Beta has come on strong in the last few years with its 4-Stroke RR models, but until this year the Italian manufacturer didn’t have an enduro model that used reeds and power valves. New for 2013, the Beta 250 RR is one of two 2-Stroke
enduro models that is set to give the big dogs in the segment fits. Motorcycle Superstore-sponsored Cody Webb has taken to the new 2-smoker like a fish to water, putting it up on the podium at the Endurocross races right out of the gate. We made sure that the 250 RR was included in this test to see if Webb is just a freak of nature or if the Beta is really that good.
The $7999 250 RR is a new machine from the ground up, featuring an electric-start engine with an adjustable power valve, a frame unique to the 2-Stroke models and Sachs suspension. Of course, Beta is no stranger to 2-Strokes as it produces several trials bikes with extremely tractable motor characteristics. We expected the RR to be dialed in from the get go because of how well the trials models work, and we were right.
Firing up the Beta is as easy as pulling up the choke and pressing the magic button. On thing we like about the Beta’s electric start system is that it tucked away, not globbed on the side of the cases like the KTM and Husaberg. It takes slightly longer to warm up than the other two bikes, but not much. Once warm the jetting is well sorted and meters the fuel from the cool morning to the warm afternoon.
Grabbing a handfull of throttle puts forth a torquey grunt from down low and builds quickly to the top end. The engine character isn’t as snappy as the KTM, with a smoother delivery that revs slightly slower. No matter the surface the Beta puts the power to the ground and does not spin up the rear tire as easily at the KTM. It is by no means slow, just more controlled, and this is a great character to have on tight or technical trails.
Test rider Brian Steeves ranks the engine character of the 250 RR at the top of his list, “The Beta’s more predictable low-rpm response is what did it for me. When you wanted to jump forward it would with awesome traction.”
In the handling and suspension category, the Beta was just a tick behind the Husaberg with a well-sorted chassis. We’ve always been fans of the built-for-Beta Sachs TFX front forks and we continue to marvel at how well these forks follow the terrain. Out back the Sachs shock keeps the rear end tracking true even when the softer set-up blows through the stroke and bottoms out. Bashing through the bumps and rock sections are a dream on the RR, but any hang time overwhelms the spring rate and compression valving. It’s tough to have everything on an enduro suspension, but the Italians have found a nice balance.
On the fast singletrack and high-speed desert sections the Beta cranks through the corners with ease and precision. However, in the tighter turns the front feels heavy and takes more effort to drop down into than is expected.
“Beta’s 250 did everything I wished with only 1 small flaw,” says Frankie Garcia. “The front is a bit heavy and struggles to turn tight. In the really tight singletrack I felt myself struggling to be smooth and quick in the switchback sections and couldn’t get the front wheel where I wanted it.”
Another criticism from our crew has to do with the gearing. Getting on it when the trail opens up, the Beta blasts through the cogs quickly and feels like it needs to lose a couple of teeth off of the rear sprocket. With the Husaberg and KTM you can leave the bike in third for most situations, whereas with the 205 RR you’d be down into second and up into forth to cover the same ground.
Braking on the RR is top notch, but less powerful than the KTM and Husaberg. The Braking rotors have excellent feel as they work with the Brembo calipers. For slippery conditions the Beta might actually be the best of the bunch, but overall it’s just a hair behind.
The rider compartment on the Beta was ranked second thanks to a lower 36.6-inch seat height that made working in technical sections easier for our short-legged staff. Additionally a slim tank and seat junction made it easy to move around on the 250 RR, but that feature comes with the smallest fuel capacity of the group. Both the Husaberg and KTM have more than a half-gallon of extra fuel available.
We have no doubt that Cody Webb is a freak of nature, but we have a feeling the new Beta 2-Strokes are a big part of his success as well. The 2013 Beta 250 RR entered the fray, stood toe to toe with KTM and Husaberg and held its own. For one of our riders it was the bike of preference and with just a few changes it could be the choice for the whole crew. Out of the box, it is good enough for a well fought second-place in the 2013 250 2_Stroke Enduro Shootout.