2015 Sherco Launch
Sherco finally releases their all-new 450cc four-stroke, which has already claimed stage wins in the Dakar Rally. But what other surprises were in store from this determined little French manufacturer? Transmoto’s Llel Pavey checks in from the recent launch in France to find out.
Sherco seems to have a lot of models. What’s what then?
The Sherco range is a little confusing because they produce three versions of the same bike: a ‘Standard’, ‘Racing’ and ‘Factory’ spec. The Standard is the price-point version. They rock some budget-level Sachs suspension, and have no bashplate or handguards. The main bikes they produce are the Racing version, which are pitched directly against the KTM range. They run some cracking WP suspension, a plastic bashplate and hand guards as standard equipment. The Factory spec version – available in limited numbers only – is the swanky one. These models get aftermarket exhaust systems, clear fuel tanks, factory seats, a brake upgrade, a bunch of bling bits and trick-looking graphics.
“Every bike in the 2015 range is extremely well-specced and seriously enjoyable to ride.”
So, what are the big changes for the 2015 models?
Well, the biggest news is obviously the entirely new 450. It’s a new motor that Sherco has put huge effort into. But on top of this, the French company has still kept up the improvements on their other models. The 250SEF-R has followed the 2014 300 in using the proven Synerject fuel injection system to help it run cleaner and deliver more power and throttle response. On the two-stroke front, Sherco’s engineers have worked to get more linear power delivery from the engines by altering the power-valve to open more gradually. This is intended to create a smoother transition into the powerband; something that was bemoaned on Sherco’s first-generation two-strokes in 2014.
What are the Frenchies claiming is special about their 450?
Their ethos with the new 450 has been to create a simple, light and super-efficient motor. The engine is incredibly compact – visually and weight-wise – and the final machine, with fuel and oils, is claimed to weigh in at just 119kg. By cleverly routing the oil pathways to keep the internal components well lubed and cooler, Sherco’s engineers managed to build an engine that apparently finished the 2014 Dakar Rally untouched. On top of this, the camshafts of this DOHC engine are driven by a single gear from the cam chain. It’s not an entirely new idea, but it has allowed the French factory keep the cylinder head of their new 450 motor extremely compact.
“If you like a bike that’s just at home on the trail as the track, Sherco’s all-new 450SEF-R has every right to distract your attention away from its KTM counterpart.”
And the ride?
The Shercos deserve a lot more bike sales than they’re currently getting, as these bikes are pretty damn awesome to ride. The feel and grip from the front wheel on all the bikes is seriously confidence-inspiring, meaning you always felt like you could ride the bikes to the very limit of your ability. Likewise, the WP suspension is superb for stock stuff. It’s progressive, smooth and got decent bottoming resistance. There is some wallow at the rear-end in the hands of a Pro rider, but it’s really well set up and, for most people, is never going to need touching.
To my way of thinking, the engines are the one area that the French marque is losing out a bit to the market leaders. The 250 is without a doubt one of the sweetest-handling enduro bikes around, but its power delivery is just a bit flat, especially through the mid-range. It lacks some of the forward drive of its KTM/Husky rival. The 300 is marked improvement and a step in the right direction with punchy and responsive power, and it sacrifices very little to the 250 in the handling department. The new 450 is a great all-round machine that’ll suit a wide variety of riders. It’s smooth on the power delivery, turns well and is seriously easy to ride. If you like a bike that’s just at home on the trail as the track, this 450SEF-R has every right to distract your attention away from its KTM counterpart.
And the two-strokes? Well, the two-strokes are rippers. The motors are smooth and fast, the powerband pulls hard but in a more manageable way this year. In fact, every bike in the range is extremely well-specced and seriously enjoyable to ride. If Sherco maintain their competitive pricing structure, these French machines are all well worth a look at. Once you demo one, chances are you’ll want to take it home.
SHERCO’s ALL-NEW 450 DONK
Sherco has been working on this all-new powerplant for several years and claims its incredible durability in the past two Dakar Rallies is a result of how their cleverly designed oil pathways manage to keep the motor well lubricated and cool. The standout feature of this Sherco engine, however, is the head design. The 450SEF motor is a DOHC unit, but to keep weight and unnecessary size down, it uses a single cam-chain gear design (the most recent bike to use this was the Italian-built Husky TE250/310). The design is all about keeping moving parts to a minimum, thus reducing inertia, which in turn helps the bike turn better and feel lighter. This design has also allowed Sherco to keep the engine more compact and lighter. It’s said to weigh just over 19kg, and the whole machine (full of all liquids) weighs in at a claimed 119.4kg. To put that in perspective, that’s about 2kg lighter than the lightest bike in the class at the moment: KTM’s 450EXC.
Check out the Sept-Oct issue (#46) of Transmoto (on sale soon) for a comprehensive insight into the 2015 upgrades and the performance of all the models in Sherco’s two- and four-stroke range. In the meantime, you can check the specs for the new 250 SE-R, 250 SEF-R, 300 SE-R, 300 SEF-R and 450 SEF-R by clicking the links.
The 250 and 300cc Racing spec 2015 models are due to arrive in Australia in early September, with the all-new 450SEF-R arriving in November. Factory models are due in April, 2015. Pricing remains unchanged (250 SE-R – $11,590, 250 SEF-R – $12,290, 300 SE-R – $11,990, 300 SEF-R – $12,690) with the 450 SEF-R to be confirmed.