In addition to being in the enviable position of having a factory ride with Team Honda HRC, Cole Seely is one of a few racers who has gotten to ride the all-new 2017 Honda CRF450R! We get to throw our legs over one next week when American Honda debuts the machine at Alabama’s Monster Mountain MX, but after drooling on Seely’s factory bike last week at Milestone MX, we had to drill him with questions about it…
Cole, you’ve been on the new bike for several weeks now, and it is the most anticipated bike of the model year…were you super amped to get on it?
Yeah, I really was. You say that it was the most anticipated bike and it really was for everybody involved: the team, my mechanic, and myself. You hear what’s coming over to the United States a few months beforehand, and even myself as a rider…I couldn’t wait to see it. I drove to the shop just to check it out when it got here. I was really excited to actually get to ride one before I got hurt this summer. It's incredible how everything on the bike is advanced and so next-level, you can tell the bike is very thought-out and well-built. Just looking at the bike, before I even rode it, I was stoked on it.
Did you get to see the bike before I took pictures of Akira Narita’s works bike in Japan back in April?
No, I didn’t see the bike before the pictures came out from Japan. I am just as big of a fan on the internet as everyone else; I was looking at all the pictures you took and trying to figure out what all was new and different. But no, I didn’t see the bike before you did in Japan.
When I saw Narita's bike with the titanium tank, all I could say to myself was there’s no way they are making that on the production bikes. When you saw the ti tank was on production bikes, were you freaking out like the rest of us?
I probably didn’t freak out like everyone else just due to the fact that I've been running a titanium tank for the past couple years in outdoors, but the appearance is awesome, I think it was a great idea to put a titanium tank on the bikes with the plastic on top to keep it from getting scuffed up. It's definitely cool to see titanium on the bike in that area.
Talk about riding the bike, how does it compare to last years model? Did you ever ride the bike stock or did you go straight to the factory bike?
The first time I rode the stock bike was at the new bike video and photo shoot and I was so stoked to see the finished product with all the new parts including the titanium tank and spring forks. Air forks aren’t easy to set-up and adjust for the everyday rider or weekend warrior, while spring forks are super easy to adjust by just messing with the clickers. I think it was real smart of Honda to go back to the spring forks. The bike works really well this year, and I was completely blown away once we figured out what settings we wanted to go with on the new bike. I loved my 2016 and it was seriously my favorite bike I’ve ever ridden, especially outdoors. Once I got on the 2017 bike, though, I wanted to keep riding it every single day and didn’t want to get off the bike. I'm really, really happy with where the bike is right now and we still have months of preseason testing so we are going to get this bike even more dialed in and better, which is really hard to comprehend because it is such a great bike already.
One thing that Narita keeps telling me is that the bike is much more powerful, would you agree?
Yeah definitely, there is a really noticeable difference in the bottom to mid-power and a lot harder hit. That’s something I noticed the first day I rode the bike at the launch.
How about ergonomically? The bike looks a lot thinner.
Yeah, the bike is a lot thinner. One thing I noticed while going from the previous model to the 2017 bike is you sit more on top of the 2017 bike, which is beneficial when you are alternating between sitting and standing on the bike.
So, race-spec, are you running spring forks or sticking with air?
I’m sticking with air, as far as I know that’s what I'm going to be on. We have been testing plenty of variations of forks and the KYB air forks stood out as the best. So I’m pretty sure that’s what we are going to be running.
How has it been teaming up with Kenny? Have you guys had the chance to interact much at testing?
Yeah, every time we have been in California we've spent days at the test track together. It’s been cool, I've really liked Kenny in the past and as soon as I caught word of him being my teammate next year we started interacting a little more. He's a super outgoing kid and I'm like the opposite with being laid back and chill, but we make a good combo and neither of us are hard-headed and we don’t allow our egos to get in the way, so we get along really well.
You're leaving for Japan in a few days, and you said this is going to be your first real foreign tripaway from North America, right?
Yeah, I've only been to Mexico and Canada. So yeah that will be my first overseas adventure and I'm really looking forward to it. Japan has always been a place I've wanted to go mainly for my love of import cars and drifting. It will be tough to communicate but I'll have a lot of my team there so It will be a good time and I'm really looking forward to it.
So what’s the plan? You'll be racing the 2017 model in Japan, right? Have you done any outdoor set-up for that or are you going to do it there?
Yes, outdoors was the first thing we were testing on the 2017 bike. Obviously, now we have been more focused on supercross but as soon as I knew I was going to Japan I started going to the outdoor track once a week just to keep it fresh and make sure I still had 30 minutes in me.
You might be racing Romain Febvre, the 2015 MXGP World Champion in Japan, what're your thoughts on that?
I'm excited to go over there and race some different competition, I really do not know what to expect but I’m excited. I want to drive Narita’s Lamborghini while I’m there, too! (Laughs)
CLICK HERE to see GoPro Hero5 Black footage from Cole Seely on the new 2017 Honda CRF450R.