2017 Gas Gas Contact 250 Review |
Trials and Trails Tested
The search for the trials bike/trail bike motorcycle chimera has been active for decades. The early 1970s Bultaco Alpina bridged the gap with a motorcycle that had an observed trials bike chassis with a thicker seat, knobby tires, and a high front fender.
Various attempts came and went, including the notable Beta Alp line in the 1990s. In recent times, the KTM X-Ride and Beta X-Trainer emulate the Alpina blueprint with their variations.
Concurrently, there have been kits for trials bikes that install a taller, thicker seat on a trials bike platform. That’s a fairly simply job, if a bit ungainly looking. Spanish motorcycle manufacturer Gas Gas, emerging from a 2015 bankruptcy, took that kit theory and applied it to their own successful trials bike chassis to create the 2017 Gas Gas Contact.
They also made a few other changes to make the Contact more trail worthy, without losing its ability to compete as an observed trials bike.
Gas Gas used an older lower-spec trials bike chassis and motor as a starting point. To turn it into the Contact 250, Gas Gas added an easily removed seat, a fuel tank that holds an additional quart of premix (but still less than a gallon), and more durable Pirelli MT 43 Pro Trial tube tires (trials bikes use tubeless rear tires).
The result is a two-purpose motorcycle—it is a trail bike designed for the most demanding technical trails, as well as a trials bike that can be successfully used in the lower classes of competition.
As an extreme trail bike, the 2017 Gas Gas Contact 250 is an unmitigated success. With an exceptionally low seat height and a wet weight of 170 pounds or so, it can be taken anywhere. Triple black-diamond trails that are treacherous on an enduro bike are child’s play on the Contact 250.
With the Pirelli MT 43 trials-style tires, traction on anything but sandy trails is excellent. Trials tires aren’t the best for loose hillclimbs—real knobbies fair much better—but in most conditions, the Pirellis are fantastic.