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Track Tested | 2020 SML 450 MX Shootout


Fifth Place: Husqvarna FC 450

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

For 2020, the Husqvarna boasts a few key refinements that make it an all-around great machine. The Map 2 setting has been revised for a broader, beefier powerband, while an optional vented airbox cover that comes with the bike allows more air to get to the air filter and this results in an improved low-end snap and top-end overrev. For 2020, Husqvarna took a radical departure from sister brand KTM when it came time to develop production suspension settings. This year’s fork and shock valving is set up for greater small-bump compliance and comfort than the stiffer race-bred spec of the past.

What does this mean? The new FC 450 is a friendlier, easier to ride version of its previous self in 2019, and while some riders liked the new, friendlier feel, others felt that it made the Husky feel more like it was suited for an off-road adventure than a motocross race. The softer suspension settings have a wallowy feel that has more front-to-rear weight transfer than before, giving it a heavier feeling than the ’19 or the current KTM.  

It’s hard not to compare and contrast the Husqvarna and KTM as the Austrian machines have distinctly different personalities in many categories. The Husky feels thinner and easier to maneuver on than its orange brother, as the shape of the radiator shrouds protrudes less in the area in between your knees, while the carbon fiber composite subframe that is unique to the Husqvarna give it a softer chassis feel in acceleration chop.

Power-wise, the bike has a nice spread of power and a beefy powerband that is best either short shifted or kept right in the meat of the powerband as overrevving the bike brings about plenty of vibration. The engine mapping causes the Husky to have a slow-revving feel, which in turn gives the bike a heavy feel on the track, contrary to its super lightweight on the scale.


  • Broad powerband with plenty of torque and mid-range
  • Two EFI maps and traction control: all operated with a bar-mounted switch
  • Excellent Pro Taper handlebars have a nice bend and dampen vibration
  • ODI Lock-On Grips
  • Magura hydraulic clutch has great feel and modulation


  • Slow-revving engine character gives bike a heavy feel
  • Suspension settings on the soft side for fast or heavier riders
  • Funky crossbar pad: why not a Pro Taper pad?
  • Gas cap is sometimes very difficult to remove
  • Mechanical spring fork would offer better performance

Mike Sleeter on the Husqvarna FC 450

Test Rider Props

I love how stable the Husky is and how well it tracks. It stays very planted and centered on the track, and the engine has solid power throughout all ranges and is very controllable. If you want to cruise on it you can, and if you want to rip the thing is a rocket.” – Conner Ericsson

The Husky offers a strong, smooth, power delivery that puts strong power to the ground without wearing you out. The bike does everything well: it is planted and stable, yet corners great.” – Pat Foster

I like the Husky better than the KTM because it was easier to ride quickly, it is slimmer between your legs, and it has the best handlebars in the class.” – Rene Garcia

I love the Husky because it is so easy to ride, and the small differences between it and the KTM make it more comfortable for me. I prefer the softer feel of the Pro Taper bars over the KTM’s Nekens, as they isolate your hands from more engine vibration and track feedback.” – Donn Maeda

I really like the predictable manner in which this bike handles. I always feel like I know how the bike will react, and the bike never seems to catch me off guard. Also, the WP air fork has come a long way. It has good comfort and good hold up, and it is well balanced and very tuneable.” – Kyle Puerner

The optional vented airbox cover is a nice option as it provides another tunable factor. It seems to split the performance between map 1 and map 2. The bike handles really well and very predictable. This is important.” – Mike Sleeter

Test Rider Chops

The brakes are very touchy coming into corners, and the suspension is pretty soft: I need a little more hold up for big hits.” – Connor Ericcson

The new softer suspension settings offer a plush, supple feel, but the bike needs to be stiffer for larger or faster riders. It needs more bottoming resistance and there is too much suspension movement for me.” – Pat Foster

The engine is very slow revving and it doesn’t have much low-end power. I preferred Map 2, but even then I wish it was more aggressive right off idle.” – Rene Garcia

Three model years ago, I loved the Husky and KTM mapping as it gave the engines a quick, snappy feel that rivaled the Japanese bikes. The mapping they have had for the past couple of years makes the bike feel heavy because they rev slower and have a greater internal friction sensation.” – Donn Maeda

 “The engine is too soft on the bottom, right off idle. It could use more low-end punch.” – Kyle Puerner

I’d say the weak point is the bike’s mapping as it makes the bike feel heavy. And although I like the distinguishable difference between map 1 and map 2, I wish map 2 was snappier, not just more powerful.” – Mike Sleeter


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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  1. Isaiah September 9, 2019

    I’d like to see someone really short ride these bikes and leave a camparison. Someone like 5’5″

    1. Pop Tarts September 16, 2019

      or 5’4″… either one. either one is good.

  2. Shane B September 9, 2019

    I have a few different set up points I would love to know . For example , I would love to know some torque specs for my bikes handling and feel . I own the 2020 kx450f , I always play with my triple clamp bolt torques and axle lug bolts . Different nm for different tracks but an overall nm for better feel would help on a guide for testing .
    Recently when I visited America , being from Australia , I noticed the USA Kawasaki 450f standard motor and exhaust was a lot different from my Australian model . Any idea what that could be why ?

    Thanks 👊🏻
    Blinksell 27

    P.s – Ac helmet would look good in the pool room !

  3. Bill M September 10, 2019


  4. Evan Nystrom September 13, 2019

    Love the shoot outs. I’ve always read and followed the sugesstions the testers give.