MXA RACE TEST: THE REAL TEST OF THE 2022 GASGAS MC 250F

THE GEAR: Jersey: Alpinestars Fluid Speed, Pants: Alpinestars Fluid Speed, Helmet: Alpinestars Supertech M10, Goggles: Scott Prospect, Boots: Alpinestars Tech 10.

Q: FIRST AND FOREMOST, IS THE 2022 GASGAS MC 250F BETTER THAN THE 2021 GASGAS MC 250F?

A: No. We never expected a new GasGas MC 250F in only the second year of production.  

Q: HOW DOES THE 2022 GASGAS MC 250F DIFFER FROM THE 2022 KTM 250SXF?

A: The GasGas engineers were tasked with building a third Austrian-spec’ed machine that would be different enough from a KTM or Husky to give it the illusion of being an all-new machine, but not so different that it would scare potential buyers away. Here are the 13 things that make the GasGas different. 

(1) Price. The price of the GasGas MC 250F is $8700. That is $800 less than the $9500 Husky FC250, $700 less than the $9400 KTM 250SXF, $100 more than the $8600 YZ250F, $300 more than the $8400 Kawasaki KX250, $600 more than the $8100 Honda CRF250 and $800 more than the $7900 Suzuki RM-Z250.

(2) Suspension. All three Austrian brands (KTM, Husky and GasGas) share the same WP XACT forks and shock. While the Husky and KTM have the same internal valving, the MC 250F has valving that is midway between an off-road and motocross suspension setup. GasGas’ suspension setup is softer and more absorbent than typical motocross numbers, but is still capable of managing big hits better than off-road forks.

(3) Swingarm. The GasGas swingarm is different from the KTM 250SXF unit, but that’s because it has been borrowed from Husqvarna.

(4) Triple clamps. Instead of the CNC-machined, billet triple clamps from the KTM or Husky, the GasGas MC 250F comes with forged-aluminum triple clamps from the off-road models. A downgrade? Not really, because Honda, Yamaha, Kawasaki and Suzuki all use forged clamps. The main reason that GasGas went with forged instead of billet was to keep the cost down—forged triple clamps are cheaper to make (when the molds already exist).

(5) Handlebars. The silver-coated handlebars are the exact same Neken bars as on the KTM 250SXF. Only the color has been changed. Plus, the GasGas comes with a downsized crossbar pad.

(6) Bar mounts. KTM and Husky bar mounts have rubber cones under the mounts to cut down on engine vibration. The GasGas bar mounts do not have rubber buffers. Without the rubber buffer, there is more vibration at the bars.

(7) Plastic. The plastic is the most obvious difference—and the most controversial. It’s red, and Hondas are also red; however, the GasGas machine is a deeper red than Honda’s Tahitian Red. All the plastic on the GasGas is different from the Husky’s and KTM’s, save for the fork guards, mudflap and gas cap.  

(8) Seat. The seat base is a KTM part number (and even has the KTM logo molded into the bottom of it), but the seat foam and seat cover are different. The foam is noticeably softer, and the shape of the seat is rounder than that of the KTM. The seat cover material is midway between KTM’s more grippy seat cover and the slicker Husky cover. 

(9) Tires. In a money-saving move, GasGas spec’ed Maxxis’ best performance tires, the Jeremy McGrath-designed MaxxCross MX-ST tires.

(10) Rims. Although they are unbranded, they are the same Takasago Excel rims as on the KTM 250SXF but without the black anodizing.  

(11) Exhaust. The MC 250F doesn’t have the bulbous resonance chamber that so many people think makes the KTM 250SXF pipe look like a two-stroke pipe. It was a cost-cutting move by GasGas.

(12) Map switch. The KTM and Husqvarna come with Traction Control, Launch Control,  Map 1 and Map 2. The GasGas comes stock with only Map 1.  

(13) Hour meter. The KTM 250SXF and Husqvarna FC250 have triple clamp-mounted hour meters, but GasGas’ slimmer and narrower forged triple clamps do not have room for the hour meter. Your friendly local GasGas dealer can sell you an hour meter bracket (p/n # 7811-2920-044) for under $10.

GasGas’ WP suspension isn’t aimed at Pro riders as much as vets, novices and lighter riders. The forks are a blend of off-road and motocross valving, while the shock has a lighter spring and plusher damping.

Q: WHERE DID GASGAS MAKE COMPROMISES ON THE MC 250F?

A: The GasGas MC 250F could easily run just like the KTM 250SXF if the GasGas engineers had wanted it to. It is only a couple parts short of being the most powerful 250cc four-stroke on the track. Here is a quick rundown of how to turn the GasGas MC 250F into a world beater.

(1) Airbox cover. While the stock 2002 GasGas airbox cover looks identical to the stock 2022 KTM airbox cover, they are different. KTM’s dirt deflector winglet is smaller and less restrictive than the GasGas winglet. The GasGas winglet chokes off most of the air going into the airbox. We cut the winglet off to improve throttle response, and we didn’t stop there. We put KTM’s vented airbox cover on our GasGas MC 250F. The color was wrong and the fit wasn’t perfect, but the engine could breathe even more.

