2020 Husqvarna FC 450

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First Impression: 2020 Husqvarna FC 450

Husqvarna is trying to get the perfect balance of performance and comfort out of their 450 motocross machine.

On the surface, the changes to the 2020 Husqvarna FC 450 are pretty minimal. Husky launched the 2018 FC 450 Rockstar Edition with an all-new chassis, engine design and bodywork. These changes were also seen on the stock 2019 FC 450 and this is the current generation of chassis/engine/bodywork that we are looking at here on the 2020 model.

If you just read the PR from Husky, they don’t really mention any changes but at the press intro, we talked with Andy Jefferson, Media Manager for Husqvarna USA and he explained that there are, in fact, some differences to the 2020 bike that should be noted. One small engine change is a new piston design with a different skirt that is for durability, not performance. But, two changes that we should feel on the track are new maps and new suspension

On the surface, the changes to the 2020 Husqvarna FC 450 are pretty minimal. Husky launched the 2018 FC 450 Rockstar Edition with an all-new chassis, engine design and bodywork. These changes were also seen on the stock 2019 FC 450 and this is the current generation of chassis/engine/bodywork that we are looking at here on the 2020 model.

If you just read the PR from Husky, they don’t really mention any changes but at the press intro, we talked with Andy Jefferson, Media Manager for Husqvarna USA and he explained that there are, in fact, some differences to the 2020 bike that should be noted. One small engine change is a new piston design with a different skirt that is for durability, not performance. But, two changes that we should feel on the track are new maps and new suspension settings.

2020 Husqvarna FC 450

New Mapping

We’ve gotten used to the Husqvarnas of late coming with a handlebar map switch offering two maps to choose from and switch-ability on the fly. While this system is way more trick and convenient than couplers or even Hondas map switch (where you have to stop, hold the button down and wait for blinking lights to tell you what map you are in) but on previous bikes, the difference between maps one and two weren't that drastic. Previously, on ‘19 models, map one was supposed to have more bottom-end power but rev out faster and map two was supposed to be mellow on bottom but be more aggressive from mid-to-top and rev out further. And to some extent this was true.

But for 2020, they’ve ditched that plan and have simplified things. Now, map one is what they call the ‘standard’ map, which is designed to have a controllable linear power that is maybe a little vanilla. Map two, on the other hand, is what Husky is calling the ‘aggressive’ map that is supposed to be stronger across the board - a bit more spicy, if you will.

Magura clutch
Magura clutch
Brembo brakes

Did we notice a difference? Oh, absolutely. But, rather than putting the bike into map two and just laying down wicked fast lap times, both testers (Me, Klinger, chill rider, and Steve Boniface, still super fast) preferred map one. We both felt that map one’s more controllable power and linear delivery gave us more control over the bike and we were able to ride it more comfortably, which also meant faster. The throttle response is still great and it doesn’t feel down on power in map one at all. It is still a race-tuned 450 that is performance oriented. It just feels like the power curve is a flat, 45 degree line from the bottom end to the top of the rpm range.

Map two is barkier and more lively, especially in the mid-range. It doesn’t rip your arms off, but it does get going faster, quicker than map one, like it revs a little faster. This makes it feel like it has a more traditional power curve rather than a straight line. But, both of us felt like the bike was riding us more than we were riding the bike. And Boniface is a fast and experienced rider. All that being said if we were riding a different track, say an outdoor national track with longer lanes, bigger jumps, deeper dirt or soft sand or mud, we are thinking map two would probably be our choice. As it was, Milestone is relatively tight and jumpy and map one made us feel more comfortable.

New Suspension

Though they don’t talk about it in the media info, the suspension is changed quite a bit for 2020. It is still the WP XACT 48 mm air spring fork and WP XACT shock but settings and valving have changed to get more comfort out of the FC 450. Jefferson explained that this year, in particular, Husqvarna wants to differentiate itself from KTM by making their bikes a better balance of performance and comfort, rather than just make bikes for the fastest riders only. With that in mind, they lowered the shock spring rate from 4.5 to 4.2 and lowered the air pressure in the fork from 10.8 bar to 10.7 bar. They also changed the valving both front and rear.

Boniface rode the bike first and had some adjustments to the suspension to get it to work better for him. He’s light (150 pounds) and even with the softer stock settings he went softer a few clicks on fork compression, but also when a little stiffer on fork rebound to get the front to settle a little more. Out back he increased the high speed to get a little more hold up. With these changes he was really happy with the way the bike worked on the track. Paraphrasing his notes, he basically said that he is more of a 250F guy, even though he is fast, and always feels awkward switching to a 450 without much time on one lately. But, he didn’t find that was true with the 2020 FC 450. In the past, he said, he got along just OK with the Husky, but with the softer suspension settings, he said he was comfortable right away on the new bike and could ride hard right from the start.

I rode the bike after Steve and left his settings as they were to try them out, which didn’t work for me. I felt that the fork was moving too much, like it was too active. It would dive quickly, but also spring back suddenly, catching me off guard. I pulled in to the pits and set everything back to stock and it was way better for me. The fork didn’t dive as much, and, therefore, didn’t rebound back as much. Even though the shock spring is a little light for my weight, I still liked the way it felt and worked. I did put more high speed back in the shock to help get the bike balanced more, but stock air pressure and stock clickers on the fork worked great for me.

Optional vented air box cover
New black color on muffler
Map one and two are much different this year

Overall

Since the chassis is the same, the 2020 FC 450 handles much like previous models. That is, with this generation of stiffer chassis, the bike doesn't have as much chassis flex and forgiveness as it has in the past. Some rider like this more precise feeling while others find it harder to turn. Boniface is more in the camp of liking the chassis more now that the suspension has more comfort and forgiveness. I still struggle to get the FC 450 into the tight, inside ruts as well as Suzukis or Hondas.

We are eager to ride this slightly more comfort-focused Husky back-to-back with the KTM to really feel the difference but we’ll have to wait for the shootout to do so.

Specifications

Product Husqvarna FC 450
Model Year 2020
Engine Size 450cc
Engine Type Four-Stroke
Engine Displacement 449.9 ccm
Bore x Stroke 95 x 63.4 mm
Compression Ratio 12.75:1
Fuel System Keihin EFI, throttle body 44 mm
Ignition Electric starter / Lithium Ion 12,8V 2Ah
Transmission 5 gears
Final Drive 13:49
Suspension Front WP XACT-USD, Ø 48 mm
Suspension Rear WP XACT Monoshock with linkage
Brakes Front Disc brake Ø 260 mm Brembo
Brakes Rear Disc brake Ø 220 mm Brembo
Tires Front 80/100-21"
Tires Rear 120/90-19"
Overall Length NA
Overall Width NA
Overall Height NA
Seat Height 950 mm
Wheelbase 1,485 ± 10 mm
Ground Clearance 370 mm
Rake/Trail NA
Fuel Capacity 7 L
Curb Weight 101 kg
Features
Miscellaneous
Price $10,099
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