[Sherco]

RAPID REVIEW: 2024 SHERCO 300SE TWO-STROKE

3 months ago | Words: Matt Bernard | Photos: Katrina Bernard / Spenser Dawson

Confession: I have never been a fan of 300cc two-strokes. I often find them to be a lot of motorcycle to handle and/or aimed at riders who are into slamming rocks and climbing mountains – a style of riding that I don’t overly enjoy. If there’s a 250cc two-stroke option, I will often go down that road for the simple reason it’s a less aggressive weapon and a little easier on the body.

So, with the team at Sherco Australia recently making their way to one of our regular testing grounds with a 300SE Factory in tow, I set about answering the question: Could this machine change my mind?

For me, I want a motorcycle that can do a little bit of everything: grasstrack, wide-open trails, singletrail, and some hills that fall on the tamer side of extreme. I don’t mind climbing hills, hopping logs or hucking drop-offs, but I don’t want to be schlepping my bike all day. So, we set out to test the 300 two-stroke in a host of different terrain on a half-day trailride – a bit of tar, some wide-open stuff, and some technical rocky terrain, intersperced with some sand and singletrail.

Throwing on the Bell helmet and firing up the beast, I headed off in search of answers…

ON BOARD

As far as the ergonomics go, the Sherco can’t be faulted in my eyes. The handlebars are a straight bend, which suits my 178cm well (though some taller riders may opt for a higher bend to open the cockpit). The Selle Dalla Valle seat cover is super-grippy, which I loved, and the footpegs are nice and wide and grippy, ticking another important box.

The engine on the 300SE two-stroke caught me off-guard. It’s been a few years since I have ridden a 300 two-stroke – since having a break from motorcycle media – and I was quite surprised at the rideability of the thing. In the less aggressive map mode, the bike was super-easy to ride at low revs and torque its way around our singletrail test loop. And yet, the slightest flick of the clutch had any log or obstacle covered. Yep, I was genuinely having my mind changed on the spot!

The KYB 48mm closed-cartridge forks are brilliant out of the box. The front wheel feels glued to the ground, and the overall ride is planted, predictable and confidence-inspiring. Paired with the KYB shock, you have a balanced and impressive machine.

Onto the grasstrack, and the 300 two-stroke came to life again. I flicked into the aggressive mode and was treated to a machine with a completely different personality. At times, I feel the map modes on bikes can be tricky to pick the difference. But not so with the Sherco 300SE Factory. With the flick of a button, you had a transformed motorcycle – epic! Braking heavily from high speed, I could do with some extra travel in the forks, but as I tip the scales at almost 100kg these days, that’s to be expected. While it was a little soft when hitting bumps hard, it never felt out of control or unpredictable.

EXTREME TEST

Okay, I will use this term lightly. I wasn’t interested in sending the Sherco back in a box or covered in fleshwounds. But nonetheless, extreme and technical riding is a 300 two-stroke’s bread and butter, so it was fitting to give some rocky terrain a go. Before the techy section, we were onto the tar en route to our next test location, hitting some firetrails on the way. On the road and at high speed, I will admit that I much prefer a four-stroke. The two-stroke’s vibration, while only minimal, isn’t super-enjoyable on the road. Personally, I prefer to throw a four-stroke into a taller gear and cruise the fire roads. Into the rocky stuff, though, and I could instantly understand why so many riders go for a Sherco 300SE Factory for extreme enduro riding. I found a snotty hill, which was pretty much littered with rocks and boulders all the way to the top; the type of hill I would often think twice about tackling. First go, I got stuck and had to have another crack. Second time around, I popped the Sherco into the less aggressive map and used its torque, rather than revs, to tractor my way to the top. In that setting, the engine feels almost trial-bike-like, chugging and climbing its way effortlessly up loose stuff and ledges alike. Essentially, I felt like a passenger, allowing the machine to ascend its way to the top, with each climb making this 300 two-stroke hater feel like an extreme enduro pro. Okay, maybe not a pro, but at least proficient.

MIND CHANGED?

After a final session in some deep sand, stretching the throttle cable in aggressive map mode, I was wearing a grin from ear to ear. Holy shit; had a day aboard the Sherco 300SE Factory completely changed my perception of these big-bore two-strokes? After taking the back-way to the local pub, I pondered that question over a schooner. With cash in hand, I think I would still choose another bike in the Sherco range. However, the Sherco 300SE Factory is an absolutely brilliant machine. And clearly more versatile than I’ve expected. It’s just that the whole Sherco line-up spoils you for choice! If my type of riding focused more on technical and extreme terrain, then yes, this bike is absolutely the top of the pile. It’s so easy to see why they’re popular among riders who like that brand of riding, and to be completely honest, it actually makes you want to do more and more of the difficult terrain once you are on board.

If you have a chance to get to a Sherco demo day, jump on this bad boy and give it a whirl. I have no doubt it’ll surprise you. In a good way!

2024 FEATURES

  • NEW 2024 graphic design with in-mould technology
  • NEW headlight housing with LED headlight
  • NEW front fender design
  • NEW front brake hose guides (two instead of one)
  • NEW single-colour frame paint – more resistant to scratches and abrasions
  • NEW aluminium rear sprocket
  • NEW clutch cover
  • NEW front and rear wheels (rim, spokes, axle, and hub)
  • NEW swingarm: 200g lighter, new bearings, seals & chain adjusters
  • NEW top engine mounts
  • 48mm KYB closed-cartridge forks & 50mm KYB rear shock
  • Brembo brakes with Galfer discs
  • Excel Takasago rims shod with Michelin Enduro rubber
  • Black-anodised billet triple clamps
  • Heavy-duty 6mm AXP HDPE bashplate
  • Grippy diamond-pattern Selle Dalla Valle seat
  • Dual-map switch
  • 36mm Keihin PWK carburettor
  • Electronically controlled power valves
  • VFORCE4R reed valve system
  • SPES-plated exhaust pipe

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