The first 2013 Sherco enduro models hitting the US are the SE300i and the SE250i. The much anticipated two-strokes will come later in 2013. We spent a couple days riding the only Sherco SE300i in the country down in south Georgia and had a great time weaving our way through the trees and getting tangled in the hanging vines.
Sherco, mainly known as a trials company, was founded in 1998 by a group of former Gas Gas engineers. Much like Gas Gas, the early focus for Sherco was the trials market, but they’ve been making quite a push into the enduro world the past few years and 2013 looks to be the best year yet for a full-sized off-road machine.
To expand the brand, Sherco purchased HRD a French firm dedicated to the production of high-quality enduro bikes, in 2001. Keeping the new enduro production separate from the trials divisions, a second Sherco factory was built in Nimes, France (close to Italy), which is the primary supplier of components for the Sherco enduro bikes. While the trials bikes are still handled in Spain, Sherco enduro bikes are assembled in France.
The Sherco 300i power plant is a dual overhead cam, four-valve design with a bore and stroke of 84×54.8mm, creating a displacement of 303.7cc. It is not a Yamaha motor like some think, it is a Sherco engine. The fuel passes through a Magnetti Marelli fuel injection system using a 45mm throttle body. The transmission is a six-speed and power is controlled through a Brembo hydraulic clutch. Bringing the engine to life is an electric start without a kickstart back up, so keep the battery charged or find a hill.
The semi-perimeter chromoly frame uses different sizes and shapes to create the right amount of flex and plenty of stiffness where needed. For 2013, the reinforcement in the front section of the frame and the shock absorber mount were increased. Sherco also took a page from their trials bikes and worked to achieve a tighter turning radius for 2013 by redesigning the gas tank and radiators to clear the fork tubes. Another thing that should be clarified is this bike uses some parts from companies that are on KTMs but it is not a bike built with KTM parts. The Sherco 300i Race runs WP suspension, Neken triple clamps, Brembo brakes and a Brembo hydraulic clutch. We haven’t had the chance yet but we are guessing KTM wheels just might fit right onto the Sherco. The swingarm also looks very close to a KTM but we won’t know for sure until we have a chance to really measure and inspect one.
Sherco’s claimed weight on the 300i Race is a light 225 pounds and while we didn’t have our Dirt Rider scale with us, the 300i Race felt pretty light and nimble. The quick and lively response from the 303cc engine made lofting the front wheel as easy as a quick twist of the throttle and an occasional dab of the clutch. The motor works well down low, making great traction in slippery conditions without having a throbby feel. It transitions from the torquey low-end power into a strong mid-range pull that revs out further than expected from an off-road machine. The fuel injection was burble free and very responsive and our only issue came with extended periods of slow riding when the engine temps where high it had a tendency to flame out around right off idle, especially when shutting off the gas quickly. Since this is a closed course machine the mapping can be tuned, which is all it will take to get rid of the flame out in hot conditions. The six-speed transmission offered great gearing in every situation. The suspension is very plush and set up great for true off-road technical conditions. Hopping logs and smashing through roots the bike stayed planted and predictable. The front end feels glued to the ground when at speed but without a twitchy feel. When the going gets tight that planted front wheel feel turns into welcomed accuracy, helping keep bike and rider moving in the same direction as one. The 300i Race really thrives in very tight conditions thanks to a smooth engine, good suspension, excellent brakes, an easy pulling clutch and geometry that craves real off-road.
Stay tuned to Dirt Rider Magazine for the full test and check out www.shercooffroad.com.