The yellow plastic guard behind the number plate lessens
rock dings on the triple clamps. The top half anyway.
The rear WP shock is much improved. It tracks straight,
follows the ground, doesn’t G-out and is great in the rough.
The new, two-piece, molded airbox is roomier than last
year, but it still has a bad case of asthma.
air pressures to hold the forks higher, while having a wider
range of clicker adjustments. On the other hand, the slower
test riders could lower the air pressure significantly to get full
stroke out of the forks.
As an added plus the forks broke-in completely around the
five-hour mark, which made them follow the ground better
in the little choppy stuff. We helped this sensation with two
clicks less of rebound.
Q: HOW GOOD IS THE ROCKSTAR EDITION’S
A: Brilliant. This is the best WP shock that we have ever
felt. Coming out of corners you can get on the gas harder and
have better traction from the rear in every situation. We fiddled with the race sag, varying from 103mm to 110mm. Some
test riders chose 103mm, but most of their decision-making
was aimed towards getting the front and rear balanced.
Overall, the majority of test riders ran 105mm for race sag.
Q: HOW DOES THE ROCKSTAR EDITION FC450
FEEL ON THE TRACK?
A: How a bike handles isn’t always determined by its
frame geometry, which in this case is identical to last year’s
excellent chassis, but by a bunch of ever-changing variables.
Here’s a rundown.
Handlebars. The 5mm-lower handlebars give the FC450
a more compact feel. But, half of the MXA test riders wanted
to return to last year’s bars, which were not only taller but
straighter and slightly narrower. With the taller seat and
lower bars, there was some thigh-banging in the berms.
Plastic. The new contact patch for the riders to grip is
narrower than last year’s bike, but it is much better where
you squeeze and use your legs the most.
Frame guards. The black frame guards actually match
the black frame on the 2018-1/2 much better than the black
guards did on last year’s white frame. As always, some test
riders felt that the frame guards made the frame wider at the
pegs and didn’t grip as well against the rubber material on
their boots as bare metal.
Seat. The more plushly padded seat and its rounded corners don’t beat you up as bad as the previous square seat
did. The rounded corners make leaning from side to side
much easier. However, the seat made the ride height taller
and, conversely, made the bars feel much lower than 5mm.
Controls. The Magura clutch has a much softer pull than
the Brembo clutch on the KTM 450SXF. The test riders were
split between the smooth Magura clutch feel versus the
KTM’s more distinct release point.
Cornering. In the beginning of our test we had issues
at turn-in because the forks didn’t want to stroke smoothly
at corner entrance. Once we tracked down the proper air
pressure and clicker settings for each indiviual test rider’s
skill, speed and weight, the Rockstar Edition was perfect.
Turn-in got better when we lowered the oil height, which
made the forks get deeper into their stroke before stiffening
up. As always there is a delicate balance between oil height,
race sag and fork height, as changes to one end affect the
other. The MXA test riders didn’t expect any issues with
the cornering of the 2018-1/2 Rockstar Edition because it is
the identical chassis of the sweet-handling 2018 production
Q: HOW MUCH DOES THE 2018 HUSQVARNA
A: The same as last year—224 pounds. Yeah, we know
that we said that the engine was 1 pound lighter, but the
Husky gained that pound back in other areas. It is 2 pounds