Comparison Cannondale E 440 R -Gas Gas EC 450 FSE

Comparison Cannondale E 440 R / Gas Gas EC 450 FSE

Splash Sportsman

Two top athletes who hang on the hypodermic needle for better or worse, in comparison: Is the injection of the two four-stroke Enduros from Cannondale and Gas Gas useful as a doping agent?

What the motorcyclist does not enjoy at all, the local winter, has positive sides for the motorcycle tester: Finally there is a lot of delicious news to test, and because of the adverse climatic conditions, the boss regularly sends the team to southern climes. To where the hottest enduro paradises can be found next to sunny photo weather. Around the south of France, in the Haute Ardèche area, where the more than 500 hectare A2O ( Enduro site (, run by former enduro and trial professional Albert Addesso, is waiting for guests near Annonay. Off-road fans from beginners to professionals will find great opportunities here, both with their own and rented machines. An ideal test area to test sports enduro bikes like Gas Gas or Cannondale under the toughest conditions. Also included in this comparison: Richard Angot, battle-tested tester of the French sister magazine Moto Crampons, who organized the 450 series gas from the French importer after his German colleague was unable to provide his machine.
Tea dissimilar candidates have one thing in common: Instead of the usual carburetor, the mixture is prepared by an electronically controlled injection system (see box on page 55). Cannondale, up to now a bicycle specialist, began developing a high-tech enduro back in 1998, whose engine with the unusual, inverted cylinder head was designed for injection systems from the start. But the capricious machine suffered from so many teething problems that it was not even exported. In the USA, the copies sold were mainly in the factory for conversion measures. The project was on the brink, only continued last year after new money was pumped into the company. A revised model was recently presented (MOTORAD 19/2002), which is now coming to Europe at the rather daunting price of 10,600 euros.
Gas Gas has a completely different background. Unlike the Americans, the Spaniards are not new to the industry, but have been in the off-road business for many years. Until recently, only with two-stroke engines, but the trend towards four-stroke engines is also forcing small trial and enduro specialists to rethink. The in-house four-stroke engine made its debut two years ago as a 400, and has now been drilled out to suit the new regulations. It is a complete in-house development, which externally and technically with the dohc head is strongly based on the Suzuki DR-400 engine. The FSE is also not a special offer at around 8,000 euros, but it is reasonably priced.
So the motorcycles are ready, but where is the hoped-for, sunny photo and test weather? There is snow on the hilltops above the test area and an icy wind is blowing. Even around noon it stays dark. The photographer gets nervous, since you could have stayed in Germany. But where, please, are there such wonderful enduro tracks? So: gentlemen, start your engines. What immediately raises problems: The Cannondale toggles with difficulty, finally, mercifully, just starts. The gas gas cannot be brought to life, neither with the e-starter nor the kick starter. Only a jump start cable provides the necessary electricity. So no glory for the developers, it is precisely such adverse conditions that an injection system should better cope with.
The Cannondale rattles and rattles, and runs extremely bumpy even when warm. You therefore need a relatively high idle speed. Even so, the engine often dies off-road, slap, always at exactly the wrong time. And then the American stubbornly refuses to work. The warm start behavior is as miserable as the cold start of the gas gas: Since the throttle valve is already slightly open due to the high idle gas, the starter hardly manages to turn the crankshaft. You are not allowed to accelerate during the starting process anyway. The battery runs out after just a few seconds. If you are lucky, you stand on the slope, after a short taxiway the 440 always starts immediately. If you stand on the level, you have to seek help in the form of strong pushing staff or a bridging cable due to the lack of Kickstarter.
Once it is running after a cold start, Gas Gas does not have such problems. It starts warm at any time without any problems, then chugs around and healthy with solid idle. Above all, in contrast to the Cannondale, it does not suffer from hiccups, in the slippery stream bed it works bravely with the lowest speeds. Plenty of flywheel mass ensures optimal traction, which is missing, for example, on the new 450cc KTM in hairy situations. The KTM is certainly more aggressive, lively and powerful, but the Gas Gas converts its power optimally and is easy to tame in difficult terrain. The Cannondale performance curve on paper is hardly, but the development in practice is significantly worse. It lacks flexibility, the engine is not directly dependent on the gas. At the top it turns quite well, but in all areas it is more unwilling than the gas-gas drive.
The two injectors also take different routes with the chassis. Gas Gas relies on a perimeter frame made of rectangular steel tubes, Cannondale on a bridge frame with sturdy aluminum profiles. Both make an extremely stable impression when driving. The straight-line stability is flawless at high speeds, handlebar flutter is a foreign concept. On the other hand, there are big differences in steering behavior. The gas gas does not behave differently than usual from the two-stroke engines. It is extremely neutral, neither pushes over the front wheel, nor does it tip over into bends. It can be maneuvered precisely around stones and other obstacles on bumpy terrain and narrow paths in the woods. Only when driving brutally on the special tests of the enduro track is it noticeable that it lacks a little liveliness and agility compared to Yamaha, Husaberg or KTM.
The Cannondale is completely different: it needs a hand as hard as iron to guide, simply does not want to follow the targeted tracks, likes to push over the curves. There is hardly any fun, the Cannondale pilot can only follow the gas gas halfway with extreme concentration and a lot of physical effort. Which is largely due to the suspension setup. The gas gas tuning is optimally prepared for hardcore use, responds very smoothly to every little stone and does not even hit through if you have overlooked a rough hole. The unusual combination of Ohlins shock absorber and Marzocchi fork goes well together. The Americans, on the other hand, rely completely on Ohlins, in principle certainly not a bad choice. But there is a lack of enduro-fine-tuning compatible. The fork is particularly displeasing due to its insensitive response. With cross-typical use, you might still be able to live with that, but with enduro, more sensitivity is required. Tea Cannondale hops through the creek bed, the driver is more concerned with the fight with the machine than with the terrain.
F.azit: Injection is not yet superior to carburetors. But while Gas Gas already has the technology under control, the Americans still have to work hard on their motorcycle.

