Feb 21, 2024



A: The true answer is no. Works bikes have never been banned from AMA racing. Why not? The AMA couldn’t actually delineate what made a “works bikes” into a works bike, so instead, they wrote new rules to define what made a “production bike” a production bike. At any point in time over the last 38 years, a race team could have been racing works bikes if they met the AMA minimum weight limit, complied with the exotic frame-material ban, honored the limitation on the number of cylinders, and produced the required number of bikes for homologation.

In short, if a manufacturer wanted to race its ultra-trick, prototype, 450cc four-stroke in the AMA Nationals, all they would have to do is keep it above 220 pounds (without fuel in the tank), make 400 units available for sale through their dealer network (in the allotted time frame) and have a manufacturer’s VIN number for that model year.

Guess what? It took until 2012 before a manufacturer realized that it could manufacture a totally new “works” version of its existing homologated production model with a new frame and new engine, and race it as long as they made 400 of them. That bike was the 2012-1/2 KTM 450SXF Factory Edition, most commonly referred to as the “Ryan Dungey Replica.”

That bike raised howls of protest from KTM’s competitors who claimed that it was a “works bike,” but there was nothing the AMA could do about it. KTM followed the existing AMA rulebook to the letter of the law. Honda, Yamaha, Suzuki and Kawasaki were free to do the same thing, but they didn’t react until KTM had already expanded the idea to both 450 and 250 versions of both KTMs and Husqvarnas. The Factory Editions were as close to a “works bike” as any production motorcycle has gotten since 1985.

Which leads us to the 2023-1/2 GasGas MC450F Factory Edition! This is the first-ever GasGas Factory Edition, but let’s not get too misty-eyed about the GasGas version of the Factory Edition because it does not plow new ground. It is just a red version of the 2023-1/2 KTM 450SXF Factory Edition; however, since the existing 2023 GasGas MC450F was little more than a warmed-over 2021 GasGas MC450F, the concept of a seriously upgraded GasGas MC450F Factory Edition offers GasGas racers their first opportunity to get their hands on KTM’s all-new frame, suspension, engine, frame geometry and anti-squat technology, which had been denied by GasGas management’s budget cutting.

It is a “works bike” for GasGas racers and what GasGas factory rider Justin Barcia raced in the 2023 AMA season.


A: Given that the 2023-1/2 GasGas MC450F Factory Edition is mechanically identical to the 2023-1/2 KTM 450SXF Factory Edition, the major differences are in bolt-on parts.

Cosmetics. The GasGas Factory Edition’s all-red color scheme is even highlighted by a red plastic skull cap on the gas tank to cover up the black gas tank. Most noticeable is the all-new plastic bodywork. Additionally, a large Red Bull logo sticks out on the radiator shrouds, while various team sponsors have smaller logos on the swingarm (Brembo, Method wheels, D.I.D. chain and Kite hubs).

Frame. The GasGas Factory Edition frame is red, just like the 2023 production frame.

Seat. The GasGas Factory Edition has a two-tone red/blue gripper seat cover. The 2023 production MC450F seat is solid red with a very slick cover.

Wheels. The GasGas Factory Edition wheels feature red-anodized, CNC-machined Factory hubs laced to black D.I.D DirtStar rims (with a cross-three spoke pattern on the front wheel). The MC450F Factory Edition comes with Dunlop MX33 tires, while the stock GasGas MC450 has Maxxis Maxxcross tires on silver-anodized hubs laced to silver Excel rims.

Triple clamps. The red-anodized, split-design Factory triple clamps offer adjustable offset (20mm or 22mm). The production GasGas MC450 comes stock with forged aluminum triple clamps that are neither split nor adjustable.

Exhaust. The GasGas Factory Edition comes with a stock KTM head-pipe/mid-pipe but with an Akrapovic muffler. The stock GasGas exhaust does not have a resonance chamber, and the muffler is not exotic.

Clutch cover. Although there are no Hinson parts inside the GasGas Factory Edition engine, there is a Hinson clutch cover that is engraved with the GasGas Racing logo. The stock 2023 clutch cover is a rather crude-looking cast clutch cover.

Subframe. Unlike the composite aluminum/polymide subframes on the KTM Factory Edition or the Husqvarna Rockstar Edition, the GasGas MC450F Factory Edition comes with a cleaner, simpler, sleeker, all-aluminum subframe.

Miscellaneous. The GasGas Factory Edition comes with a Factory holeshot device, black Neken handlebars, gray ODI grips, a semi-floating front brake rotor, Power Parts polyamide composite skid plate, Power Parts Factory front rotor guard, larger crossbar pad, and a seat bolt that is accessible by removing the airbox cover.


