Injection of fury
Test by Ray Macarthur. Pics by Nigel Paterson
THE new 2010 EC 450 FSE looks fast standing still in its black livery. You can feel competition running through its veins from the moment you sit on it.
A quick look around the bike and it doesn’t take long to see all the lightweight trick quality parts that make this machine race ready out of the box.
From the lightweight alloy muffler to the battery-less fuel injection and hydraulic operated brakes and clutch it’s every bit performance thoroughbred. If it’s a serious enduro race bike you want the EC 450 FSR Gas Gas has the goods.
A quick once over
The 450 Gas Gas engine in the FSE has always used fuel injection. Last year it was changed from the Magneti Marelli injection to the Kokusan battery-less EFI so the bike will run without a battery. If that happened you will have to kick start it but it will run.
Unlike the earlier version and other fuel injected dirt bikes out there the Kokusan system uses a sensor in the air intake and so will adjust the mapping to allow for different exhausts and intake modifications so it runs more efficiently.
The black plastic 7.5 litre fuel tank is slim and great to manoeuvre around but the range it offers is a little less impressive. The fuel injected engine is very fuel efficient so it doesn’t need as big a fuel tank as a carburettor-fed donk.
Once the fuel level gets below full the design of the tank makes it very difficult to see how much fuel you have left and you can easily be surprised when the low fuel light comes on, leaving you around 1.5 to 1.8 litres to find more fuel.
We had the low fuel light come on after about 70km of tight single tracks. Between 90 and 100 km will probably pull this bike up on a good trail ride.
Years ago enduro bikes came with long range tanks. What happened to that? But it is light and very slim and should be big enough to get you between fuel dumps on race days.
For those who want a longer ride between fuel stops I believe Safari Tanks in Victoria offer a replacement with almost double the capacity of the standard tank.
There are two holes in the top of the triple clamps so there is plenty of adjustment allowing you to get the handlebar mounts where you feel comfortable.
Sitting centre stage of the tapered alloy handlebars the multipurpose digital readout looks and works the part. It is backlit, functional and easy to read.
There is no keyed ignition but there is a steering lock to make things a little less easy for thieves.
I didn’t ride in the dark but the quartz halogen headlight looks like it should do a pretty good job.
The 48mm forks are USD Sachs with 290mm travel. The Sachs rear shock has a 320mm stroke. All have fully adjustable compression and rebound with high and low speed compression on the rear and as we found when you get them right the front in particular makes a huge difference to the way this bike comes together.
Each click of the adjustment on the Sachs forks makes quite a difference to the way the suspension reacts in comparison to the Marzocchi’s used on the little brother EC 250 FSR.
The front upright tube of the chromemoly perimeter frame also acts as the oil reservoir for the dry sump engine, using a rear sub-frame made from alloy.
Plastic covers protect the frame from your boots to stop them wearing the paint off your new baby.
At the rear of the seat a single bolt allows removal to access the foam air filter. A finger operated cam lock would have been a nice touch here to make a filter change a tool free easy operation.
The alloy gear change lever has a flexible tip and the foot brake lever has an adjustable and replaceable tip.
Everything is lightweight and built strong and it is a joy to run your eye over.
Swinging a leg over the EC450 you notice the height of the grippy seat. It feels tall but comfortable and commanding. The footpegs are a decent size and feel nice and high without making you feel cramped.
Clutch travel felt light and progressive but needed to be pulled almost in all the way to the handlebar and tended to drag a little occasionally.
Nissin brakes felt very good both front and back and never had an issue pulling the bike up effectively and providing good feel when you need it.
Like the clutch these were hydraulically operated with nice steel braided hoses to keep the fluid pressure under control.
The lightweight brush-guards proved surprisingly more durable than they first appeared and successfully kept the greenery off the levers. Of course they won’t save your levers if you stuff them into the ground.
When we first took the bike out the suspension felt noticeably firm and the compression damping felt harsh on any bumps. Any good jolts made the steering a bit of a handful, causing forearm pump even kicking the handlebar out of my left hand coming down a quick rocky stepped section.
This result left me riding one handed like a rodeo rider and lucky not to come off.
The steering was sharp, light and fast which was great in tight single track, but hard hits on the front suspension made it very tiring to control.
Chasing a fix we backed the compression screw on the bottom of the forks almost all the way out leaving the rebound and rear suspension adjusters set at mid setting.
The transformation was amazing with my forearm pump disappearing straight away. Suddenly the front had manners, response and felt great.
After that it just all came together. If you set the suspension up right it will reward you in spades, get it wrong and you will hate it so take the time to get it right.
The engine is a star. The magic button fires it into life with a nice deep and muffled note through a very great lightweight alloy silencer that lets all its horses run free.
The bottom end of the power range pulls away easily and gives the engine great breadth, maybe not as strong as some low down, but the power progresses to a very strong midrange and hard hitting top end with great legs
It’s a very flexible engine born to race. The harder this engine revs the more this bike rewards you.
Powering through six well spaced gears you can find corners arriving faster than your mind so make sure you pay attention. There always seemed to be a gear for the job. Top gear has long legs and will sit comfortably at 110kmh on the open road.
A great feature of fuel injection is even after the bike falls over it will fire back into life without a problem, no fuel leaks, no fuel taps, no flooding, no problems.
The twin radiators keep the water cooled engine happy but if the going gets real tough and you move so slow the wind don’t blow there’s a thermo fan on the right side to keep things cool.
Some riders boots tend to catch on the side cover over the airbox which can be a little irritating at times.
It really depends what boots you are wearing as it is the plastic armour patches sewn on them that can cause the problem. It can be an irritation but not a deal breaker.
Considering this bike had only done 1000km and about 20hours I was disappointed to see those great looking stickers starting to come off in several places.
Another annoyance was the nice alloy sidestand which only has a very small foot and seemed to sink into almost anything that resembled anything less than rock hard dirt allowing the bike to fall if you don’t watch it.
It does tuck nicely out of the way when up so it won’t come down when you bottom out.
This bike definitely feels fast and has been built to ride hard and at 117kg feels very light and manoeuvrable. The engine just wants to go racing and once the suspension has been sorted out everything else will fall into place.
At $11,950.00 (inc GST, + ORC) and with a 12 month warranty this is a bike to take seriously. The 2010 EC 450 FSR will again prove the pedigree that has won the brand so much respect in the trials bike world. It bristles with quality and has looks to kill.
Always a forerunner in the technology and performance I’d expect to be seeing this bike at the pointy end of the field come race day.
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