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Old 10-22-2006, 12:56 PM
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Default Cycle News 2007 GasGas article

First Ride 2007 Gas Gas Enduro Line

Camless Comeback

Gas Gas introduces their ‘07 two-stroke enduro machines, and one fuel-injected

Story and Photos by Jonty Edmunds

“Gas Gas is more alive than ever.” That is the message the Gerona-based manufacturer, or rather, the newly assembled managerial team put in place by majority shareholders, Coller Capital, is keen to deliver about the Spanish company, while announcing the early arrival of their 2007 enduro lineup.

Once again offering four competition two-stroke models and one four-stroke, Gas Gas claims that it is offering a “renewed” range of EC125, EC200, EC250, EC300 and FSR450 machines while at the same time including the first leisure model into its lineup - the EC200 Hobby.

Along with new management comes a new corporate company color: red. Gone is the blue EC300 and the yellow EC200, replaced instead by an all-red, and aesthetically improved, lineup.

The changes made to the ‘07 EC machines aren’t only cosmetic, although the new color scheme, graphics and modernized plastics do represent the larger percentage of the bikes’ updates. Both visible and non-visible changes have been made to the ‘07 Gasser lineup as the company has taken its existing product line and further developed it.

Gas Gas’ new management team has recognized the need for lighter machines and better build quality and the ‘07 EC range is the company’s first step toward delivering those changes. The range isn’t radically different from the ‘06 lineup, but the bikes themselves are different. It is also worth noting that Gas Gas has released their ‘07 machines into the marketplace much earlier than they did last year. That in itself suggests that Gas Gas’ new management is, indeed, serious about guiding the company toward a more organized, focused and businesslike future.

The only thing 100-percent new about the ‘07 EC range is the aesthetics. Gone (thank goodness) is the dated look that Gas Gas held on to for too long. Instead, it is replaced with a fresh look that - despite being very similar to KTM, especially from the rear - gives the enduro machines a much more angular and stylish look.

A range of multicolored bikes, which were badly in need of modernizing, have now become a group of distinctive, clean-lined products that look much more contemporary. Helped largely by the new one-piece rear-fender/side-panel unit, the clean lines of all the bodywork, in addition to a new airbox and subframe, vastly improve the appearance of the ‘07 Gassers.

New styling and red coloring apart, there are five major changes made to each of the EC models: the new subframe, a quick-release seat, a new airbox, revised forks and shock. What remains the same is essentially the one part of the bikes that, in the case of the 250 and 300, didn’t need too much work - the motor

The rear-end of the ‘07 EC machines are all new. A new, larger, airbox is now accessed from the top - not the side as it used to be. Changed to allow easier filter changing, while at the same time giving cleaner lines to the airbox, the filter is now replaced by removing the seat (like on Japanese bikes). With just one bolt holding the seat in place, a little like a Husqvarna, the rear end also features a new square section subframe and a much smaller, much neater rear lighting unit. Visually, the rear-end of the new Gassers is hugely improved.

The remaining notable changes apply to the suspension of the EC range. All five competition bikes get upgraded 45mm USD Marzocchi Shiver forks and an Ohlins shock that feature new settings. As with existing Gas Gas enduro models, the ‘07 bikes retain the all Japanese Kukosan ignition and Keihin carburettor pairing, hydraulic clutches, Nissin brakes and DID rims along with machined triple clamps and braceless, oversized handlebars.

In terms of specific changes made to the motors of the EC models, the 125, 250 and 300 receive three apiece. The 125 gets very modest changes, namely new power-valve springs, a lighter ignition and a new cylinder-head bracket. The 250 and 300 models get a redesigned exhaust valve, a new crankshaft counterbalancer and a new Vertex piston. The 200 remains unchanged.

The FSR 450 gets a few more changes, and while the motor looks all but the same as the existing model, the cranks cases are lighter by almost two pounds. Numerous internal changes were made including new intake and exhaust ports in the cylinder head.