A: The retail prices of any of the Factory, Rockstar, Works or Special Racer editions are very high, but, in most cases, the upscale aftermarket parts more than pay for themselves. The 2023 Kawasaki KX450SR (Special Racer) is the most expensive machine at $12,699. The 2023 Honda CRF450WE Works Edition is the second-most expensive at $12,399. The 2023-1/2 Husqvarna Rockstar Edition retails for $12,199. Surprisingly, the 2023-1/2 KTM 450SXF Factory Edition and 2023-1/2 GasGas Factory Edition are the least expensive at $12,099.

It should be noted that there is a major difference between the 2023-1/2 Austrian and Japanese special editions. The KTM, GasGas and Husqvarna versions are early-release models of the 2024 machines. They are “next year’s bikes this year.” The 2023 Honda CRF450 Works Edition and Kawasaki KX450SR are this year’s bike with aftermarket accessories bolted on. Thus, the Works Edition and Special Racer do not get the sobriquet of “2023-1/2” because they are spiffed-up 2023 models.


A: MXA always criticized the 2021–2023 GasGas MC450F engines for being down on low-end power and throttle response. They were too mellow! The MXA test riders felt that the MC450F needed more punch out of the hole; however, internal politics in Mattighofen demanded that the GasGas models would not breathe as well as their orange and white brothers, nor would they get updated exhaust systems or adjustable maps. Those corporate decisions killed throttle response. Thankfully, the 2023-1/2 GasGas MC450F Factory Edition engine is not knee-capped by in-house decisions to tone it down. It gets increased airflow, an identical KTM exhaust system and all the whiz-bang electronics that the KTM 450SXF Factory Edition has.

The GasGas MC450F Factory Edition accelerates much harder out of corners and keeps on pulling into the top-end. The power, from top to bottom, is delivered in one, long, churning locomotive style of power; it builds at an unbelievably linear rate from 5000 rpm to its peak at 9400 rpm. You can play gun-and-run by quick shifting your way through the transmission every time the rpm reaches peak power, or just put it in third gear and let the horsepower do its work at an easily managed 9000 rpm.

The GasGas MC450F version of the Factory Edition feels stabler in a straight line, better hooked up on corner exit, more forgiving in the rough, and reveals the benefits of the anti-squat chain-torque system more fully than the other two. We don’t know why it feels better, since it shares the frame, engine and running gear with its KTM and Husky brothers. We’d like to say that the all-aluminum subframe plays a small role in this, much like Husqvarna’s original molded plastic subframe made the 2014–2016 FC450s feel better under a load than the KTM subframe.


A: For several years, MXA has been asking for a larger difference between the Mellow map (Map 1) and Aggressive map (Map 2). Often the difference between the two maps has been infinitesimal. Finally, on the 2023 production bike and the 2023-1/2 MC450F Factory Edition, the Austrian engineers gave riders two distinctly different maps. The Mellow map was, in fact, mellow, although it still had a significant hit, while the Aggressive map was much more responsive down low and built serious power in a progressive surge from the mid to top. The two maps gave GasGas riders two distinctly different powerband options. The choice between the mellow map and the aggressive map wasn’t between go and no-go, because both maps had positive attributes that were track determined.


A: The secret is that there is no such thing as Husqvarna or GasGas Factory Edition suspension settings. The forks, shock and linkage on the 2023-1/2 GasGas MC450F Factory Edition are actually spec’ed for the KTM 450SXF Factory Edition. The same holds true for the Husqvarna Rockstar Edition suspension. Yes, all three sets of suspension components are built by WP, but if you were expecting the plusher GasGas MC450F setting from the production bike or the shortened travel of the 2023 Husky FC450, sorry, Charlie! Instead, all three models are spec’ed with the stiffer and higher-riding KTM suspension components.

Why? The best answer we could get from GasGas and Husqvarna was, “Given that there are now three 450 Special Edition versions with a minimum of 400 units per brand, it was more expedient to order 1600 of the same forks and shocks instead of 400 of this one and 400 of that one.” We accept that explanation, but we’d much rather have a GasGas MC450F Factory Edition with the plusher and more compliant forks that it is known for, along with a Husqvarna FC450 Rockstar Edition with its unique shortened forks and lowered rear end.


A: Internally, the forks and shock on the 2023-1/2 GasGas MC450F Factory are the 2024 production forks and shock, although not necessarily with the identical valving. WP reworked the forks and shock for the 2023-1/2 Factory Editions with the goal of increasing comfort and adjustability at both ends for 2024. Both the shock and fork valving are different from the 2023 production valving, but the changes are limited to places where WP felt they could make the suspension less sensitive to setup changes.

