The 2023-1/2 GasGas Factory Edition model is built off the 2023 KTM platform.



A: Originally, I planned to race the 2023 Honda CRF450 Works Edition at Hangtown, but I called an audible after racing the first round at Pala. It was hard to track down A-kit suspension for the CRF450 in the short time I had between Nationals, so we eventually just gave our stock stuff to AHM and they set it up. At this point, I was only able to get in one day of riding on the bike before the Pala National and two days of riding it after Pala. Then it was time to send the bike north to Sacramento (and from there on to Thunder Valley).

After weighing my options, I realized I was more comfortable on the GasGas MC450F Factory Edition than on the Honda, and I figured it would be better to ride the GasGas at round two at Hangtown because I could build some more confidence racing it and then carry that into the third round at Thunder Valley on the Honda. Also, I knew I wouldn’t get more time to ride the Honda before Colorado, since Josh Fout was driving my van straight from Hangtown to Thunder Valley and I was flying home for the week, but the thought process was that Hangtown is usually a tougher track than Thunder Valley for me, so it was better to ride a bike I was more comfortable on.

The Works Connection Pro Launch starting device uses a magnet to snap into place, and we use it on all our test bikes.


A: I really liked the 2023-1/2 GasGas MC450F Factory Edition as a stock bike. The suspension settings are identical to the KTM 450SXF Factory Edition settings, and the engine, frame, swingarm and basically everything matches the 2023 KTM platform. The stock 2023 GasGas MC450F production bike had 2022’s older KTM chassis, but the 2023-1/2 Factory Edition has all the new stuff. Yes, it’s much stiffer than the old chassis and rides taller, but I’ve gotten used to it. I don’t mind the rigidity at the Nationals like I do at the local tracks, because the tracks are softer and rougher, which is better for a more rigid chassis.

Pro Circuit pressed copy/paste on the suspension settings from Pala #2 last year.


A: It was easy to set up this bike because I had already done it twice last year when I raced the 2023 Husqvarna FC450 at Washougal (with lowered Cone-Valvev suspension to match the stock ride height) and the 2023 KTM 450SXF at Pala #2. Here’s a list of the notable changes I made to the MC450F.

(1) Suspension. Suspension is hands down the most important mod for me to be able to race a National. I proved in 2021 that a bone-stock bike, even with stock WP air fork suspension, can qualify for a National, but you need stiffer valving to hold up when the bumps get big and the dirt is soft. The soft dirt sucks down your suspension more under braking, and the big bumps and jumps call for more hold-up on landing. Thankfully, I still had the WP Cone Valve forks and WP Traxx shock from when I raced the 2022 Pala #2 National on MXA’s 2023 KTM 450SXF; however, I had the forks rebuilt for Supercross when I rode press day at the Red Bull Straight Rhythm on our GasGas MC150, so I had to bring the forks back to Pro Circuit to get them put back to 450SXF National settings. Since I did well on this suspension with the KTM last year, it was a no-brainer to use the same settings on the new GasGas because the MC450F Factory Edition bike is using the same chassis as the KTM.

We replaced the Akrapovic slip-on with a full Pro Circuit Ti-6 system.

(2) Triple clamps. Luxon MX gave us their brand-new Gen 3 Pro clamps for the Yamaha YZ450F I raced at Pala, but they didn’t have the Gen 3 Pro clamps finished for the KTM or GasGas models yet. I used the same Gen 2 triple clamps on this GasGas that I’ve been using on the 2023 GasGas 150 and 250 two-strokes (with the previous-generation chassis). They are the same clamps I raced the World Vet Championships with two years ago on the 2022 KTM 450SXF and the same clamps I used at the 2022 Pala #2 National last year when I went 23-21 in the motos.

(3) Handlebars. I installed ODI’s Podium Flight handlebars onto the Luxon clamps with ODI’s Emig Pro V2 lock-on grips. Call me lazy, but I haven’t installed glue-on grips in years. ODI makes lock-on grips too easy to install, and I don’t have issues with rigidity in my hands. Maybe it’s because I ride a lot, or maybe it’s because ODI has found the perfect rubber durometer and design pattern for its Emig Pro V2 lock-on grips. While in Sacramento, I stopped to visit one of my childhood friends who had never used lock-on grips before. He was blown away by how fast I changed the grips in his garage.

(4) Gripper seat. As expected, I added a Guts Racing RJ Wing seat cover with the bump on it as well. I also took off the plastic frame guards to make the GasGas feel skinnier between my legs, and I added grip tape on the frame. Unfortunately, my grip tape is clear, so it didn’t quite cover up the raw metal spots on the frame where I wore the paint off.

 Thankfully, the Nationals provided a five-minute session before the second qualifying session to practice starts on the metal grate.

(5) Tires. After learning my tire pressure lesson on Monday following the Pala Raceway National, I had to recalibrate my brain to make sure I set my tire pressure correctly with the Maxxis MXSI tires. Having put 13 psi in the front ever since Dunlop first came out with the MX32 tire, which was later changed to the MX3S, it was hard to remember to set it to 14 psi. Additionally, I brought a fresh Maxxis SM scoop tire to Hangtown with every intention of using it for the first practice, but my plan changed after riding the Friday press-day session. The track was hard-packed, and after speaking with some of the teams, I realized most riders were opting for standard soft intermediate rubber on the rear rather than the scoop.

