2019 1/2 Husqvarna FC 450 Rockstar Edition Riding impression

2019 1/2 Husqvarna FC 450 Rockstar Edition
Story: Hoffman X3, Scott, Travis and Dustin
Photos and video: Scott

Want a little more for less and a possible peek into what might be around the corner for 2020? When we are talking about the 2019 1/2 Rockstar Edition FC 450, this could be the ticket. This Rockstar Edition is not an all-new model like we have seen at times but rather an updated version of the standard 2019 with some cool performance and bling accessories (that’s where you get more in the long run for less). The FC RE is also a very limited-edition model with only 400 available to dealers in the United States. Since it’s mostly an updated motorcycle, the frame, swingarm, cases, and head castings all remain the same. Because of this, the Rockstar Edition did not necessarily require any special AMA homologation requirements to be raced during the Supercross series.

So what makes it so special? During the DBT shootout, the Husky 450 either was adored by lighter-than-average 450 riders or just tolerated by heavier riders. The slower-revving bottom end made this really light motorcycle feel heavier than it really is. The suspension/chassis felt a little firm on small or square-edged bumps but then soft everywhere else—unless you were one of those light fast guys. Some even felt the 2018 Rockstar Edition revved quicker and felt more responsive than the standard 2019, which was odd and some say the mapping was changed.

Husqvarna addressed these issues with several upgrades, one being the rocker arms are stiffer to reduce flex, especially under high loads or high RPM. The rocker arms are also DLC coated for smooth action. They reduced friction also by running a bronze bushing in the upper connecting rod at the piston pin and redesigned one of the rings on a new CP piston. All of these changes were to liven up the engine and give it a freer-reving feel, which it did. As far as we were informed, the three available maps remained the same as the standard 2019 yet the engine changes gave those maps a new feel on the track.

The AER air fork has a new name (XACT) but it’s pretty much the same fork and the only (if you count the KTM in the same group) 450 crosser to run an air-only fork. The RE runs new valving, new piston design and increased their recommended starting air pressure. The shock also received slight valving adjustments.

The added feature on the RE includes billet adjustable offset triple clamps (20-22mm). This clamp has a split between the two mounting bolts to isolate the clamping surface and reduce stiction.

The wheels now feature a three-spoke-crossover pattern laced to DID DirtStar rims and new hubs. The wheel is said to be stronger but still offer flex without feeling super stiff like some heavy-duty aftermarket wheels.

From there the RE received an FMF slip-on exhaust, Guts seat cover, and Rockstar graphics that are embedded into the shrouds.

Nearly all of the Rockstar model upgrades are not super-special components and are all available through the Husqvarna accessory catalog and the engine components from your dealer as well. However, it would cost more to convert a new standard 2019 vs buying a Rockstar Edition if you can find one—they go pretty fast.

Standard features include Magura hydraulic clutch, Pro Taper bar, Brembo brakes, composite subframe, traction control, map switch on the fly, Pankl transmission, and new hubs to go along with the rims/spokes.

It had been some time since two of our test riders had ridden the standard 2019 FC 450 Husqvarna (the shootout to be exact) but they were both fans of the standard 19. We spent nearly a day at Pala on the main track to get a feel for the upgraded mount. The subtle but sill decisive changs were pretty apparent right from the get-go, not totally game-changing but noticeable and in the direction of improving the overall motorcycle. Most of our shootout test riders all felt that more setup and small changes would have elevated the FC in the ranking or tied it with other makes, but overall seat time is limited during a comparison test.

Test riders felt the engine is now more alive and more fun to ride. The quicker-revving motor makes the entire bike feel lighter on the track. Some of our lighter riders even preferred the standard map settings to the aggressive maps. But be aware the track had received a lot for rain the week before our test and the traction was pretty epic. Because of the conditions, traction control was left off most of the day. The engine changes didn’t produce a more powerful feel but a more ridable/quicker feel and made the bike more fun to ride. The quicker pickup was ideal for exiting corners. And like we noted above, the quicker throttle response gives the chassis a lighter feel, especially when the bike needs to be transitioned from right to left or left to right quickly. Small bursts of power allowed the rider to flick the chassis around a tad bit faster and they appreciated the actual lightness of the Husky.

The improved chassis feel might have partially been due to the engine changes yet we believe all of the refinements complemented each other. The fork is a little more progressive than before and only slight compression and rebound changes were needed to tune the chassis. It was hard to isolate the new triple clamps because of the soft track and not having a standard 2019 there to do a direct comparison. The chassis felt a little more forgiving but the dirt was soft and it was hard to notice a difference in the wheels during our test day.

The chassis did feel more natural and forgiving than we remembered but, again, it was not a night and day change, but a noticeable change one might expect if they just spent a grand or more to get their suspension dialed in with feedback to the tuner. It just felt like a better motorcycle overall or one that was more dialed in from the get go. And we know that with more time testing, setup could only get better.

No matter how you slice it, having a Rockstar Edition does come with a cool factor since you probably won’t be seeing a load of them at any given track unless you are in So Cal, LOL. Husqvarna did go the extra mile and did more than toss on some accessory items from their catalog and actually did upgrades to improve the overall feel of the FC 450. There is a value to the upgrades for sure. The standard 2019 FC is a good motorcycle but seemed to be missing some final tuning for some riders, yet the Rockstar Edition tackled several issues and refined the standard 2019. Now, and this is just speculation, but we are betting these upgrades and maybe a few more will also be incorporated in the 2020 model, minus a few special RE components. We doubt we will see any major changes for 2020 but the 2020 Rockstar Edition could be very much changed, but who wants to wait another year for a new model?

For now, you can be part of the 400 club if you find one of these slick scooters for sale. Most of the RE components are performance driven unless you count the graphics. The exhaust, wheels, triple clamps, seat, updated valving, internal engine components all contribute to a better motorcycle than the standard 2019. More expensive yes, but also improved.

Also check out the video that also goes along with this story with lots of detail on what is new with the Rockstar Edition with Husky’s own Andy Jefferson.

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