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2022 450 Editions Shootout | In-Depth Report


2022 450 Editions Shootout

Gas Gas MC 450 Troy Lee Edition vs. Honda CRF250R Works Edition vs. Husqvarna FC 450 Rockstar Edition vs. Kawasaki KX450 SR vs. KTM 450 SX-F Factory Edition

Presented by OGIO Powersports

Photos by Will Embree smxpictures

Exactly one decade ago, KTM changed the game when it introduced the 2012 450 SX-F Factory Edition. Created and homologated for sale as a limited-edition machine, it gave the Red Bull KTM Team a chance to field a vastly improved and all-new machine for new signee Ryan Dungey. Since then, KTM has continued the Factory Edition tradition, and the Austrian brand created an all-new category of sorts, as Husqvarna followed suit with the Rockstar Edition FC 450, then Honda with the CRF450R Works Edition, Kawasaki with the KX450 SR, and Gas Gas with the MC 450 Troy Lee Edition. The new players in the category for 2022 are Kawasaki and Gas Gas, but they are not necessarily the most exciting.

The 2022 KTM 450 SX-F Factory Edition

Depending on the year, the KTM and Husqvarna Edition bikes have been all-new and an accurate preview of what’s to come the following model year for the standard machines. 2022 is one of those years, as the orange and white bikes are completely new and share very little with the machines they replace.

The 2022 Husqvarna FC 450 Rockstar Edition

Unlike the standard 450s, the Edition KTM and Husqvarna do not differ radically from one another with different subframe construction and suspension lengths. The Rockstar Edition FC 450 is exactly the same as the KTM, save for the unique bodywork.

The 2022 Honda CRF450R Works Edition

Honda’s approach with the Works Edition is different, as the Japanese manufacturer has for several years now spiced up a standard machine with coated suspension, a ported cylinder head, and an aftermarket exhaust system. The Works Edition has yet to be an all-new machine leading the way for the following season’s base models.

The 2022 Kawasaki KX450 Special Racer

Kawasaki threw its hat into the ring for the first time in 2022 and took a similar approach as Honda. The biggest shocker on the green machine is a set of Kayaba suspension with special coatings, as the standard KX bikes come equipped with Showa components. In addition to the fork and shock changes, the green machine features a ported cylinder head, X-Trig ROCS triple clamps, and an aftermarket exhaust system.

The Gas Gas Troy Lee Designs MC 450

The first-year Gas Gas Troy Lee Edition, meanwhile, maintains the same platform as the standard MC 450 and adds triple clamps, an aftermarket exhaust, black rims, and other cosmetic chi chis. Most importantly, the mapping and traction control switch that’s missing from the standard bike is included on the TLD bike.

But who is the target consumer for a limited edition 450 motocross bike? Released several months after the initial new models and with price tags up to $2800 higher than the “base” model, the reality is that most of the Edition bikes will be vet owned. Let’s take a look at the differences in prices, shall we?

2022 Gas Gas MC 450 Troy Lee Edition $11699 | 2022 Gas Gas MC 450 $9599 (+$2100)

2022 Honda CRF450R Works Edition $12399 | 2022 Honda CRF450R $9599 (+$2800)

2022 Husqvarna FC 450 Rockstar Edition $11799 | 2022 Husqvarna FC 450 $10799 (+$1000)

2022 Kawasaki KX450 Special Racer $12399 | 2022 Kawasaki KX450 $9599 (+$2800)

2022 KTM 450 SX-F Factory Edition $11699 | 2022 KTM 450 SX-F $10699 (+$1000)

Without throwing a leg over any of the machines, the two all-new Austrian machines – the KTM and Husqvarna – seem to be the best bang for your buck as they are not only all-new but also boast the billet aluminum triple clamps, high-quality wheels, and factory graphics for only $1000 more, while the Gas Gas, Honda, and Kawasaki all cost significantly more than the standard counterparts that they are based on. But does all-new necessarily trump some well=placed modifications and accessories? That’s what we wanted to figure out! That said, we gathered our usual crew of test riders, invited all the manufacturers to come out and help us set up the bikes, and spent the day spinning laps on all of the Edition bikes! Here’s what we discovered and agreed upon…

Rene Garcia on the 2022 Kawasaki KX450 Special Racer


2022 Kawasaki KX450 Special Racer

Test Rider Scores: 1-2-1-1-1

The Kawasaki KX450 Special Racer drew rave reviews from each and every tester and was chosen as the shootout winner by all but one rider. While the standard KX450 is already an excellent starting point, the Kayaba suspension has much better hold up and control than the standard bike’s Showa components. While not as plush and deluxe feeling as a Yamaha’s KYB front end, the KX450 SR has a well-balanced feel with great control and a progressive feel throughout the stroke on both ends. The SR does have a firmer, more aggressive feel than the standard KX. Wed be lying if we said that we could all tell that the X-Trig clamps were on the front of the bike, but the elastomer-dampened bar mounts do add a detectable amount of small-bump absorption.

