Words: Mike Ryan
Photos: Gas Gas
You’ve all heard of Gas Gas, right? But I’m sure many of you probably don’t know much about the brand beyond it being Spanish and specializing in trials bikes, even if you know that.
You may not have heard much about Gas Gas before, but you’re about to hear a whole lot in the near future, as the brand has started a global campaign under new owners KTM (who purchased Gas Gas just over a year ago), including an all new model lineup for 2021, including some serious assaults on the motocross and enduro markets, plus a roster of sponsored riders in SuperEnduro, rallying, MXGP, AMA SX, Procross and trials competition.
Launched in September, the 2021 Gas Gas mini, motocross and enduro families cover eleven models in total for the Australian and New Zealand markets, with even broader offerings in some overseas markets. Locally available models will include a trio of MXers in 125cc, 250cc and 450cc capacity, which are due to arrive here from December.
Given the impact of COVID-19, now may seem like a terrible time to be launching a new motorcycle, but Australian sales of dirt bikes have been absolutely booming in 2020; up by more than 40 per cent in the first half of this year and holding at around that number in the most recently published FCAI Q3 sales data, so Gas Gas may have timed their arrival perfectly!
In terms of motocross bikes, Gas Gas freely admit they’re the “new guys” against the established Japanese brands, as well as their stablemates at KTM/Husqvarna, but they say their trio of MX bikes will bring a fresh energy to the motocross scene, led by a “no-nonsense approach to performance” with “proven technology, vibrant styling and an overall simplicity that invites riders to unite in the dirt”.
To ensure the brand inspires future generations, there’s a kid’s range, too, covering 50cc, 65cc and 85cc 2-strokes, as well as an electric-powered model, which will be detailed in a separate article.
Gas Gas’s heritage isn’t in motocross, but they aren’t complete novices in the segment. Their ‘MC’ models were around in the early years of the new millennium, but they’ve been reinvented for 2021, offered in 125cc 2-stroke, 250cc 4-stroke and 450cc 4-stroke variants.
A double cradle frame is used in all three, but it’s still made from chromoly steel, which may seem “old tech” in 2020 where aluminium frames are the norm, but there are at least aluminium subrames and swingarms. Dry weight varies from 87.5kg (125 2T) to 99kg (250F 4T) and 100kg (450 4T). Gas Gas says the frame has been designed to be rigid where it needs to be and flex where it needs to, too.
The common chassis means that most of the main dimensions, like wheelbase, seat height, rake, trail and ground clearance are common to all three MC models.
Forged triple clamps with 3-position handlebar adjustment are common to all three, too, as are features like a Brembo hydraulic clutch, advanced exhaust systems (including an easy-to-remove silencer on the MC 250/450), cooling systems integrated into the frame, a lightweight polythene fuel tank and easy-to-access airboxes with tool-less filter removal.
Neken handlebars, WP XACT air/oil USD fork and rear suspension, Brembo brakes and Maxxis tyres are also utilized range-wide.
It’s really in the engine department where the differences emerge, starting with the 2-stroke MC 125…
2021 Gas Gas MC 125
The 125cc 2-stroke at the heart of the MC 125 is a compact 29.8kW (40hp) single, fed by a Mikuni TMX 38mm carb and offering what Gas Gas say is abundant torque, while remaining super-easy to use. Unlike its bigger MC 250 and MC 450 siblings, the MC 125 is kick start only.
Thin-wall crankcase castings and a 54.5mm stroke crankshaft are other features on the liquid-cooled single, but perhaps the most interesting is a ‘TVC’ power valve system that combines both the main and lateral exhaust ports in the two-part cylinder head.
Weighing 17.2kg, the engine is said to play a huge role in the MC 125’s agile handling.
Connected to the 125 single is a Diaphragm Steel clutch that’s strong, yet light and compact, using a single steel pressure plate instead of traditional coil springs – all part of the drive to make the MC 125 as light and agile as possible.
In the transmission, the new KTM connection starts to show, as the MC 125 runs a PANKL Racing Systems 6-speed gearbox that’s familiar to aficionados of the Austrian brand. In its application to the Gas Gas MC 125, the PANKL gearbox promises to deliver “easy and accurate gear shifting, no matter how tough the conditions”.
RRP pricing for the 2021 Gas Gas MC 125 is $10,515.
