Note: This test is also available in print in issue 12 of Trial Magazine November/December 2008 when we used this article
After a visit to the Spanish Gas Gas factory earlier in the year I had a sneak preview of the new 2009 trials machines. The two-stroke featured a new design frame which would make the machine more stable as the previous model had a reputation for being a little light on the front as we had reported in previous tests. The new production frame made its debut at the opening outdoor world round in Luxembourg. With Adam Raga on board he produced some excellent world round wins with him eventually finishing runner up in the World Series. After seeing a few of the 09 machines in action I decided now was the time to test the new model.
Words: John Hulme
Pictures: Andrew Stewart
With the arrival of the Adam Raga replica machine featuring the new tubular frame and various other special parts made available earlier in the year, word soon got around how well it handled over its predecessor (the test in T.M issue 10 said it all). It was a limited edition model and they sold out very quickly. With this in mind I was quite looking forward to collecting the 2009 production machine. As most of you know I have been very good friends with the Gas Gas U.K importer John Shirt Jnr and his family for many years. I have ridden the Spanish machines for the last fifteen years so I am very familiar with them. I have tried to give an honest appraisal of the new bike as I have done with the other machines I have had on test and plan to do the same with the Gas Gas. The model I have chosen for the long term test is the very popular 250cc. A trip to their Buxton headquarters in Derbyshire saw me returning with the brand new 09 model in red. Chief mechanic “factory Kev” had done the Pre Delivery Inspection on the machine so it was ready to ride. I asked Shirty if he had any comments on the new bike. He explained that as with any new competition machine it was imperative that the P.D.I was carried out correctly for two reasons; firstly for safety and secondly to get the best performance from the machine.
Check me out!
The more you look at the new machine the more it strikes you how many important changes have been made. The frame with its bright red finish stands out really well and catches the eye. It draws you to inspect the changes such as the pressed out footrest bracket supports. With the pressed out parts they have a small impression in them which induces extra strength but at the same time reduces weight. The engine appears quite low in the frame and access to the carburetor is made easier as the whole layout has been given much more thought over the previous model. The frame is totally new and for once it appears that the Spanish manufacturer has listened to the riders needs and not just built a machine to a price. The first impression you get upon standing on the bike is one of complete calm. All the important requirements for the rider seem to fall into place quite nice. Around the footrest area the riding stance appears slightly wider than before. For me this is a big improvement as before on the old model it all felt a little too narrow which in turn stopped you gripping the frame with your legs. A nice little touch in this area is the small strip of rubber attached to the chain rubber, it stops your boot catching on the chain and causing it to wear a hole in your boot. What you do notice is the natural balance of the machine. In the riding position it all appears to be more stable, maybe a little longer as all you want to do is try and balance on the machine. The footrest position feels slightly lower and the front does as well but this may be the bend of the handlebar which makes you lower on the machine. The new foot brake is easier to find, like I said before it’s as though a rider has designed the bike and not a computer! As before, the mudguards are of the slightly wider design at the key points and are now white which complements the red frame very well. The 40mm Marzocchi aluminium front forks give it a real ‘beefy’ look at the front and along with the new headlight design complements the bike well, the rear suspension is taken care of by the quality Sachs unit. The rest of the machine is pretty much the same as with all the machines they have the same wheels, brakes and many shared cycle components from the other manufacturers. It’s a pity that the flanged rear wheel rim was not used as on the Raga Replica as I personally quite like them. The standard gearing is eleven teeth on the front and forty-two on the rear. I personally like this as it makes first gear very flexible though after speaking to other owners some put a ten teeth sprocket on the front to gain more control. On the short ride up the road I noticed that you have to be careful not to burn your knee on the exhaust pipe and also how new everything felt, it certainly is very much a new machine and not just modified from the old model. With six speeds on offer it was my favourite choice of gear, first, which I tackled the first practise section in. I literally flew up it arriving at the top wondering if that was it. The first impression certainly gives you the feel good factor. After calming down a little I rode the hazard in different gears and speeds but always returning to first gear. It was obvious from the start that the suspension would need to bed itself in as with any new machine. To help this along I set the adjusters on the softest setting. The carburetion though felt very good, not to rich, not to weak, so I was very happy with that. On the other sections you are soon made aware of how well the machine handles and steers. The natural balance inspires confidence but the problem is you become lazy letting the machine do all the work. Riding back home you always have time for thought. My only concern was the tapered handlebars. Yes they are fine, but for me it’s always in my mind whether I like them or not, you feel very low at the front when stood on the machine, maybe it’s just the shape of them?
