2020 Husqvarna FC 450 First Ride Review

First 2020 motocross bike test of the year.

Husqvarna FC 450 in air action shot
Our first 2020 model motocross bike test of the year is the Husqvarna FC 450.Brian Smith

Our first 2020 model motocross bike test of the year is the Husqvarna FC 450. Husqvarna's flagship motocross bike was heavily updated last year with a more compact engine, stiffer frame, and revised suspension settings to match with the more rigid chassis. While the 2019 model was undoubtedly a good bike, it had some kinks that needed to be worked out—most notably the power delivery and suspension settings. Husqvarna made refinements to improve these areas and invited us to test the 2020 machine at Milestone MX Park in Riverside, California.

Engine

Engine Close up Husqvarna FC
For riders looking for a more aggressive power delivery, a vented airbox side panel is now included.Andrew Oldar

With the FC 450 engine receiving several updates in 2019, Husqvarna worked on fine-tuning the already-good engine package. The new EFI mapping in both of the two available maps were designed to be more distinct. Husqvarna described map 1 as strong but with a smoother delivery. Map 2 is intended to feel much stronger and more aggressive all around. Of course, the Husqvarna still has a traction control feature that can be used with either map. If you are looking for even more power, a vented airbox cover is included with the motorcycle. This is a very nice option that was a simple mod that most people were doing themselves on previous models.

Husqvarna FC 450 Action Shot Around Turn
The revised EFI mapping and vented airbox side panel improve overall power.Brian Smith

The revised engine settings are noticeable and an improvement in overall power. The good news is that it still has a fairly smooth and easy-to-ride powerband for a 450cc competition model. Changing from map 1 to map 2 is noticeable, but on the day’s track conditions, they were not as big of a difference as expected. Both had good initial throttle response and smooth power delivery, with map 2 simply having more grunt from the midrange to the top-end. For the most part, traction was not an issue throughout the day and a little extra torque was welcomed, so map 2 was preferred by test riders. The transmission on the Husqvarna works well with reasonable spacing between gears. For 2020, Husqvarna went up one tooth on the rear sprocket for a final drive ratio of 13:49. Second gear was very usable in tighter corners and ran out quite far into straightaways. The shorter straights between corners could also be ridden without upshifting. For the longer straights, third worked very well and had good acceleration for all of the obstacles. Fourth was rarely used as the Husqvarna’s engine revs plenty far in third. The Magura hydraulic clutch is smooth and works flawlessly, being very consistent and easy to modulate. The smooth powerband also minimizes the amount of required clutch input.

Suspension, Chassis & Handling

Husqvarna FC 450 right front view
Being that it was a significantly updated model last year, the FC 450 receives refinements for 2020—most notably the suspension settings.Andrew Oldar
Husqvarna FC-450 left frontview shot.
Husqvarna changed the valving in the WP Xact fork and WP Xact shock. The recommended fork air pressure was increased to 10.7 bar, the shock spring rate was decreased to 4.2 kilograms, and the stock rear sprocket size is now 49 (up one tooth from 48 on last year’s model).Andrew Oldar

Last year, the FC 450 received updated suspension settings that didn’t offer the most comfort, and the increased stiffness of the chassis made the bike feel rigid. It certainly had room for improvement. Husqvarna made no secret about the significant changes that were made to the WP Xact fork and WP Xact shock for 2020. A lot of testing was done in the United States over several months and everything was updated to a North American-specific setting to offer more comfort and better rideability for the average rider. The internal valving was changed and the shock spring rate was lowered from 4.5 kilograms (9.9 pounds) to 4.2 kilograms (9.3 pounds). Husqvarna increased the recommended stock fork air pressure from 10.6 bar to 10.7 bar as well. The remainder of the chassis seemed unchanged as Husqvarna focused the majority of its R&D on the suspension settings.

Husqvarna FC 450 Action shot.
The new suspension settings are much softer. Both ends are significantly improved compared to last year and offer much more comfort for the everyday rider.Brian Smith

Riding the bike, it is immediately noticeable that they made a serious effort on the suspension. Gone is the harsh feedback into your hands from the front end and you can feel the forks moving. While the shock was not as far off as the forks, it is still noticeably improved. Both the front and rear are softer and seem to have base setting that will fit a broader range of riders and skill levels.

How Does The Husqvarna FC 450 Ride?

This is the second year of the latest-generation FC 450 and it’s noticeably better than year one. Husqvarna went stiffer with the frame, triple clamps, and suspension for 2019, and for the most part, the bike didn’t get rave reviews. When riding the 2019 model, you could tell there was a good bike underneath you, but it just wasn’t all that comfortable to ride. Husqvarna put the North American R&D department to work on improving the base settings and it shows.

The suspension is significantly improved with much more comfort for the everyday rider. The shock had much more movement and followed the bumps on acceleration well. There was some tendency for it to go a little too low in the stroke and rebound a little too fast. The fork had a similar feel to the shock; it seemed like more rebound control was needed. We went in three clicks to help slow rebound in both the front and rear, and this was an improvement.

Husqvarna FC 450 uphill action shot
The stock ProTaper handlebar is a bit wide and the throttle pull is almost too easy.Brian Smith

After getting more comfortable with the bike, the softer settings became more noticeable in the braking bumps and flat landings. Going in two clicks on the compression improved comfort and helped reduce movement. We really didn’t have time to come up with a complete setting list on our first day of testing, but we can say that the stock suspension settings are much more in the range of who Husqvarna feels is its demographic for this bike.

Gearbox

Helmet: Arai VX-Pro4
Goggle: EKS Brand GOX Flat-Out Mirror
Jersey: Alpinestars Techstar Venom
Gloves: Alpinestars Racefend
Pant: Alpinestars Techstar Venom
Boots: Alpinestars Tech 10