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Motorcycles 2021 GasGas EX 250F Review

16:41  04 february  2021
16:41  04 february  2021 Source:   dirtrider.com

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After spending a day last December testing the 2021 GasGas MC 250F and MC 450F motocross bikes at San Bernardino, California’s Glen Helen Raceway for the final bike tests of the 2020 calendar year, GasGas sent us home with its new EX 250F. As the brand’s 250cc four-stroke cross-country motorcycle, the EX 250F is the base for the bike that Coastal GasGas Factory Racing’s Johnny Girroir will contest in the upcoming 2021 Grand National Cross Country (GNCC) series. We logged plenty of time on the EX 250F over the holiday break, learned a lot about its performance characteristics, and came away impressed with the new machine, especially considering its price point compared to the KTM 250 XC-F, its Austrian counterpart of the same displacement.

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a man riding a motorcycle down a dirt road: Although the EX 250F’s engine power is a little down in stock trim, add-ons are available from the GasGas Technical Accessories catalog that can bring it right up to par with some of the most powerful 250cc four-stroke models in the class. © Provided by Dirt Rider Although the EX 250F’s engine power is a little down in stock trim, add-ons are available from the GasGas Technical Accessories catalog that can bring it right up to par with some of the most powerful 250cc four-stroke models in the class.

2021 GasGas EX 250F Engine

a motorcycle parked on the side of a dirt field: Because the EX 250F runs a little rich in stock trim, it is advisable to install a KTM vented airbox cover for increased airflow. © Provided by Dirt Rider Because the EX 250F runs a little rich in stock trim, it is advisable to install a KTM vented airbox cover for increased airflow.

The EX 250F’s power is delivered smoothly, making usable power throughout the rpm range and bringing to mind a KTM 250 SX-F with a spark arrestor. It may lack a little excitement, but this can be a beneficial characteristic for trail riding or in slippery conditions. The only time the smoother power is a factor is when you cross over to a motocross track. In comparison to a motocross model, you get a sense that the EX 250F’s airbox feels a little choked up.

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Of all the Austrian-built bikes, the EX 250F may benefit the most from the optional vented airbox cover that comes with the KTM 250 SX-F, 350 SX-F, and 450 SX-F motocrossers. There is a slight dip in the power, mostly in third or higher gears and in the lower rpm (from 5,000 to 7,500 rpm). It feels somewhat rich, which might also be corrected with the vented airbox cover. First and second gears run as expected and the dip is less noticeable as you typically ride a little higher in the rpm range in those gears. Since this bike runs the same Keihin engine management system (EMS) as KTM and Husqvarna, adding the map/traction control switch along with a less restrictive muffler would be good options for this engine.

a motorcycle parked on the side of a mountain: Although the EX 250F’s engine power is a little down in stock trim, add-ons are available from the GasGas Technical Accessories catalog that can bring it right up to par with some of the most powerful 250cc four-stroke models in the class. © Provided by Dirt Rider Although the EX 250F’s engine power is a little down in stock trim, add-ons are available from the GasGas Technical Accessories catalog that can bring it right up to par with some of the most powerful 250cc four-stroke models in the class.

I like the six-speed gearbox. As expected, first is nice and low, while up top you have sixth gear for the wide-open areas or longer fire road sections of a ride. With the gaps being a touch wider and this being a 250F, you notice them a little more than on some of the larger-displacement bikes. The Brembo hydraulic clutch offers a similar feel to that of the MC 250F motocross model, good for shifting, but could offer a little more feel with a stiffer lever pull.

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a man riding a bike down a dirt road: The EX 250F seems to stall more easily than its Austrian sibling of the same displacement. © Provided by Dirt Rider The EX 250F seems to stall more easily than its Austrian sibling of the same displacement.

The EX 250F engine runs fairly well, makes good power for off-road conditions, and is extremely quiet when riding, though a slightly choked-up feeling goes along with the lack of noise. The bike runs clean through the lower gears, but there is a noticeable dip in power in the higher gears. We rode it at varying altitudes including everything from just above sea level up to areas that reached above 7,000 feet with a few inches of fresh snow. The EFI adapted well, helping the bike to only have a minimal reduction of power. One unusual thing was that I struggled with stalling the bike from time to time. I tried lowering the rear brake pedal hoping it was just me, but that didn’t really change much.

The smoother power was most noticeable at the motocross track, where I have recently spent plenty of time at the controls of a 250F motocross model. The comparison made it much more apparent that the EX 250F’s engine was indeed choked up. The gears didn’t run out as far and the power didn’t build as quickly as on other bikes. This is understandable in light of the transmission, airbox, and exhaust differences from the 250 SX-F motocrosser. Add the KTM accessory vented airbox cover as well as the map/traction control switch (the GasGas comes prewired for it), and you will most likely be right on the rear wheel of the 250F motocross models.