The chassis is now 20mm narrower, with the bike utilizing the same new rear-end as the EC models. The fuel tank has a higher capacity while the radiators are smaller, yet 30 percent more efficient. The bike is equipped with a new silencer and the same Marzocchi / Ohlins suspension combo as the two strokes. Gasser’s aim was to make the bike lighter, more powerful while at the same time more reliable.

With the lion’s share of the Gas Gas R&D budget having been swallowed up by the four-stroke FSR450, the bikes that put Gas Gas on the enduro map - the EC 250 and 300 - have sadly been neglected in recent years. Small upgrades have been made, but not at the rate at which they should have. From having the best - but not necessarily the best-built - 250 and 300cc two-stroke enduro bikes, Gas Gas failed to keep themselves, and their biggest-selling products, at the top of their respective classes.

But Gas Gas is now starting to do what they probably should have done two or even three years ago: seriously update and modernize their existing two-strokes. The 250 and 300, even in their neglected model years, have still been respectable contenders in the enduro market, but were not without their quirks. But the changes made to the 2007 EC line show how serious Gas Gas is about renewing their focus.

The ‘06 chassis, while it carved through tight terrain with ease, wasn’t as stable in straight-line or high-speed conditions, but received due notice with revised suspension settings. The ugly rear fender and taillight piece is gone, replaced by a new, cleaner one-piece subframe. ISDE contenders will also know that the subframes have been somewhat of an Achilles’ heel on ECs, often getting bent, or broken, but apparently, that fact didn’t escape Gas Gas’ new management.

Aesthetically, Gas Gas has done a great job of improving its ‘07 line. So maybe it borrowed a little of what KTM first introduced with the one-piece rear-fender and side-panel unit, but the new bikes look modern and stylish with each machine now having a much more racy, angular appearance. The bikes also feel more competition inspired. Sitting on each bike, the machined top triple clamp, well-organized instrument panel and braceless handlebars help give the machines an aggressive and well-finished feel.

The EC125, despite the few modifications introduced to improve it, still isn’t as good as its Austrian- or Italian-made classmates. Ergonomically, it is very comfortable to ride and it is a well-handling machine, but the EC125’s powerplant simply falls short. It doesn’t have the performance or ease of use needed to compete on level terms with a KTM, Husqvarna or TM.

The hardest thing to get used to is the way in which the bike produces its power - it is either on or off. Unlike the roll-on power of other 125 enduro models, the Gasser requires you to be in exactly the right gear all the time or the motor simply refuses to light up. Once the motor is revving free, the power it does produce isn’t too bad. The big problem is that the power is extremely short-lived. No sooner does the bike get going than the power drops off and you need to upshift. With the EC125 you are into the power, through the peak and left searching for the next gear - sometimes within a matter of feet.

The bike actually handles quite well, but with more and more riders now used to the broad spread of power offered by four-strokes, the power characteristics of the EC125 make it a tough sell. With the high level of rider input needed to get the best from the motor, the bike probably isn’t a machine that anyone other than a youngster brought up on 125s would really enjoy riding. In order to appeal to the mass rider market (as well as a 125 can) the bike needs to have more bottom-end power, a longer spread of power and a little more over-rev. Right now, the bike is simply a well-handling yet hard-to-ride eighth-liter two-stroke.

The EC200 is the same bike it is at present - fun to ride but still a little unsure of what, exactly, it is. At times, feeling more like a big 125, when you expect it to perform like one, it decides that it wants to be a small 250. Nevertheless the bike, despite having received no engine changes, is still a great little bike. The fact that the bike is now red and has much cleaner lines than it does at present gives the bike a much more serious look.

Riders who enjoy Gas Gas’ existing 200 will think the ‘07 model is the best thing sliced bread. Personally, I’d go for the 250.

After a lack of updating in recent years, and having developed a slightly spiky power delivery, the EC250 has received the face lift it much needed in 2007. Returning to a smoother power curve, simply put, the bike that was once the most user-friendly quarter-liter two-stroke available is now close to being as good as it ever was.

-30-


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