If you haven’t listened to the RMATVMC Keefer Tested Podcast or haven’t watched the Racer X Films video on the 2021 Gas Gas MC450, here is a cliff note version of what this red machine is all about.
- Engine: The MC450’s engine character does feel different than the KTM/Husqvarna. With the MC450 getting a different headpipe that doesn’t incorporate a resonance chamber, the low end RPM feel is more exciting and also has more mid range pulling power than the orange/white machines. The Gas Gas keeps the smooth roll on power that is super connected to the rear wheel, but has better mid range recovery with the same top end/over rev of the KTM/Husqvarna. This 450cc engine character is still one of the easiest to ride in the big bike four-stroke class.
2. Vibration: With the new forged clamp that Gas Gas is using on their MC250/450s really helps with vibration as well as comfort. Although the new forged clamp has a solid bar mount, the bike as a whole has less harmonics to it through the handlebars than the KTM/Husqvarna.
3. No Map Switch: The Gas Gas MC models DO NOT come with handlebar mounted map switches. Instead Gas Gas offers the map switch as an accessory for 170 bucks. This helps keep cost down. The one map that is pre-installed into the MC450 is basically like a map one on a KTM 450 SX-F. Smoother roll on power delivery, but with the added RPM response of the MC450’s power delivery I have found that I don’t mind not having a switch on the bars.
4. Suspension: The Gas Gas MC450 suspension settings are proprietary and are not shared with KTM or Husqvarna. The AER fork is soft on de-cel but going up to 10.9 bar helps with hold up as well as comfort. The shock feels similar to a Husqvarna where it feels like it has a nice amount of comfort on acceleration chop, but feels too soft on jump faces/landings as well as g-outs. It’s like the WP shock doesn’t have enough damping control near the end of its stroke. Turning the high speed compression in (stiffer) on the shock a half a turn helps this, but also hurts the rear wheel acceleration traction out of corners. For me it’s a worthy trade as I just need more damping when riding more aggressive.
5. Handling: The MC450 feels slightly lighter in area 2 (middle) of corners because of its slightly more exciting low end RPM response (compared to the KTM/Husqvarna). The touch of the throttle on the MC450 gives the rider more excitement and thus gives the red machine more of a lightweight feel in middle of corners. Being able to pop out of a rut with more RPM response opens up the track for the rider and allows for him to be more creative on the track.
6. Maxxis MX-ST Tires: In order to keep cost down Gas Gas went with a less expensive tire and turned to the Maxxis MX-ST tires. The Maxxis tires simply don’t give the rider enough confidence to push hard through corners. The lean angle traction of the front tire is not very consistent and seems to push when loading the side of the tire. Being that I am front end steering rider, I found it difficult to really know when the tire is going to give. I understand the reason why Gas Gas made this move with Maxxis, but if it was me, I would look into more front end grip somewhere else like a Dunlop MX3S front or a Pirelli MX32 Mid-Soft set.
7. Ergonomics: The flatter profile/rider triangle accommodates my 6’0 frame well, but the seat cover is slicker than I would want coming out of corners. It has always been easier for me to find the balls of my feet with a KTM/Husqvarna when riding and the Gas Gas is no different. I am able to get into the proper stance quicker due to the layout/measurements of the machine. Ryno would be proud!
8. Extras: A closed off airbox side cover, a Husqvarna swingarm and a KTM sub frame are just some of the key parts that are shared on the Gas Gas MC450. High end parts like the Brembo hydraulic clutch and brakes remain in tact on the Gas Gas, which to me is important because these are a couple of the features that separate the KTM/Husqvarna/Gas Gas from the Japanese models out on the track. There is nothing better than Brembo brakes and when talking about clutch life, the Belleville clutch outlasts any other clutch in the off-road market.
9. Cost: Being that the MC450 is around 900 bucks cheaper than a KTM 450 SX-F model has me wondering why any average rider would want an orange model. To me the red Gas Gas look better, handles as good if not better than the KTM and has an engine character sightly more exciting than the other Austrian brand. The Gas Gas MC450 is something that I assumed would be just another KTM/Husqvarna when I rode it, but to my surprise, stands alone against its in house relatives.