We have been logging more miles on the Sherco and it continues to impress. It seems that every time I ride it I find something new to like, with little new on the negative side. This week I am in North Idaho riding the little 300 in its true element, technical woods.
Shop Time – We have done a few things to the Sherco. While our test bike is relatively new, it was produced late in 2012. It then spent a number of months at aftermarket companies getting products developed for it; Rekluse, FMF and Bazzaz. What that means to us is that there were a few mid year updates available when the bike finally made its way to Enduro360.
The first of these was the fuel injection. Some of the bikes were suffering from a stall problem, including ours. Sherco sent us an updated throttle body and ECU to install. The process of putting the new parts on was fairly simple, not much more than swapping a carb. The tight confines of the Sherco frame make the job a little more work, but dropping the top of the subframe gives decent access. Some of the connectors are a little tricky to figure out, but I managed it all without breaking or losing anything. Overall the 300 runs about the same with the new parts, but the idle stall is gone.
One other part that Sherco brought to our attention was a potential faulty gear in the starter. They sent us a new one as a replacement. I decided to continue running the original part to see if it would fail, sure enough it did. The gear is brazed to the shaft and the weld did break. The new gear appears to be press fit on the shaft. The replacement took about 20 minutes to install. I only had to remove the ignition cover and slide the new parts into place.
FMF Exhaust – We have the first FMF Powercore exhaust for the Sherco. I have only used it a little bit because I wanted to do as much riding as possible with the quieter stock unit. Now that I have the new EFI parts installed, I will have to test the FMF exhaust more. In early testing I found that any power increase was modest. The small motor revs a little quicker with the more open set up, but may not gain much overall power. The stock exhaust does not have a spark arrestor, so the Powercore is the easiest way to get one if you need it.
Bazazz Fuel injection Module – This is a plug and play unit that is just for the Sherco. Testing with the new newly installed throttle body and ECU shows a small but distinct improvement in throttle response. The motor comes on quicker and hits just a little harder. One draw back to the system it that you lose use of the stock map switch. The OEM wiring harness is similar in design to the Husqvarna 310. A plug-in jumper wire allows the EFI programming to be put back to stock mode. I still need to spend some time testing the Bazazz EFI module and the FMF exhaust together.
Other Parts – Bullet Proof Designs has already designed radiator guards and a swingarm guard for the Sherco. We have those installed now. I mounted up some stronger Fastway handguards, the stock ones are pretty flimsy. That is about it for parts. If I have time, I might see if we can get seat concepts to build a better seat. The stock one is not bad, but for my height, I could use a little more padding towards the rear.
As the miles rack up, my overall impression is just how much fun the Sherco is to ride. Next is how versatile it is proving to be on the trail. For a small bike it will do lots of things, many times better than most larger bikes. My dad commented that the motor seems happy to chug around like a XR250. It is really true, no matter how slow or technical the terrain, it will crawl around at speeds that would have other small bore bikes stalling. It never seems to get hot. It will spit a little coolant into the overflow, but never very much.
This is certainly a motor that never feels like it is doing much. With a quiet exhaust and overall smooth feel, it gives the impression of being under powered. For those who like the visceral feel of power, adding the exhaust will help. But the feel is deceiving, there is a plenty of motor in the 300i.
I had the chance to do a couple of quick comparisons. One was with Quinn Cody’s 2013 Husky TE310 with a full FMF system. It don’t know if the Husky had any mapping changes. We did a number of 3rd and 4th gear roll ons, (both bikes are geared fairly low). Overall the Husky would get a short jump, then the two would be near equal in acceleration. Taking the minor gearing differences into account, it is about a dead heat between the two. The Husky sounds impressive with the open exhaust, but real power is about the same.
We also did one day riding with the KTM 350exc. The 350 is certainly a step up in torque, with a just a tick more power on top also. Interestingly, I was almost always faster on the Sherco. The 350 has enough torque that it is often best to short shift it on technical trail. The 300i actually rides better by keeping it in the one gear longer. I use a little clutch on the bottom, spend lots of time in the midrange and let it wind out when the trail opens. It needs a little more throttle manipulation, but less shifting overall. The Sherco also feels distinctly lighter than the 350 both in turning and braking. Jumping to the 350 I would consistently blow through the first couple of turns.
As you know, the 350exc is one of my favorite bikes and to see the Sherco stand right up to it comes as a little bit of surprise to me. The chassis is so light feeling. It has some great characteristics . It feels like the entire mass of the bike is right between your knees. It turns quick, but is surprisingly stable. It never seems to wander off line or over correct. It is very easy to ride. When the terrain opens up, the KTM gains some advantage for its broader power and overall more comfortable riding position.
I have one short ride on the all new 2014 KTM 250xcf-w, which gets the SXF spec motor this season. I expected that the new 250 might feel close to the 300i, it does not. The 300i seems closer to the 350 than the 250. I need to get more time on the new KTM 250 as I know the small motors free up and gain power with a few more hours on them. That is on the top of my list for long term testing this year.
I have been riding lots of technical trails this week. The little motor seems to be just about perfect most of the time. It will climb very rough stuff without ever spinning the wheel. I have stopped in the middle of a couple of hard climbs, just to see if I could get going again. The smooth, soft power will let the 300i get going again easily, even better than the 300 two stroke. The difference is that the two stroke always has power to spare with just a quick twist of the grip. If you need more power on the four stroke, it takes some clutch and throttle work. But most of the time the power seems just right. I am still riding on the stock Michelin FIM tires and they are completely worn out, the bike does not seem to care either way.
I talked about how the WP suspension has more valving that the similar KTM models. On the tighter trails this becomes more pronounced, it feels over dampened at times. I have opened up the clickers all the way around and that has smoothed things out.
For trail riding, we are averaging about 25 miles to the gallon. This is a little less than would be expected for a small displacement fuel injected bike, but the mileage is running fairly consistent.
As for new complaints, there are a couple of minor ones. Some of the test riders tend to hit the off switch with their thigh. I have not, as I am taller, I tend to sit and stand farther back. But killing the bike at the wrong time is not great. The body work right behind the boots is wider than some riders like, again I don’t really seem to notice it. The footpegs and spokes both seem to corrode quickly making the bike not look as new as it should. The shiny plastics tend to show wear quickly also.
So that is about all the news for now. As you can tell, I am really enjoying the Sherco. I can’t wait to ride the new two stroke, I have to imagine that some of the good qualities of the chassis will be even better in two stroke form.