How close is Steve Holcombe's EWC winning machine to Beta's production RR250? And what would it take for anyone to have a bike like that?
Based outside Turin in northern Italy, Beta Boano Racing Sport is run by former EWC racer Jarno Boano. As a last-minute addition to the Italian team's line-up for 2015 Steve Holcombe first raced the team's Beta RR 250 at the second round of the championship in Spain and immediately impressed.
Carding two podium results in Enduro Junior on his first competitive ride on the RR 250, Steve has so far gone on to have a cracker of a season by grabbing another four wins ahead of the final round in France. Catching up with the Steve and Jarno at the team's home GP in Italy, we find out that you don't need a factory bike to ride something special.
"Most of the parts my RR 250 is equipped with come from the team's workshop in Italy," told Steve. "We test and develop parts for the team's racing bikes and once we know they work under the toughest racing conditions they are then sold to the customer. All after-market products can be found on the Beta Boano website. There's a team of people working back at base who are responsible for commercial stuff and sales. Riders from all over the world buy their products so if anyone wants to build a bike exactly like mine they can. There are no secrets."
"Beta Boano have a great collaboration with Swedish suspension specialist Ohlins. They are well known for their premium quality products. They provide us with the TTX 48mm forks and the Ohlins rear shock. They're amazing products that perform great in all kinds of conditions. Steve's set-up is mostly progressive and not overly stiff as you need to have a bike that won't make your life hard for so many hours in the saddle."
Protection & hard parts
"We use a plastic skid plate that's quite strong and also covers the sides of the engine. Foot pegs are CNC-machined too and they're positioned 10mm further back than the standard ones. This gives more traction to the rear wheel – like a trials bike. We've got quick-release handles on both the front and rear wheel axles, which makes our lives much easier at the end of each long day. In the beginning of the year we were using an aluminium rear disc protector but have since changed to a plastic one. It's made out of hardened plastic and has the ability to return to its original form after getting a hit or a stone. Our chain guard is also machined from hard plastic."
"Beta's 250cc two-stroke engine is great out of the crate. Based on the standard engine we modify the piston's compression by installing a new cylinder gasket. The goal is to increase power delivery in the bottom range without losing much from the top. The engine has a better overall response without being massively different to the production one. A bit of work was done on the head and team mechanics cleaned the cylinder ports for improved flow. We run a Termignoni silencer with a really cool looking end shape, they also manufacture a specially made front pipe for us."
"Handlebar set-up is pretty basic. We run a set of CNC-machined triple clamps for extra strength, reduced torsion and improved silent blocks that result in less vibrations through the bars. The bars are made by Magura and same goes with the clutch master cylinder. Standard setup works great too but we opt for a little bit more progressiveness. There's a softer, smoother feeling on the lever. It's more like a cable clutch with improved feeling."
"Wheels and hubs have been specially built for us by Talon. The gold finish also matches with the Ohlins suspension to give a distinctive look. Wheels and hubs are personalised. That was something we started using later during the year as it took a while for the agreement to be finalized. But we really want to pursue this cooperation as they're great products."
Special colour scheme for GP of Italy
"For the EWC GP of Italy – the team's home race – we ran a really cool graphics kit. Actually, the idea to make this special kit came from Stickers, our graphics company who are also based in Italy. It's certainly out there but we like to make out bikes look a little different. The reaction has been very positive so maybe we might consider adding this to our product range."