2018 EC 300 Test Ride

coopernicus

Platinum Level Site Supporter
I had the chance to ride the '18 EC 300ES this past Friday at the GG test ride event in Meeker, Colorado and wanted to give my observations to the forum. To begin with, going into the ride I considered myself a "skeptic" of the new model from the pictures I have seen and had some performance fears about the new frame and components. I have owned 5 ECs from 1999 through 2014 and currently own a '11 250 and a '14 300 so I am well aware of the characteristics of all the different iterations of the EC line. Here is what I thought of the 2018 after riding it on an offroad track about 0.75 miles in length with twisty turns, quick uphills, and some small jumps thrown in:

--Handling is considerably "quicker" than all models as it leans into turns much more quickly than all older models. This was expected with the departure of the perimeter frame. Additionally, it "feels" like it weighs 20 pounds less than older versions.
--Turning precision is similar to older models with no perceived oversteer or understeer. Tires were stock Metzeler with worn edges. I would say it does not steer as precisely as my '11 and '14 but it is not too far behind as set up for the test ride.
--Stock KYBs as ridden were the best stock suspension I have ridden. My '14 setup with Reiger and Marzocchi 48s are excellent. The KYBs on the 2018 were perfect considering they are stock and I'm old and overweight (245 lbs/ 110 KG or so). My friend at 170 pounds (77 KG or so) thought they were perfect. Suspension is certainly more suited for racing out of the box than prior GGs.
--Motor is snappier and felt like it was a couple HP better across the range. It had stock GG pipe and no spark arrestor.
--Ergonomics were very good for me (73.5 inches or 186cm tall) and ideal for friend (69 inches or 175cm tall). Easy to stand and ride, easy to sit and ride, and easy transition from seated to standing position. The bike is also very narrow. The seat is shaped very well with perfect foam density and excellent cover.
--General: It looks like a GG designed KTM with a GG motor, the airbox access is great, the seat is GREAT, quality looks really good, and everything works like it should. Did I say the seat was GREAT?!? It was!!

Verdict: Very good bike with great suspension, a lively GG 300 motor, a fantastic seat, and upgraded quality. I fully expected to not like the bike but I tried to keep an open mind allowing me to appreciate that it is a very good bike as test ridden. The KYBs work better than any stock suspension out there and I have ridden a bunch of Yamahas (the other rider I was with has a SSS YZ 125 that he considers to be the standard of offroad suspension). I also test rode the 2017 afterwards to confirm my impressions. It is no taller than the '17 (which feels exactly like my '14) and allowed both of us to put our feet on the ground (the narrowness helps this,too). If you race, this is the GG for you! The only thing it really needs is a steering damper as I believe that will help the steering precision to closer match the '17 and earlier models. I would certainly buy one.

Thanks to Gas Gas North America for having the test ride and at a location where the terrain showed the true nature of the bike! Thanks to Mark Odette for convincing Gas Gas to show up to the tiny town of Meeker, Colorado!! Thanks to Rod Overstreet for getting me the details so I could find the test ride after 4 hours of driving!! And special thanks to Steve and Stacy for hosting the test ride!! Steve seemed to be genuinely enthusiastic about the bike and pointed out all of the pluses and minuses like an longtime riding partner. He also kept talking about a 200cc future that had him excited!

(me: old, broken down, overweight former A level racer who still rides a lot. my friend: another old, broken down, but not overweight former A level racer)
 
thanks for the ride report. Sounds as though all the things I dislike about my 2012 have been fixed. Cant wait till i get a chance to ride one.

JC
 
Still don't believe the seat is that good.

The seat was the first thing noticed by both of us. The 2017 test bike had a Seat Concepts seat and cover which was nice. My 2011 has a Guts medium density/stock height seat and my 2014 has a Guts medium/tall seat with a Motoseat cover. The 2018 was far better than all of those. However, I do realize your preferences may be different than mine. In the end, my opinion stands: The seat on the test bike I rode was GREAT.

Eric
 
I have the stock seat on my 13. It's a plank. Anything would be a step forward. It's the suspension that excites me. Makes me wanna throw money around for a 200.. but I'd have to make some sacrifices for that to happen. Still think next upgrade 2020
 
What about engine vibration through the bars? Has it been reduced with the additional engine mount?
Regards
Jc
 
What about engine vibration through the bars? Has it been reduced with the additional engine mount?
Regards
Jc

I rode an '18 on monday and immediately noticed the lack of vibrations throughout the rev range.
 
I posted a ride report on the '18 300 in the other thread in the General Discussions Forum
 
Great report!
Does it has that KTM ride feel or more like a Japanese ?

Sorry, I forgot to respond to this 1. I've had only 1 Japanese bike in the past 20 years, and that was for about 3 months in 2001, so I don't really know what you mean. But I can say it's a great bike, and a serious contender, especially in super-tight terrain. I was shocked by how good it is, it feels very mainstream and well put together, not some cobby boutique bike cobbled together in a garage.
 
Great report!
Does it has that KTM ride feel or more like a Japanese ?

That's a good question. In fit and finish, it is like a Japanese bike, almost like a Honda but not quite. In performance with the KYB suspension, it is a hybrid of sorts, it has mainstream performance like a Japanese bike but it is more specialized, it has the gasser specific performance and equipment, quick turning, 6 speed transmission etc that the Japanese bikes lack.
 
Suspension is certainly more suited for racing out of the box than prior GGs.

What characteristics are you referencing?

When someone says “suited for racing,” I think, “the faster it goes the better it feels,” which means “stiff when slow.” Something I don’t want.
 
2018 xc300

I rode an '18 on monday and immediately noticed the lack of vibrations throughout the rev range.

Rode an 18 XC300 Sunday for only a few min. and noticed the same thing. Very little vibration. Then again, I ride a 2012 EC250. The power was smooth through low to mid. The Gas Gas motors seem to me as one of the best for endro/off-road.

Not sure about the 2012 chassis...
 
What characteristics are you referencing?

When someone says ?suited for racing,? I think, ?the faster it goes the better it feels,? which means ?stiff when slow.? Something I don?t want.

What I meant was that the suspension was controlled and predictable as it was set up for the test ride. I've raced a fair amount in my day and it had the characteristics I look for: "No wallowing" (controlled) and predictable (it worked well on rocks, rollers, and acceleration bumps). My stock 2014 suspension is bone stock and severely under sprung for my weight but it still works pretty good. However, it wallows a bit in throttle on/off transitions and has a little deflection. This is mostly from the forks. I've also ridden a re-valved 2013 with a Reiger and it works great...About as good as the stock 2018 suspension. On a final note, I have no doubt I could dial back compression and rebound damping and make it a marshmallow. I would not let my comment think it would be stiff at low speeds. The friend who went with me said he thought the suspension was perfect and he weighs about 90 pounds less than me!

Eric
 
2018 xc300

Where did you score a ride on an '18?

Arizona Cycle Park. I was out there pounding out some laps with my son on his KX250F.

The owner of MotoCenter has one and said he is the Gas Gas dealer on the east side of town? Also, he and some buddies ran the Glen Helen 24 hour with the same bike in the Business class.

Swappin' out frames tonight.
 
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