2020 Beta: Eight-Model Smorgasbord
Beta fans have been spoilt for choice in recent years. With the 200cc two-stroke joining the model line-up 12 months ago, the Italian manufacturer’s range now boasts eight different engine sizes: four two-strokes (125/200/250/300cc) and four four-strokes (350/390/430/480cc). And all eight are new-generation machines for 2020.
But which of Beta’s bikes is best suited to you? Two-stroke or four? Small-bore screamer or big-bore thumper? Well, here’s how Beta is pitching each of their 2020 RR models, and our take on whether the Beta brochure got each bike’s personality and target rider right…
THE TWO-STROKE RR MODELS…
Beta Says: The smallest bike in the Beta range, it is the lightest and easiest to handle. In pure racing style, it is suitable for both young riders coming up from the lower categories and more expert riders looking for a fun bike.
We Say: It’s one helluva gutsy little 125 and much better suited to off-road use than a greater majority of 125s. In the tight stuff, it’s so agile, you almost feel like you’re riding a powered mountain bike. For an older bloke who’s too lazy to be tap-dancing on gears and clutch to keep the thing on the boil, it is an acquired taste. But young punks who’re chasing fun-factor and/or sub-75kg riders who rate themselves as racers will rightly gravitate toward this thing.
Beta Says: The chassis set-up and engine derive from its smaller sister, ensuring an extremely contained weight and excellent handling, but with decidedly greater torque and power. Oil injection and an electric starter make this a complete bike, just perfect for enduro enthusiasts.
We Say: The torque and breadth of power this new RR200 delivers makes you swear it’s got 250cc at its disposal, and that makes it a really versatile little rocketship in the bush. It’s got the balls-to-the-wall, rev-it-hard fun-factor of the RR125, but with way more bottom-end and a broader mid-range, it’s just at home on technical trails as it is on flowing grasstrack. Plus, it comes with two creature comforts that the 125 doesn’t: oil injection and an electric start. And it fills a capacity gap the other brands don’t – or no longer – offer, and has proved particularly popular for recreational riders. All of which makes it easy to understand why, just 12 months after the model was first introduced, the RR200 is already one of Beta’s best sellers.
Beta Says: Ideal for those looking for a gentler two-stroke bike with slightly less power and torque than the top-of-the-range models to ensure excellent handling.
We Say: Ever since Beta first released their two-stroke enduro models back in 2013, the RR250 has been both a powerful and user-friendly machine. In fact, right from the get-go, its power delivery has been so broad and smooth, it’s almost felt like a 300. For 2020, with the counter-balancer fitted, the 250’s power delivery feels even more refined, with a noticeably large reduction in vibration. It’s still got that classic 250 two-stroke racy feel, but also comes with the tractability and low-rev rideability of a 300.
Beta Says: Made for those who appreciate a big engine with significant torque at any speed. Suitable for those who favour long gearing.
We Say: With noticeably more punch off the bottom than the 250, the RR300 insists that you’re paying attention and respect its capabilities. Meaning it’s better suited to a more experienced rider with good throttle control. It’s not quite as agile as 250 when it comes to quick changes of direction, but loves flowing lines. It’s more than content to be short-shifted and lugged around at lower revs and requires fewer shifts than the 250 does – thanks largely to the Keihin PWK 36 carb delivering crisp jetting and super-predictable throttle response across their entire rev range.
THE FOUR-STROKE RR MODELS…
Beta Says: This is the easiest-to-handle bike in the four-stroke model range; it favors high-rev riding yet retains a very linear power output.
We Say: Definitely the most free-revving and race-oriented four-stroke in the 2020 range, and noticeably more flickable than the longer-stroke 390 in tight or technical terrain. Its short-stroke engine encourages you to rev the thing, but there’s no need to ride it like a 250 – bouncing off the rev limiter, that is. Lug it or rev it, take your pick.
Beta Says: With an ideal handling-to-power ratio, its winning feature lies in its outstanding traction.
We Say: If you’re a little heavier (but not that fit) and like the idea of mid-capacity machine that marries tight-terrain agility with torquey power, the 390’s the pick of the litter. And we can see why it’s been the most popular four-stroke in Beta’s range in recent years. Its longer-stroke engine (compared with the 350, that is) does give it a lazier, older-school style of linear power. With less overrev than the 350, it won’t hold gears as long at high revs, and is more suited to those who spend more time on trails than racing.
Beta Says: A high-performance engine that is at its best when the rider exploits the long gearing and significant torque.
We Say: Like Beta’s 200 two-stroke and 390 four-stroke, this 430 is a unique capacity in the market and will continue cash-in on all those crew who used to love KTM’s user-friendly 400EXC-F. It’s a free-revving, exciting engine with great throttle-response, and feels like the 350 on steroids. Lots of steroids! A great all-rounder for those who like the option of dawdling around at low revs on the trail, but then getting fair up it around a grasstrack or playing ‘special test showdown’ with a mate. It’s Beta’s most versatile four-stroke model for the heavier, more experienced rider.
Beta Says: This bike best expresses itself in wide, open spaces. Its characteristics are similar to the 430 model, but with even greater torque and power. Suitable for more expert and physically fit riders.
We Say: The 480 is to the 430, like the 390 is to the 350 – noticeably more powerful and with an added dose of low-RPM torque. Interestingly, though, the 480 isn’t a longer-stroke engine. It runs the same 60.8mm stroke as the 430, but a larger slug (a 100mm piston versus the 430’s 95mm). So while the 480 delivers great gobs of grunt down low, it also pulls hard at high revs. Which is code for: if you’re a high-speed grasstrack hound or want to own fast firetrail, look no further.
More on the 2020 Beta RR Range