I got to spend some quality time with the Sherco 250 SEF-R four-stroke this past weekend and I would like to reiterate the point: if you haven’t ridden a modern European small-bore four-stroke, then you have no idea how good they are. In other words, don’t base your opinions of these bikes on what you know from the past. Times have changed. For the better.
The first thing you notice about this machine is its narrowness and uncluttered cockpit. Control points feel well-placed for someone of average build and height. As is the norm with modern off road bikes, there’s no chance of having both feet firmly planted on the ground at one time without a lowering kit, although the bike works so well, you may not need to take your feet off of the pegs anyway.
Flip the switch, listen for the fuel pump whine, touch the starter button and it’s idling. It’s obvious that Sherco have done their homework on the fuel map and engine design - in two days of riding this 250 4T in heavy sand and trees two feet apart, it only unexpectedly stalled on me one time. The engine is a real gem with an amazing mix of predictability and excitement. To make it easy, I’m going to list all of the things the engine doesn’t do well. 1. It doesn’t make piles of torque in the low RPM range. 2. That’s really about it. Don’t misunderstand, you can lug it, but if you do you may occasionally find yourself in the wrong gear at the wrong time. Seriously, this machine is about as calm, cool, and collected on the bottom as anything I’ve ridden – at the end of a long two days in the saddle, you can ride it home like it’s a KLX110. How-EVER, if you are prepared and willing to accept the grin-inducing consequences, you can scream this unit like an F1 car and have people ask: “That’s only a 250?” It really does go and it really is fun. Will it win a drag race with a 450? No, but it will be entertaining. The dual-map CDI, which is controlled by a switch on the handlebars, is somewhat responsible for the broad operating characteristics – the Europeans sometime call the two maps “wet” and “dry”, meaning “slippery” and “not slippery”, but most ‘mericans say “mild” and “wild”.
Chassis. We’ve already established that this bike is narrow, but it also feels light, super light – kind of like a really beefy mountain bike. There are two things that everyone mentions when test-riding a Sherco 4T: 1. It will turn inside any other bike out there, and 2. it feels surprisingly stable (with any old setup) for a bike that turns so well. This one is no different. The tried and true WP suspension is likely responsible for the confident handling characteristics. The base Sherco bike that is imported into the USA is a “Racing” version, not to be confused with Beta’s premium “Race Edition”. In Sherco-speak that means you get the WP’s. Somewhere in Europe there are non-“Racing” Shercos with Sachs forks. Anywho, the suspension has all of the knobs and screws that you would expect to get your compressions and rebounds sorted. And, the owner’s manual does a pretty good job getting you dialed-in from the start.
So who is the target rider for the Sherco 250 SEF-R? It is really hard to nail down the answer to that question since this bike is so good at so many things. Tight rocky singletrack? Perfect. Two-track fire roads? Fun as hell. Plateable? Easy. Baja 500? OK, probably not. But, if you are looking for a great-handling, lightweight off-road bike with predictable power delivery that won’t leave you disappointed when you get faster, then the Sherco 250 SEF-R may be your match.