RIDING SHERCO’S 2019 2-STROKES & 4-STROKES: THE WRAP

 

Sherco’s 2019 two-stroke and four-stroke launch in Nimes, France dominated my week. It was one of those trips where I spent three days on an airplane and one day riding. It was worth it. I had almost no experience with Sherco going into this. Now I have a good feel for the whole line. They have three two-stroke motors (125, 250, 300) and four four-strokes (250, 300, 450 500). They sell these models in three different trim configurations. The standard models are called the “racing” models. They have WP suspension. The “Factory” models have KYB suspension and upgraded exhausts. And Sherco’s cross country models are like the factory models, but without lights and with more aggressive suspension. Here are my impressions:

The Sherco 125SE was an absolute blast.

SHERCO’S 125 TWO-STROKE:

I already have a freakish love and 125s, and this was right up my alley. This motor comes in the 125SE Racing and the 125 SC Cross Country. A motorcycle couldn’t be more fun. Sherco’s 125 motor was newly developed last year, and it’s a little rocket. On top it runs as well as any 125 motocross bike, but low-end power is still acceptable on the trail. If you fall below the powerband, the Sherco motor doesn’t simply throw out an anchor. It pulls itself back up in the revs quickly and will accept big handfuls of throttle without bogging down. Those who say that a 125 doesn’t need electric start are wrong. On the trail you often find yourself in situations where you need both feet on the ground. The button gets you moving again where a kickstarter won’t. The 125 might be heavier than most 125 MX bikes. I don’t know because the fabulous Dirt Bike Super Scale wouldn’t fit in the overhead bin on Air France. Still, the bike is amazingly easy to toss around. It’s still a 125.

It turned out that the 250 was a much easier bike to ride than the 300 in the slippery conditions of southern France.

250 TWO-STROKE:

This motor is in three different bikes: The 250SE Racing, 250SE Factory and 250SC Cross Country. All three of these should be well suited to American riders without much change. It has a classic two-stroke off-road power delivery, where it will idle down to almost nothing without stalling. When you open the throttle, it picks up without compliant, and top end power is more than a match for anything in the 250 four-stroke world. These bikes do have a sharp hit in the middle. Traction was challenging on the dry trails of southern France. For situations like this, the map switch is awesome. Unlike the feature on KTMs, Huskys and Hondas, Sherco’s switch makes a clear and useful change in the bike’s power delivery. It shaves off a considerable amount of peak power, but this can be a good thing when traction is hard to find.

The 300 two-stroke was very similar to the 2018 version we tested in the U.S.

300 TWO-STROKE:

This is the only bike in Sherco’s line that I have some experience with. Just like the 300SE and the 300SC I tested in California, the 2019 Sherco 300 is a powerful, somewhat intimidating bike. Down low, it has a smooth, gradual power delivery, but when it comes into the meat of its powerband, it hits very hard. Again, the map switch is useful to calm down the storm. Where the traction is good, you can afford to keep the bike in the aggressive map and hold on. The biggest improvement we noticed for 2019 was on the Factory model. The KYB suspension was a big step up.

This was my first experience with Sherco four-strokes. The 250SEF was amazing.

250 FOUR-STROKE:

Without a doubt, this was the sweetest motor for the conditions I faced in France. Despite my inbred preference for two-strokes, the 250 six-speed four-stroke was my favorite. It always found traction, it always made progress. When the conditions allowed, the bike had great top-end power and would just rev and rev and rev. On the bikes with the Akrapovic exhaust (the 250SEF Factory and 250SCF Cross Country) there was considerably more power available with no downside. Those bikes also get KYB suspension, which works very well.

The Factory models will feature upgraded suspension and exhausts.

300 FOUR-STROKE:

At first I didn’t understand this bike. Why a 300? Now I get it. The 300 has a completely different personality from the 250 four-stroke. Both the bore and stroke are different, so the 300 revs slower and has more torque. Where the 250 has a smooth progression of power without any bumps or valleys, the 300 has a hit. The Factory model, once again, has a surprising increase in power over the Racing version, simply by virtue of the exhaust system. Both versions are more exciting than the 250SEF, although where traction is at a premium, it’s hard to put that extra power to use. Once again, I like the on-the-fly map switch. It really does something. The 300 isn’t quite like anything else on the U.S. market, and would be particularly well-suited for the western regions of the U.S. where a 250F can be swallowed by deep sand and a bigger bike is too unwieldy.

The 450 and 500 are similar bikes. They were both a lot of motorcycle on tight trails.

500 FOUR-STROKE:

I didn’t spend a great deal of time on the 500 because it wasn’t the right bike for the tight trails were I got to ride. This is a bike that requires space and freedom. As you might expect, it has power coming out of its ears. It seemed to have incredibly plush suspension, too, proving once again that big bikes have a Cadillac effect on choppy terrain. This is a bike that would be a great platform for a dual-sport bike. U.S. EPA and DOT approval still isn’t in the immediate future over here, but the bike has all the right equipment to get a license plate in states like Arizona or Vermont.

I had the opportunity to hang out with Sherco’s founder, Marc Tessier. I was never this close to Soichiro Honda.
The 2019 Shercos were unveiled under the 2000-yer-old Pont du gard aquaduct. We don’t have as many of these in the U.S.
Sherco has already won a stage in the Dakar Rally. Next year, Michael Metge and Adrian Metge will ride for Sherco. Both are top riders in the world rally scene.
For more on the 2019 Sherco line and a full price list of models coming to the U.S., click on the image above.

For Sherco’s Off-road importer, click here

To reach Sherco’s trials importer, click here.

That’s all for now

–Ron Lawson

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