The 2024 model valve has been opened and new bikes are flowing into the Dirt Bike shop at regular intervals. This week we got our first ride on the 2024 Husqvarna FC450. This is a bike that we already love. Husqvarna race bikes still maintain a key difference that makes them, in our assessment, more desirable than either KTM or GasGas: Less seat height. That’s because the suspension travel is slightly reduced on the FC450 compared to the other Austrian 450s. In most other ways, the major parts are the same. The motors and frames are identical on KTMs, GasGas and Husky competition bikes. There are some differences in components, bodywork and hydraulics. Additionally, GasGas shaves off a little expense with different tires, exhaust, triple clamp and a missing map switch.
For Husky the lower seat height doesn’t seem like it would be that big a deal. It’s actually hard to measure accurately, but when you use a level at the lowest part of the seat and a plumb bob going straight down, it comes out to about a half inch. That is a big deal to shorter riders, and as it turns out, even tall guys like it. I’m just over 6-feet tall, and I love the fact that I can get both feet squarely on the ground. It helps for starts, engenders more confidence and seems to have no down side. In theory, you should have less ground clearance which might mean that deep ruts could wipe your feet off the pegs. It hasn’t been an issue for me. If someone claims to have an issue with the reduced suspension travel, it’s nonsense. Likewise, those riders who say they can corner better because of the lower seat height are probably imagining things. Or, maybe they are very, very sensitive test riders. The suspension itself is said to be unchanged. The fork is still a WP Xact air fork mated to a WP Xact shock with linkage. Last year, the bike got a major redesign which included a repositioned motor. That’s designed to provide less acceleration-induced suspension squat. The new frame caught a lot of criticism because of its increased rigidity. Half of that was legitimate, the other half was because the new frame takes more time to break in.
The FC450 motor is a marvel of usable power. In our 2023 450 shootout, the Husky and KTM were the horsepower kings, even over the new Yamaha. The Husky, in particular, didn’t feel like a monster at all. In fact, it felt kind of sleepy compared to the KTM and Yamaha, but it’s deceptively fast. The map switch has two options; fast and faster. In general, riders like the faster option, which is a testament to the motor’s smooth personality. The same button also offers traction control (take it or leave it), Quickshift (take it) and launch control (take it only if you practice with it).
On our scale, the 2024 FC450 weighs in at 229 pounds. Last year, the only 450 that weighed less was the GasGas (because it used the older chassis). Now that the GasGas has been updated, it’s likely that the Husky and KTM will be tied as the lightest bikes in the class–unless the new Kawasaki KX450 takes that honor. We expect to have that bike soon, so stay tuned.
AMA HALL OF FAME INDUCTEES
The AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame inducted its 2023 Class on Thursday, honoring five new members during the 2023 AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony. The AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame Class of 2023 includes Rita Coombs, Ryan Dungey, Barry Hawk, Grant Langston and Travis Pastrana.
The Coombs family created the AMA Grand National Cross Country series, which is the largest and most prestigious off-road series in the world, and the AMA Amateur National Motocross Championships at Loretta Lynn’s Ranch in Hurricane Mills, Tenn. Since its inaugural running in 1982, the AMA Amateur National Motocross Championship has grown into the premier amateur event in the sport.
After her husband’s passing in 1998, Coombs continued to run the family business at a high level alongside her children, Carrie Jo, Tim and Davey. “I am forever grateful,” an emotional Coombs said. “I just want to thank all the riders and our fans who come see us every weekend and who love racing as much as we do!”
From 2007-’17, Dungey produced four AMA Supercross 450SX titles and trio of motocross championships in the 450 class, emerging as one of the greatest competitors the sport has ever seen. Beyond his accomplishments in the United States, Dungey also spearheaded Team USA to three straight Motocross of Nations titles from 2009-’11.
Dungey holds the AMA Supercross record for most consecutive podium finishes, landing in the top three in 31 consecutive races across the 2015 and 2016 seasons.
