TWMX: How do you like the CRF450?
Nate: It feels really light. I really like it. I expected it to be heavy and have a hard hit, but it’s really mellow and easy to ride. I’m excited. I can’t wait to put some real time on it and get out on a real track.
TWMX: How does the CRF450 compare to the YZ426 you raced in the 250 class early in the Supercross season this year?
Nate: It’s a lot different. The power is different. It comes on earlier and revs higher. The 426’s power is all packed in the middle, which makes it tougher to ride. The CRF450 has power everywhere, which makes it really fun to ride.
TWMX: Was the transition from the YZ250F to the CRF450 easy for you?
Nate: It wasn’t a problem. I took a little time after the last National off, hopped on the 450, and it didn’t feel weird at all. I figured it would feel like a big bike, but it doesn’t. It’s real maneuverable.
TWMX: Do you think that the extra power will tire you out quickly?
Nate: Well, it has so much power that you should be able to ride it easier and save energy. Even though a 125 is lighter, you’re pinned everywhere, and you get tired quickly. A 125 doesn’t pull on you as much, but it’s more intense. With the 450, you can be more precise. I think it will really help me become a better, more technical and precise rider by slowing things down so I can go faster.
TWMX: Do you think that the CRF450 has what you need to win?
Nate: It definitely has what I need. I’ve wanted to step it up to the 250 class for a while now, and I think that I have a great opportunity right now, and I’m going to give it everything I’ve got.
TWMX: Do you think that this was a good year to move up to the 250 class? The talent is pretty impressive.
Nate: A few guys moved up, and there are still a bunch of great riders who have been in the 250 class for a few years, but I’ve been training really hard, and I’ll be ready. There’s always been fast guys in the 250 class, and hopefully I can learn from them and then take it up a notch from there.
TWMX: Last year, you were racing the 125 class, but tried a few races in the 250s for some experience. How do you think you’ll do in the 250 class now that you’re giving it all of your effort?
Nate: I was torn last year, because I had to be ready on the YZ250F for Supercross, but at the same time, I wanted to race the 426 too. I only rode the 426 a few times before the start of the season, but I just wanted to go out and ride it around to get some experience. I’m glad I did it, because it really paid off. If I didn’t, I don’t think I would have this opportunity with Honda.
TWMX: So you think that testing the waters in the 250 class was a good idea.
Nate: Definitely. Ernesto Fonseca is a great rider, but he’s never raced a 250 professionally, and he doesn’t know what to expect at Anaheim. I think that I’m a step ahead with my experience from last year. I’d rather learn when it’s not too important than learn when I’m racing the class full time.