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2021 GasGas EX 250F Suspension

a man flying through the air while riding a motorcycle down a dirt road: The EX 250F’s suspension works reasonably well. Its main caveat is that it becomes out of balance when adding air to the fork for a rider who weighs more than 170 pounds. © Provided by Dirt Rider The EX 250F’s suspension works reasonably well. Its main caveat is that it becomes out of balance when adding air to the fork for a rider who weighs more than 170 pounds.

Although the EX 250F features the same WP Xact suspension components that come on the KTM 250 XC-F, it has different internal settings specific to the GasGas motorcycle. Naturally, being that it’s an off-road model, the EX 250F receives different suspension valving geared more toward cross-country competition.

The suspension took some time to break in and I spent a fair amount of time finding a comfortable setting. Unfortunately, the rear was a touch on the soft side for me, making it a little difficult to find a good balance between the fork and shock. Instead of trying to over-stiffen the shock, I ultimately decided to accept that it might simply need a stiffer spring for my 175-pound weight. The initial feel of the shock was good, with no unusual bottoming, but it tended to wallow in the middle part of the stroke.

The fork works reasonably well, and because of the WP AER (air spring) system, it offers almost endless adjustability. The one area I had difficulty improving on was the initial hits in rocky sections, where I would have liked to find a little more comfort. Keeping the fork free by adding air pressure and keeping the adjusters more open gave notable improvement, especially the rebound.

2021 GasGas EX 250F Dyno Test

  2021 GasGas EX 250F Dyno Test The first-ever four-stroke GasGas dirt bike to hit the Dirt Rider dynoWhile the 2021 GasGas EX 250F has a lot in common with the 2021 KTM 250 XC-F cross-country model and, to a slightly lesser extent, the 2021 KTM 250 SX-F motocrosser which we recently dyno tested, the EX 250F is still technically the first-ever four-stroke GasGas dirt bike to spin the drum on Dirt Rider’s in-house Dynojet 250i rear-wheel dynamometer.

a man riding a motorcycle down a dirt road: Riding the 2021 GasGas EX 250F. © Mark Kariya Riding the 2021 GasGas EX 250F.

After several days of off-road riding, I took the bike to a local and fairly typical motocross track, where the suspension and chassis seemed to perform at its best. I ended up setting the fork at 10.0 bar for the air pressure, 18 clicks out on compression, and 16 clicks out on the rebound. For the shock, my final setting was 12 clicks out on the low-speed compression, 0.4-turn out on the high-speed compression, and 14 clicks out on the rebound.

2021 GasGas EX 250F Chassis/Handling

a close up of a motorcycle: Although the EX 250F does not come with a handlebar-mounted map/traction control switch like the 250 XC-F, it can be purchased from the GasGas Technical Accessories catalog for approximately $169. © Provided by Dirt Rider Although the EX 250F does not come with a handlebar-mounted map/traction control switch like the 250 XC-F, it can be purchased from the GasGas Technical Accessories catalog for approximately $169.

As expected, the GasGas chassis feels similar to the KTM and Husqvarna motorcycles. There are some noticeable differences. The GasGas uses a KTM chromoly frame and aluminum subframe combined with a Husqvarna swingarm. GasGas also chose to use forged triple clamps in an effort to create more flex and comfort in the handlebar. It’s worth noting the red bike’s triple clamps use the same 22mm offset as the KTM and Husqvarna. The EX 250F’s radiator shrouds and front fender are specific to the GasGas models. The seat is the same as a KTM but with a red cover.

a motorcycle parked on the side of a dirt field: Because the EX 250F runs a little rich in stock trim, it is advisable to install a KTM vented airbox cover for increased airflow. © Mark Kariya Because the EX 250F runs a little rich in stock trim, it is advisable to install a KTM vented airbox cover for increased airflow.

Tires are supplied by Dunlop, with Geomax AT81 rubber front and rear mounted on 21-inch and 18-inch silver rims. The Neken handlebar is the same bend as the KTM’s but silver in color. Braking is provided by Brembo with a 260mm front rotor and a 220mm rear rotor. The remainder of the controls such as the footpegs, levers, and shifter are likewise the same as the KTM’s.

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Of all the manufacturers, it seems as though the Austrian bikes take the longest to break in. For that reason, it is advisable to be careful with making chassis changes early on. You will need a minimum of five hours of riding time, and the bike doesn’t really start to work well until the 10-hour mark. Fortunately, I had the opportunity to log many more hours than that on the GasGas over the 2020 winter holiday season, on a very wide range of terrain and conditions, and was able to feel how the bike got better over time.

