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I asked former WORCS and AMA National Hare N Hound Champion Gary Sutherlin to attend the 2024 Gas Gas World Launch as the family and I were at Loretta Lynn’s. Here is a little about what he thought about the bikes as well as the event itself. Look for a more in depth tests on these machines shortly right here on Keeferinctesting.com! -KK
Written And Tested By: Gary Sutherlin
When asked if I wanted to go to Italy to test the 2024 GAS GAS line up, it was a no brainer, I had to go! As the trip got closer the anticipation grew and the realization of actually going became a reality. After 12 hours of flying we embarked on a scenic 2-hour countryside drive from Florence to our hotel which included views of countless rolling hills and beautiful green landscape. Upon arrival, we were ushered to quickly drop our luggage and head to the unveiling of the new 2024 GASGAS lineup. At the launch location, we excitedly counted down from 10 to the début of the new line which included a live intro by factory racer Justin Barcia entering in full revs true “Bam Bam” style. After they pulled the covers off the new MC line up we drooled over the new motorcycles and quickly took photos to post up on social media to show the world the new bikes. A night filled with authentic Italian food, great wine and live music had me eager to get to the track for a full day of riding all the new MC, EC, and EX models.
Morning came quickly and the GASGAS crew shuttled us out to the track for our first day of riding. As we pulled in, the first thing I saw was a perfectly ribboned off grass track and woods area that reminded me of countless days of racing Six Days. As my excitement grew to ride, I walked over to check out the motocross track. It was a prepped, natural terrain track that weaved and winded through the southern Italian countryside like something you see in a dream. I felt at the moment I needed someone to pinch me because I couldn’t believe this was real life, I was about to go ride the new generation bike through the mountains of Italy.
MOTOCROSS: MC125, MC250, MC250F, MC350F, MC450F
Picking the MC450F as my first bike to ride on the MX track proved to be as amazing as I imagined. For 2024 GASGAS has an all new frame, swingarm and engine configuration for all models which was a huge difference from the old generation bike I currently own and ride. My first impression of the bike on the track was how easy it was to change direction on the track, cut under ruts and put the bike exactly where I wanted to on the track. To compliment the new chassis GASGAS has softer valving in their suspension settings. The more hard packed the track turned the more comfortable I was on the setting for the small square edged bumps. I think the softer settings compliment the stiffer frame and will accommodate most riders. For added comfort, they shaved material off the front clamp to mimic a split clamp and improved torque specs to help relieve that feedback feeling in riders hands.
Switching over and riding MC350F and MC250F I felt these softer settings to compliment my lean angle dropping into a corner with the bike sticking into the small hard pack ruts better than what I’ve experienced riding the old generation bike. All these feelings are not only due to suspension but also the fact that they positioned the engine more upward, moved the shock mount from the main tube, and created more lateral stiffness. I did notice some of the stiffness in the frame on a few sections of the track, but it wasn’t something that would deter me into trying to make a lot of changes.
For 2024 they stuck with the air fork which allows the customer a lot of adjustability for different track conditions and rider weights. On the track I don’t mind the fork and like it for its lightness which I feel plays into the ability to move around more and turn down when needed. But as the track got more choppy, I did find more comfort and a planted feel in the closed cartridge spring fork found on the EX models.
The newly designed engine had an exciting power plant and linear power that started from the bottom and carried into the high revs. They equipped the motorcycles with the optional map switch that you can buy as an add-on which allowed us to test the motorcycles in both white and green maps (with the exception of the MC125 which comes with the map selector as standard). The white map represented a lean map and the green was a more rich map intended for sand tracks. In the hardpacked conditions, onboard the MC450F, the white map allowed me to increase traction when rolling on the throttle corner to corner. On the MC350F and MC250F I rode the green map selector and got more throttle response and excitement on the bottom end. Both the MC350F and MC250F seem to make never-ending power as you rev the motorcycle and really like to be ridden in that higher RPM range which makes for a fun time on the track.
Although both bikes enjoy being ridden at higher RPMs the new engine produces better bottom end torque that many riders will find as a huge step in the right direction from prior years. One unique change for the MC line up is the introduction of the TBI fuel system to both the MC125 and MC250. When I think 125, I think hold it to the stop and bang gears with a huge smile under my helmet. But after a half lap, I realized that this was not an ordinary 125. GASGAS has shifted the power curve big time on this engine to the middle of the power range. I found myself short shifting the engine and rolling through some insides I would have normally tried to blow the outside berm on. I feel some people will love this power plant and others will dislike it but I like the direction they’re going with this small bore engine. Its bigger brother the MC250 is definitely on my top 3 list of fun factor bikes from this trip. The TBI system has this bike feeling crisp, clean and ready for one flick of the clutch to start that smile under your helmet. On the track I felt that the AER fork worked the best on this chassis. The bike seemed to have less deflection coming in and settled in well entering the corner which could be a contributing factor of no engine braking. 2-strokes seem to be a hot topic and you won’t be disappointed having either of these new models in your garage. One big change for the new models was having new Brake Tech brakes front and rear. The old system had some complaints of fading and just not being as powerful as we are used to with a Brembo system. This upgrade on the track translated to great braking power and for myself (brake dragger) zero fading or squeaking.
