It would be cool to be mistaken for Eli Tomac. Even better if you can pull off a good impersonation of any Lawrence brother, a Ryan Dungey or a Ricky Carmichael. You wouldn’t be the first person to sign an autograph under false pretenses. You gotta be careful, though, if you’re going after the Justin Barcia look. He’s an incredibly popular rider with a huge fan base, but if you’re too convincing, you might encounter the wrong kind of fan. Anything could happen.

We’re happy to take the chance. Not only do we love Justin Barcia, his riding style and his attitude, we love his bike. For 2023, he switched from the traditional-platform GasGas MC450F to the next generation. Almost everything is different—the frame, the rear-suspension geometry and about half the motor. His bike is a preview of what GasGas will be offering in 2024. That’s the same MO that KTM and Husqvarna performed, but one year later. It doubtlessly played into Barcia’s favor. He let Malcolm Stewart, Cooper Webb and Marvin Musquin deal with all the teething issues, then stepped in once the new platform was dialed.


In order for Justin Barcia to legally race next year’s model, the bike you see here had to be offered to the public in limited numbers on a strict time schedule. This is the MC450F Factory Edition, or as everyone calls it, the “Barcia replica.” There are two different groups of changes for this bike—one includes the mechanical elements that KTM’s and Husqvarna’s standard bikes got for 2023, and the other group has replica features, as well as the look of the Troy Lee GasGas factory race team.

Group one is quite extensive, but if you’ve been paying attention to the Austrian bikes during the last year, you probably know the story already. Here’s a snapshot:

  • New frame with new flex characteristics
  • New rear-suspension geometry with a new WP shock
  • A more compact head
  • A relocated motor, 3mm lower at the countershaft
  • Lighter swingarm
  • Smaller rear axle
  • New CP piston
  • Higher compression ratio
  • New handlebar-mount multi-switch
  • New bodywork
  • Quickshift
    The second group of features are the items that give the bike its Factory Edition flavor:
  • An Akrapovic slip-on exhaust with Factory Edition head pipe
  • GasGas factory team replica graphics
  • Ribbed factory seat cover
  • CNC-machined triple clamps (anodized red)
  • Black-anodized wheels
  • Dunlop Geomax MX33 tires
  • Black rear sprocket
  • Gold X-ring chain
  • WP holeshot device
  • Semi-floating front disc
  • Front disc guard
  • Composite skid plate
  • Frame protection kit (red)
  • Hour meter
  • Hinson clutch cover
  • Black Neken handlebar
  • Firmer suspension settings

GasGas is supposed to be the lower-priced sibling to KTM. This is made possible, according to the company, through alternate suppliers (Maxxis tires instead of Dunlop), unbranded parts (no-name handlebars) and fewer features (no map switch). None of this pertains to the GasGas Factory Edition. It has the same suppliers and the same parts as the KTM Factory Edition. Accordingly, the prices of the two motorcycles are the same—$12,099.


We were a little slow to jump aboard the bandwagon when it came to the new platform. When we tested the first of the new KTMs and Huskys, we found they did some things better, but weren’t easy bikes to warm up to. It’s much easier to embrace the new GasGas Factory Edition.

First of all, we love the motor. It’s spectacular. It’s fast, it’s controllable and it offers a legitimate difference between the two maps. The standard MC450F has a much softer power delivery and almost 10 percent less peak power. Part of that comes from the fact that the new motor is just a little spicier, but even more can be attributed to the pipe. The Factory Edition has an Akrapovic muffler merged to the head pipe from a standard KTM, while the standard GasGas has a generic silencer with a straight pipe coming out of the head. The standard MC450F is also stuck in the mild map without a switch.

Moving up the food chain, how does the GasGas Factory Edition compare to the KTM Factory Edition? That’s a much closer comparison. The two bikes are in the exact same state of tune with the same exhaust systems and the same maps. The only real difference would be on the intake side. There’s a slight difference in sound, but as far as real performance goes, we’re calling it a toss-up.

Of course, we always loved the motor on all the latest Austrian 450s. It was the chassis that made us hesitate. The new frame is more rigid. It was clearly designed for higher speeds and greater impacts. That’s fine for pros and leapers, but the average sportsman will notice more feedback from the track. It simply boils down to a comfort issue. We have made this observation many times over the 2023 model year, because this new frame is ubiquitous. It comes on almost 20 different models between the KTM, Husqvarna and now GasGas lines.

