Beta’s 2019 enduro range has something for everyone across its now eight strong line-up. The new, super-impressive 200cc two-stroke is ready to turn heads but behind that what are the Italian manufacturers stand-out performers for 2019?

 

Motorcycle manufacturer Beta’s 100% Italian range is as comprehensive as you’ll find from any manufacturer: 125/200/250/300cc two-strokes and 350/390/430/480 four strokes. The all-new Beta RR 200 two-stroke is the peachiest and impressed us the most at the launch but that’s not to dismiss the rest of the MY19 range. There's plenty to talk about here.

In the last two years Beta has won the Manufacturers World Enduro Championship title, the Enduro3 and EnduroGP World titles with Steve Holcombe and Enduro Junior title with Brad Freeman in 2017. At the time of writing the 2018 Enduro World Championship is again proving a title-contending season for Holcombe and Freeman (now moved up and aiming for the E1 title) plus Matteo Cavallo is also wiping the floor in the Juniors. World class riders help get the job done of course but it can be no fluke Beta is having this run of results. 

 

Beta MY19 300 static Enduro21 560

Photo Credit: Cristiano Morello

 

In a world where factory-kitted specials race at the highest level of our sport (bikes we love to drool over no question), Beta stands proud on just how standard their factory bikes are. It’s a fact we learned when looking more closely at Steve Holcombe’s Beta RR 300 earlier this year.

But what are the stand out things we learned from the 2019 model launch in Tuscany? What is making the difference on the Beta's MY19 range when you ride them and what should you interested in whether you’re a Beta fan or not?

 

 

Beta MY19 RR200 Enduro21 560 

Photo Credit: Andrea Belluschi

 

1. Ride the champion’s bike

Bang in the middle of Beta’s range sits their biggest seller, World Enduro Champion Steve Holcombe’s ride, the RR 300. As popular with both enduro and extreme enduro riders, it is the flagship and the most capable. 

Updated for 2019 with a slightly softer clutch feel (wider diameter clutch actuator) and a new expansion chamber (also on the 250) it feels easier to ride. The 300 also has a new ECU bringing a stronger spark at higher revs, a BPV exhaust valve opening setting for more linear power delivery plus you now get two power valve springs with your new bike to tailor power delivery (red is standard and softer, black is stronger). 

As much as any other 300 two-stroke on the market it is powerful and fast as you’d expect but equally soft-centred when you’re threading through an extreme test. The 300 is as good as enduro bikes get straight out the showroom.

 

Beta MY19 300 Enduro21 560

Photo Credit: Cristiano Morello

 

2. 480 for miles

The big Beta RR 480 is an awesome trail bike. Big capacity enduro bikes work for some riders but they are not ideal for racing because most of us don’t want or need all that weight and power. 

Big trails in North America, Canada, Australia or wherever you are doing your thing then the RR480 is ace. The bigger RR models all have the same chassis and this one holds a useful, torquey and powerful motor. Weightier to ride than all its siblings, Beta’s RR 480 will work best if you want a trail bike with some nous about it.  

 

Beta MY19 480 Enduro21 560

Photo Credit: Andrea Belluschi

 

3. Smoother throttle response

Beta’s trick with their 2019 bikes has been to engineer smooth-as-silk throttle response. A new ECU on the two-strokes brings a more powerful spark at higher revs while the new Domino throttle on the four strokes helps make the throttle action and response smooth and precise. 

New fuel mapping settings on all 4T models also eliminates any hesitation or tendency to stutter or cough. It’s been an issue present on 4T dirt bikes for years, which is fading but has not completely vanished. 

Beta’s 2019 4T bikes are the first time I can remember riding all day without a single cough or hesitation off the initial throttle opening. Around the Tuscan hillside loop for this launch test that meant slow-speed technical riding was also easier but the bikes also felt more alert and ready to go. 

 

Beta MY19 350 Enduro21 560

Photo Credit: Cristiano Morello

 

4. Small two-stroke with torque

The steep Tuscany hillside (location for an Extreme Enduro ‘Hell’s Gate’ each year) was a good test of the 2019 Beta range. Lurking off-piste through the trees were some tough slogs up hills that needed commitment at the bottom, got technical in places and needed some healthy clutch action nearer the top with some inevitable legging to make the summit.

They were hills which proved a point: you don’t need a big bike to climb hills. I tried every bike on the same hill, scaling it on the 250 and 300 two-strokes felt most natural to me, although the 390 4T was a blast. But get it wrong on the 390, 430 or 480 and things get hard work quickly with a heavy and hot big four stroke. 

The RR 200 was an eye-opener. I expected a 125s fizzing engine performance but found a bike eager to drive with torque and feel for grip. Helping all the way are a light clutch and precise throttle delivery. When the hill got tough and legs came off the pegs it is much lighter to deal with the 200. Even a stall two-thirds the way up was no issue as the e-start fired first time and the drive was there to pull up and away. 

 

Beta MY19 RR200 woods Enduro21 560

Photo Credit: Andrea Belluschi

 

5. Addressing the suspension issue

Beta’s ZF Sachs suspension has big changes for 2019 with a complete redesign of the 48mm forks internally: better bottoming resistance, new upper sleeves and they’re 100g lighter too. For 2019 the forks have compression, rebound and preload adjusters on the forks tops which makes tool-less changes trackside a swift process. A new 46mm shock is 300g lighter and designed to operate more efficiently as the unit gets hot. 

The proof is in the pudding always and on rocky and whooped-out single track through narrow trees on the 2019 Beta launch tested that to the max. It was sketchier the faster I dared to ride it but the Sachs suspension’s damping held the bikes on the straight and narrow. The heavier four strokes seemed to benefit the most from this new level of fork control. Revised bottoming progression begins to work earlier in the stroke too so control starts sooner on the bumps and it keeps the bike flatter. 

The truth is World Champion Steve Holcombe uses the ZF with different springs fitted. That’s it. Not five times the price, full-factory kit. Just stock suspension from a standard bike tailored to his weight. 

 

Beta MY19 ZF suspension Enduro21

 

6. Distinct range of bikes

The ‘something for everyone’ philosophy behind Beta’s eight model range is completed by the new 200 two-stroke. The 100 per cent Italian bikes are built “with respect for the customers” says Beta. 

This family-run business has a friendly feeling about it but that extends to the bikes which even at their most serious are only as fierce as you ask them to be. There’s no race-bred chest beating, it’s more like ‘we make complete bikes’ confidence. 

The two-strokes are more obviously different as you build up the capacity count – each purposeful in its own way. The gaps between 350/390 and 430 seem small on paper but their characters on the dirt are distinct: a revvy 350, alert 390, strong as an Ox 430 and pure torquey 480. 

Something for everyone? More like something for every terrain, event and rider skill level which just leaves you with the simple task of making a choice. 

 

 

jon.pearson enduro21 april 2017

Jon Pearson
Enduro21 Editor and Bike Tester
jon.pearson@enduro21.com