Six Days Worthy
2019 GasGas EC300 Six Days Edition First Impression
Photography by Spencer Owens
As you’ve probably noticed from coverage of the now-completed International Six Days Enduro (ISDE), the conditions in Chile this month were challenging, to say the least. Dry, dusty and high-speed special tests littered with hidden obstacles, rocks and stray dogs (seriously), kept every rider on the edge and increased the intensity of the week-long competition. It was massively unpredictable and simply grueling. I don’t know a single enduro rider who actually thought it looked like a good time. I guess if it was easy and scenic, then everybody could do it.
This is the pinnacle of enduro sport. ISDE is the biggest stage for single-cylinder timed motorcycle competition and its history in the world of motorsports is rarely matched. It’s a team race but so massively independent. Man and machine have to work flawlessly all day, every day, six days straight. There is no starting fresh. You start. And you make it to the end a week later.
It’s no wonder motorcycle manufacturers utilize the ISDE as a way to brand their premium offerings every year. You’ve seen ISDE versions of many bike makes. And they always come equipped with the extra goodies that make single-track riders drool.
This is the GasGas EC300 Six Days Edition. And it’s oh, so drool-worthy.
GasGas has enjoyed a resurgence since its acquisition by Torrot Electric in 2016. Now with centralized parts distribution across Enduro and Trials disciplines, the Spanish brand quickly modernized its fleet of two-stroke enduro models with the EC and XC lines. We liked those bikes a lot and appreciated their traditional enduro power delivery with modern frame geometry and high-quality KYB suspension components.
For 2019, GasGas bikes are refined considerably and the ISDE-version of GasGas’ enduro-ready EC300 is the king of the crop. What a great way to test their 2019 updates with a little extra bling!
Right away the ISDE version has some visual differences to its standard EC300 brothers. It comes equipped with a Renthal 997 twinwall handlebar, new handlebar clamp, Renthal grips, a full-floating 260mm NG front brake disc, front wheel axle-pull and really great looking ISDE Chile graphics—complete with Easter Island totems—and seat cover.
On the real performance side of things, the ISDE version gets the full FMF treatment with a GasGas-branded custom FMF pipe and Powercore 2.1 muffler.
On top of the ISDE swag, this bike enjoys all the 2019 updates GasGas made to its enduro racing lineup. Those include a new cylinder, updated starter and battery system and the latest ECU and the dual-map switch to dial power delivering from “Rain” or “Sun”. The much-loved Kayaba suspension components are dialed in for off-road prowess and the Magura hydraulic clutch is always a welcome sight. Something two-stroke traditionalists will really love is GasGas’ use of Keihin carburetors on all their bikes. Also, the enduro computer has a refined mount to make it more secure.
Noteworthy carryover bits include high-quality Excel rims and dependable Nissin brake components.
GasGas EC300 Six Days Edition Test Ride
GasGas has done a great job delivering a great-looking, special edition enduro bike with the right balance of traditional enduro appeal with new-generation technology and aggression. The EC300 platform has old-school enduro written all over it with its simple, carbureted, user friendly base. Air filter access is instantaneous from the snap-off side panel and there’s nothing complicated about the bike, at all. The electric start works great.
Mix gas. Haul ass. Pretty easy, right. And the GasGas can hold its own in the speed department.
With a stable chassis that also likes to dice up the tight stuff, this GasGas does a great job at being a versatile performer. The KYB suspension gets a lot of credit here even though it’s initially too stiff for massively long technical sections. Geoff Aaron (GasGas’ man on the ground in the West) told us the fork and shock loosen up considerably after the first ten hours or so. He should know as he piloted his GasGas 300 to a top-five overall in the 2018 EnduroCross series.
Plus, with the network of suspension tuners out there familiar with KYB components, turning these suspenders into something that fits your needs is going to be relatively easy.
The steel frame is modern and rigid, with enough flex to keep the bike from fighting back when you provide input. It is lively and reacts to changes in decisions and/or lapses in judgement. Similarly, the clutch feel and braking performance is equally as solid. The Magura hdyro-clutch doesn’t deliver the exact same level of progressive engagement as Brembo units, but it’s comparable and adequate for most. Nissin brakes are also not as outright strong as other European units, but they offer a consistent feel and have been reliable for decades.
2019 GasGas EC300 Six Days Edition Engine Performance
On the engine side of things, the EC300 Six Days Edition benefits from the latest ECU and cylinder head updates along with always-improving jetting specs. We love the grunt the GasGas 300 has off idle and into the mid-range. It’s carbureting cleaner than the first editions of the new GasGas models we rode in the past and overall the engine performance is healthier and very worthy of the 300 label [Read our 2018 GasGas EC/XC 300: FIRST TEST].
All 300 fans will like this power. It’s not a light-feeling power delivery, meaning it sort of comes in with authority. And the GasGas vibrates more than the Austrian, counter-balanced bikes, for sure. This gets more noticeable through the mid and into the top where I prefer to short-shift and just enjoy the traction the 300 was made to deliver. Once I start feeling too many shakes, I use that as signal to shift up or search for more technical terrain to tackle. Regardless of vibrations, if you want a rock crawler and a hill-climber all-in-one, it’s hard to go wrong with a three-hundo.
Highlights from our day aboard the EC300 are dominated by the bike’s chassis balance and stability, hefty suspension performance that keeps taking abuse and a great, grunty 300-class power delivery that keeps us looking for more obstacles to test its traction on. The bike starts cleanly, every time.
That, and look at the thing! This is one of the best graphics packages we’ve seen on an ISDE-version bike. GasGas is all about red, black and white on their regular editions. But with the blue accents in these graphics, we think they’ve really made a winner.
In the grand competition of off-road’s enduro series’ GasGas has its work cut out for it. As a two-stroke-only company, their commitment to improving on these models regularly will keep them in contention. The competition is tough, with fuel-injected and other technology already here. In this world, GasGas is a traditional enduro with great style and plentiful performance and its certainly worth consideration. Their dealer network is growing and parts availability and distribution is better than ever.
We look forward to putting today’s enduro bikes in a head-to-head battle this winter to see where they all line up. Man, it’s fun just thinking about it!
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