In that time we have also learned to be more patient. All frames “break in” and get more compliant with time. This one changes noticeably in 10 hours. There’s a period of fairly uncomfortable feedback (under five hours) followed by a period when it’s much less noticeable (up to 15 hours). If you are worried that the trend might continue until the chassis degenerates to spaghetti, that’s not the case. By 20 hours, the frame is what it is—still not as cushy as the old frame, but certainly not medieval.


The MC450F Factory Edition has the best suspension of any GasGas motocross bike we have tested so far. That isn’t to say that it’s perfect, but advanced riders can work with it. Allegedly, the target buyer of a GasGas is no serious racer, so the standard models come with soft valving. They are more appropriate as offroad bikes. Not this one. It’s set up like the KTM Factory Edition, which has the latest updates for the WP Xact air fork and the new rear shock. It’s predictable, level and has good manners. The revised motor location results in less squat or weight transfer to the rear under acceleration. That makes the bike feel more aggressive. Overall handling for the GasGas is hard to fault. It is, however, much more racetrack-oriented than any previous bike to carry the GasGas name.

We love all the race-team parts. The WP holeshot device is one of those extras that we often forget about, but it comes in very handy. The triple clamps are a noticeable upgrade over the standard version that often gets overlooked. The Hinson clutch cover, the seat cover and the anodized hubs are all great stuff. And then there’s the overall look. It screams bad-boy race bike. That’s appropriate, especially if you’re going to ride around with number 51 proudly displayed. We respect that. And, if someone asks for your autograph, don’t hesitate. It seems only fitting.


Try to act surprised when we say that the GasGas MC450F Factory Edition is pretty much the same as the KTM 450SX-F Factory Edition. Try to look startled and practice your most bewildered expression. Okay, good job. In the 450 class, GasGas and KTM are offering the same Factory Edition with different bodywork. Same bike, same accessories, same price, different color. We’re not breaking any NDAs or uncovering any secrets by revealing that fact. That’s not true in the 250 division. What GasGas offers is nothing like the KTM version, because there is no KTM version. For 2023, the only 250cc special edition offered by the Austrian KTM/GasGas/Husqvarna cartel is the GasGas MC250F Factory Edition.


As we pointed out in the test of the GasGas MC450F Factory Edition, the Troy Lee race team benefited from the work done by the Rockstar Husqvarna team and the Red Bull KTM team last year. Those two teams had to develop new bikes in 2022, while the GasGas was unchanged. Now, the 2023 GasGas team has a new race bike with all the kinks worked out. To clarify, this has nothing to do with the motorcycles that the public gets, even if they are called “Factory Editions.” The race team has to tailor the suspension, power delivery and dozens of other details to the needs of its pro riders. During this process, the bike that is offered to the public doesn’t change. The rules state that the factory team must use the frame, engine cases and a specific list of other parts from the production bike. Now that GasGas has committed to 500 units, the Factory Edition is officially considered a production bike.


This bike looks new and exciting, but once you get on the track, it feels kinda familiar. We’ve tested this bike (or something like it) before—several times. The 2022 KTM 250SX-F Factory Edition, 2022 Husqvarna FC250 Rockstar Edition, 2023 KTM 250SX-F and 2023 Husqvarna FC250 are all very similar. The good news is that this might be the best of the lot.

To review, the new motor is faster than ever. It gained significant power on top and just before peak. Accordingly, the Husky and the KTM were the fastest bikes on our 2023 250 shootout. With the Akrapovic pipe that comes on the Factory Edition, it gains just a little across the board. This is in stark contrast to the standard GasGas MC250F in that shootout, which was noticeably detuned.

Also, in contrast to the standard edition, the Factory Edition has suspension that’s oriented towards intermediate/expert-level motocross. It still uses the WP Xact air fork, but the valving is more aggressive than that of the standard version. The rear suspension is set up just like the 2023 KTM 250SX-F; no complaints there.

To repeat what we already reported in the test of the GasGas MC450F Factory Edition, which shares this frame, the new platform has a more rigid feel that transfers some small choppiness directly to the rider. That gets less noticeable over time for two reasons: One, the frame breaks in. Two, the rider breaks in. You get used to it. As it turns out, the lastgeneration GasGas frame was so flexy, it interfered with the job the suspension was supposed to do.


The 250 class is due for a big shake-up next year. The KTMs and Huskys have been announced with considerable emphasis on the suspension, Yamaha has something coming, and we might even see some news from Kawasaki. The GasGas MC250F Factory Edition serves notice that GasGas will be in the mix. It’s going to be fun.

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