Colt Nichols 2023 San Diego Supercross-3461


Colt Nichols’ career trajectory has been very unique to say the least. He rode for the Team Green Kawasaki amateur program, but when it came time to turn Pro in 2015, he didn’t have an offer from Mitch Payton’s Pro Circuit Kawasaki team. He started our on the short-lived privateer effort by the Honda team in 2015 before transitioning to the Cycle Trader Yamaha team in 2016. From there, he opened eyes with a breakout ride in Oakland, where he put the privateer Yamaha YZ250F on the podium in second place and he backed his performance up with two fourth place finishes at San Diego 2 and Arlington. Naturally, these impressive rides led to his promotion to the Star Racing Yamaha team starting in 2017 and they stuck with him from ’17 until he pointed-out of the 250 class after the 2022 season.

Colt won the 2021 250SX East Coast title and had one year on his eligibility to defend his title before being forced to the 450 class for Supercross. Unfortunately, Colt was injured at Anaheim 1 last year in the Heat race. He broke both arms and was out for the entire year. After missing an entire year, Colt struggled to find a factory ride for the 2023 season. He planned to race for the RickWare Racing team in the WSX series, but at the last minute, he got an opportunity to sign with HRC Honda for a Supercross-only 450 contract after Ken Roczen and Honda’s disagreements created a vacancy.

With Jett Lawrence scheduled to move up to the 450 class for the Pro Motocross season, Colt will be out of a ride again for the summer. However, right now, all his focus is on maximizing the opportunity he has now, to be riding a factory Honda CRF450 in Supercross. 

Words by Josh Mosiman
Photos by Trevor Nelson


HOW WAS ANAHEIM 2 FOR YOU? Man, it was tough, it was. I’d like to forget about San Diego and Anaheim 2. It’s been a tough few weeks. It’s frustrating. I haven’t gotten to ride much during the week after Anaheim 1. I’ve been kind of dealing with a little nagging thing going on, so we just haven’t gotten any time on the bike and we’re trying to make big changes on the weekends to get a little more comfort. You end up second guessing things because you don’t quite trust it yet. So, we have some work to do. I need to be a lot better at the beginning of the races. My starts were horrible this weekend and that’s what I’ve been priding myself on. It’s frustrating being back there and I know I’m a lot better than what I’ve shown in the past two weekends.

On the plus side, I am walking away healthy and we’re moving on to Houston. I’m happy about that. There’s some really good stadiums coming up for me. I really like the Houston dirt. I like a lot of these tracks coming up, so I’m happy and optimistic about that. I think we’ll get a few days on the bike this week, so that will be a big help for me as well. And we’re going to try some things and go a certain direction and see if we can find a little bit more comfort like we had at Anaheim 1.  

Colt Nichols 2023 Anaheim 1 Supercross-8705

YOU MENTIONED A NAGGING INJURY, ARE YOU HEALTHY ENOUGH TO RIDE THIS WEEK? I hope so, yeah. I hit the ground pretty good in Main 2, but I actually walked away really good. I went on a tough block and kind of rolled a little bit, so I was fine. I got lucky on that one, but it was just a bonehead mistake. The nagging injury is getting better, but it’s one of those things that the more I ride, the worse it gets. That’s why I’ve been kind of trying to chill a little bit with it. I hope we get two days on the bike this week. That’d be a big help for me to test one day, then work through some motos the next day. So yeah, I’ll be looking forward to that.

Colt Nichols 2023 Anaheim 2 Supercross-8857

HOW HAS IT BEEN RACING FOR HRC HONDA? The team’s been awesome, you know they’re trying hard. I have be better on my end, so we’ll get there, one weekend at a time. I guess it’s not going to be easy. It’s going to be a lot harder before it gets easier, so I’m looking forward to that. But we got to find some comfort, yeah, and we’ve got 14 races left. 

