COLT NICHOLS FACTORY HONDA CRF450R
Honda has special edition CRF110s that are available for purchase at the dealership level. To highlight some of the new colorways that are being offered they decided to dress up their race bikes at Anaheim 2. Colt Nichols is the newest rider on the Factory Honda roster and we wanted to go in depth with his bike to see what mechanic Jordan Troxell does to get it ready for racing on the weekend.
THE FRONT END
Colt Nichols is running a Renthal 827 handlebar. You can see the steering stem nut is wired off so the nut doesn’t spin off during a race. Just a precautionary measure. Another note is that Colt’s steering is the loosest on the team. That doesn’t mean he isn’t more on the tight side but compared to Sexton or Lawrence he is looser.
Colt Nichols is running a “special” soft Renthal grip. Jordan didn’t go into many details on the grip compound but here is a photo for you to examine yourself. He is running the grip donuts and they are wire tied. Colt doesn’t have small hands but he runs his levers pretty close into the motorcycle. Especially the front brake. The levers are provided to the team by ARC. Colt is running a Works Connection billet throttle tube on the right hand side of the motorcycle.
Polar watches sponsors a lot of the athletes in Supercross. They make this trick watch mount that attaches to the handlebars. Colt can look down during the race and monitor his heart rate as well as how much time he has been on the bike.
Honda is running their factory HRC triple clamp that we have seen in years past. They also make their own aluminum transponder bracket in house at Honda in Southern California.
Colt is running taller bar mounts than the rest of the team riders and has the tallest the team has used in quite a while. Coming off the Yamaha, Colt is used to the bike being a little taller in the front and stiffer. The team is trying to simulate the same feeling a little bit on the Honda with the spring fork.
The buttons on the handlebars are modified for Colt Nichols. On the right side you’ll see a simplified start button and on the left side is a kill switch with start map in it if he wants it. Colt chooses not to use the start mode. You can also see the extra plastic in between the left grip and switch on the left hand side to counter some of the rubbing that goes on while riding. The wires also have a sheething on them to protect them some more.
The front brake master cylinder and clutch master cylinder are both oem products from Honda. They have protective carbon pieces on them in the event a rock or debris hits them. Another factory item is the caps on both master cylinders that have HRC/45 engraved in them.
SHOWA front forks are mounted to the motorcycle. You can also see that the front brake line is wire tied for safety so it is braced to the guard.
The front rotor guard is special made for the team. It protects the oem sized front disc and can help in ruts. The cover can act like a ski and actually help the bike glide through ruts instead of get hung up by the brake system.
Works Connection provides the holeshot device to the team. We have seen depths all over the map based on preference of the rider. Dean Wilson is running 180mm on his Honda CRF450R. Colt’s bike is extremely extremely deep. We will leave it at that and not reveal the number for the sake of secrecy to Honda.
Colt Nichols fork straps. The holeshot device is so deep that it can rip the fork guards right off. These straps are a protective measure that factory teams use to prevent that problem.
Colt Nichols is running the coveted HRC hub that the team has been on for several years now. DID rims are also added to the motorcycle. You can see the spokes are also wire tied like many of the other factory bikes in the paddock. In the event a spoke is broken, this preventative measure can help keep the spoke in place. It won’t lodge itself into the brake system or get wrapped up in the wheel causing a DNF.
You can get another look at the DID Dirt Start rims in this photo. Dunlop 768 spec front tire is used. The teams are usually helping develop the next generation of tires for Dunlop at the races. What better way to test than by racing on the products that will be sold soon.
The radiators are a stock component on the motorcycle. There is a 1.8 cap instead of the 1.1 that comes stock on the 2023 Honda CRF450R. The cap is also pinned to prevent the rider from spinning it off with their legs. It’s happened in the past to other teams and they’ve lost all their coolant. The radiators also have Twin Air radiator covers on them. This protects the front of the radiators from rocks and debris damaging that area.
Intec hoses are used on the bike and colored blue to give the factory feel. You can slightly see that they mount to a Y piece connection in the middle of the bike that is special made for Factory Honda. You can see on the pressed in portion of the hoses to the water pump that there is a black protective piece. This piece is added on to fight off rocks and debris.
The fuel tank is the oem titanium model. You can see the little aluminum vent on the hose above the tank. It is a one way valve to prevent over flow and splash out. It is wire tied to keep in place.
New to the team this year is a GET launch control located on the front fender. This device will let the rider see their RPMs on the starting line. It is extremely loud and hard to feel the motorcycle during a 450 main event at Supercross. This device will let the rider find the perfect RPM and fine tune their start on the line.
Bob Rikeman does all the engines at American Honda in Southern California. You can see the magnesium primary cover as well as the Hinson clutch cover with Hinson basket/internals as well. The bike has been mellowed out quite a bit from where Colt started a few months ago. Coming from the 250 to the 450 was an adjustment. Colt doesn’t want to be in between rhythm sections and there’s too much punch from the engine and take off on him. A large majority of the riders mellow out their engines for Supercross and prefer rideable power that is less aggressive. Ken Roczen did the same on his Honda, Dean Wilson, and even Ryan Dungey several years ago did this on his KTM. They can have an engine that makes 70 horsepower but if its not ride-able what’s the point?