The engine, however, is where the Special Racer really shines. The KX450 SR is an absolute beast with a ton more power than the standard KX. At the same. time, though, the powerband remains controllable and easy to make good use of. The bike does have a detectable amount of additional top-end pull in each gear, and throttle response is instant and torquey off of idle. The overall look of the Kawasaki is plenty sexy, from the Monster Energy graphics to the green Renthal pad and Pro Circuit exhaust system.


Connor Ericsson on the 2022 KTM 450 SX-F Factory Edition


2022 KTM 450 SX-F Factory Edition

Test Rider Scores: 4-1-2-2-2

At the highest levels of the sport in Supercross, the factory Red Bull KTM pilots have publicly struggled with the new KTM 450 SX-F chassis, which is more rigid than its predecessor. As we reported in our initial test of the new KTM, though, we absolutely love everything about the new machine. It is quite possible that a bike that works great for a motocross application for average riders might not necessarily work as amazingly well in a Supercross configuration…don’t let the Internet message boards and keyboard experts fool you!

The new chassis has a firm, positive feel. The bike maintains its razor-sharp cornering abilities, but gone is the flexy, wallowy feel that the old bike would suffer in extra-rough track conditions. The bike has excellent front-to-rear weight bias, and the KTM revs freely and has a light feel on the track. Only one of our testers preferred the feel of the older chassis, and we all agreed that the KTM is a powerhouse that has a ready to race feel, even though supply and demand constraints forced KTM to equip the bike with a standard OEM exhaust.

Kyle Puerner on the 2022 Husqvarna FC 450 Rockstar Edition


2022 Husqvarna FC 450 Rockstar Edition

Test Rider Scores: 5-3-3-4-3

Ironically, the differences between the Husqvarna FC 450 Rockstar Edition and KTM 450 SX-F Factory Edition are “minimal,” the bikes continue to have two distinctly different feels out on the track. Though the Rockstar Edition Husky has the same suspension components as the Factory Edition KTM – as opposed to the lower, shorter travel design of the standard FC 450, as well as the same composite and aluminum subframe – the white bike had a firmer, less forgiving feel out on the track than the orange machine. Hours on the bike can certainly play a role in this sensation and it should be noted that the Husky had far fewer hours on it than the KTM, but the face remained that the Husqvarna was more prone to deflecting off the bumps than its sibling. 

Furthermore, the difference in airbox venting – the KTM has large, open holes below the seat, while the Husky has a vented airbox cover – gives the FC 450 a slower-revving, softer powerband than the zippier KTM. The slower revving powerband in turn, gives the FC 450 a heavier feel on the track both on the ground and in the air. Though the feeling between the two Austrian machines continues to differ, this in no way means the white motorcycle is any less potent.

Pat Foster on the 2022 Honda CRF450R Works Edition


2022 Honda CRF450R Works Edition

Test Rider Scores: 2-4-4-5-5

How does the Honda CRF450R Works Edition differ from last year’s? The suspension settings in the fork and shock are revised with the goal of providing better balance and control. In comparison to the standard CRF450R, but once again the special coatings on the “kit” Showa suspension allow the components to move more freely than the standard-issue machine, giving the bike a tom of excessive movement and front-to-rear weight shifting. Big changes and improvements aren’t always on the agenda for every bike in a manufacturer’s lineup (look at the Suzuki RM-Z machines, for example), and small refinements were all that were on the schedule for the new CRF450R WE. And that said, suspension performance and overall handling character continue to be the Achilles heel of the beautiful red machine. 

As is, the Honda is a quick-handling, super-responsive motorcycle that demands the rider’s complete attention and focus. A lackadaisical or lazy rider will be reminded in short order that the CRF demands to be ridden hard, with purpose, at all times. Long-time Honda riders or fans will feel right at home aboard the red machine, however, in comparison to the others, the CRF is the least stable and least confidence-inspiring bike in the bunch. This is sad because the engine package is absolutely amazing with great adjustability with its three map settings. Trust us when we say that the power, quality of construction, and overall comfort of the Honda are never lacking.