(6) Extras. We positioned the Works Connection Pro Launch starting device down at 130mm again, but I’ll be going lower for Thunder Valley now that I’m more accustomed to the metal grate. I also used Twin Air’s mesh radiator screens to keep the mud out of the radiator fins, and we installed a new D.I.D 520MX chain as well.

(7) Aesthetics. Once again, Throttle Syndicate dialed in the graphics—only this time they had to bust them out quickly and overnight them to Sacramento after I decided to race the GasGas one week earlier than originally planned.

Twin Air radiator screens make a big difference when the roost is sticky.


A: The 2023 GasGas MC450F engine is strong out of the box, and I certainly didn’t need more power out of it.

(1) Mapping. Of course, we chose Jamie Ellis of Twisted Development for the task of mapping the GasGas. He installed a Vortex ECU and created custom maps for each gear to maximize the power and rideability of the stock engine. He also gave us a Twisted Development exhaust flange, which replaced the stock circular flange with a custom unit that was blueprinted to the exhaust port’s shape.

(2) Pipe. It was a no-brainer to use the Pro Circuit Ti-6 exhaust system on the GasGas, since I already had the Pro Circuit-tuned WP suspension on the bike.

(3) Oil. We used Red Line Oil’s 10W-40 blend to keep the engine running strong. We installed a fresh clutch from GasGas and topped off the radiators with Red Line Oil’s SuperCool WaterWetter coolant.

(4) Air filter. I had used Twin Air’s pre-oiled air filters in the GasGas MC450F for all our testing and racing. The KTM/Husky/GasGas filters are the easiest to install, but I’m still bummed that the old 2022 model year and prior Austrian filters don’t fit in the new bikes.

(5) Chain. Some of our test riders, mainly Dennis Stapleton, like 14/52 gearing on the new 2023 Austrian bikes, but I feel more at home on a 13/49 ratio. So, I left the stock gearing alone


A: What did I learn about the bike during the Hangtown National?

(1) Suspension. As expected, the WP cone-valve forks and Trax shock worked well for me. I had my best results of 2022 with this setup, and I liked it at Hangtown, too. The press-day practice session was at 1:30 on Friday afternoon in the middle of amateur-day racing. With the amateur lines already formed, there were lots of smaller ruts and bumps, and my suspension was feeling too stiff. Although I figured this wouldn’t be the same track conditions as on Saturday, I still wanted to make the bike better. I went four clicks softer on my fork’s compression clickers and sped up the rebound on my shock by two clicks. I thought I would need to go back to stiffer suspension on Saturday, but because they didn’t rip the track very deep, I ended up running my settings from Friday.

(2) Plastic. During the press-day ride session, I ended up losing my left-side number plate. The new GasGas number plates span from the middle of the radiator shroud across the bike to act as the airbox cover and side number plate. It requires no tools to remove, as I found out at Hangtown when it flew off at speed. MXA hasn’t had any issues with KTM’s or Husky’s tool-less airbox covers coming off, but they aren’t as exotic as the GasGas side panel.

Normally, I carry spare plastics and numbers in the truck, but this time I didn’t have spare plastics because GasGas didn’t give me any, and Acerbis didn’t have plastics for this all-new model yet. The Austrians decided not to give their 2023 plastic molds to aftermarket companies because they wanted to sell more of their own OEM plastics, but their supply chain has been backed up, making it very hard for anyone to get extra plastics for their 2023 KTM/Husky or GasGas bikes.

These same Gen 2 Luxon clamps have been used on multiple MXA test bikes.

I knew the Red Bull GasGas factory team would give me a fresh number plate; however, my real concern was that I had only ordered one set of graphics from Throttle Syndicate, so if we couldn’t salvage the missing plastic side panel, I would be running stick-on numbers. A flagger found my side panel and handed it to a kid whom I later found in the pits. Luckily, GasGas crew chief Olly Stone was nice enough to perform surgery on my graphics with his heat gun and help me transfer the graphics to the new shroud he gave me. He also showed me the reinforced 2024 GasGas plastics, which have stronger tabs and will hopefully be less likely to fall off. He pointed out where I could drill into my airbox to add a wood screw for peace of mind during the race. If you own a new-generation GasGas, you’ll notice the pre-made dimple for the wood screw when you pull your side panel off.

(3) Engine. How was the power for me? Well, my first experience with the Twisted Development exhaust flange and Vortex ECU were during press day, and they changed the power drastically. I actually wasn’t expecting the change to be so significant because I had already ridden with the ECU for a while. It felt smoother on the bottom end. Second gear pulled longer, and I felt like I could ride the bike harder without worrying about it getting out of control. I still need to test it back to back with the stock flange to truly put my stamp of approval on it, but so far, I’ve enjoyed it.


A: Overall, the bike left me without any excuses. My subpar results were caused by poor training and execution, not bike setup.



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