On the return home I adjusted the levers to suit me and also the rear brake pedal had been a little too high so it was slightly lowered. These adjustments are very easy to carry out but make for more comfort on the machine. My first competitive outing was a two lap road trial containing twenty sections. I must point out that it was two months since I last rode in a trial so with too much time spent sat in an office it was a very unfit me who set off on the first lap. The first few sections were pretty easy which soon settled the nerves. The first real test was a very slippy muddy climb made difficult as you entered due to a bog hole before climbing the grassy bank. What gear do I use? I decided to use fourth gear based on the fact that if I got in any trouble I could just open her up and blast my way out. You know the feeling when you enter a section and straight away realise you are in the wrong gear? Yes that was me! As I rode through the begins cards I started to lose balance as I was way too fast, this required a quick change of plan as I slowed right down to regain control, the trouble was I still had to get out of the bog and up the bank, plan B came into play. Not having enough momentum to get up the bank I ended up having to burn my way through the mud up the bank and managed to stay feet up through the section ends! That section highlighted many things about the machine to me. The engine is very flexible, it definitely grips and the rear mudguard is the same as most of the other modern machines when it’s muddy, not the best! The rest of the day was very enjoyable if not a little on the easy side. I lost my only mark of the day on a tricky climb over some roots up a gully. This once again was pilot error as I chose third gear instead of second and rode the hazard too quick. The trouble is the bike gives you confidence but after this I took it on board to stick in the lower gears. The fuel tank has a small bump at the front to allow a little more fuel (capacity is 3.1ltr) to be carried and this was most welcome as the lap became quite a long one. On the second lap the first lap errors had been taken on board and a clean lap was recorded leaving me on one for the day. I did not take the win as a rider had gone round clean, very difficult to achieve, but well done that man. My second outing was a local trial, once again road based covering two laps of twenty-one sections. Now with the fact firmly in my brain that first and second are the gears to use I felt very confident on the machine. The first section certainly tested the machine and my throttle control. Up a slippery muddy climb on limestone rock a clean would be a bonus. Using first gear the machine easily cleaned the section, yes part throttle control but the machine gives you the confidence to roll the throttle off and feel for the grip through the engine, a clean on the first section of the day was recorded. The rest of the trial consisted mainly of long river sections, all mainly one line hazards as they were very narrow. This suited the machine ideally as if you have the ability to stop on the line the machine will do the rest. After a few more club trials on different terrain I can assure you that if you are not achieving the results it is you and not the machine.
As with all the modern machines and cleaning products available keeping your pride and joy clean is quite easy to do. Before washing the machine it is essential you block off the exhaust outlet and are careful where you point the high pressure power washer avoiding the air filter inlet and other delicate areas. A good few minutes washing the machine will reward you with your machine back looking like new. The Gas Gas is like any modern machine and needs very little week to week maintenance, as I said earlier the P.D.I from new is very important for a hassle free machine so make sure it is carried out correctly by the supplying dealer. If you are lazy you can generally get away with just checking the air filter and replace if necessary and also making sure there is no water in the air box itself, there is a drain in the bottom to allow any water to escape. If you need to change the filter this is sometimes quite difficult if you have large hands due to the constraints of the air box size. The carburettor can be drained by just removing the float bowl retaining bolt and letting some fuel run through. I carried out this procedure but after three trials I removed the air box and carburetor to give them a good inspection. This is quite simple to do and anybody with basic workshop ability should be able to do this. It’s quite an easy procedure to carry out. Four screws hold the air box assembly in place which you need to remove; you then slacken off the clip between the air filter rubber and carburettor and gently pull the air box away from the carb. After this just remove the clip which holds the carburettor to the reed valve block and remove. Give this a good blow out with the airline before replacing. With the air box, remove the filter and replace with a clean one. It’s worth giving the box a good clean inside as well in case anything has gone in. Reverse the removal procedure to reassemble taking care to make sure everything goes back where it came from. As with all machines everything else is pretty much the same. After ten weeks the bike is still looking good ready for me to return it with no major damage or work being required. My general thoughts on the machine came to light a few weeks ago when I was out practicing; shall I ride in the Scottish Six Days Trial again on the Gas Gas? A superb machine for the event but I am afraid the mind is willing but the body way to old!
+ Handling, smooth power and ease of maintenance.
– Handlebars, exposed front pipe and rear mudguard.
Gas Gas 250cc RRP : £3779.99 Inc vat – November 2008
Motor: Two-stroke water cooled – 247.7cc (72.5 X 60mm) – Carburettor: Dellorto PHBL26BS – Gearbox: 6 speed gearbox.
Chassis: Frame steel: Chrome-moly – Front Fork: Marzocchi Ø 40 mm – Rear-Shock: Sachs – Disc brakes: Ø 185/150 mm – brake callipers: AJP 4 and 2 piston.
Dimensions: Seat height: 665 mm – wheelbase: 1330 mm – weight: 68 Kg – Fuel capacity: 3.1 litre – Ground clearance: 320mm
Spare Parts: Price: (Inc v.a.t) – November 2008
Front mudguard: £33.00 Rear mudguard: £64.70
Piston kit: £118.51 Kick-start: £97.44
Gear lever: £25.76 Foot brake lever: £62.79
Magneto cover: £4.36 Clutch cover: £85.32
Air filter element: £12.24 Clutch lever: £22.09
Front brake lever: £17.78 Throttle cable: £5.64
Clutch hose: £26.98 Front Brake hose: £24.31
Exhaust front pipe: £62.18
Contact: Gas Gas U.K (Official importer): 01298 766813 to find your local dealer.
Note: August 2015 – Gas Gas UK is alive and supplying all Gas Gas parts as the official UK importer.
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