Donn Maeda on the 2022 Gas Gas MC 450 Troy Lee Edition


2022 Gas Gas MC 450 Troy Lee Edition
Test Rider Scores:

The Gas Gas MC 450 Troy Lee Edition machine was a last-minute entry in our Editions Shootout, and its fifth=place ranking is in no way indicative of how much we love the bike. As is the standard MC 450, the TLD bike is based on the “old” chassis design. Truth be told, with its added map and traction control switch, billet aluminum triple clamps, Akropovic exhaust, and higher quality wheels, the TLD bike is essentially the same as last year’s KTM Factory Edition bike.

The Gas Gas MC 450 Troy Lee Edition has – as one might expect – a very familiar feel. in comparison to the newer Austrian machines, the Gas Gas has a mellower, more forgiving feel, including a softer suspension feel that some riders described as wallowy in comparison to the newer bikes. Others, meanwhile, loved the comfort of the Austrian red machine and praised it for its easy-to-ride personality. 


Connor Ericsson

Age: 27

Height: 6’3”

Weight: 190 lbs.

Ability: Intermediate

Bikes Recently Raced/Ridden: 2020 Honda CRF450R

  1. Kawasaki KX450 Special Racer
  2. Honda CRF450R Works Edition
  3. Gas Gas MC 40 Troy Lee Edition
  4. KTM 450 SX-F Factory Edition
  5. Husqvarna FC 4350 Rockstar Edition

The Kawasaki KX450 Special Racer is overall the most user-friendly bike when it comes to comfort and feel. The suspension worked well and the bike has an awesome motor package that is very powerful yet easy to ride. The Honda CRF50R Works Edition is also a very comfortable bike, but it is a little twitchy when it comes to handling, and especially so when cornering. You have to be very precise and aware while riding red. I felt that the Gas Gas MC 450 Troy Lee Edition is a very solid.bike. I really enjoyed how planted and predictable the Gas gas feels, I trusted the way the bike handled and it has plenty of power and never left me wanting more. 

The new KTM 450 SX-F Factory Edition and Husqvarna FC 450 Rockstar Edition are both extremely fast bikes with plenty of power. They made some changes to the chassis, though, that I don’t feel the most comfortable on as far as how the bike reacts. Both are still overall great machines with a lot of good features, I just didn’t love them the way I do the standard versions. 

Pat Foster

Age: 44

Height: 6’1”

Weight: 200 lbs.

Ability: Pro

Bikes Recently Raced/Ridden: 2022 Yamaha YZ450F, 2022 Honda CRF450R

  1. Kawasaki KX450 Special Racer
  2. KTM 450 SX-F Factory Edition
  3. Husqvarna FC 450 Rockstar Edition
  4. Honda CRF450R Works Edition
  5. Gas Gas MC 450 Troy Lee Edition

I love the Kawasaki KX450 in the standard form, and the SR raises the game significantly across the board. The crisp ECU coupled with the Pro Circuit exhaust and ported cylinder head put incredibly good power to the ground, The chassis is already a great blend of stability on the straights with eager cornering, but the KYB suspension seems to take it to the next level. The KTM is a close second. Map 2s aggressive power delivery is quick-revving and exactly what I have been looking for out of the Austrian bikes for years. The more-rigid chassis eliminates any extra flex, wallow, and movement, making the bike much more deliberate and predictable. The WP air fork is not perfect, but it is the best it has been. The Husky is almost as impressive as the KTM, however, the closed airbox mutes the powerband improvements that I love so much about the KTM. Some people will certainly;y prefer it…just not me. 

The Honda ergos are amazing, the engine is fun, playful, and powerful, and the bike’s cornering abilities are amazing. I just could not get the suspension to settle down. The wheels felt as if they were constantly chattering, and the bike is too disconnected from the track surface to push hard on. The Gas Gas looks amazing and is easily my favorite looking bike. However, it served more as a reminder of how awesome the new generation KTM and Husky are with their more aggressive power and more rigid chassis. The Gas Gas is soft and mellow in comparison.

Rene Garcia

Age: 21

Height: 5’11”

Weight: 170 lbs.

Ability: Pro

Bikes Recently Raced/Ridden: 2021 KTM 450 SX-F

  1. KTM 450 SX-F Factory Edition
  2. Kawasaki KX450 Special Racer
  3. Husqvarna FC 450 Rockstar Edition
  4. Honda CRF450R Works Edition
  5. Gas Gas MC 450 Troy Lee Edition

I love the new KTM 450 SX-F chassis! The bike corners great and has very good stability. The engine is great as well, and. the KTM truly is ready to race as is! It is very hard to not love the Kawasaki KX450 Special Racer. The bike is so stable and the engine package of the SR gives the green machine much more power and a racier feel. I have nothing but praise for the KX450…I love that bike!

