First Impression: 2021.5 Husqvarna FC450 Rockstar Edition

A New Shining Star In The MX App World

Story by Trevor Hunter, Photos by Scott Hoffman

We just finished up a day on Husqvarna’s 2021.5 FC450 Rockstar Edition and wow, it’s pretty nice to be a dirt bike rider these days. $10K+ fuel-injected, traction control equipped 450cc four-strokes aren’t good enough for the common man which brings us to the “Factory Edition” models that OEMs like KTM, Husqvarna, and Honda are selling. They all feature some pretty cool upgrades like factory-inspired wheels, triple clamps, graphics, exhaust systems, and more. However, Husky unveiled the next step in their evolution as you can now program the mapping and tailor your engine to your preferences through your smartphone. That’s right, the myHusqvarana app is now in play for Rockstar Edition owners. 

The control unit is placed up in the bar pad, with just a simple push of a button connecting your phone and the unit via Bluetooth, not WiFi connectivity as Yamaha has in place. The app was simple to connect and use, we’d say on par with the GYTR Power Tuner App for ease of use and navigation. What else differentiates the Rockstar Edition FC450 from the standard FC450 model? The Factory Triple Clamps and Wheels, Rekluse Clutch Cover, FMF 4.1 Ti Slip-On Muffler, Rockstar Graphics and Guts Seat Cover, and the Connectivity Unit. It’s important to note that the RE does not have the lowered suspension as the standard FC450 had for 2021. It features the same suspension as the KTM’s, just with settings unique to the Husky. 

So the big question is, how does the FC450 Rockstar Edition perform on the track? We’d say very similar to last year’s model, as it should. There have been no major changes aside from the graphics and the new connectivity unit allowing you to alter the mapping. The motor is fast, almost too fast in stock trim. As in years past, it has a linear power delivery. The bottom end is pretty good, with good usable torque down low and a smoother hit to it making it fairly easy to ride. From there, it climbs up through the strong midrange before signing off up top. The bike revs out good for a 450, but it lacks some top end compared to its orange brother. In years past when ridden back-to-back, the Husky has a smoother, easier to ride powerband with more of the power shifted down a bit, whereas the KTM has a more aggressive hit, and climbs a little more steadily through the RPMs where it revs out quite nice. Faster and bigger riders usually like the KTM power whereas those that aren’t used to 450 power can transition to the Husky power a little easier.

What really stood out power-wise was the tunability of the app. The changes are quite simple, but effective. You can adjust the power based on track type (Sand, Gravel, and Hard-Pack) and Track Condition (Dry and Hard), along with Engine Braking, Throttle Response, Traction Control, and Launch Control. The Track Type and Condition alter the power and torque based on RPMs to what Husky feels is best for the conditions. These are pre-set and can’t be altered manually. However, the Engine Braking, Throttle Response, Traction Control, and Launch Control all have a setting of 1-5, with 3 being standard. At Glen Helen, it was overcast and cold, helping moisture stay in the sandy dirt all day long. 

We went with the Gravel Track Type and Dry Condition for a smooth, easy-to-ride power delivery. Switching between the different levels 1-5 of the other segments, the changes are quite noticeable and make a big difference. The standout feature in our eyes is the ability to dial up or down Engine Braking and Throttle Response. Riding a 450cc four-stroke with very little engine braking was a welcomed change for myself who is accustomed to riding a two-stroke. We dialed it down to 1 (Mellow) and iIt felt very free and helped settle the chassis on deceleration. You have to be careful though as you tend to rely on the engine braking to slow you down without realizing it, and we overjumped the first few jumps simply because of the lack of engine braking. Still, it was a welcomed addition. If the dirt was a little slicker and didn’t have the traction, we’d like to keep a little more engine braking as you can help rely on that to slow you down and not just the brakes. Likewise, we turned down the Throttle Response to 1 (Mellow) and were fans of that as well. It mellows out the power and like the engine braking, it helped settle everything down chassis and power wise. We like a smoother, broader power that lets our wrist do the work, not necessarily the motor, and the app did just that. We’d almost go as far to say that it felt like a fast 350 rather than a 450.

Our preferred map for the day.

In the handling and suspension department, the Rockstar Edition FC450 performed as we had expected it to, but better. The suspension on the Husky is a little softer and more forgiving than the KTM, which suited our smaller test rider well. However, initially, we weren’t all that thrilled with it. The bike struggled to settle down and would react harshly to the small chop and chatter that strew all around Glen Helen on our test day. We’ve experienced this on other 450s before, and rather than changing suspension settings, we’d try to tame down the power to settle the bike down. With this in mind, we forwent the screwdriver and instead went directly to the myHusqvarna app. After finding a smoother, easier-to-ride map, we found the chassis settled down to where we felt more than comfortable on the machine. 

With the sag set at 105mm, we found a good balance of stability and cornering, exactly what we expected out of this bike based on past experience. The forks offered a supple feel, but resisted any harsh bottoming despite overjumping/underjumping some big jumps and charging harder into some of the bigger braking bumps than we typically would. Likewise, the rear shock tracked well and stayed flat upon corner entrance, which helped initiate and execute our turns better. 

Overall, there isn’t a whole lot of changes to the 2021.5 FC450 Rockstar Edition, but the lone change is significant. The app is capable of changing the bike enough to make a difference, and it made the difference for us today. While Yamaha’s Power Tuner App is like the Swiss Army Knife of MX apps, the Husky app is very user friendly and simple to use. We’ve been told that the Connectivity Unit/Bar Pad must be connected to the ECU for the mapping changes to be in play. So you can’t make a change and then remove the unit and expect to run the map you just built. However, if you can’t stand the look of the bar pad or you like to run a crossbar, you can remount it elsewhere, just make sure it lays horizontal for it to work.

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