Test Ossa TR 280i 2012

The big news came out just over a year ago: the legendary clover brand was finally back on the production lines, thirty years later. Ossa wanted to come back in a big way, making a light, aesthetically groundbreaking and technically revolutionary bike. The rush to reach the market and the high competition forced the launch of an immature product, almost a prototype, but with great guidelines.

For all these reasons, 2011 has been a year of testing, learning, improvement and commercial visibility. While in competition, despite having a rider of Fajardo’s stature, the result has been discreet and irregular. It has caused a sensation in the dealerships and there are not a few fans and collectors who reserved the first units in advance. In Trialworld we climbed into unit number six in 2011, just as we have now done with a 2012.

A few months ago we published the presentation of the new model and specified the points where the TR280i had been reinforced for 2012. Most of these are improvements that have been corrected in limited editions such as the “SSDT 100th anniversary”, which we have also had the opportunity to test. Consequently, the 2012 is a more mature and reliable bike, although with some points where we consider that the work can be improved.

In the imposing 2012 aesthetic, black takes center stage

Under a more accomplished aesthetic, where dark colors predominate, Ossa has overloaded the decoration of its TR 280i with success, in our opinion. Functionally, a renewed airbox cover appears, with direct air intake optimised to the intake through a Z-shaped path that prevents the ingress of dirt or water. It ensures fresh air and thus better engine performance.

Fixed bugs such as the rear wheel bushing, which gives way to a proper ball bearing hub. Intensive work has also been done on ergonomics and manoeuvrability, replacing the original footpegs with others with greater support and grip, while reducing their weight. The exhaust guards improve the support of the boots and increase the turning radius thanks to the addition of a new lower seatpost.

The engine, transmission, exhaust and electronics are also new. We highlight the new clutch discs, which throughout 2011 gave quite a few problems and ended up faltering; The clutch disc package is now optimally thick and the performance is satisfactory. Another important point of work has been taken by the electronics, which thanks to the new mapping improves the starting, the cold and the general performance of the set at all speeds. An important detail to note is that the ” SSDT 100″ version incorporates a device on the handlebars to select between two different power curves, while the 2012 does not offer such an option and forces you to reprogram the injection to try another power curve. This detail is important when we are talking about disparate environments, such as areas of water and low water, versus dry areas with large obstacles. In such cases, being able to select one map or another is a great help to the pilot.

The curvature of the exhaust manifold has also been worked on, so that it does not pass so close to the shock absorber or fall as low as in the last edition, where it collided with the swingarm in strong receptions and left the latter marked. As we were able to see during our dynamic test, the result of this modification is satisfactory.

We are negatively surprised not to find the skid plate of the SSDT version in 2012, since it includes much more components susceptible to shocks, as well as offering greater robustness. As an aside, the SSDT’s magnesium-made ignition cover will not remain; the 2012 will carry this plastic cover.

At the controls it is docile and intuitive

The engine lacks more punch to satisfy those at a higher level

Another point to improve is the finish of the kickstand, since it rubs against the swingarm, scratching it, and being held by rivets instead of screws it gains slack with use.


For the dynamic test we took a strictly standard motorcycle, fresh from the dealership and identical to the one that any user can buy. The riding position on the Ossa is relaxed and comfortable; It’s light and narrow, but with enough body to feel good on the bike. The clutch at first is hard. However, it seems that after the first few hours of use the discs adapt and the touch is somewhat more comfortable, as we could see in another used unit that Torre Motor had in store.

The cycle part is outstanding

The start-up has been greatly improved over the first version, despite the fact that it is not a clockwork, especially with the engine cold. The electronic injection takes care of everything: there is no need to accelerate or activate the choke. Kick and go. As with the Sherco , we quickly felt the breath of the intake, located where we usually find a fuel tank.

Dynamically it is a bike with easy to understand reactions, with a fairly smooth and progressive mechanics for a 280. What’s more, the feel feels closer to that of any 250 than the competition’s 290 or 300. This point makes it an intuitive and effective bike for all audiences, especially for the average enthusiast.

However, in the rev escalation it is somewhat sluggish than other carbureted models, so more level riders will miss a little more forcefulness in the throttle grip. Compared to the 2011 version, there is a notable improvement. as it seemed to be too dry and the engine demanded a tune-up in the injection program.

At the level of the cycle part, the Ossa offers exquisite components and dynamically you can feel the harmony between them. The Marzocchi fork is probably the best on the market; thanks to its effectiveness and progressiveness , the Ossa works optimally both on lines and in areas of maximum demand. The combination with the Öhlins is fantastic, although for our taste the feel of the latter is somewhat dry, especially in the strong receptions, perhaps due to the lack of running.

The level of finishes is much better than in 2011


Ossa has been a brand that in 2011 created great expectations and jumped onto the market with an immature product, which has taken its toll both in the market and in high competition.

This, coupled with a very tough and mature competition, has caused it to lose many points of popularity. However, Ossa has already worked in the right direction with the launch of the Ossa “SSDT edition” and with the 2012 version more details have been polished.

Consequently, we are facing a high-quality product, revolutionary for its 2T + injection configuration, lightweight, aesthetically outstanding and a behavior suitable for all audiences. However, there is still work to be done on the mechanical set-up in order to squeeze much more out of its full potential and thus satisfy the most demanding riders.

2012 will probably be a key year for Ossa in every way. Fewer resources have been allocated to competition and the TR has to continue to evolve to justify its high price with exclusivity and performance; all this, within a much more competitive market context after the arrival of the JTG.

Report on the history of Ossa and all its models here.

Text and photos: David Quer

Action: Benjamín Torres

Acknowledgements: Torre Motor, official Ossa dealer (Unquera – Cantabria).


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