Gas Gas FSE-450 - Dirt Rider Magazine

Gas Gas FSE-450 You can't accuse Gas Gas of rushing the four-stroke to market. We saw the first photos of prototypes soon after Yamaha introduced its YZ400 in 1998, but the FSE reached production as a 400 only in 2002. So this fuel-injected four-stroke is a fairly new design, and the 450 we tested ($7695 with optional Oehlins fork) was one of two in the country. As visually striking as its two-stroke sibling, the 450 is more than a pretty facade. The fuel injection (from Marelli, which works with Ducati) works flawlessly. There is electric or kickstarting, a fairly subdued exhaust note (but no s/a yet) that passed the 2003 California 96-decibel test and plenty of performance on tap. Technically, we tested a closed-course-only machine. The fuel injection has a map designed to pass tough European standards, so there is no reason the FSE-450 couldn't pass California smog standards. The bike should be approved by the time you read this.On our test loop, though, the bike earned plenty of approval. Every rider praised the engine and its response. This motor will chug way down without drama, yet pulls with authority throughout the rpm range. It's an able competitor for the KTM and the Yamaha WR in the power department. Only the EC-250 had an easier clutch pull. Some riders thought the clutch engaged too close to the grip, but all applauded the effort required. The six-speed gearbox is a big complement to the motor. The suspension didn't seem as well sorted as the EC-250's, but perhaps the difference was in the weight. The FSE-450, like the WR450F, feels a little top-heavy in tight conditions.The same ergonomic issues that bothered riders with GG's 250 popped up. While riding there seems to be a lot of bike in front of you and not much behind you. That made cornering seem a little odd, but some of that could be due to the Michelin tire. If we had gotten some rain, it would have worked. On the hard, dry terrain, the front skated.Gas Gas knew our riders were taller, so it imported the bikes with taller MX seats instead of the shorter enduro model seats. At least one of the Conga Line crew picked the FSE-450 as a winner, and the bike has loads of power and potential.Unlike a lot of the other riders, I didn't have any complaints about the smallish ergos. I like being able to touch the ground, and a smaller bike feels more maneuverable. Overall, the FSE felt more like the KTM 450 E/XC than any other bike, and that is a good thing. The suspension is plush, the motor is very user-friendly and it handles well. I would recommend the FSE-450 to anyone who dares to be different. Ken Faught/5'10"/ 205 lb/IntermediateLoved the suspension, the look and the detailing. No love for the Wonder bread seat and shrimpy riding position and the slightly heavy feel. But this bike has loads of personality and performance, plus the first fuel injection done right. Karel KramerThe FSE-450 motor is torquey yet fast on the top-end. The six-speed gearbox allows you to ride with very little clutch work. The FSE felt somewhat top-heavy and a little hard to maneuver through the trees, but overall it is a nice bike to ride. The clutch had the lightest pull of any bike tested. Tom CarsonThis was the surprise of the test for me. The motor was strong, and it carbureted with no coughing or pinging. I missed no shifts, could find neutral and the ratios felt correct. The suspension absorbed the small trail irregularities the best. Someone left out the seat foam and covered some marshmallows by mistake. The hydraulic clutch is incredibly easy to pull. John Bumgarner/6'/ 190 lb/Conga LineAs an electrical engineer who tinkers with Mustang fuel injection, I was fascinated that Gas Gas had its fuel-injected bike at the test. Its FI seems to be on the right track. Carbs are in their twilight years. I hope GG sells a lot of these bikes; the owners won't be disappointed. Kip Temple/5'11"/ 175 lb/Conga LineThe Gas Gas 450 felt long in the front and tucked in the rear, and not very nimble in the twisty stuff. Suspension action was decent, and the FI motor has great response, no jetting required. The bike feels too different for me to be comfortable on quickly. Ed Tripp/5'10"/ 185 lb/IntermediateThis stroker was better than expected with smooth roll-on power and no hiccups. I like to ride up front on a bike, and the FSE didn't let me do that. The fork was soft, but I could sit down coming out of turns into gnarly rock faces and the back end stayed straight! Kris Keefer/6'1"/170 lb/ProThe 450 is awesome! It revs to the moon, and the power keeps building. Good overrev and transition to engine braking. The seat/pegs/handlebar relationship is perfect. It gives up nothing to the other bikes. Mark Getzfrid/6'5"/ 230 lb/Conga Line