Most dirt bike riders will at least recognize the OSSA name as a historic brand. The original Spanish company played a part in the golden era of off-road motorcycling, and it produced street bikes as well, but what many don’t know is that the name has been resurrected. As a new company, OSSA emerged in modern times with a unique trials bike. The 2011 TR280i was engineered from the ground up with certain design features that are unlike anything else on the market.
OSSA designed a fuel-injected, reversed cylinder two-stroke to give the TR280i a unique engine and chassis configuration.
One of MotoUSA’s regular test riders is also a closet trials buff. We enlisted Tod Sciacqua’s help to get a taste of the new bike. OSSA tapped Josep Serra to be the project manager and lead engineer on the TR280i. Serra has a history with GasGas and Scorpa, which just happen to be two brands that our tester has experience with. He owns a Scorpa SY250 and there was a GasGas TXT Pro 300 on hand during our ride day which helped serve as a comparison.
The cylinder is tilted rearward as well as reversed. The purpose of this is to allow room for the fuel injection – yes, FI on a two-stroke – fuel tank, radiator and airbox to be placed at the front of the bike, rather than the top and behind the engine as is the traditional arrangement. A 0.8-gallon fuel cell is placed where the radiator would normally be with the airbox stacked behind it and feeding down into the fuel delivery system. A fan-assisted radiator is behind that, which OSSA claims keeps it free from mud and better able to cool the engine. The powerplant is very compact with a small bottom end that uses a single-piece crankcase with the crankshaft located on the left side and transmission gears on the right. Bore and stroke are 76 x 60mm which makes for a 272cc displacement.
“Sometimes the injection system has been put in the same place as the carburetor would have gone, with the fuel tank at the top of the bike, without considering the option of finding a new position for it,” said Serra. The EFI system is made my Kokusan and is battery-less.
In terms of performance, the injected two-stroke has immediate throttle response and is on par with other bikes of similar displacement. Our test rider had no problems modulating the power output. A six-speed transmission and chain drive takes it to the rear wheel and a hydraulic clutch manages delivery.
“The motor feels smooth and has an easy power delivery, more like my Scorpa 250cc two-stroke. It doesn’t have the violent power of the GasGas,” says long-time trials rider Sciacqua. “If you want to be an expert- or pro-level trials rider I’d rather have that snap to get from gap-to-gap or rock-to-rock. For a beginner or novice trials rider it’s perfect. It’s easy to ride, throttle response is spot on and there’s never a hiccup. ”
Impeccable fueling is something we’ve come to expect in the age of EFI-equipped dirt bikes, but one thing that surprised us is how difficult the OSSA is to get started. “It’s super hard to start,” says Sciacqua. “You’ve got to have a boot on and give it a good, solid kick. But I give them credit for their innovation. The reverse cylinder, fuel injection… It’s just a little difficult to start.”
OSSA uses a chromoly steel tube chassis and swingarm combined with aluminum fuel tank, steering pipe and footpegs. It also uses an aluminum skidplate. Claimed dry weight is 148 pounds. Seat height is 25.8 inches and Sciacqua had no problems moving around the cockpit or using aggressive body English. Braking is exceptional from the four-piston front caliper and two-piston rear. Sciacqua went as far as to call them “perfect.” The TR280i uses a 185mm front rotor and 150mm disc out back. Wheelbase is 52.3 inches. The OSSA rolls on tubeless wheels front and rear (21/18 inches) with the premium Michelin Trial X Light front tire and Michelin Trial X Light rear tire.
“It does nothing out of the ordinary. I felt comfortable right away with the footpegs and handlebars. Everything feels like it’s in the right spot,” says our 5’8” test rider.
Marzocchi’s trials-specific 40mm fork and tubeless wheels add to the OSSA’s high-end feel, but finding dealer support will be challenging.
A 40mm Marzocchi fork gives the front end its bump absorption. The front suspension was developed with Marzocchi specifically for trials application. The 280i turns well and is predictable. Out back is a TTX Ohlins shock which uses a linkage system. At 160 pounds, our advanced-level test rider was very happy with the suspension package, particularly the damping circuits.
“The suspension feels great. It’s better than my Scorpa, for sure,” says Sciacqua regarding the Marzocchi/Ohlins combo. “It has nice rebound damping, not too springy. A lot of times I feel like trials bikes have too much spring in the suspension.”
The upstart (restart) OSSA is still trying to gain a foothold in what is already a small and difficult market. Availability is limited but the company is already looking to expand with potential enduro and trail bikes. The TR280i is a solid launching platform for OSSA as it orchestrates a comeback in these difficult times. It uses forward-thinking engineering to offer performance gains and set it apart from existing trials bikes. Our tester was appreciative of its exclusivity, but also cautious.
“I didn’t ride it over my head because it’s so rare,” Sciacqua admits. “But it’s a competitive bike in the advanced class, for sure.”