2021 Gas Gas MC 250F
The smaller of Gas Gas’s pair of 4-stroke MXers, the MC 250 is described as being easy to ride, yet capable of delivering impressive performance.
The compact 250cc DOHC single weighs just 25.9kg, but produces an impressive 34.3kW (46hp) at 14,000rpm, with a 14.4:1 compression ratio. A multi-function balance shaft drives the coolant pump and timing chain, while the 4-valve head features DLC coating on the titanium valves and a combustion chamber shape designed to deliver efficient, high-level power across the rev range.
Twin oil pumps, Keihin electronic fuel injection with a 44mm throttle body and a Keihin engine management system are other features.
To keep weight down, the MC 250F’s electric starter is fuelled by a lithium ion battery and the engine itself uses an aluminium cylinder and piston, along with many of the same thin-wall casting techniques as the MC 125.
The transmission is a 5-speed, with a low-friction coating on the internal shifting fork to ensure smooth, positive gear changes every time. Like the 125, the 250F uses a DS pressure plate instead of springs in the clutch, with a similar single-piece, CNC-machined clutch basket, too.
RRP pricing for the 2021 Gas Gas MC 250F is $11,525.
2021 Gas Gas MC 450F
As the ‘big brother’ of the Gas Gas MX range, a lot will be expected of the MC 450 in Australian motocross competition. No word on whether current privateer and factory-supported KTM or Husqvarna teams will make the switch to Gas Gas yet, but as Australian motocross sorts itself out from the disarray of this year’s abandoned season, expect some form of factory support as KTM Group look to push the Gas Gas brand here. The recently-announced ‘ProMX’ rebranding of the Australian Motocross Championship for 2021 would provide the ideal opportunity to do that.
The MC 450F’s compact 450cc 4-stroke single produces a claimed 46.2kW (62hp) and what Gas Gas says is “monstrous” amounts of torque, thanks in part to a 12.75:1 compression ratio, 40mm intake/33mm exhaust valves and a DLC coating on the rocker arms.
Weighing 27kg, including the electric starter, the engine runs the same Keihin 44mm throttle body and EMS as the 250F, but swaps the DOHC head with finger followers for a SOHC set-up with rocker arms.
The liquid-cooled engine is optimally positioned within the frame to improve mass centralization and benefits from a similar CP aluminium cylinder and piston to the 250F, as well as other lightweighting measures.
On the clutch, the 450F runs a similar single pressure plate to the rest of the MC range, but this has been upgraded to a DDS (Dampened Diaphragm Steel) unit that’s said to deliver better traction and improved durability.
The MC 450F takes the low-friction coating on the internal shifting fork from the 250F and adds more compatible gear ratios, too.
Described as offering precise and easy handling, the MC 450F is also said to be packed with class-leading technology and electronic wizardry. Exactly what that tech and wizardry is hasn’t been revealed yet. Presumably it means a launch control device and programmable engine mapping, but that’s just speculation and I’m sure the full specs in this area will be revealed prior to the December arrival.
RRP pricing for the 2021 Gas Gas MC 450F is $12,540.
While the 2021 Gas Gas MX range look like they’ll be pretty impressive weapons out of the crate, racers always want more, so a range of accessories will be available from launch. These include factory triple clamps inspired by the MXGP race bikes, Akrapovic and FmF silencers and exhaust headers, factory D.I.D. DirtStar wheels, a holeshot device and handguards.
There will be a range of Gas Gas apparel available, too, including riding jerseys, nylons, gloves and protective gear, plus casual wear and luggage.
A Christmas Presence
As already mentioned, the Gas Gas motocross range, along with the rest of the 2021 lineup, is due for Australian release in December.
Underlining the KTM Group’s commitment to re-energizing and reactivating the brand is the slogan ‘GET ON THE GAS!’ Gas Gas says it’s four special words that run deep within the company and a permanent reminder of the joy of riding dirt bikes.
Look out for more from Gas Gas in the coming months.
GAS GAS MY21 Range Australian pricing*
MC 125 $10,515
MC 250F $11,525
MC 450F $12,540
EC 250 $12,940
EC 250F $12,940
EC 350F $13,750
EC 300 $14,155
MC-E 5 $8,290
MC 50 $5,055
MC 65 $6,775
MC 85 19/16 $8,090
*RRP as of 23/9/20, may be subject to change