If you think you’ve noticed a bit more trials coverage in Dirt Rider, your eyes aren’t deceiving you: We’ve recently been giving more attention to our rock-hopping friends. With the rise in popularity of trials as a training tool for enduro and the sheer fun of this challenging sport, there’s really no reason not to explore the world of trials, particularly when it’s something that readers have been asking about for years. With that, we’re pleased to present to you this quick-hit test of the new Sherco ST 2.9 trials bike, a motorcycle that Dirt Rider rode and tested at the recent AMA Trials round in Donner, CA.
The Sherco ST 2.9 is a serious, real-deal trials machine, as evidenced by the fact that pro trials rider Pat Smage is a serious threat on the AMA Circuit aboard the very same bike. However, that’s not to say that the Sherco isn’t friendly to trials newbies like Kris Keefer, who usually races AMA Pro Motocross. “Since I really never rode a trials bike there is not anything I can compare this bike to,” Keefer commented after the test. “But the Sherco felt really comfortable to me right away. I rolled the bars back a little to feel more at home and off I went, that was it as far as adjustments! I tried 2nd gear in one of the sections but found out that 1st gear was plenty for me. Throttle response was very crisp and there was no hesitation for my skills. The front brake was really solid and the bike has a short kick-starter, which made it hard to start for me. But other than that, I felt really good aboard this machine.”
Much of the Sherco’s wide range of use-from beginner to pro-can be credited to the bike’s 250cc two-stroke powerplant, which produces more torque than you can believe while delivering it in a useable manner. Much of this can be attributed to the good clutch feel, which is absolutely effortless on the course-you don’t even have to think about using the clutch, it just works. First through third gear on the bike are super low, but perfect for tricky climbs and big obstacles. On the contrary, fourth and fifth gears are very tall for transfer sections. Our test riders felt best doing everything in first gear. Throttle delivery is insane with zero hesitation and a clean, smooth hit.
Balance is the name of the game in trials, and the Sherco feels very balanced both front to back and side to side; it carries its 153 pounds incredibly well. The suspension absorbs hard hits well, and is springy and aggressive on smaller obstacles. If you need to pop over a log or hop onto a ledge, a calculated preload of the stock fork and shock will get you there in a hurry. Of course, the turning radius on the machine seems extremely tight in comparison to a traditional motorcycle, but the ergos remain comfortable and natural even for non-trials pilots.As Keefer mentioned, the bike has absolutely excellent brakes, and the motorcycle as a whole felt tight and dialed. One downside that we found was that the side-style exhaust is aimed in such a way that your leg can cover it up if you aren’t careful, but this is only when using extreme body English. Everywhere else, the Sherco is a well-designed, highly tuned piece of precision trials equipment that is a joy to ride for both aspiring trials riders and serious competitors. For more on this machine-and to read the feature story of two trials rookies in their first event-check out the December issue of Dirt Rider magazine.