Colt Nichols 2023 Anaheim 1 Supercross-4265

YOU’RE A ROOKIE IN THE 450 CLASS? HOW DOES IT FEEL TO HAVE 14 RACES LEFT ON THE CALENDAR? It’s mostly exciting because if I was racing the 250 West I’d be going on a break right now. We’ve got 14 more to go, so it’s time to dig my heels in and get to work. And like I said, I like a lot of the East Coast tracks and, honestly, I just wanted to get out of Anaheim healthy. Anaheim has kind of been hit and hit or miss for me, so to leave here healthy is good. It sucks when you leave a race you’re like, “Yeah we’re all healthy.” I mean that’s about all I can say that’s positive. 

Colt Nichols 2023 San Diego Supercross-3461

WHAT WAS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE ANAHEIM 2 TRACK COMPARED TO A1 AND SAN DIEGO? Honestly, it was still soft like the first one was. Then at night show when the moisture came up, like even in the ruts, some of them you were kind of lighting it up a little bit. It was kind of weird. As the night came, the moisture came up and it was a lot muddier than I thought it was going to be. I thought it would harden up quite a bit being Anaheim 2, but it was still really soft. You had to be ready because there wasn’t a lot of the traction in some spots. The whoops were really, really skatey—as soon as you cracked the throttle a little bit, you would slide and spin. Exiting some of the turns you had really finesse it and be smooth.

HOW DID YOU LIKE THE LAYOUTS FOR THE FIRST THREE ROUNDS? I’m kind of surprised with how tight they’ve raced so far, and I thought Anaheim 2 would be quite a bit more open, but then you know in the mains we were still turning down pretty heavy. That might just be a 450 thing though. I might need to learn to be a little better with that. In that 250 class you can ride wide and do all that stuff because there are more lines. The 450 class is different, these guys are no joke. I just have to figure it out a little quicker. Still, I need to give myself a little bit of grace. But yeah, I want to be further up.

Colt Nichols 2023 San Diego Supercross-0422

BEFORE THE SEASON STARTED YOU MENTIONED IN AN INTERVIEW WITH MXA THAT YOU’VE BEEN TEST RIDING FOR HRC AND YOU ACTUALLY HELPED CHASE WITH BIKE SETTINGS BECAUSE YOU LIKE THE BIKE TO HAVE A SIMILAR FEEL. IS THAT STILL THE CASE? Yeah, a little bit. After Anaheim 1, he made some changes going to San Diego. I kind of followed suit and, for that scenario, it was the wrong direction for me. Kind of same for him. Then after San Diego he did a lot more work and they did a fork and a shock change. A little bit of a different setting, front and rear. I’m still stuck on what I have just because I didn’t get to ride at all. So, I don’t want to just show up and wing it. We did that at San Diego and I was frustrated. I’m like, is it me or is it the bike? I don’t really know. So this week we were like “let’s just go back to where we were at Anaheim 1. We’re still searching a little bit, but once we find that, I’ll be happy. It will come with time.

ARE YOU GOING TO STAY BASED OUT OF CALIFORNIA FOR THE WHOLE SUPERCROSS SEASON? They talked about maybe going to Florida at some point, riding with Chase or the Lawrence brothers a little bit, but that’ll probably be far fetched. We’ll probably be stuck here doing doing some training and testing for the team a little bit if we need to. I’m okay with it, I don’t really have a base in Florida anymore, so we’ll probably stick California for the year. 

Colt Nichols 2023 Anaheim 2 Supercross-2370

WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE TECHNIQUE DRILL TO PRACTICE? Honestly, it’s kind of funny, this past week, because of the little nagging thing I’ve been having, we’ve worked on keeping my feet on the pegs all the way around the track. I’m kind of nervous about putting my feet out right now, so that one actually helps quite a bit for me. Sometimes I have a problem with my leg being a little lazy down on the ground. So feet on the pegs is always a good one. You know the clutch being up in the air, that’s a good one too. But for Supercross, it’s difficult because you use the clutch a lot more than in motocross because you have to finesse it a little bit. But the feet on the pegs thing is a good one, I’d say feet on the pegs.  


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