(2) Map switch. The GasGas does not have the KTM multi-switch that lets you switch between two ECU maps, Traction Control and Launch Control; however, all of those features are embedded into the GasGas ECU. All you have to do is order the KTM multi-switch from your friendly local KTM dealer. It plugs into a fitting behind the front number plate. Without the switch, the GasGas is always in KTM’s Map 1.  

(3) Exhaust. The GasGas exhaust system does not get the resonance chamber found on the KTM 250SXF and Husqvarna FC250. This is not the end of the world. A resonance chamber’s biggest contribution is reducing sound by approximately 1 decibel, but since the GasGas passes the AMA sound standards as is, the lack of a resonance chamber is a non-issue. The GasGas MC 250F doesn’t need help in the power department, as it is tied for the most horsepower at 8000 rpm and has the second-most torque of all the 250 four-strokes.

(4) Triple clamps. We liked the forged triple clamps in the rough but had some complaints when cornering. 

Lots of KTM racers made the switch to the GasGas in spite of the fact that it wasn’t as well-spec’ed. They felt that what they lost in components they gained back in the GasGas’ sleeker ergos, easy-to-use power and plusher feel.

Q: HOW GOOD IS THE GASGAS MC 250F SUSPENSION?

A: The fork and shock on the 2022 GasGas MC 250F are the same components as on the KTM and Husky—with a few caveats. First, they are not shortened like the Husky forks and shock (we wish they were, because every MXA test rider loves the FC250’s lower center of gravity). Second, the GasGas XACT air forks have lighter damping to make them feel plusher and more absorbent than the KTM and Husky setup. Third, GasGas spec’ed a 42 N/mm shock spring to appeal to younger and lighter riders, instead of the 45 N/mm springs on the KTM and Husky. Fourth, the GasGas suspension profile was not designed with Pro riders in mind. 

That does not mean the GasGas suspension isn’t as good as the KTM or Husqvarna versions. It just means that it is aimed at a different demographic—one that is not well-served by stiffer, firmer, higher-riding forks and shocks. GasGas’ compression and rebound damping are lighter than the KTM 250SXF setup, but they are stiff enough at full stroke to resist bottoming. 

If you are a Pro, you will find them to be too soft, but what real Pro leaves his suspension stock? The GasGas setup is for the vast majority of regular folk—novices, vets, old-timers, trail riders and play riders. Conversely, it isn’t well-suited to riders over 185 pounds because of its softer 42 N/mm shock spring. If you are heavier or faster than your racing buddies, you will probably want the 45 N/mm spring from the KTM or Husky.

Q: HOW DOES THE 2022 MC 250F CORNER?

 A: The MXA test riders liked the comfort level afforded by the flex of the forged triple clamps, but at the same time they complained about vagueness at turn-in. The flex in the forged triple clamp caused a classic oversteer/understeer condition. The combination of the softer suspension settings in the WP components, forged triple clamps and Maxxis front tire makes the MC 250F handle differently from the KTM 250SXF. It’s not a big difference by any means, but it’s noticeable. The MC 250F sits lower in the stroke with the softer suspension settings, and that made test riders complain about oversteer in and understeer out of turns. The culprit was the flex of the forged-aluminum triple clamps. 

We loved the flex of the forged clamps in the rough, but it made the front of the GasGas feel vague on corner entrance; it tucked on entrance and pushed from center-out. Our quick fix was to up the stock torque specs to 22 N/mm on the top and 17 N/mm on the bottom. With the added pinch-bolt torque, the vagueness at turn-in was reduced. Eventually, we tested stock KTM billet triple clamps and three sets of aftermarket clamps on our GasGas. They increased the precision of the MC 250F’s front end even more.

If you are bothered by the vagueness at turn-in of the stock GasGas clamp, check around your local track for KTM and Husqvarna friends who have purchased aftermarket triple clamps for their bikes. That means they aren’t using their stock clamps. This lend/lease KTM triple clamp will make the front of your GasGas handle identically to a KTM or Husky with the trade-off of not being as cushy as the stock GasGas clamps in the rough. 

What does the MC 250F lack? The map switch, billet triple clamps, resonance chamber and black rims. What isn’t missed? The high price. The MC 250F retails for the same price as the YZ250F.

Q: WHAT DID WE HATE?

A: The hate list:

(1) Airbox. GasGas needs to offer an optional airbox cover like KTM and Husky, so the engine can breathe. The stock one is very restrictive. You can order vented GasGas airbox co-vers from UFO Plastic (in red, white or black).

(2) Spokes. The spoke by the rim lock comes loose quickly. Watch it closely on day one (make that hour one).

(3) Bleed screws. GasGas, please change the fork’s bleed screws from the Torx back to the Phillips screws of a few years ago. 

(4) Preload ring. The plastic preload ring needs to be beefed up; it gets chewed up easily.

(5) Fork adjuster. The thin, short fork clicker adjuster hurt our fingers after a few clicks. 

(6) Bar pad. The GasGas bar pad looks like it was made for the GasGas MC 50cc mini. It’s stylishly small but minimally protective. 

