GasGas 700ES or CRF300L?
The donkey and the stallion


When I was planning the recent Lake District wet-weather-gear-test I had a very particular problem. 

What was our mileage likely to be?

In fact, EXACTLY what was our mileage going to be?

Because one of the bikes on the test was a brand spanking new GasGas 700ES, fully kitted out with the new Adventure Spec hard parts. 

And whatever we did, I needed to get that bike to a dealer with as close to 600 first service miles on it as possible. 

The warranty tax needed to be paid.

The CRF300L on the other hand, the first service has been done and dusted so no problems there. 

I fully planned to ring it's little neck out to keep up with it's bigger cousin.

The 700ES was sporting the full suite of new Adventure Spec Hard Parts. This included Fairing, Crash Bars, Skid Plate, Oil Filter Guard, Big Foot, Side and Top Luggage Racks.

The aluminium Luggage Racks hug the bikes bodywork and are designed to accommodate a range of luggage options. In this instance I mounted Kriega OS12 panniers to each side and a US5 pack to the top. The OS12s contained a sleeping bag and change of clothes, the US5 a set of tools. We were not camping so could travel even lighter than usual for a multi-day trip.

Up front I used a Garmin Montana 700i for navigation that I swapped from the 700ES to the 300L as required. Neither of the Garmin mounts were powered and the battery lasted fine all day, to be charged up over night.


The CRF300L had mostly matching Hard Parts and was mounted with Adventure Spec Magadan Panniers for the trip. These are probably a little large for an overnighter but it was a good opportunity to test them loaded up on the 300L using Adventure Spec racks. Suspension was totally stock.

Our trip would take us from Northumberland, up over the high peak of Alston down into the Lake District and back across the edge of Yorkshire and through County Durham. Some of the finest roads and trails in the north of England.

Sharing riding duties with me was Chris who was kitted out in the new Gravel Jacket and Pant, whilst I wore the Gravel Jacket and Singletrack Pant which are also designed to work seamlessly together. The Gravel gear is really designed for riders who are spending more time on road and... well gravel, than harder trails so this trip was a good mix to see how it performed in those conditions PLUS some of the tricker stuff we were to encounter.  

So, how did I find the new 700ES?

The bike is tall. 

I am short. 

That was my first impression. As a shortie I'm used to riding tall bikes but even so, this thing felt TALL. The suspension is stiff, the seat is very firm, and basically, its height unloaded was pretty much the same as its height loaded. I put my 'hang my arse off one side' practice to good use whenever I came to a stop. Swinging my leg over it with luggage took some concentration. Chris opted for the 'step up on the footpeg while the side stand is still down' approach which looked to work well. 

In comparison, the 300L is far less intimidating, it's lower and due to its saggy stock suspension, you sit on it and it is sinks even lower. The riding position is more relaxed and along with its laid back engine it's much more in the 'comfy sofa' adventure bike category.  

On the road the 700ES can shift, crack it open and you are at 70mph in a blink. The quick shifter was a revelation, I loved being able to go up and down the gears one handed - super handy when using the other hand to hold a camera. The Adventure Spec fairing performed well, pushing air up to the top of my helmet. I had a quick go on Rupert's 701 with Rade fairing and I would say the wind deflection was comparable.

In comparison, the 300L on the road by default potters along. I almost felt like I was jumping onto a bicycle when I swapped bikes. There was no sense of speed or power, but then again I did start looking around and taking in more of the scenery. 

Here's the interesting thing though. 

On the twisties I found that I could ride the 300L fast. 

In some ways faster than the 700ES. 

My right hand had that 300L throttle wide open, riding right up at the top end of the rev range, the bike was screaming, but it was also shifting. 

It was a lot of fun! 

I think there was an element of knowing you were less likely to over-cook it into a corner on the 300L which meant I could enjoy it more. 

There's that saying isn't there, 'it's more fun riding a slow bike fast than a fast bike slow'.

On the trails though the 300L on stock suspension was much less exciting. 

I was laughing in my helmet but that was at the sheer ridiculous of it. 

I was bucking up and down like a broken donkey, and on the steeper rockier descents I had no connection between my bars and the track, the front stock suspension was just doing whatever it wanted to do and I was a passenger. 

The 700ES, despite its tall stance, sailed over most of the trails. Blip your right hand and the front end drifts lightly over obstacles. The suspension is firm but it worked well. 

Which bike was better?

Ah, there is no better, you should know that by now. 

There's only better for you - and I have no idea who you are or what you want out of your bike. 

The 700ES was certainly more exciting, faster, more comfortable over tricker terrain. It's very VERY capable. 

Is it the unicorn? Probably. 

Does it make the most compromises?


The CRF300L was slower and much bouncier. 

But it made me smile a LOT. 

And for Chris, who was riding the most technical trails he's ever done, despite wanting to stay on the 700ES, jumped on the 300L and paddled his way up and down everything the Lake District threw at him.

We made it back home with just enough miles not-on-the-clock to allow me to get the 700ES to its first service with (probably) sub 600 miles on the clock. 

The next post is going to be a quick fire list of the new kit and tips I learned riding with new friends and no tent. 


Greg Villalobos

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