Like the KTM, the new Husqvarna package is great in my eyes. The two bikes perform similarly, but the KT is more throaty down low. Is it a deal-breaker? Not even! I actually prefer the looks of the Husky, and the Pro Taper handlebars are the best in class. Without the KX in the shootout, I’d say that the Honda CRF450R Works Edition has the best engine package. The Honda has amazing cornering abilities and a light feel on the track and in the air. I just need the bike to be more stable and trustworthy in a straight line. The Gas Gas is very user-friendly and fun to ride, but for me to race it I would need stiffer suspension and more low-end power. 

Donn Maeda

Age: 53

Height: 5’9”

Weight: 160 lbs.

Ability: Intermediate

Bikes Recently Raced/Ridden: 2022 Yamaha YZ450F

  1. Kawasaki KX450 Special Racer
  2. KTM 450 SX-F Factory Edition
  3. Gas Gas MC 450 Troy Lee Edition
  4. Husqvarna FC 450 Rockstar Edition
  5. Honda CRF450R Works Edition

What is there not to love about the Kawasaki KX450 Special Racer? let’s be honest…I have a KYB connection through my brother Ross, and my KX450s have been KYM equipped for years. The SR in stock condition is every bit as good as my past Kawasakis have been handling-wise, but man there is simply no comparison in the power department! The KX SR powerband is massive yet easy to take advantage of. This is hands down, the best off-the-showroom bike I have ever ridden.

The KTM 450 SX-F Factory Edition is a close second, and until I took my first spin on the Kawasaki SR, I had been proclaiming the orange machine as my favorite stock bike, ever. The KTM has a racy feel that brings a smile to my face. I was shocked to find that I actually split the two new Austrian bikes with the Gas Gas MC 450 Troy Lee Edition bike. Sure, the Gas Gas is softer and more mellow, but I had a level of comfort and trust in it that surpassed that of the new Husky Rockstar Edition. In comparison to the fast-revving, super-responsive KTM, I felt that the Husqvarna revved slower and had a heavier feel that was not as appealing.

I know that the Honda RF450R Works Edition is a badass machine, but it just isn’t for me. The way the bike handles so quickly seems to wear me out quicker than the rest, and I simply don’t have the level of trust in its handling that I do on the other machines. The engine package, however, is flat-out amazing.

Kyle Puerner

Age: 53

Height: 6’

Weight: 180 lbs.

Ability: Vet Intermediate

Bikes Recently Raced/Ridden: 2021 KTM 450 SX-F Factory Edition

  1. Kawasaki KX450 Special Racer
  2. KTM 450 SX-F Factory Edition
  3. Husqvarna FC 450 Rockstar Edition
  4. Gas Gas MC 450 Troy Lee Edition
  5. Honda CRF450R Works Edition

For me, the Kawasaki takes the top spot. I love the KYB suspension as it works amazingly well on the track, The Pro Circuit pipe sounds great and the ported cylinder gives the engine a gnarly powerband that simply rips. The KX450 is smooth, fast, and has a safe feel to it. This bike handles amazingly well.

A close second goes to the KTM Factory Edition. The new platform is so much better; it is stiffer and has a truly race-ready feel with lots of comfort. The engine hits harder and has a solid feel that puts the power to the ground. The Husky, meanwhile, is blessed with all the same updates as the KTM, but it has a stiffer, less-comfortable feel. It is still an amazing bike, but it might need some suspension work to yield the same level of comfort as the KTM.

I am very familiar with the platform of the Gas Gas MX 450 Troy Lee Edition. It is a great bike. It is easy to ride and looks amazing. It has a high level of comfort, but it is not as race-ready as the others.

the Honda still continues to improve but needs more work for me to get comfortable with it. The front end feels way too busy and it dances around a lot under acceleration. It is a great bike but it just needs to settle down before it can earn my trust completely. 

Donn Maeda

Donn Maeda is a 30-year veteran in moto-journalism, having worked at Cycle News and Dirt Rider before launching MXracer Magazine and TransWorld Motocross Magazine. Maeda is the Editor-In-Chief at Swapmoto Live and you can catch him on a dirt bike or in the saddle of a mountain bike on most days.

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