, no matter what you do.

  8. Stefan says:

    I live in South Africa, here its also KTM and Yamaha mostly. I just always smile at my mates when they give me grief. Im on a 2013 ec300 now, was on 2011 ec300 previously. I actaully still prefer the 11. I am fanatically in love with my GG, it just does everything overall right. The handling is superiour over anything else i rode..and like you said….the package work. Only problem is resale….the masses are so blindfolded by ktm marketing (the big dealer networking is a plus) that anything else is non existant. Leaving now for another mountain trip….cant waitk

  9. David says:

    Sounds like a great woods bike. Did you get a chance to try out the Sherco 300 two banger?

  10. Stampy.d says:

    I ride a 2009 GasGas 300ec, and I love it. Idaho is KTM country so I am always having to defend my choice to ride the Gasser. Just as you describe, this bike gets traction and motors up the hardest single tract the mountains of Idaho have to offer. Love it. I have come to appreciate Chilly’s insight into the bikes and the sport we love. Hands down the best site on the web for enduro.

  11. Ace says:

    I love my 2011 Gas Gas 300ec. Thanks for the getting out and testing it!!!

  12. Fred1956 says:

    Great write up, nice to finally see a test on the new Gassers. Thanks Chilly

  13. Cooper says:

    Great write up. Glad to hear you are a GasGas fan. I saw you eyeballing my bike back in November in St. George. LOL

  14. Blanco says:

    I applaud you for getting out of your comfort zone. Thanks for heading East.

    Way to make it happen Clay.