Ossa TR280i Trials Test
Sometimes motorcycle innovations come from the highly advanced laboratories of our most technologically sophisticated manufacturers. Other times, it is hard-working imaginative minds in shops barely larger than a nicely outfitted garage.
Bringing the storied Ossa name out of nearly 30 years of hibernation, a small team of Spanish enthusiasts lead by project manager Josep Serra has produced a new mototrial (aka observed trials) bike that has a number of design features that certainly tickle our gearhead fancies.
Most interesting is the Ossa TR280i’s 272cc two-stroke motor. Not only does it boast electronic fuel injection-something you do not see on any MX or enduro two strokes- but it also has a front case-reed intake, as well as a cylinder that angles back a radical 45 degrees.
The exhaust exits from the back into a beautifully integrated silencer. The TR280i’s chassis offers some tricks of its own, including a 3.2-quart (yes, quart) cast aluminum fuel tank that replaces the frame’s front downtubes. The airbox is behind the tank, and then the radiator tucks in behind that- stunning. The frame is primarily chromoly tubing that is TIG welded to various cast aluminum structures, including the steering head.
Other goodies include a spoked tubeless rear rim, which has the distinction of using one-piece spokes and no interior rubber band to help seal the rim. Forks are by Marzocchi and the shock is an Öhlins TTX unit.
Claimed dry weight for the TR280i is just less than 148 pounds. Like fuel-injected motocrossers, the Ossa lacks a battery and must be kickstarted. High compression makes kicking the TR280i a challenge, and a first-kick start requires patience to set up and brute force to execute.
Once fired up, the Ossa’s performance is something of a cross between a two- and four-stroke. The EFI works its magic here, as the bike runs smoothly and tractably at low speeds. However, give it a twist of throttle, and the 272cc engine lets its full potential be known.
Full throttle is not for the faint of heart in a trials section. Ossa offers a number of programs for the Kokusan EFI, so the power delivery can be customized to the specific needs of the rider and conditions.
Handling is excellent, though the steering stops make their presence known a bit early. The TR280i feels as light as it is, and the centralization of mass is best felt when lofting the front end around turns (called a “floater”) and when popping up and over boulders.
Mototrials has been a sport characterized by consistent evolution since the last revolution-single shock rear suspension in 1984. The Ossa TR280i is another successful step in that process, and one that you don’t need to be a fan of mototrials or off-roading to appreciate.
- Helmet: Shoei TR-3
- Eyewear: Smith Optics
- Jersey, gloves, and pants: Axo
- Boots: Gaerne Balance