450 SML Shootout In-Depth | 2021 Husqvarna FC 450
Husqvarna FC 450
Rider Scores: 2-4-5-3-3-2
The white Austrian machine received ranking that varied wildly as some testers loved the bike and others were uncomfortable on it. Over the past two model years, the Husqvarna R&D team has taken a conscious departure from the KTM in the suspension category, and it makes the two bikes feel and perform much differently than ever before. Last year, the FC line came with softer “comfort” settings that didn’t draw rave reviews, so the strategy was changed significantly. This year’s FC 450 comes with firmer suspension settings, but the travel of the fork and shock has been reduced internally by 10 mm for a lower center of gravity and better cornering characteristics. And you know what? It does exactly what it was supposed to do. The Husky corners very, very well, whether it be in ruts, sweepers or flat corners. Is the shorter suspension travel noticeable? No, but the bike does feel connected to the ground with excellent traction and exceptional front-to-rear weight bias.
The Husqvarna has an excellent engine with smooth power delivery that starts down low and pulls in a linear fashion into the upper rpm range. The two map settings are distinctively different: map one is broad and easy to manage, while map two hits much harder off the bottom and flattens out earlier. Changing the map settings while riding is possible as it only takes a quick push of the button to do so. It’s also possible to turn the traction control feature on and off while in motion. Nice.
Ergonomically, the Husqvarna has a different feel than its orange brother as the radiator shrouds are smoother and lack the bulge that the KTM’s has right at the radiator edge. The biggest difference in the feel of the Husky, however, is its Pro Taper handlebars, which do a superior job of dampening engine vibration and track feedback than the KTM’s Nekken bars. We love the new seat cover material, too, as it is not nearly as tough on your butt as the old spikey traction cover of the past several years.
“The new Husky feels more balanced than last year’s with better hold up and overall stability.” – Ericsson
“I don’t feel like the Husqvarna has a big hit down low, but overall it has plenty of power and is very controllable.” – Ericsson
“If you are looking for the smoothest and easiest-to-ride 450, the Husqvarna is it! The power comes on smoothly down low and progresses into a long, linear pull.” – Foster
“The steel chassis is very planted, stable, and confidence-inspiring, It is not the most stable bike and it is not the best cornering, but it is very good at both.” – Foster
“The engine comes on sluggishly down low and makes the bike feel heavy. Then the mid-range power comes on hard, out of nowhere.” – Garcia
“Under high speed deceleration the bike is very twitchy and very busy. It also over steers for me.” – Garcia
“The new suspension settings are pleasantly firm, well balanced and confidence-inspiring. Great control.” – Maeda
“The bike corners great but it has a big feel in the rough sections of the track and especially under braking.” – Maeda
“I’m normally a map one guy, but map two has a free-revving feel that makes the bike actually feel lighter.” – Maeda
“The Husky handles well, is comfortable and easy to ride at speed. It corners great and mas the ability to change lines with ease.” – Puerner
“The Husky could use a little more snap off the bottom, but it has a very strong mid-range and it will pull to the moon.” – Puerner
“The handling is amazing! Stability, cornering and predictability are all strong points. I’m very confident on the Husky when I am pushing it.” – Sleeter
“I wish the engine were more free-revving and lively, as this would make the bike feel lighter. The powerband is very easy to ride, though.” – Sleeter