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2023 450 Shootout

450 SML Shootout In-Depth | 2023 Husqvarna FC 450


2023 Husqvarna FC 450

Test Rider Scores: 5-5-7-5-4-6

Though on paper the Husqvarna FC 450 and KTM 450 SX-F are closer to being the same bike than they have been (same subframe construction versus previous years), the gap in performance and on-track feel is larger than it’s ever been. The Husky feels exactly that: husky. Compared to the KTM, the FC 450 has a slower-revving powerband that builds power in a more linear, tractable fashion, and this gives the bike a heavier feel on the track. Most testers commented that the Husqvarna felt heavier and harder to control in the rough sections of the track, and also that the bike had a harsh feel compared to its orange brother.

Five millimeters less fork and shock travel is said to yield a 15mm lower seat height, and while some test riders couldn’t really detect the shorter travel, others that could feel that this could be a contributing factor to the bike’s harsh feel. At speed, the FC 450 is stable and trustworthy, and like the KTM it corners with precision and tips into corners with ease. As is always the case, we plan to tinker with our FC 450 now that the shootout is complete and will address the issues mentioned above.

Pat Foster on the Husqvarna FC 450

“The Husky power delivery is one of the best examples of strong, torquey grunt with manageable delivery. The closed-off intake has a slightly muted powerband that is easier to control than the KTM’s.” – Foster

“Less aggressive riders will likely prefer the smoother power delivery of the Husqvarna. However, once into the mid-range and top-end, this thing is a monster.” – Foster

“I am a big fan of the new chassis. The Husqvarna feels more stable, planted, and predictable than it ever has in the past. The suspension is more substantial and handles bump absorptioon and big landings better than it ever has.” – Foster

“Being over 6′ tall, the lower suspension settings are not for me. However, shorter riders will love the lower stance and center of gravity.” – Foster

Rene Garcia on the Husqvarna FC 450

“I like the Husqvarna’s smooth power delivery, even though it is less exciting than the KTM’s. The engine has strong mid-range and top-end, and I like the feel of its transmission and hydraulic clutch.” – Garcia

“You can tell that the Husqvarna feels lower than the KTM, but it feels comfortable and doesn’t do anything that you wouldn’t expect it to.” – Garcia

“The Husky corners well, and it is very stable, but it does lack some of the initial comfort that the KTM has. I would definitely need suspension work if I were to own this bike.” – Garcia

“Things that I love about the Husky: the hydraulic clutch, the Pro Taper handlebar, the brakes, and the way it looks!” – Garcia

Donn Maeda on the Husqvarna FC 450

“In the past, I have traditionally preferred the Husky over the KTM, but this year the bike didn’t really win me over. The engine is more muted than the KTM’s and it felt softer and slower, even in map 2.” – Maeda

“The FC 450 engine revs slowly and has a high-friction feeling. The bike doesn’t feel like it revs as freely as the others, and this affects the way it feels on the track. It feels heavier and more cumbersome, and I just couldn’t get comfortable this year.” – Maeda

“I do love the way the Husqvarna corners. I get along well with the lowered suspension as I feel it gives the bike a lower center of gravity. This instills confidence in off-cambers and in dry, slippery corners.” – Maeda

“The Pro taper handlebars on the Husqvarna really do a fine job of isolating the rider from some track feedback and engine vibration. This is especially apparent when you jump on either of the other Austrian bikes after riding the FC 450.” – Maeda

“Motocross is a fashion-fickle sport, so I will mention the new Husqvarna look. I don’t care for the grey radiator shrouds and florescent yellow rear fender. Husqvarna’s should be white! Haha!” – Maeda

Kyle Puerner on the Husqvarna FC 450

“The Husqvarna has a mellower feel than the KTM. It has very smooth power down low, good mid-range, and great top-end overrev. The Husky is more aggressive than the Gas Gas, but tamer than the KTM.” – Puerner

“This is a very easy engine to ride aggressively. I really like the way the engine can carry third gear almost everywhere on the track.” – Puerner

“The FC 450 has a lower stance and a very planted feel. The suspension is well-balanced but the fork needs some work as it feels harsh on slap-down landings.” – Puerner

“The Husky has a distinctively different feel than any of the other bikes because of its lower ride height. I like how planted you feel because of the low center of gravity, but it was also the only bike I made a big mistake on today because of its ride height.” – Puerner

Brian Smith on the Husqvarna FC 450

“I feel like the Husqvarna is so easy to ride! The power is right where I wanted it when I needed it, and the bike as a package is amazing!” – Scrub Daddy

“The bike is very trustworthy in stock condition and I liked the suspension pretty well. The bike did have a harsh feeling compared to the KTM but I still liked it a lot.” – Scrub Daddy

“I am 5’6″ and the bike fits me great and I like the lower center of gravity. I am not sure how this bike would work for a taller rider but for a short guy like me it’s good.” – Scrub Daddy

“I ain’t crazy about the colors of the bike and the seat cover is pretty slippery. I also don’t like the grey muffler. Because I think it makes the bike look heavy.” – Scrub Daddy

Kyle Vara on the Husqvarna FC 450

“The FC 450 is really easy to ride and it has a nice powerband, but it really lacks bottom-end torque. You have to work to get the bike screaming, but once you do the engine never signs off.” – Vara

“I feel like the Husky has very strong mid-range and top-end, but the engine revs slower and builds power slowly.” – Vara

“The suspension is set up on the soft side. The bike is stable, but I could blow through the stroke on the forks pretty easily. The bike corners well but the soft suspension settings give the bike an overall harsh feel.” – Vara

“The ergonomics are very neutral. The bar position and height are perfect for me and the bike is super comfortable. The seat cover is slippery for sure.” – Vara

Chase Curtis

Chase Curtis is an avid motocross and MTB rider, and he is the SML Video Editor. Completely self-taught, Chase is one of the best video editors in the sport and one of our biggest assets.

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