If I had to pick a few things to change these are them: Switch out the stock Maxxis tires to something with a little more side knob traction. I would prefer the closed cartridge spring fork (6500 kit) over the air fork. I think the air fork can work well enough for the weekend warrior but even if you are looking for more comfort as the track gets rougher I would choose the closed cartridge spring fork (6500 kit). And lastly, not really a change but an irritation, is to adjust the front brake lever you need to loosen the throttle housing to get to the bolt out, which is just a little odd considering how many other mechanical time savings techniques have been included in the thought process of these new builds.
Speaking of the mechanical time-savings additions, GASGAS fans will be excited to know that they have really focused on simplifying the everyday maintenance. Firstly, by doing small castings on their engines. As an example, don’t you hate changing your oil then forgetting the torque specs on the drain bolt and having to grab your phone or a paper service manual while your hands are oily. Well now they have printed the torque spec on important bolts and labeled them. To go a step further your engine consists of only 3 different length 6mm bolts and to remove all of your body work you only need one tool, a T30. If you take your engine apart and now can’t remember which bolt takes a washer, they have gone through the trouble of labeling it for you. From someone who’s always worked on their own bikes I think this is super helpful as a customer because most of us are the ones spinning the T handles and they’re making the time spent in the garage more efficient.
OFFROAD:EC250, EC300, EC450, EX250F, EX300, EX350F, EX450F
With my offroad background I was excited to see how the new EC and EX models stacked up. I haven’t spent any time in the past on the EC line and limited time on the small bore EXs. The enduro loop that was set up had an awesome mixture of tight trees, rocks, uphill’s, steep down hills, off cambers only to end on a grass track where we were able to really open up and feel the power characteristics of these bikes. Every bike in this line up has its own unique suspension setting and engine differences.
Getting going on my first lap on the enduro loop I grabbed the EC450F where I was immediately greeted with a new longer Xplor fork that was butter soft and comfortable to ride. I underestimated the capability of this fork and was very impressed how it worked as the track got chewed up. Could you ride this fork on the track? Yes, would it bottom? Yes, but it was predictable. I knew where I needed to be smoother and where I could be aggressive. The bike as a whole stuck to the ground very well and the combo between the new fork and power delivery surprised me. The biggest surprise for me was in the USA power delivery is always about excitement and loud is fast.
The EC250 and EC300 had neither of these qualities but in the Italian conditions we were riding in it was a perfect combo to ride all day in comfort while maximizing enduro performance. The EC250 had more excitement when you stabbed the clutch and the engine relied on you using it in every corner. Its bigger brother felt more like a 450, roll on power, easier to corner and stay smooth, and putting the power to the ground efficiently. When I rode the EX300 back to back with the EC300 it was eye opening to see these two motorcycles have two completely different uses. The EX300 out on the grass track had me beaming from ear to ear listening to its crisp noise being rang out. From point A to point B there’s no question the EX300 is going to get you there faster but in these conditions I felt the EC300 was smoother and my corner speed and lines where easier to hit. One major difference was the EX lineup having the Closed Cartridge spring fork and on this enduro test I softened each fork 4-6 clicks. Although each model shares the same frame the engines and suspension specs are all designed around that model and its purpose for the customer.
Both the EX250F and EX350F have different transmissions then the MC line up with the EX450F sharing the same exact engine and transmission configuration. I preferred the EX350F over the MC350F, with the way it pulled out of the corners better but the MC felt like it had more over rev and pulled longer. The EX450F ended up being my favorite bike out of this category with either 300 2-stroke a close second. I think the Dunlop tires, 48T rear sprocket and 18 inch wheel made a huge difference on the EX450F for the motocross track there in Italy. Which had me thinking if I would have done lap times on the enduro loop between EX and EC which bike would I have been faster on. I honestly think the way the power delivery and track conditions were, I would have had a faster time on the EC model verses the EX. For riding on the west coast, where I am based, where you may want to hit the MX track one day and then single track the next I would recommend the EX-lineup. But if you’re strictly riding offroad in the trees or out in the desert, GASGAS has provided you with a great lineup of EC models. With the EX450F being the same power package as the MC450F it had me thinking…. If you didn’t want or like the air fork you could buy a EX450F and throw on a stock tank and 19 inch wheel and have an MX bike with the closed cartridge fork. With the upgrade Brake Tech brakes and for me dragging my rear brake more on a grass track setting, I was pleased to have great stopping power and no fade even when I linked multiple 6 min laps together. After riding all these bikes, it definitely has me itching to get some more time on a EC model here in Southern California.
As the last day came to an end, GASGAS did not let off the gas and possibly in true slogan fashion of “Get on the Gas”, got on the gas harder. They threw the “Spice it Up” festival that was not only for the Media outlets but for the public. The second day they had invited 150 people to come ride the new line up as well as participate in getting free tattoos, a chili eating contest, and enjoy a live band that played late into the night. GASGAS is known as the fun brand in the Pierer Mobility group, which they definitely achieved on this trip but also did an amazing job bringing a great professional atmosphere when breaking down the motorcycles during our Tech Talk stations. All of the employees were kind, helpful , and made sure every media outlet was getting the information they needed and making sure we had a smile on our face while doing it. I want to personally thank both Kris and GASGAS for this opportunity to not only ride great motorcycles but to experience it the way we did and provide a lifetime of memories from this trip. Look for more GASGAS updates as Keefer Inc. gets more time riding the full lineup out here in California.