Since Pierer Mobility Group acquired Spanish brand GASGAS in 2019, it’s fair to say they haven’t had the easiest ride, due to a range of challenges brought on by the global pandemic. But even so, GASGAS punched above its weight, taking overall victory in the Dakar Rally with British rider Sam Sunderland, as well as winning races in the prestigious AMA Supercross championship as well, beating their sister brands KTM and Husqvarna along the way. . But to get a good idea of what the GASGAS are for the average rider, we decided to grab one during the winter and spend some serious time to see how they hold up and how good they are.
GASGAS shares much of the same DNA as the KTMs and Husqvarnas of this world, but as the least expensive of the trio. At £8599, the EC 300 we tested is £600 cheaper than its KTM equivalent and £800 less than the Husqvarna 300 TE. But is GASGAS just a budget option?
First of all, I have to say no. Having never really been a big fan of two-strokes, I settled on one to try and finally find some love for them, which led me to the EC 300 – a beast, without any doubt. Having only driven the two old-school dingers before, I was excited to try a fuel-injected machine, and at first glance, all the signs were positive. Although our GASGAS test ran for a few hours, it still looked like new, with an impressive finish and attention to detail. Even the buttons and dashboard layout were exactly where I expected, and the wiring was well hidden as well. The silver spoke wheels were a nice touch and a nod to the old school, and that red paint job really looks just as striking up close as it does from a distance. Besides that, the greatest thing about the EC 300 is the lack of a kick start and the addition of electric start. Having small legs, the idea of not starting with a button is a deciding factor for me. I would also note that even after a few weeks of inaction, it still instantly sprang into life. It even started incredibly easily in the freezing cold, with just a touch of choke to help it.
Having ridden a few big two-strokes in my day, they were all downright brutal in terms of engine characteristics, thanks to a throttle that feels more like an on/off switch than a progressive unit to open the taps. Yet instantly the EC 300 felt very different; more like a docile pup, or even a modern four-stroke, than the aggressive, brutal attack dog that comes to mind when I think of a big two-dinger. It really surprised me how easily the power came in, but when did it start singing? My god, that’s good. As soon as the revs increase, that 300cc motor kicks in with mad urgency, revving with every gear I throw in.
Even given the high horsepower (GASGAS doesn’t give official horsepower figures, but you’re looking at around 50bhp in a 106kg package) it’s very impressive in terms of chassis feel and suspension setup . Although the GASGAS brand is marketed to be more of an “economy” brand compared to KTM and Husqvarna, it doesn’t feel like it in terms of handling, feeling smoother than I expected. There are a few small differences between the specs of the three brands, and while the components are largely the same, the suspension setup would be different on the GASGAS. There’s a really good feel through that WP suspension, especially going through ruts and bumps – although I think if it was mine I would have spent some time settling in a bit more hard, for a little more support as the weather dries outside. The brakes were also incredibly powerful and while it didn’t have the same level of electronic goodies as its more expensive stablemates, I didn’t feel like I missed them too much. Especially with the soundtrack, the smell and the wildness of that engine when it pings up the rev limiter.
Although the GASGAS EC300 is a weapon, it was not the extreme weapon I expected. In my head, I was expecting a stiff and wild 300cc beast, but the reality is that it is way more maneuverable and controllable than I expected. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still an absolute monster when unleashed, but it’s so much more than just a fire-breathing two-stroke.
Although primarily an off-road vehicle, our EC 300 was road-registered, making it perfectly legal to drive on roads, public roads and greenways. With its electric start and impressive setup, it truly is an incredibly usable enduro bike that can take whatever comes its way even if, like me, you’re not an off-road legend.