increase in peak power, and we have no reason to doubt
it. The Gas Gas is competitive with other 300cc off-road
two-strokes. It’s still not the fastest one on record—that
would have to be the current KTM 300XC—but the
EC300 still has the easy-going nature that made the old
bike so good in tight stuff. The power delivery is smooth
and sweet down low. If you push the bike forward with
one foot, you can drop it into first gear without using the
clutch. It won’t stall. Then you can open the throttle and
take it straight to the top without a bog or hesitation. Try
that with a four-stroke.
Another big improvement is the vibration level. The old
motor was a shaker, but the new one is no different from
a current Yamaha YZ250, presumably because of the new
crank. It’s interesting to put this in historical perspective.
Back in 1996, Gas Gas was the only two-stroke with a
counterbalancer, and it was very, very smooth. As the
years went by, there was so much emphasis on weight
loss that the balancer went away. We missed it at first.
Now, it seems unnecessary.
The weight loss this year is another major accomplishment. Truthfully, the bike had been inexplicably heavy in
recent years (over 250 pounds without fuel!). The Spanish
engineers worked wonders to shed weight, mostly in the
frame. Now it weighs 240 pounds on the majestic Dirt
Bike super-scale. The KTM, Husky and Yamaha 250X are
still around 20 pounds lighter each, but that’s a manageable difference. The Gas Gas feels very slim, compact
and maneuverable in tight stuff. Most riders say it’s so
compact that it actually feels a little cramped, but that
could probably be addressed with a handlebar change.
TALES OF SPEED
We’re not surprised that the bike works well on slow,
twisty trails. It always did. What sets the new one apart
is that it can go fast too. That came with the increase in
horsepower and the decrease in weight. If you were to
stiffen the suspension, you could take this bike to a motocross course or a desert race with good results. It’s perfectly stable. It stops well, and the motor feels reasonably
crisp. Compared to a Yamaha YZ250 motor, the Gas Gas
is kind of slow-revving and tops out early, but it accelerates just as hard. Down low, the smooth power delivery
isn’t exactly what a cut-and-thrust moto kid would appreciate, but the Magura hydraulic clutch has a light pull and
an outstanding feel, so you can bring the revs up in a
As we mentioned, you’ll probably have to stiffen the
suspension if you’re serious about racing on fast courses. The KYB fork and shock are well balanced and have
excellent action for anything that happens in first or
second gear. The bike deals with rocks, ruts and roots
perfectly. Once you shift into third, though, the laws of
physics take over. The fork dives under hard braking, and
both ends can bottom just on the face of a jump, never
mind the landing. All that makes perfect sense—the bike
is still aimed at hard enduro riding, regardless of its new-
FMF supplies every EC300 and XC300 with a silencer.
The EC (the model with the headlight) has a European-made exhaust pipe.