“First and foremost, congratulations to Grant, Barry, Rita and Travis,” Dungey said from the Hall of Fame podium. “It’s an honor to be up here being inducted into the HOF with all of them. Just being up here is a dream come true…I’m grateful for all the people in my life who helped me get here, and this one’s for you guys. You deserve all the credit!”
Across his 20-year racing career, Barry Hawk displayed a multi-disciplined racing ability that few could emulate. Hawk cemented himself as one of the greatest off-road competitors the sport has ever seen, capturing seven titles aboard an ATV and an additional championship on two wheels.
Hawk now serves as the team manager for the Coastal Gas Gas Factory Racing Team, where he has supported many racers to GNCC victories.
“Wow, just wow,” Hawk said. “I am so honored and thankful to be here. Thank you to everyone here, thank you to everyone that voted for me…and thank you to all the great people that have helped me through the years…it truly means a lot.”
As the only racer to win a World MX title, an AMA MX Championship and both AMA Supercross Regional Championships in the 125/250cc divisions, Grant Langston’s impressive career led him to the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame.
In 2003, Langston claimed the AMA 125 National Motocross Championship and added regional 125/250cc Supercross Championships in 2005 and 2006. One year later, Langston clinched the AMA 450cc Pro Motocross Championship, snapping Ricky Carmichael’s seven-year hold over the series.
At just 16 years old in 1999, Pastrana became the then-youngest racer to claim an AMA Pro MX title after winning the AMA 125cc National MX Championship. Pastrana added the 2001 125cc East Supercross title to his resume before setting his sights on the X Games — where he produced 17 medals, including 11 golds.
As the founder of the Nitro Circus brand, Pastrana helped grow one of the largest entertainment entities in motor sports. Sparked by his childhood hero Evel Knievel, Pastrana also followed his pursuits to become a successful stuntman.
“Racing is hard,” Pastrana said. “Racing takes a lot of people and a huge sacrifice from everybody. To get to be the best is amazing…It means so much to me that you would think to honor me here tonight, and this is something I’ll remember and appreciate for the rest of my life.” The Class of 2023 exhibit, featuring bikes and memorabilia from the 2023 Hall of Famers will be available for the public to view starting Friday, Sept. 15.
BETA EVO TRIALS
Beta has announced its 2024 Evo Trials models, which get a new frame treatment in raw aluminum with fresh plastic and graphic. To match the raw frame, soft-black bodywork has updated the overall look along with the black wheels that set the Evo apart from the others. The hydro-formed aluminum frame also has a built-in fuel cell which provides the tightest turning radius in the trials marketplace. Beta is the only manufacturer that offers a complete trial range of trial motorcycles. A total of 15 models ranging from youth electric-powered units all the way up to our Evo 300 Factory Edition shows that Beta is fully committed to the sport.
The main new feature for 2024 involves the introduction of the “Electronic Key” which plays a dual role, combining the safety of a kill switch with a tether attached to the rider but also acts as an anti-theft device that is coded to each full-size Evo to deter theft. This new electronic device holds an exclusive European patent awarded to Betamotor and provides an anti-theft function as well as protecting the bike and its rider. The electronic key is a two-part component: one part remains fastened to the bike’s handlebars, while the other is magnetic (worn by the rider with a cord around their wrist), activating a mechanism in the event they are disconnected.
The device, which was recently introduced for the first time on a Beta model with the 2024 Xtrainer, fulfills the function of a Kill-Switch for the safety of both bike and rider, shutting off the bike when the magnetic contact point connected to the rider’s wrist and the handlebar is disconnected. Unlike a normal Kill-Switch, however, the new electronic key also incorporates an anti-theft function, preventing the bike from being started when disconnected, thanks to coding that uniquely links the bike to the key, protecting against theft of the motorcycle when it is left unattended. Greater protection for the bike and rider, in a single solution exclusively patented by Betamotor; for the first time as standard equipment.
See you next week!