Comparison of Cannondale E 440 R / Gas Gas EC 450 FSE

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Off-road injections

In the not so distant future, strict emission regulations will also force manufacturers of four-stroke enduro bikes to convert their machines to fuel injection.

In a few years the two-stroke engines will come to an end. But four-stroke engines also have to struggle with the tightened Euro 3 standard that will take effect from 2006, and new machines will then inevitably have to be fueled by injection. The only exception: small series manufacturers are allowed to homologate a maximum of 5000 copies per model throughout Europe until 2008. Thanks to injection systems, Euro 3 is not a major problem for modern road machines; even with an unregulated catalytic converter and secondary air system (SLS), some current models already overcome the exhaust gas hurdles. The enduro single-cylinder cannot do this with the current trim, because they usually have carburettors and so far have not used exhaust gas cleaning. In addition, the large displacements of the single cylinders are more problematic during combustion. Even if it still takes a few years: then all hard enduro bikes like an EXC-Racing-KTM or WR-F-Yamaha are inevitably affected. No need to panic for the big manufacturers. Many of them have a lot of experience with fuel injection from the road sector, and single-cylinder fuel injection is already being tested everywhere. For example, KTM is already experimenting with injection systems both on the new LC 4 series, which is planned for 2006, and on the racing four-stroke engines. The much higher demands on the mixture preparation of off-road machines are problematic. Crossers and enduros run with constant load and speed changes, often the gas is closed in a staccato-like manner in fractions of a second, torn open briefly and then immediately turned off again. Road machines, on the other hand, work more quasi-stationary, the throttle position is usually not changed in a hectic rhythm. Modern carburetors do their job in the off-road area with flying colors, and in combination with ignition management they leave little to be desired in terms of controllability, response behavior and power delivery. Above all, they have a wide range of applications and provide an acceptable mixture even under less than optimal conditions. Injections are much more delicate and need to be precisely tailored to the point. Cross machines that do not need homologation will certainly keep their carburettors until pressure is applied here as well. What is currently not emerging, however, is that the same regulations should then also apply to lawnmowers, for example. This means that the technical difference between enduros and crossers will increase in the future. Because hardly any manufacturer would voluntarily switch to the more complicated and expensive injection systems at the moment, especially since the customer has to pay for the higher development costs and hardware effort anyway. Injections certainly have advantages. For example, the mixture composition can be changed much faster and more extensively than anyone can change jets on the carburetor. But changing the map, for example when tuning an engine, requires more material expenditure for service. The dealers or drivers need computers, test equipment? and above all the appropriate training. This is precisely what poses significant problems for a global mass manufacturer like KTM or Yamaha. A small manufacturer can certainly act and react more flexibly.

Conclusion: Gas Gas EC 450 FSE

The Spaniards are going in a different direction with their sports enduro than most of the current 450cc four-stroke models: away from the disguised crosser, which is primarily designed for the most brutal driving style on prepared special stages, to the classic sports enduro for tough off-road tours with an emphasis on drivability. Tea concept is a success and is particularly suitable for the ambitious off-road amateur. Only sports professionals would like a little less weight and more aggressiveness. The injection works inconspicuously and only needs minimal fine-tuning. Otherwise, the FSE looks extremely round and solidly processed.

Conclusion: Cannondale E 440 R

The courage of the Americans is admirable: As a bicycle specialist without any experience, they dare to try a new enduro development peppered with high-tech features. Even in the fourth year, the machine does not seem to be fully developed. There is certainly potential, but there is a lack of fine-tuning in many details. The injection needs an urgent revision, start and response behavior are in need of improvement. In addition, the Ohlins chassis needs a gentler design, the steering must be made more precise. And finally there are many small things in the details, the function and processing of which can be optimized.

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