AIM AND FIRE – 2016 SHERCO 450 SEF-R

AIM AND FIRE - 2016 SHERCO 450 SEF-R

FEATURE: 2016 SHERCO 450 SEF-R

Built for competition, the 2016 Sherco 450 SEF-R is ready to take it to the big guns.

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STORY AND PHOTOGRAPHY MATT BERNARD

There’s something to really love about the Sherco brand here in Australia. It’s a small fish in a big sea, fighting it’s way to becoming a class-leader in the Australian market – the classic underdog archetypal so adored by us Aussies. Since Mojo Motorcycles took over the importation rights of the brand, the company has continued to promote the quality motorcycles and help take them to the masses. It’s one thing to have an awesome motorcycle but if it’s not readily available, or if the manufacturer can’t provide parts and accessory support, then it’s a hard sell to a bloke over a beer at the pub. Some serious steps have been taken by the team at Sherco Motorcycles Australia to achieve this and, as result, the Sherco 450 SEF-R will be landing on many shopping lists in 2016. Haven’t considered a Sherco? I would.

 

TESTING TIME

We rounded up three vastly different riders and headed to a well-rounded location to put the Sherco 450 SEF-R to the test. These riders include Shane Booth, ex-professional motocross racer and one of Australia’s leading coaches, Wil Ruprecht, one of Australia’s fastest up-and-coming enduro racers, and myself, the average Aussie clubman rider/racer.

Sitting on the stand, the Sherco 450 SEF-R looks like a factory race weapon. It’s blue and fluoro colour combination looks straight-up hot. Rolling into a trail ride with one of these will turn heads like a busty blonde in a country pub.

First swinging a leg over the Sherco, I was pleasantly surprised. The cockpit has a flat, modern feeling and, at first glance, everything is of top quality. Oversized handlebars, electric start, quality grips, hydraulic clutch and a sleek instrument panel are all at your finger tips. The triple clamps are adjustable if you were far-removed from the average-sized rider, while the seat is a good-quality gripper.

The footpeg-to-handlebar-to-seat ratio is on the smaller more compact side of the 450 enduro range – something that is a tick in the box for flick ability in the tight rails. A higher seat foam might be a worthy investment for someone seriously tall, otherwise some testing with the adjustable triple clamps would help the comfort factor. Firing the 450 into life via the keyless starting system, you are treated to a throaty-sounding 450 with a decent tone out of the exhaust, but nothing too loud or annoying when trail riding. The speed of the throttle response is quickly noted after a few twists of the right wrist. It’s a winner.

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INTO THE TRAIL

I headed straight into a tight and technical section. My initial feelings were that this bike definitely lingers on the competition side of the scale. The chassis is rigid and the suspension firm, it’s an almost motocross-like-feeling chassis. The handling is precise and sharp when the going get’s tight, a little tip of the cap to the brand’s trials heritage. Out on the open trails, the engine does its best work in the mid-range, the bike has a strong engine and with a little clutch, truly comes to life. Riding in the sandy trails, it had power to burn and more than enough to lug my 95kg frame around, without being a scary, aggressive engine. The power curve has a broader more 500-like power to it, there’s no huge punch of grunt, nor shifted all to the top end. It’s strong and smooth – just the way it’s meant to be.

Equipped on the 450 SEF-R is an engine map switch — something that is worth its weight in gold. For a rider who is after a smooth, easily managed power plant, flick the curve to the smooth setting. When looking for some more punch, then the power setting opens up the bike’s true capabilities. I could see a real use for this in real-world trail riding. If it’s a dark, slippery, tree-root-littered under canopy you’re picking your way through, flick it back to smooth mode. This will provide fewer tendencies to create wheel spin and, in turn, give a more forgiving ride. Once you escape the underworld of darkness, flick it back to the more aggressive map and let the bike bite into some traction and roost into the rest of your day’s riding.

The hydraulic clutch has a nice, smooth action and I didn’t experience any issues or fading with it. Meanwhile, the brakes also get a tick in the performance category.

The only quim I had with the Sherco 450 SEF-R was the front end’s busy nature at high speed, but this is something that needs to be taken into consideration, not just frowned upon. By having a light feeling front end, the bike is a quick-turning, agile beast between the trees. If you are doing a lot of high-speed riding, a suspension tune or steering damper would be on your shopping list. It was by no means scary, never once did I need to back it down, it just has a light feeling to it. With plenty of time on the bike, you may well become completely used to it.

WOULD I BUY ONE?

I was driving home from the test and had a pretty big smile slapped on my dial. I also spoke to a few buddies on the way home and in the coming days, each of whom asked the same thing: would you buy one? In short. Yes. Yes, I would. My fear of owning a bike such as the Sherco brand in the past has been dealer availability and spare parts. The dealer network is growing and according to the Sherco team, spare parts are far from a problem and are readily available. From my house, there’s one of the leading Sherco dealers, only 20 minutes away. So for a Sydney local, a short trip in the car is sure to lead you to a Sherco dealer. The last issue would be resale. On Bike Sales, there’s not as many as say the Yamaha WR450F so the resale could come into fruition down the track – but, like all dirt bikes, you’ll always lose a bit of money.

The simple fact that it’s not orange or white, but still European and of high quality and performance, will be enough to raise the excitement and interest of many Australian trailriders, if nothing else, purely to be different from their mates. I’d purchase one of these Sherco 450 SEF-Rs — if you haven’t ridden one, get along to one of Sherco’s ride days, you won’t be disappointed.

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450 SEF-R FAST FACTS FOR 2016

COMPACT ENGINE DESIGN

Gear train

Morse/HYVO distribution

Dual overhead cams

New piston/connecting rod

Weight and inertia reduction

Results in better bike traction, higher RPMs and longer engine life

 

ADJUSTMENT OF INJECTION MAPPING

Improve performance

Reduced fuel consumption

Compatible with the keyless system

Better progressivity obtained

Mapping developed for the new piston/connecting rod system

 

NEW BALANCE SHAFT

Weight and inertia reduction

Results in better bike traction, higher RPMs and longer engine life

 

KEYLESS SYSTEM

Contact button removed

No risk of dead battery in case the switch is accidentally left ON

 

EVOLUTION OF AIR BOX DESIGN

Easier access to air filter

Air box space increased, wiring protected

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SPECIFICATIONS

Engine Type: 4-stroke DOHC, 4-valve Sherco technology

Displacement: 449.40 cc

Bore X Stroke: 95 x 63.40 mm

Fuel system: Synerject digital electronic fuel injection

Cooling: Liquid system with forced circulation

Starting: Unique electric starting system

Battery: 12V/4Ah Yuasa

Exhaust: Stainless-steel header pipe, stainless-steel muffler with catalytic converter meets Euro 3 stds

Transmission: 6-speed sequential gearbox, primary gear drive chain secondary drive

Clutch: Hydraulic, multidisc in oil bath

Frame: Half-perimeter frame Chrome-Molybdenum

Fuel Tank: 8.5L fuel tank

Brakes: Brembo Hydraulic Ø 260 mm (10.24 in) (front) Ø 220 mm (8.66 in) (rear)

Front Suspension: Ø 48 mm (1.89in) tubes rebound and compression adjustable 300 mm (11.81in) of travel WP telescopic fork

Rear Suspension WP progressive, multi-adjustable rear shock utilising a linkage and rod system 330 mm of travel

Weight: 110kg (242.51lb)

 

 

Damien Ashenhurst
About Damien Ashenhurst 1723 Articles
Managing Editor of DIRT ACTION magazine. Damo doesn't like cheese or ISIS. Can often be found riding in mud because it's closest to the natural environment of a squid.