2018 GasGas EnduroGP 250
Forged in Fire
Words: Chris Pics: Kane O’Rourke
With the return of GasGas to the mainstream motorcycling market, the Spanish company have put maximum effort into an off-shoot model that is clearly aimed at the KTM Six Days model. Welcome to the world of the GasGas EnduroGP.
I don’t want to go as far as saying that GasGas have set a new benchmark here with the EnduroGP 250. They aren’t the first manufacture to slap on a sticker kit, different plastics and some really classy aftermarket components and call it an up-spec’d version of their standard bike. And they for-sure won’t be the last. But for a company that is still finding its feet again, after its ultimate demise, then re-birth in 2016, it’s a bold statement to come out of the gate at full throttle. But that is exactly what GasGas have done.
If the all-new EC and XC models from GasGas weren’t enough, the addition of the Six Days and EnduroGP models from the team have given you an extra few options in the GasGas line up. To be fair, the Six Days model isn’t much to write home about with the only difference from a standard EC being the white plastics and an ISDE look to the graphics. The EnduroGP is where all the magic happens. And yes, it is magical.
Starting with a stock EC 250, the team in Spain went about improving aspects of the bike that you would expect a factory rider would want on his machine during a typical World Enduro race. And to make a clear point of difference between the two, the factory looking graphics kit separates the GP from the EC well, albeit doing nothing more than a visual face lift, like the Six Days. All the other changes however, are pure gold, so let’s take a closer look at what that gold represents.
The hero of the upgrades on the GP is in the suspension. Swapping from Sachs to KYB has brought GasGas bikes into the modern era of bump sticks. Not only are they a well-known and trusted brand, KYBs just perform time and time again with no hang ups – a quality which every dirt rider is looking for. But for the GP, the stakes were again lifted with the introduction of an anti-friction treatment (DLC coating) to the twin chamber units and spiced in a cool black tone.
The valving internals are unchanged from the EC, but the difference is staggering in performance. The initial plush feel from the forks come through, probably due to the DLC coating, while they hold up through the stroke and bottom resistance is very, very good, creating a front end that is solid, stable and planted over square-edged bumps, g-outs and fast choppy braking bumps. I was able to push the front harder into corners compared to the EC and the feeling was just better overall front and rear.
But I don’t think it was all down to the Forks alone, as a lot of time and thought was put into the cockpit and controls on the GP, combining many little things that ended up creating a big difference.
The job of holding the forks in place has been given to a set of X-Trig triple clamps, matched to machined handlebar clamps, and upgraded bars from Renthal – 997 spec. This combo of the DLC coating, triple clamps and bars transform the riding experience from the easy-going nature of the EC to a more up-spec’d, racy, aggressive feeling from the GP. It is really a remarkable difference.
Finishing off the front end is an oversized floating disc and axle puller. The brakes don’t feel any better than the stock EC units, but the axle puller is pretty handy.
In the engine department, the already impressive power plant has had a few tweaks to increase performance and also jack up reliability. The engine receives a new high-performance cylinder head to achieve greater power delivery throughout the entire curve.
Also, the EnduroGP has a new clutch cover and basket from Rekluse which adds to the visual appeal of the bike as well as providing increased efficiency and cooling. Then, of course, the exit is the FMF exhaust, designed specifically for GasGas and only adds to its factory look. The FMF pipe also comes on the EC model, but the added FMF expansion chamber is for the GP only.
The new cylinder is also noticeable right from idle as you dial on the throttle and receive an increased response with a sharper punch from the engine and increased top end pull. The EC engine is no slouch, producing plenty of smooth tractable power over a wide rev range. But in comparison to the GP, it is a little slow off the mark as the GP will launch that little bit quicker and respond that tiny bit faster. The verdict is out on which engine you would be quicker on through the trees, but it’s great to actually feel the difference between the two engines and know it’s not just a bunch of data on a page.
The clutch feels the same on both models thanks to the hydraulic Nissin master cylinder, though I would imagine that over prolonged use and abuse the Rekluse basket, with better cooling will come into its own. Nearly all the top riders in off-road use Rekluse for a reason – that’s probably why.
The black on black wheelsets and spokes match the new graphics, as does the enduro seat which provides extra grip, especially during winter riding conditions.
So, as you can see, the updates to the EC which transform it into a GP model all focus around the bikes handling, a riders input, the controls and delivery of power from the engine. All aspects that are critical to racing at a world championship level.
Yeah or Nah
The most obvious point of difference between the EC and the GP is the price. At $13,599, the EC is a little under its main competition, that being the KTM 250 EXC. The GasGas EnduroGP, with its upgrades, will cost you $1400 more, and that puts the bike in line with the KTM’s Six Days bike, but only while it (the carb model) is currently on run-out special. With KTM now only bringing in the TPi models for 2019, the GasGas will prove to be the much more affordable option when the 2019 KTMs are released.
Price is a factor, but so should performance be. The X-Trig clamps alone would have me buying the GP over the EC in a heartbeat. Add to that, $250 for some Renthal Bars which you know you are going to swap out anyway, plus god knows how much it would cost for the DLC coating, it becomes a no-brainer really.
GasGas might have killed the EC in one foul swoop with the GP model. It handles better at speed and through the tight, technical sections. The engine responds quicker and sharper, the seat holds you in place, the bars feel better. It is just a better set up bike than the EC, which makes the choice easier.
I never thought the subtle changes made to the GP would transform the bike into something completely different. But I was wrong, and I was surprised. GasGas returned to the market with force in 2018 with the EC and the XC as a solid base to their model line-up. Now the headline has arrived in the form of the EnduroGP and sky’s the limit. Watch out…’cause GasGas is coming.