Gas ‘n’ Air
Ever since the death of Gas Gas’ Pampera models, certain riders have been casting around for a lightweight, manoeuvrable little trail bike that can distinguish itself at Long Distance Trials. It’s a small sector of the market admittedly, but one that’s poorly catered for, and which Gas Gas have pretty much had to themselves. These are the riders at whom bikes like the Yamaha Serow, Beta Alp or Scorpa T-Ride are aimed, but none of these machines is really a match for the Randonne in terms of tackling a green lane ‘section’.
That’s because unlike the other models the Randonne is basically designed as a trials machine first, and a trailie second. Obviously it’s not a competition model, more like a trials bike for beginners, but nevertheless the geometry and ergonomics are more or less those of a modern trials bike: the pegs are rear-set, putting most of your weight at the back of the bike where it has most effect, and meaning that the front wheel ‘rides very light’. And you lean your body forward in that typical trials-like stance.
There is what looks to be a slightly engorged fuel tank sat between the top frame rails and while this only holds a meagre four litres of fuel that’s theoretically good enough for about 75-80 miles of riding. Or at least it would be were it not for the fact that the fuel line goes uphill (from the base of the tank over the top of the engine) meaning that the last half litre of fuel is likely to remain little more than ballast.
Obviously modern triallers don’t have any sort of seat because you don’t sit down on them, but this being a hybrid trialler/trailie there’s a stepped saddle suspended across the middle of the machine like a bridge for when you want to sit down on the road between trails. I had worried that this seat which looks a bit like an afterthought would force you into the ‘birthing position’ making you the butt of all jokes among your riding mates, but that turns out not to be the case at all. It’s not particularly comfortable I grant you - it’s a bit too narrow for that - and you do need to sit on the rear hump rather than in the front position, but it’s more than tolerable for shortish stints in the saddle and actually much better than it looks.
So the Randonne has a trials-type steel chassis from which is suspended a little air-cooled Yamaha TT-R125 engine. Make no mistake this is a brilliant little lump. Quiet, smooth, narrow, refined and remarkably willing given its meagre capacity. Scorpa use the same engine in one of their junior trials bikes and of course it’s been used to power the TTR125 trailie/playbike and various other machines for a number of years so it has a proven pedigree in this sort of application. It is quite frankly a brilliant little motor and what it lacks in cubes it more than makes up for in the way it develops its power in a grunty little way. It doesn’t like stalling (which is good on sections and especially so for novices) so there’s no real need to keep it revving, just keep a (watchful) finger on the clutch and let the motor get on and do its thing.
The bottom of the motor is well protected - by the way - by a thick/smooth trials-style alloy sump-plate, which not only allows it to rock its way over fallen logs, but should also ensure no harm ever comes to the engine. We like that.
We also like the weight. The Randonne tipped the digi RUST scales to the tune of just… 88kg. That’s downright featherweight for a trailie, and not too shabby for a trialler either - especially one that has full road legality, a proper seat, a full tank of fuel and a four-stroke engine. No wonder it’s so easy to chuck around.