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2018 Sherco 250 and 300 SE-R Review

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Here is the final test from our DR Euro Trip 2018! That makes it sound bigger than it was, but we did have a chance to fly across the Atlantic to the land of baguettes and berets to ride the full line of 2018 Sherco Enduro bikes. If you haven’t yet had an opportunity, check out the test of the all-new 2018 Sherco 125 SE-R here, and, when your done with that check out the four-strokes, 250/300/450 SEF-Rs, here. And while they weren’t available for us to ride, Sherco is coming out with a full line of cross country models (with the SC moniker) that should make a big splash here in the States.

As it is a French company, Sherco had its global bike intro in southern France near the city of Nimes, where its enduro bike factory is located. Riding areas are pretty limited and to make the most of the small amount of land to build a testing loop, Sherco laid out an around 16-minute “special test” sort of trail. It was some of the tightest riding we have ever done – in and out of forest with no straightaways and a 90 or 180 degree turn every 30 feet or less. It was a blast and was overall very technical without being too gnarly. Lots of square, loose, baseball/softball size rocks, roots, imbedded bolder-y sections with a little gravely grass track section.

First we’ll look at the changes to the 250 and 300 SE-Rs and then get into how they work on the trial.

Performance Changes

  • New WP 46 Shock with new settings
  • New gear shifter rollers and gear selector drum profile
  • Stronger gear selector spring
  • New torque limiter on electric start
  • New primary transmission drive and water pump for less friction
  • Clutch assembly reinforced

Durability/Usability Changes

  • Radiator cap is easier to access and open
  • Gripper seat cover from Luna Selle De La Valle
  • In-molded graphics
  • 20% more flexible graphics
  • Rear fender reinforced
  • Dash is more water resitant
  • Head light is reinforced with new bulb
  • New water pump sealing
  • New cylinder gasket

Power – Making Smoke
Actually that subtitle is misleading since these two-strokes were very sans smoke and they were jetted pretty cleanly for the hot and humid test day. Out of the two SE-Rs, we rode the 300 first and thought it would be the favorite of the two-strokes. It has a smooth, torquey power that that starts right off the very bottom and pulls controllably hard through the mid. In the technical riding conditions we didn’t wring it out, rather, we were quite happy short shifting and using the torque. It wasn’t until we hoped on the 250 did we realize that 300 was too much motorcycle for start/stop/go/turn/up/down sort of trial we were testing on. The 250 was much easier to ride and be much smoother on. Rather than keeping the clutch lever in more than out like how we were riding the 300, on the 250 we could actually leave the clutch lever out and not speed out of control off the trail. Also, it was surprising that the 250’s power came on so low in the rpm range. Typically 250s have their power shifted to the mid with the bottom end being very mellow. But on the SE-R 250, especially since we rode it right after the 300, we were very happy with the strong bottom end and smooth transition of the mid-range. Overall, it was just more manageable and pleasant to ride than the bigger machine, given the tight nature of the testing loop. We would say that the 250’s motor is the better all-around platform with the 300 being the extreme enduro/hill climb/wide open option.

Handling – Slicing and Dicing Like the kitchen gadget that does it all, the SE-Rs cut their way through the forest with maximum ease and agility. It is clear that a quick turning character is what the chassis engineers were focused on at Sherco. At a past intro, one of our contributing editors said something like Shercos are like the Suzukis of off-road. Meaning, as far as strictly moto bikes go, Suzukis have long had the reputation as the best handling, and we would concur with what our fellow tester said. The bikes respond intuitively to rider input and have a narrow and short feeling between the legs. Mostly, the 250 and 300 handled the same but in some 180s with a single, deep rut, the 300 felt a little harder to get to change direction and get through the rut smoothly without wanting to stand up. The possible downside to having such a quick turning chassis is these bikes might feel unstable or twitchy on faster open trails with whoops and/or rollers.

Suspension
Shercos have WP suspension front and rear with the 46 shock and an open-cartridge fork developed by WP in conjunction with Sherco. It is not a single function fork and has coil springs in both sides with compression on the top of both legs and rebound on the bottom. Actually, a Sherco representative said that they had tested the 4CS but couldn’t get it to work will with their bikes. The Xplor fork (the same on the KTM EXC-F and XC-W models) is on the 125 SE-R and will be on the Sherco Factory Edition models. For American standards, these bikes are on the more comfort end of the spectrum, but for European style trails and riders, these are performance race machines. We would say that they are soft, but that wasn’t a bad thing in the loose, chunky loop we were riding. The wheels stayed planted to the ground and the SE-Rs had great front and rear traction. We personally would like a little more bottoming resistance – there was a section of repeated drops that had us using all of the stroke and, therefore, not charging as hard as we would if we had some more hold up. But in all fairness, testing all six models in a few hours didn’t leave time to make changes and we might have got what we were looking for by turning the clickers.

Overall
For pure woods riders who take pleasure in seeing how close they can get to a tree trunk and still make the next, opposite turn, Shercos deserve your attention. If you want to pin it across the wide-open desert, perhaps the 450 SEF-R would work with some suspension tuning (a lot of tuning). But out of these two smokers, the 250 SE-R was our surprising favorite since it was usable and torque but also lively and responsive where the 300 is more of a lugger and just has a lot of power.

  • Will easily carve a tight line
  • The 250 is extremely versatile
  • The 300 is a torque machine
  • Compared to other 300s, it feels slightly mellower
  • Might be unstable at high speeds (trails were too tight to tell)

(All measurements are claimed)

MSRP $NA
Displacement 249.3 cc
Carburetor Keihin PWK 36
Transmission 6 speed
Clutch Hydraulic
Fuel Capacity 2.75 gal.
Brakes Brembo
Weight 231.49 lbs.
Seat Height 37.4 in.

(All measurements are claimed)

MSRP $NA
Displacement 293.14 cc
Carburetor Keihin PWK 36
Transmission 6 speed
Clutch Hydraulic
Fuel Capacity 2.75 gal.
Brakes Brembo
Weight 231.49 lbs.
Seat Height 37.4 in.