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Chucky leaves his shed unlocked and Grabbo siezes the opportunity to grab his Red Bull GASGAS Rally 450 and test it for us.

During my last visit to Three Bridges Apple Orchard, that also doubles as a home and training compound to Factory GASGAS Rally racer Daniel Sanders (aka Chucky), I got the rare opportunity to jump on his Factory GASGAS Rally 450 and take it for a spin in his backyard. In all honesty, I don’t think Chucky’s Factory Rally team would have given me permission to take it for a spin, but seeing Chucky was not home and he did leave his shed unlocked for me to use, I figured as long as I didn’t damage it, I shouldn’t get into too much trouble. Plus, it is not like I haven’t ridden this model bike at all as I had the opportunity to ride Chucky’s teammate’s (Sam Sunderland) Factory GASGAS Rally in Dubai during one of the team’s test sessions.

To make it clear on why I’ll be sounding a bit vague with exact specifications on this Factory Rally, it is because this is the current Factory race team GASGAS Rally 450 bike. There is no way the Factory engineers are going to hand over the specifications of the bike they have been using to win the last two Dakar’s with. If the likes of myself or any Joe were to go out and purchase ourselves the latest model GASGAS 450 Rally that is available to purchase, the bike we would end up with is based off the Factory Rally race bike that Chucky raced in the 2021 Dakar Rally.

All the specifications on this bike are quite easy to find online, so what I’ll do is compare what my eyes can see and the whisperings I’ve heard and compare them to the confirmed specifications of a customer spec Rally. I’ll start with the major visual differences the Factory bike has. Up front a huge WP 52mm fork instead of the production WP 48mm versions, and the bodywork shape and styling on the Factory model is more like a current production GASGAS EC model than before. The frame on this new Factory Rally is significantly different to the customer version which is a tube trellis version, from what I can see it is now much more like a traditional MX/Enduro chassis with an engine cradle.

Next are the whispers I have heard. The current customer spec Rally has a dry weight of 139kg and this factory version is meant to be 5kg lighter making it 134kg. The total of all three fuel tanks on the customer Rally is 33 litres, from what I know the factory Rally can carry a total of 36 litres. Lastly I’ve heard that the Factory bike has speed limiter settings for the different speed zones a rider faces during a rally stage.

I have spent enough time riding the current customer spec Rally bike during the last two years that I feel like I can do a decent comparison between one of them and Chucky’s Factory machine. Jumping onto Chucky’s Factory GASGAS Rally 450 it is easily the smallest feeling Rally bike I have sat on. The seat is still ridiculously firm like the customer version however the rest of the Factory feels more like I am sitting on a Enduro bike. The only aspect that makes it very clear that I am on a Rally bike is the navigation tower directly in my line of sight.

Once fired into life the exhaust note out of the Factory down swept Akrapovic titanium system is pretty sweet and not any different to the customer spec version. It only took two small turns out of Chucky’s shed and into his back paddock to notice how small and nimble this bike feels for a Rally bike, it was quite comparable in feel to the current EC450F.

Even though I know different from previous experiences, I always expect a GASGAS Rally 450 to rip my arms off soon as I open the throttle. The initial bottom end power actually comes on very gradual and soft. This would make finding traction easier on slippery gravel roads and definitely help to preserve rear tyres on long marathon stages.

The mid-range and up is where the Factory engine really comes to life, for an engine that is designed to last thousands of kilometres at race pace, it’s quite surprising how hard this engine can rev. I am not sure if the loud induction noise exaggerates it but this engine feels and sounds like it revs much higher than a standard MC450.  Compared to the customer spec Rally, I don’t believe there is a huge difference in power. Maybe right up top the Factory engine felt a tad stronger, and I guess it should be considering it’s meant for one of the fastest Rally riders in the world.

Both ends of the Factory WP suspension on this bike are set up exactly as Chucky has asked. The 52mm WP cone valve fork has a decent amount of plushness in the first quarter of the stroke. Once I got moving a bit faster I soon noticed how much the fork firms up on bigger hits. What I do like about the 52mm fork in a Rally bike is the positive front end feel it provides when turning, I put this down to the minimal flex you get with the huge tubes.

The Factory WP shock is much firmer in feel than the fork, and riding around at low speed it doesn’t feel like it moves at all, but when I pushed a bit harder I could get it to start moving a little bit. I reckon I would have to head out into the desert and get moving a lot faster to get a proper feel of what this shock is really capable of.

Setting up the suspension on a Rally bike is no easy job as the bike fluctuates close to 40 kilograms depending on the fuel load and what a rider is carrying and the terrain they encounter can be anything from bottomless sand to rocky hard pack roads. Chucky’s set up felt reasonably safe and planted in all the conditions I sampled it, the only real trade off was the lack of comfort.

Compared to the customer spec bikes suspension, Chucky had a lot better initial comfort from his fork. Chucky’s rear shock felt like it could take a series of large hits and still keep the rear end tracking straight without having to back off. One thing I certainly cannot complain about on either the Factory or customer spec bikes is the Brembo brakes. Both ends have great feel when cruising around and when you really need to pull up in a hurry at high speed, they are up for the task no worries at all.

The overall general handling of the Factory bike is where it differs the most from the customer bike, and every other Rally bike I have ridden for that matter. Generally I cringe at the thought of riding a Rally bike on an enduro or MX track as they normally do not like carving in and out of tight corners. Chucky’s Factory bike feels quite nice on a MX track, it can rail a rutted corner no problem at all. Switching directions is effortless for a Rally bike as it feels a good 10kg lighter in action compared to the customer version. If it was not for the navigation tower in my face I could easily forget that I am riding a Rally bike as it feels closer to an enduro bike than ever before.

For the full feature check out issue #533 of ADB.