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2018 Sherco 300 SCF First Ride Review

16 October 2018, 03:05 PM Vikrant Singh

Introduction

I have never ridden in the Sahara. And, I have never ridden on sand dunes. I have walked the dunes, yes. And, I have tried driving on them as well. But, on both counts I have struggled. So, to do the same on a motorcycle was never going to be easy. 

And I will be attempting it on this. This is a Sherco. If haven't heard about the brand, these guys make dirt bikes. But, more importantly, they do the Dakar together with TVS Racing.  And that's not all. The learnings from building the Dakar prototype machine which the team uses to compete in what is easily the toughest rally in the world, says TVS, helps with its own product development. Now, that's a pretty relevant connect.

The bike

This bike is called the Sherco 300 SCF. It's a 300cc, single cylinder, liquid cooled, four-stroke dirt bike. So, it has a narrow frame, a tall seat, wide handlebars, and it weighs next to nothing. 

TVS Apache RTR 200 4V

TVS Apache RTR 200 4V

  • Displacement197.75 cc
  • Mileage - Owner Reported38 kmpl
  • Max Power(bhp)20.54 bhp
  • Kerb Weight152 kg
  • ;

Avg. Ex-showroom price

₹ 1,28,291

The last bit is the only confidence-inspiring read in the spec sheet. After all, it will be easy to pick up when I drop it. And I say that because it really is a question of when and not if.

Other nice bits on the bike include a hydraulic clutch, fully adjustable suspension front and rear, and a full Akrapovic exhaust system. It has a six-speed gearbox, a frame that's made of high-strength steel, and tyres with knobs as deep as ravines. 

The ride

And all of this translates into a fantastic ride chasing sand dunes. The Sherco's clutch pull is light. It has a light and progressive throttle response. And the handling - at least on the slightly firmer stuff - is predictable, and exploitable.

But, then the loose, high, and challenging dunes arrive. Now, the bike starts to move around as if it were high on something. The front wants to do its own thing while the rear chases a completely different line. I, in the meantime, try to make sense of it all while I grip the bike with my legs for dear life.

Within a few metres though it becomes clear the bike is the boss. Until the time the throttle is open - not necessarily turned to the stops, and the front is allowed to do its thing, I should remain upright. And I do, for a surprisingly long time.

We - the bike and I - charge up small dunes. We powerslide. And, when the sand underneath gives way, we do a balancing act that would give tightrope artists a run for their money, just to stay upright. But, with the throttle constantly on, the progress remains both swift and fun. 

It's mind-boggling what a purpose-built machine can achieve even with an amateur on board. All you have to do is look ahead, keep the throttle on, and the bike with its tyres, its suspension, and the linear power delivery, just has you gliding over sand as if it were a surf board riding the waves.

The fall

But, then I fell. I was being ambitious. I had been surfing up the small dunes and having a blast doing it. It never felt natural, of course, not when we started in the morning, and not now in my last session on the bike. 

And the 300 is a dirt bike. It doesn't do plush, and it's not forgiving. So, even though it was tiring and a tad demanding to ride, I had applied the golden rule of keeping the throttle on, no matter what, and it worked superbly for me.

That's the rule I broke. I surfed up a high dune, made it near the top, but when it was time to turn the bike around to start my descent, I wasn't in a low enough gear. And, I also hadn't opened the throttle enough. 

So, the bike almost came to a stop. Its front tucked in. And down I went. I hit my chest against the handlebar. And then came rolling down the dune.

But, here's the thing - the bike was so light, and the sand so soft, I was back on and surfing even more dunes in no time. Then I rode the rally bike, a 450, and everything changed...

That story goes live tomorrow.

Photography by Ishaan Bhataiya

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