In town it’s quick enough to blow anything away, it’s tall enough to see over cars, it’ll cope on back roads but the urban environment is where it’s at.
This is a Gas Gas, built by the men famous for their awesome off-roaders. It has a 50bhp two-stroke 250 in an enduro frame, so it’s all off the bottom in a screaming two-stroke roar and though it will pull to 80-odd mph that’s not where it feels comfortable. Where it feels comfortable is ripping out of junctions, front wheel just crossed up and a few inches of air between it and the ground. Irresponsible it most definitely is. But it is also an absolute screaming riot of revs and two-stroke smoke.
Some bikes make you feel emotions you haven’t felt since you were first learning to ride. That 125 two-stroke then on to the 250 where you learnt to live for the powerband, the burble at low revs and the wait for the front wheel to go light as the powerband kicks in. That’s what this bike is all about. Just looking at the thing evokes a certain desire to get on it and go a bit loopy. Like its enduro cousin it’s sparse with no creature comforts just a few minimal things like indicators, a couple of lights and a speedo that looks like its been nicked from a mountain bike.
The stand kicks up so high so it doesn’t ground out or catch when it was an off-road bike and if you ever do buy a set of enduro wheels and tyres there’s a strap to keep the stand out of the way on the left-hand side panel.
Then there’s those 17inch spoked wheels with Michelin Pilot Sport tyres and that huge 310mm front disc and gold-coloured Brembo four-piston caliper. If ever a bike looked overrbraked it’s this one.
The disc looks almost as big as the wheel and then you’ve got those fat upside down forks, Marzocchi on this bike, though some will come with WP forks and a fully-adjustable Ohlins rear shock. There’s a tiny rear light and indicators and a small headlight, so it’s road-legal.
The big expansion chamber pipe is polished and looks absolutely beautiful and the silencer, if you can call it that, exits right high out of the back.
Starting it up takes you back to that two-stroke youth thing too. Pull the choke lever up and give it a big boot. It’s tall but most people should be alright though don’t expect the seat height to drop by a few inched when you sit on it. This isn’t a motocross bike, it’s designed to take Tarmac corners in anger so the suspension’s much stiffer than you’d have on the enduro bike the Supermotard 250 stemmed from.
Once its off choke it sounds pure like only a real two-stroke can and it’s a pretty lairy ride. The gearing is short and you can be through the gearbox in a few seconds, literally. By the time you get there it will be doing about 85mph but it’s much happier riding a lot slower than that.
Some bikes make you feel slightly naughty when you get on them. This is one of them. It’s happy to pick its front wheel up as you might expect from a bike weighing in at 120kg making 50bhp.
Round town it’s a blast pulling on the slightly spongy brake lever until it feels like the rear wheel is going to overtake your head and pulling away from the lights in a riot of noise and smoke as it gets on pipe.
Out of town to get the most fun from it you need to find the smallest backroad possible and go in to feet-out mode pushing the bike down through corners. It handles well and it would be hilarious showing up at a roundabout at the weekend on this and lapping until you fry a set of kneesliders.
But get it on an open road even for 10-miles and it starts to become less fun. It vibrates your every bone through the footrests and the seat, which in itself feels like its going to be impaled between your cheeks. At filling up time it’s out with the two-stroke bottle and a pre-mix of 40:1.
But the slight niggles hardly matter. It’s not practical and that’s what makes it such fun. You arrive at your destination with the smell of two-stroke on your clothes. And it stays with you all day. And damn it smells good.