Forks. WP says they made “minor refinements” to the compression shim stack in the mid-valve to make the damping feel more fluid and comfortable. They did not touch the rebound side of the fork’s damping, nor are there any alterations to the suggested air pressure or clicker settings. GasGas advises that the rider should be willing to fine-tune the feel by making clicker adjustments based on track conditions.

Shock. On the 2024 WP shock, the high-speed compression damping settings were updated because WP felt the 2023 settings had too large a gap per adjustment. WP’s goal was to get the high-speed compression dial to make smaller adjustments per dial movement. How much smaller? Each incremental change was reduced by 50 percent. This gave the rider the ability to fine-tune the compression changes in much smaller increments. On last year’s shock, it was easy to go too far with each adjustment, but on the 2024 forks found on the three Austrian Factory Editions, it is easier to find a better setting.

The high-speed compression damping is controlled by a spring pressing on the shim stack. WP didn’t change the adjuster or the spring but instead went from 15 shims to 23 shims to offer more delineation in adjustment. Given that many riders don’t utilize the high-speed compression adjuster, or fully understand its function, this shock change only comes into play if you turn the high-speed compression dial. The recommended setting is 1-1/2 turns out.


A: The 2023-1/2 GasGas Factory Edition frame has ultra-strong, forged-steel brackets on top of the frame’s backbone (behind the head tube) and, no surprise, forged brackets on the downtube (below the head tube). These forged pieces make the frame more durable and stronger, but because of them, this frame needs a lot of break-in time. Our frame got closer to its natural resilience with the passing of every hour of saddle time. It was perfect at the 10-hour mark. You don’t have to wait for 10 hours, though, as the chassis will feel better every time you ride it. You’d be amazed how many first-time 2023 KTM/Husky owners sell their brand-new KTMs or Huskys after the first couple rides because they are too stiff. All they really had to do was ride them more.


A: The hate list:

(1) Seat height. The 2023-1/2 GasGas Factory Edition is taller than the 2023 MC450F, largely thanks to the higher-riding KTM suspension spec.

(2) Push buttons. Initially, the MXA test riders were impressed by the push buttons on the new electronics for start, stop, Traction Control, maps, Launch Control and Quick Shift, but that changed quickly because the buttons were so low-profile that getting them depressed with a gloved hand was often hit-or-miss. Worse yet, if you get the start/stop switchgear wet, it can short out the ECU. We never spray the start/stop button when cleaning the bike post-race.

(3) Chain slack. The GasGas Factory Edition’s chain slack should be measured at 65 to 70mm at the rear of the swingarm — even though it looks loose.

(4) Buffer pad. Where the chain bends downward onto the countershaft sprocket, it will eat through the swingarm buffer pad in 20 hours. Watch it closely, because after it eats through the buffer, it starts eating through the swingarm.

(5) Airbox cover. The new ultra-long GasGas airbox cover reminds us of the ultra-long Husqvarna airbox covers of a few years ago, but in the opposite direction. The cover doesn’t fit very well and is hard to put on.

(6) Break-in time. All-new motorcycle frames require a certain amount of break-in time, but we notice it more on chromoly steel frames because, unlike rigid aluminum frames, they become more resilient over time. We never notice an aluminum frame getting more resilient because aluminum frames don’t flex, and if they do, they break.

(7) Weight. One of GasGas’ claims to fame has been incredible light weight. Well, not so much now that the 2023-1/2 GasGas Factory Edition weighs a surprising 229 pounds. Even at that weight, it is still lighter than every Japanese-built 450, but we were sad that it was 7 pounds heavier than a production 2023 GasGas MC450F.


A: The like list:

(1) Chain torque. Husky moved the countershaft sprocket down 3mm to reduce rear-end squat under full power. This is most noticeable in whoops, consecutive bumps and under hard acceleration in a rut.

(2) Frame backbone. The 2023-1/2 GasGas MC450F Factory Edition’s frame backbone and shock tower have been separated to reduce the effect of square-edge bumps and whoops thrusting the energy of the blow to the front end, which in turn makes the rear end kick.

(3) Airbox. No air filter is easier to put in or take out than the GasGas design, except, of course, the KTM and Husqvarna air filters. This airbox breathes better than the three previous GasGas designs.

(4) Crossbar pad. The 2023 GasGas crossbar pad was the perfect size for a 50cc Pee-Wee but grossly undersized on a full-size bike. The all-new, larger, GasGas Edition crossbar pad will bring comfort to your dentist.