Jordan noted that one of the biggest improvements the team has made this year is wiring. There are in house employees at Honda that have worked hard to clean up some of the wiring and data system on the bike. The team has their own special data harness that is really clean this year and Jordan is excited to have. The majority of the electronics are hidden under the tank that the general public can’t see. This will remain a mystery for HRC Honda employees only.
On the Yoshimura exhuast you can see the O2 sensor. This is part of the data system Factory Honda is using on the bike. The entire data system can deliver information to the team on how the bike is running as well as cross reference to what a rider might be feeling on the track during race day.
On the left side of the radiator you can see the GPS antenna. This antenna can only work with outdoor stadiums. Houston for example wouldn’t work. The GPS portion of the data system helps the team identify where on the track the bike might be having a problem or a spot they want to improve on as race day pushes forward.
We noticed on Colt’s bike the engine hangars weren’t modified but the lower mounts were. There is a small hole in the center which can slightly change the flex characteristics of the motorcycle.
The full coverage carbon skid plate is made for Factory HRC and it is custom. For the mud races need to run an oil cooler. They have a 2nd skid plate that will protect the oil cooler and is also custom for the team.
Tucked up under the right side of the bike is a the back up start button. If the start button that is mounted on the handlebars is damaged, Colt can still get the bike going again with this secondary start switch.
You can’t see it but its in there. Twin Air provides several options of air filters for the team. They can actually change the power delivery of the bike just with the air filter. A supercross style filter is used for Colt. This is less robust than the outdoor national style filter they prefer to ride on. Supercross typically doesn’t have the same harsh elements as outdoor motocross does. They can get away with a thinner filter for racing. They also provide some shower caps for the filter if the team is in a sand race like Daytona.
REAR OF THE BIKE
The brake pedal is a works component and primarily considered factory because of the tip. You can also see the brake snake that protects it from being ripped outward on the bike. The brake snake is usually made out of an old throttle cable or clutch cable. You can see the foam sticking out of the left side of the image above. This is used to prevent mud from packing in that area and causing the rear brake to drag during riding. The brakes can heat up and almost become useless in mud situations.
The factory HRC foot-peg has an array of options for riders to choose from. They can go up,down, back, or forward based on rider feedback and preferences. Troxell did say that the position for Colt is different than OEM but didn’t give any specifics.
The rear master cylinder has no window on it. That’s what makes it a factory component. Mechanics don’t need the window to know that they are spot on with fluid levels. Every inch of this bike is looked over before it hits the track. The window area can get hit by a rock or damaged causing the rear brake to fail. The team avoids this issue all together by removing the window on the master. All the internals and the way it works are oem.
The team riders all run different combinations of grip tape on their bikes. Colt has a small triangle on the side plates with the tape on the frame. This stuff is very very abrasive. It shreds pants and boots big time. The gear companies pull their hair out when it comes to grip tape on the motorcycle.
A standard 5 pleat seat from Throttle Jockey is used. The please have small rope in each one to give it that texture they are looking for.
Colt is running a production sub-frame on his Honda CRF450R. The team does cut the sub-frame a little to keep the rear of the motorcycle from kicking him in the butt through the whoops.
This is where you would typically see the cable clutch going into the bike. Because the team is on hydraulic, this opening is capped off with the piece shown above.
A works aluminum shifter is added to the bike with a custom tip added. The end of it has silicone to block from mud packing in.
The team has a ton of options when it comes to the linkage. Chase and Colt are on the exact same for 2023. Jordan didn’t want to go any further in detail on the dimensions or settings.
The line and brake system for the most part is oem. You can see that the brake pads are chamfered. This makes it a lot easier to do a rear wheel change especially if it happens during a race. The pads can hang up on the rear disc and either get smashed together or delay the team from getting the rear wheel on. This method helps keep the brake pads separated when working out back. We aren’t 100% sure but it looks like the brake pistons are coated similar to what Pro Circuit Kawasaki does to their 250Fs.
The axle blocks are actually another part that is done by Hinson on the motorcycle. An aluminum nut is added with these holes inside of it. As far as wheel spacing and things of that nature, Jordan wanted to keep that a bit of a secret. We’ll try again next time.
Again out back you will find the DID rim, works hub, wire tied spokes, and Dunlop rear spec tire. It is a 120 width but the team might play with a 110 when they head east depending on how the ruts shape out.
Renthal provides the sprockets to factory Honda. The DID chain is one of their best they have to offer (X Ring). It does not have a master link on it and is a rivet link chain. The team doesn’t want to take the chance of the master link spitting off the chain during a race.
Bottom chain guide looks very close to the oem CRF450R chain guide. Only difference is that one of the windows isn’t on it. They close the front window up to take another precautionary measure on the bike. Closing the window will keep mud, rocks, or debris from entering that area and causing the chain to derail.