Sherco is about a year into its new deal in the U.S. and what a year it’s been. Since Ryan Young and a group of new investors took over distribution of the off-road bikes in the U.S., the world has completely changed and presented a set of challenges that no one could have foreseen. As a result, we haven’t seen many Sherco test bikes this year. They aren’t totally new to us, though. We got to ride the entire line in Italy at a world press introduction at the end of 2019, and then we had another opportunity to ride the 250 two-stroke in Kentucky. This month we finally got a 2020 250SEF Factory test bike in house so we could get a clearer picture of what the bikes are really like and how they compare to other machines.
The 250SEF Factory is a premium-level 250cc four-stroke off-road bike. It has a 250cc fuel-injected, DOHC electric-start motor that’s as modern and sophisticated as anything offered by Japan or Austria. The “Factory” suffix means it has a number of extras that the standard model (called the “Racing” edition) doesn’t get. This includes an Akrapovic Exhaust system and KYB suspension.
One big advantage of having a bike in our possession means we get to work on it and live with it. The Sherco is a very well thought-out motorcycle that’s easy to work on. On a side note here, District 37 has recently hosted on-line maintenance competitions, to see who can change a tire or filter the quickest. The Sherco would be a cheater, especially for the filter-change race! The seat pops off with a dzus fastener and the filter element sits over the battery, so you can get to it in seconds. The quality of all the fasteners is a cut above what you see elsewhere and the wheels look like high-end aftermarket components. That Akrapovic pipe is pure art.
Having the bike also means we get to weigh it on our own scale. The last time we had a Sherco test bike on the scale was almost three years ago. It was a 300SE two-stroke and it was 244 pounds without fuel. Since then, the company has shaved off quite a few pounds. The 250SEF four-stroke was 236 pounds. For comparison with another off-road 250 four-stroke, the Yamaha WR250F we tested last month was 241 pounds.
This is the same model that Cody Webb used for his recent GNCC debut in the XC2 class. It’s also very similar to the 300SEF that won the 2016 E2 World Enduro Championship with Matthew Phillips. The only difference between the 250SEF and the 300 SEF is piston size. Both have six-speed gearboxes and identical suspension set-ups.
Riding any test bike on familiar trails is like turning the light on. When you’re in a strange place (Kentucky was more strange than Italy) testing is mostly guess work. And having the recently tested Yamaha WR250 on hand provided a good frame of reference. Clearly, the Sherco’s strong point is tight trails. That’s where it shines. It’s a truly good handling motorcycle, with comfortable ergonomics and cushy suspension. This isn’t an oddball motorcycle just because it’s rare. It feels as mainstream and anything from big companies like KTM and Yamaha. It has reasonably responsive steering without ever feeling unstable or nervous. The engineers at Sherco once told us the reason they don’t offer a motocross bike is because the current frame is designed to be more compliant, and that big MX jumps require a more rigid design. We understand completely. The Sherco has a comfortable feel on the trail that’s hard to attain with a motocross bike.
When you get the bike in sand and more wide-open environments, the 250SEF feels out of its element. The motor feels somewhat bottled up. The exhaust system is designed to pass the sound requirements at European off-road races, which are more strict that they are in the U.S. The Sherco still isn’t nearly as quiet as the WR250F that we had for comparison, but it’s a far cry from being unrestricted like a Yamaha YZ250FX or a Honda CRF250RX. The biggest difference between the Sherco and a full-race 250 four-stroke is that the Sherco doesn’t rev nearly as high. These days, 250 MX bikes make most of their power at 10,000 rpm and above. It’s a struggle to even get the Sherco into that rpm range. It’s much more comfortable being short-shifted. The bike does have a map switch, but the mild map mostly kills peak revs. We’re fine with that type of powerband on the trail, though. There’s nothing as nerve-wracking as having to scream a bike all the time. We will have a full test of the Sherco 250SEF in the September, 2020 print edition of Dirt Bike.
2021 DAKAR RALLY ANNOUNCED
ASO revealed the details of the 2021 Dakar Rally yesterday. The 43rd edition of the Dakar will be held in Saudi Arabia from 3 to 15 January. Jeddah will host the start and the finish, and every single timed section of the loop course is brand new. There will be one rest day in Ha’il. After a test run in 2020, road books will now be handed out right before each special in every stage. Other measures have been implemented to slow down the competitors.
Several new rules have been introduced, including a reduction in the number of tires available to bikers and the mandatory use of airbag vests.
The 2021 Dakar also takes a trip down memory lane with the launch of the Dakar Classic. In parallel with the main race, a test of consistency will be held for vehicles that took part in the Dakar or other major rally-raid events before the 2000s.
Registration opens on June 15.
THE 10-HOUR IS BACK
A date has been set for the 2020 3-Bros 10 Hours of Glen Helen. It will be on Aug 8, and it will be held half in daylight and half at night. The race will start at 4:00 p.m. and run until 2:00 a.m. In case you don’t know, August in San Bernardino is crazy hot, and a night race is the perfect solution.
WHAT ABOUT THOSE NEW HONDAS?
Earlier in the week, Honda released photos of the 2021 CRF250R and CRF250RX, as well as a number of trail bikes like the CRF110F, the CRF125F and the CRF250F. The press release didn’t report any specific changes, so we went over the photos very closely and saw the year designation pictured below.
We double checked to make sure we had the right photos. Honda’s agency said that when a model is unchanged, they routinely distribute photos of the previous model year. So there you have it, the 250 is unchanged. We hear that the 450, however, does have some changes and that we might see bigger changes yet for 2022.
WHAT TO TAKE ALONG
David Kamo of the Caselli Foundation is a very savvy guy when it comes to off-road rides, dual-sport rides and adventure rides. Wanna know what he carries along? Check out this official Caselli Foundation video.
We love it when we see a product that truly is new. The Impact Moto Peg reflects some very creative thinking from the guys a Fasstco. The cleat part of the footpeg is isolated from the mount by way of an elastomer pad. This is designed to kill vibration and make long rides more tolerable. Just in time for our next KX500 rebuild. Check it out at Fasstco.com.
May your wheelies be long and your roost be fearsome!