The GasGas chassis offers a very good amount of stability, but it might lose a few points in the tighter single-track areas. It’s not that it doesn’t corner well; rather, it has the long-wheelbase feeling typical of an Austrian bike, which is especially noticeable when riding in the woods. This means it needs more input from the rider’s body position and in the handlebar when navigating through tight enduro-type sections. For reference, the exact opposite of this would be a Honda CRF250RX, which has less stability but corners on a dime. Out in the more open flowing trails, the EX 250F corners well and has a good balance between stability and maneuverability.

How Does The 2021 GasGas EX 250F Ride?

If you like a KTM or Husqvarna, you’ll like the GasGas EX 250F. While there are noticeable differences between the other Austrian bikes, the EX 250F still feels very similar to a KTM. If you simply removed the red plastic, you might think the only difference is the red frame, but other parts and different settings separate the GasGas from its siblings.

a close up of a motorcycle: Forged triple clamps, a header pipe without a resonance chamber, and a Husqvarna swingarm contribute to the EX 250F having a feel and power character that is unique to the GasGas model. © Provided by Dirt Rider Forged triple clamps, a header pipe without a resonance chamber, and a Husqvarna swingarm contribute to the EX 250F having a feel and power character that is unique to the GasGas model.

Riding the bike, you begin to appreciate the changes GasGas made and how it attempted to improve on the bike. The forged triple clamps and Husqvarna swingarm make a difference in allowing a little more flex from the fairly rigid Austrian frame. Although they went with forged triple clamps to offer a little more comfort, they oddly did not spec a rubber-mounted handlebar. Riding the EX 250F feels more like you are sitting on a KTM, but the swingarm and triple clamps provide a softer feeling, like a Husqvarna’s.

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a motorcycle parked on the side of a dirt field: Coming in at an aggressive price point of $9,099, the GasGas EX 250F retails for $600 less than the other Austrian 250cc four-stroke cross-country model—the KTM 250 XC-F. © Provided by Dirt Rider Coming in at an aggressive price point of $9,099, the GasGas EX 250F retails for $600 less than the other Austrian 250cc four-stroke cross-country model—the KTM 250 XC-F.

Overall, the GasGas cross-country and motocross models offer enough differences to make them a consideration over a KTM or Husqvarna. With a notably lower retail price and a good mix of parts, like a Husqvarna swingarm and forged triple clamps which help with flex and added comfort, you might be getting even more value for your dollar. If the EX 250F were my personal bike, I would consider adding the aforementioned KTM vented airbox cover and map/traction control switch, and possibly a slip-on muffler to help bring out some of the power we know is in the Austrian engine. Since I don’t think the suspension is that far off, I would also look into a stiffer shock spring and play with the adjusters to see just how good the stock suspension could perform for my weight.

Gearbox

a motorcycle parked on the side of a mountain: Although the EX 250F’s engine power is a little down in stock trim, add-ons are available from the GasGas Technical Accessories catalog that can bring it right up to par with some of the most powerful 250cc four-stroke models in the class. © Mark Kariya Although the EX 250F’s engine power is a little down in stock trim, add-ons are available from the GasGas Technical Accessories catalog that can bring it right up to par with some of the most powerful 250cc four-stroke models in the class.

Helmet: Bell Moto-9 Flex

Goggle: Scott Fury

Hydration Pack: Fly Racing XC 30

Jersey: Fly Racing Lite

Gloves: Fly Racing Lite

Pants: Fly Racing Lite

Boots: Alpinestars Tech 10 Supervented

2021 GasGas EX 250F Tech Spec

PRICE $9,099
ENGINE 250cc, DOHC, liquid-cooled, single-cylinder four-stroke
TRANSMISSION/FINAL DRIVE 6-speed/chain
FRAME Steel central double cradle
FRONT SUSPENSION WP Xact 48mm fork, air pressure, compression damping, and rebound damping adjustable; 12.2 in. travel
REAR SUSPENSION WP Xact shock, spring preload, high-/low-speed compression damping, and rebound damping adjustable; 11.8 in. travel
FRONT BRAKE Brembo 2-piston caliper, 260mm disc
REAR BRAKE Brembo 1-piston caliper, 220mm disc
WHEELBASE 58.5 in.
MEASURED SEAT HEIGHT 37.8 in.
FUEL CAPACITY 2.25 gal.
MEASURED WEIGHT 235 lb. wet
AVAILABLE Now
CONTACT gasgas.com

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