We get our first taste of the all-new GasGas MC 450F.
By Ryan Nitzen | Photography by Kit Palmer
It was approximately a year ago that Pierer Mobility—the parent company of KTM and Husqvarna—announced it had acquired the Spanish manufacturer GasGas, which started out building trials bikes in 1985 before expanding to enduro a few years later. Since 1985, the GasGas brand has changed hands several times but has appeared to have found a permanent home under the Pierer Mobility (KTM) roof, much like Husqvarna did a few years back.
The first GasGas models since the KTM/Husqvarna merger have now arrived. These bikes are very red, very competitive and, yes, very KTM-ish. And the U.S. gets three motocross models (MC) to choose from, two four-strokes in the MC 250F and MC 450F, and one two-stroke in the MC 125.
Okay, so it does seem a little strange that KTM would acquire another brand, but the car industry has been doing this for years. Those who have recently purchased a new car can relate to the GasGas, KTM, Husqvarna situation. Say a vehicle on the dealer floor comes with the standard base package. This car would show a sticker price of “x” amount of dollars. It may not be the flashiest, but it will get the job done for the right customer. You can also take that same car and add on the sport package for an extra bump in price. Maybe the sport package is just what you’re looking for, more features than the base model and likely more overall bang for your buck. Then above that is the deluxe package. The deluxe model is the cream of the crop and comes with all the bells and whistles, presumably more than you could want or need. Get the picture?
This is the same for the KTM group. The Husqvarna models are the “deluxe package” with the carbon-fiber subframe, lowered center of gravity, and subsequently the highest price tag. The KTM’s are the “sport package,” equipped with a Ready To Race attitude and a slightly-above-average sticker price. The new GasGas models could be considered as the “standard package” and have the lowest price tag of the three. They are still well-equipped, made from the same manufacturer, just without some of those extra fancy accessories. And the sticker price? The MC 450F comes in at $9399, the KTM 450 SX-F $10,199 and the Husqvarna FC 450 at $10,299. For further comparison, the MC 450F sells for the same price as the ’21 Yamaha YZ450F and $200 less than both the ’21 Honda CRF450R and Kawasaki KX450. The Suzuki RMZ-450 is the only Japanese 450 priced under the GasGas at $8999.
2021 GasGas MC 450F Review | So What’s The Difference?
It’s easy to say that the GasGas MC 450F is just a red KTM (or Husqvarna) but it is not. Yes, the meat and potatoes are pretty much the same, but the trimmings are different, which makes the GasGas just different enough on the track.
The GasGas motocrossers share many familiar part numbers with its orange and white relatives such as the frame, engine and ECU. So, what sets it apart? Instead of thinking of it as being just a red KTM, think of it as a striking blend between the KTM and the Husqvarna. The GasGas models come with a red chromium-molybdenum steel frame, red plastics, one-piece cast triple clamps (as opposed to a two-piece billet design), aluminum Neken handlebars with ODI lock-on grips, silver wheels, and Maxxis Maxxcross Tires. The GasGas also comes standard with an aluminum subframe (same as the KTM) and the same swingarm as the Husqvarna. Both bikes feature the newly updated and fully adjustable WP Xact suspension components, just with different settings than the KTM and Husqvarna (more on that later).
What it doesn’t come with is the convenient handlebar-mounted engine-map/traction-control switch. But since the GasGas models have the same ECU as the KTM and Husqvarna, you can purchase a switch for about $180 from your local GasGas dealer and have it installed before it leaves the showroom. The onboard ECU comes pre-programmed with two different maps and the option for traction control, just no switch. The bike we tested came equipped with this add-on and while it may not be a necessity, it is a nice option to have.
The exhaust system is different, as well. Compared to the KTM 450 SX-F, the MC 450F’s head pipe does not have a resonance chamber and the muffler is designed to be quieter.
2021 GasGas MC 450F Review | All Aboard
We could not have asked for a better day to experience the GasGas MC 450F for the first time. Cool temperatures, overcast skies and a perfectly groomed Glen Helen track awaited our first laps on the GasGas 450. The track was ripped deep and it didn’t take long for us to notice a softer-than-expected suspension setting in the WP Xact components. It reminded us of the plush and “vet-friendly” setup that came on the Husqvarnas a few years ago. Before the GasGas test, our team recently completed the Cycle News 450 Shootout and had become acquainted with the stiffer settings found on the new KTM and Husqvarna. While we expected the same from the GasGas bikes, it was easy to fine tune the fork on both machines to our liking with the tool-less adjustable clickers.
The MC 450F’s power delivery is very smooth and power is strong from bottom to top. Similar to the KTM and Husqvarna, the GasGas comes alive down low and seems to pack the most punch when ridden higher in the rpm range. The GasGas’ power curve, however, did not seem as racey as its two cousins. It boasts a friendly and easy-to-ride personality that was actually a welcomed change after riding a fleet of power-hungry 450s that were eager to pull your arms off.
After familiarizing themselves with this fun-loving 450, our team switched over to the more aggressive map two, looking for some extra juice to carry them up and over the steep hills at Glen Helen. This did offer some extra rev in the meat of the powerband and gave the bike more life than the standard map one. Back in the pits we learned that the airbox cover on the GasGas 450 is almost completely sealed off. We mention this because the KTM and Husqvarna airbox covers have openings on the side and a vented front face for increased airflow. This reduction in airflow adds to the friendly and linear power characteristics of the GasGas bikes.
Our first ride on the MC 450F revealed it is not just a KTM with new plastics—yes, it is similar but not the same bike. While it shares many of the “Ready To Race” qualities of the KTM and Husqvarna, the GasGas can be seen as a friendlier offering for riders and their wallets. It is simply a slightly less aggressive version than its relatives.
The MC 450F seems to be a great option for those who want to save money on the sticker price and use those funds for add-ons they want. The GasGas may not come with every bell and whistle as its orange and white cousins, but it does have all of KTM’s engineering resources in a more budget-friendly package.CN
2021 GasGas MC 450F Specifications
||4-stroke, water-cooled, single
|Bore x Stroke
||95 x 63.4mm
||SOHC, 4 valves
||Electric w/ lithium-ion 12.8-vold 2 Ah battery
||Pressure lubrication w/ 2 pumps
||Keihin EFI w/ 44mm throttle body
||5-speed, w/ Brembo hydraulic clutch
||Central double cradle chromoly steel
||WP Xact inverted 48mm fork, fully adjustable
||WP Xact shock, single shock, linkage, fully adjustable
||Maxxis Maxxcross MX-ST, 80/100 x 21 in.
||Maxxis Maxxcross MX-ST, 120/90 x 19 in.
||Single 260mm disc w/Brembo caliper
||Single 220mm disc w/Brembo caliper
|Triple Clamp Offset
|Weight (curb, claimed)