Italian dirt: Beta RR Enduro tested on Kiwi soil — literally
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Italian manufacturer Beta Motorcycles has launched its 2020 lineup of motorcycles with an expansive line of enduro models that felt at home in the hills of the southern Coromandel when Driven was invited on a day of trail riding.
Euromoto is taking on the NZ distribution rights for the Tuscan brand from previous distributor Precision Motorcycles.
As a division of the wider Triumph Motorcycles NZ group (that hosts Triumph, Aprilia, Piaggio and Moto Guzzi) Euromoto boasts a link to a larger number of dealerships through its parent company that Beta’s previous importer could only dream of.
Already four dealers offer the full range and there’s also one speciality trials dealership.
Beta NZ brand manager, Mike Ramsey, says Beta’s aim is to have eight dealers throughout the country.
“In the interim, we have a bunch of good service agents who will cover the outlying areas and work with the dealers so people have somewhere to get their bikes serviced.”
The range of bikes entering the market for 2020 is impressive for a boutique European outfit. Beta offers five trails machines of various displacements — the segment where the brand has its strongest historical links — plus capable enduro contenders ranging from a 125cc 2-stroke to a 477cc 4-stroke that has the potential to be road registered.
“We’ve launched with the RR Range, which is basically the standard range for Beta,” says Ramsey. “There are two versions in the range, 2-stroke and 4-stroke.
The range starts with RR 125, 200, 250 and 300cc 2-strokes which feature an anti-vibration counter balancer on the engine. Then we move into the 4-stroke range where Beta offers 350, 390, 430 and 480cc options.”
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With the full range of RR models on offer for the day’s riding, it didn’t take long to realise Beta has put them together with some top-notch componentry, with fuel injection and rider maps on the 4-strokes coming as a surprise.
Each bike in the 2020 Beta Enduro range makes use of a tough molybdenum steel frame matched with adjustable ZF suspension front and rear. While steel isn’t the lightest material for frames, the Beta range is still a competitive weight, with the heaviest (the RR 480) weighing 108kg with a near-perfect 50:50 weight balance over each axle.
Being used to road-going bikes, I started with the entry point to the Beta 4-stroke range, the RR 350.
Immediately noticeable was that the Beta ergonomics were tailored for ease of mobility on the trail. The flat seat allows for ease in weight transfer while tackling off-road terrain.
Seat height is an accessible 930mm for 2-stroke models and 940mm for the 4-stroke models.
In contrast to the 4-stroke models, the 2-strokers offer wild power match to a lightweight for the most agile — or lively — handling characteristics.
With hot competition for the fire-breathing 125cc RR 125 with its near on-off power delivery, the mid-sized RR 200 2-stroke was snatched away from the group.
The power delivery of the 2-stroke models varies, with the larger capacity bikes providing decent low-down torque on top of a screaming top-end versus the on/off switch-like nature of the small capacity 125. The RR 200 offered a manageable amount of both, with the bike able to tractor along at a steady pace and open up if the throttle was cracked fully.
However, the biggest difference between the two engine approaches was apparent at the end of my first lap on the RR 200.
Setting off from the pit area and over the first river crossing, the 2-stroke machines are more nimble than their more complex 4-stroke stablemates.
The 4-strokes happily plough along the trail, whereas keeping the RR 200’s front wheel planted was a challenge. In extreme conditions, such as the World Enduro Super Series where such machines are the go-to bikes of choice, the light front end and screaming top-end power are a competition-winning combination.
For a non-racer with debatable fitness, the result is an exhausted rider after three short laps. The competition-ready machines require an equally competition-ready rider.
For one last hurrah, I chose the versatile RR 390 4T. With its broad power delivery, dual rider maps and incredible ease-of-use, it was my clear favourite.
BETA RR ENDURO RANGE
Price: From $12,795
Engines: 125cc 2-stroke to 480cc 4-stoke models
Pros: Build quality, competitive pricing, broad range
Cons: Number of dealerships