We look back on our shortlap of the 2011 Gas Gas EC 450 FSR.
A solid trail blaster with race characteristics pretty much sums up the Gas Gas EC 450 FSR. At a glance, it’s compact with neatly molded side plates, seat and shrouds, so it doesn’t have an agricultural feel as you hop on and grab the ’bar.
The Renthal twin-wall handlebar is a nice touch and the controls and switches are smooth to operate – typical of European bikes. The ’bar does sit high in relation to the seat, but this makes for a comfortable and controlled feel when you’re standing on the ’pegs.
At speed, the first thing you notice about the bike is the perfect front-to-rear balance and steering geometry. Gas Gas have nailed the ride dynamic of this bike because it’s planted, predictable and steers with absolute precision. You can rail corners hard without having to manage any pushing or tucking with the front wheel.
On other bikes it generally takes time to set the rear shock’s static sag, fork height and handlebar position, but I didn’t have to touch a thing. The real beauty of this is in the fact you can ride it hard within the first few minutes. You don’t need to shuffle your body position to get a feel for how the bike will react off mounds and kickers.
What I did find out in a hurry is that the bike is deceivingly heavy to pull up if you’re on a skatey surface. It has a very low centre of gravity, so it doesn’t feel heavy to tip into a corner or change line, but its mass does need grip under the wheels to pull it up.
The fact it doesn’t wallow around when you’re charging bumps and braking hard suggests there is some decent spring rates and valving keeping it suspended. However, there’s a nasty harsh spot in the mid-stroke of the fork if you’ve got too much weight over the front while skimming across rocks. She’s no floater over the rocky stuff, but the suspension could easily be tweaked to find a better compromise.
As for the engine, the power curve is strong and linear from bottom-to-mid and generates traction the higher it revs. It’s the kind of power that would pull holeshots off the line of a slick grasstrack motocross, because there’s no hit or spike in the power.
The response of the EFI engine is great considering the gear ratios are quite broad. And, with its six-speed gearbox, it’s not likely you’re going to run out of legs in any high-speed trail situation.
All said and done, it’s a fun bike to ride and very capable in any terrain. It could be a great race package with a little weight trimmed down and some personalised suspension mods, too.