(5) Clutch/brakes/shifting. All great.

(6) Quick Shift. Quick Shift works best on long, fast, wide-open, high-speed straights, especially long start straights where the rider has to row through the gearbox from second to fifth without touching the clutch. After the start, opinions are mixed. Only half of the MXA test riders liked Quick Shift for the rest of the track.


A: We didn’t want GasGas to upgrade the 2024 GasGas two-stroke and four-stroke models to the new frame and engine. We dreaded the idea of taking the unique design and platform-sharing it with KTM and Husqvarna. For its intended Vet audience, the 2023 GasGas frame and engine were perfect. And, it goes without saying that the majority of GasGas two-stroke buyers love the carbureted GasGas smokers. They are simple to tune and unbelievably light.

Sadly, the Austrians are more in love with their fuel-injection, electric-start and electronic-power-valve technology than they are with the wants and needs of their customers. They don’t care that most two-stroke riders don’t want complicated, expensive, and heavier two-strokes. The biggest reason that the KTM group platformed shared next year’s GasGas models is that they don’t want the expense of stockpiling the old engines, old frames, and old plastic.

However, it is true that all the technology on the 2024 GasGas MC450 has the capability of producing an incredibly manageable powerband. It simply pulls more and more as you roll the throttle on. Once the bikes are broken in, they offer awesome handling and a powerband that never quits. Plus, the bike can share all of its mechanical parts with KTM and Husky.

This is how we set up our 2023-1/2 GasGas Factory Edition suspension for racing. We offer it as a guide to help you find your own sweet spot.

WP AER FORK SETTINGSThere is a learning curve to getting the most out of the WP XACT air forks. The GasGas WP XACT air fork has one Schrader valve to put air in or take air out. The right fork leg is strictly damping, and the left leg is air only. GasGas has a sticker on the air leg to guide you to the recommended air pressure. It is a very good starting point, but it’s just a suggestion, not an ironclad law. MXA has test riders who run as much as 165 psi and test riders who run as low as 135 psi. The 2024 forks have the potential to be great. For hardcore racing, we recommend this fork setup for an average rider on the 2023-1/2 GasGas Factory Edition:Spring rate: 158 psi (Expert), 152 psi (Intermediate), 145 psi (Vet), 138 psi (Novice)Compression: 14 clicks out (12 clicks out)Rebound: 15 clicks out (18 clicks out)Fork-leg height: Third lineNotes: The 2023-1/2 GasGas Factory Edition comes with rubber rings on each leg to allow the rider to see how much travel he is getting at a given pressure, but the orange rings wear out and slide down by themselves after a couple of hours. We use a zip-tie on the right leg. The forks need five hours of break-in time before they smooth out and work to their fullest.

WP SHOCK SETTINGSMost MXA test riders like the overall feel of the WP rear shock, but WP did make some technical changes to the 2023-1/2 Factory Edition shock to make high-speed compression damping less finicky. We run the low-speed compression on 15 clicks out, the high-speed compression 1-1/2 turns out, the rebound on 15 clicks out, and set the sag at 105mm. For hardcore racing, we recommend this shock setup for the 2023-1/2 GasGas MC450F Factory Edition:Spring rate: 45 N/mm (for 175 and up pounds), 42 N/mm (for riders under 175 pounds)Race sag: 105mmHi-compression: 1-1/2 turns outLo-compression: 15 clicks outRebound: 15 clicks outNotes: When we have doubts about the shock’s compression, we focus on changing the high-speed compression, not the low speed. If your static sag is more than the recommended 40mm, your spring may be too stiff for your weight. In this case, the spring is not compressed enough to allow the suspension to extend far enough on its own. If your static sag is less than 30mm in the rear, the spring may be too soft for your weight. In this case, the spring requires so much preload to achieve the proper race sag that it makes the rear suspension prone to topping out under a load.


This is the first-ever GasGas Factory Edition, it offers GasGas racers their first opportunity to get their hands on KTM’s all-new frame, suspension, engine, frame geometry and anti-squat technology.The MXA test riders ask the GasGas Product Managers not to update the 2024 GasGas MC450 (and especially the GasGas two-strokes) to the new frame, engine and layout from the the 2023 KTM. Instead, we wanted to keep using the 2021 frame and engine in 2024. Why? Because it is 7 pounds lighter, more forgiving and doesn’t require 10 hours of break-in time.Compared to the 2023 GasGas mini pad, the 2023-1/2 Factory edition crossbar pad is five times larger.