(7) Front tire. We think the Maxxis rear is a good tire, while the front still needs Jeremy McGrath to do a little more testing.

(8) Gearing. For a 250, it is geared very tall with 14/51 sprockets. If you want quicker and more responsive low-to-mid power, gear it down by changing the gear ratios to 14/52 (3.714 ratio) or 13/50 (3.846 ratio).

Q: WHAT DID WE LIKE?

A: The like list:

(1) Weight. The 217-pound GasGas is in the exclusive under-220-pound club with its Austrian counterparts. The Honda is the only Japanese-made 250 that comes close. 

(2) Brakes. The GasGas shares the KTM’s great Brembo brakes. 

(3) Ergonomics. The GasGas MC 250F offers more flex and comfort than the other two Austrian bikes, making it easier to adapt to. Minimal changes are needed to feel comfortable.

(4) Air filter. We love how foolproof it is to put an air-filter cage into the KTM, Husky or GasGas airbox. 

(5) Hydraulic clutch. The Brembo hydraulic clutch takes all that a rider can dish out. 

(6) Power. The 250SXF, FC250 and MC 250F all share the best engine in the class. Why? Because the engine is identical on the three bikes, leaving any differences to the GasGas’s money-saving mods. The 2022 GasGas makes 42.5 horsepower and 20.5 pound-feet of torque

(7) Silver rims. Yeah, yeah, yeah, you want black rims, but MXA races its bikes every weekend, and we change tires every three races. Black and blue rims get scratched by tire irons and peppered by roost. Silver rims don’t show the wear and tear.

(8) Braided steel brake hoses. The GasGas comes stock with a minimal-expansion PTFE brake/clutch hoses with a 64-strand braided steel overlay. 

(9) Suspension. The only riders who won’t love the suspension setup are fast guys.  

(10) Price. Anybody who says that an $800 price cut isn’t a big deal needs to take the silver spoon out of his helmet.

Q: WHAT DO WE REALLY THINK OF THE 2022 GASGAS MC 250F?

A: That’s simple—affordability. You can get all the great KTM 250SXF components for $800 less. GasGas’ target market is guys who ride a few times a month and want a bike that has all the potential to be a world-beater but none of the complexity. The MC 250F doesn’t have all the bells and whistles of its Austrian brothers, but it is a pretty sweet ride without them. Think about it: many riders never engage Traction Control, use Launch Control, haven’t a clue how a resonance chamber works or knew that Japanese-made bikes had forged triple clamps, too. Yes, the GasGas would be even better if it had all the bells and whistles of the KTM, but it would cost more.

Best of all, thanks to platform sharing, the GasGas MC 250F’s chassis, engine and running gear have already had years of R&D put into them. If you want a red bike that offers the same powerful brakes, bulletproof electric starter, no-tools airbox, lock-on grips, time-tested engine, hydraulic clutch, braided-steel brake hoses, steel clutch basket and class-leading light weight at a discount, the MC 250F is for you. 

The GasGas MC 250F shares its powerful brakes, incredible diaphragm clutch, Pankl transmission, high-revving powerband, and flawless handling with its KTM and Husqvarna brethren.

MXA’S 2022 GASGAS MC 250F SETUP SPECS 

This is how we set up our 2022 GasGas MC 250F for racing. We offer it as a guide to help you find your own sweet spot.

48MM XACT FORK SETTINGS
In stock trim, the WP XACT forks offered a plush setting that featured excellent bottoming resistance. Most MXA test riders didn’t drift away from the stock clicker settings. When we noticed that some test riders weren’t using all of the WP fork’s travel, we turned the compression clickers out until they used the entire stroke. We did notice that the front end felt vague in tight corners, but sliding the forks down in the clamps and torquing the triple clamp bolts helped immensely. For hardcore racing, we recommend this fork setting for an average rider on the 2022 GasGas MC 250F (stock specs are in parentheses):
Air pressure: 151 psi (Intermediates), 145 psi (fast Novices), 140 psi (Vets and Novices)
Compression: 12 clicks out
Rebound: 12 clicks out
Fork-leg height: Second line
Notes: Remember to check pressure every day that you go out, and be sure to bleed those pesky air screws to release built-up incidental air pressure.

WP SHOCK SETTINGS
This is a good all-around shock. Although we do make clicker adjustments, we rarely stray far from the stock 15 clicks out on compression. The shock can be dialed in with only a few clicker changes. As a rule of thumb, most MXA test riders leave the low-speed compression on the stock setting and focus on the high-speed dial to make the changes. Our only issue, which only applies to heavier or faster riders, is the 42 N/mm shock spring. For hardcore racing, we recommend this shock setup for the 2022 GasGas MC 250F (stock specs are in parentheses):
Spring rate: 42 N/mm
Race sag: 105mm
Hi-compression: 1-1/4 turns out (1-1/2 turns out)
Lo-compression: 15 clicks out
Rebound: 10 clicks out
Notes: For heavier racers, the stock 42 N/mm shock spring is going to be on the soft side. If you are outside of the recommended free-sag numbers, switch to a 45 N/mm spring.

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