WHO ARE THOSE GUYS?
It’s okay to quote Butch Cassidy and the Sundance
Kid whenever you talk about Beta “Who are those guys?”
Every time you look, Beta is doing something fairly
amazing. Cody Webb had a bunch of EnduroCross main-event wins on a 300RR in 2014. That makes him about the
only man to win national events on a two-stroke, not to
mention one not made in Austria or Japan. And yet, no one
quite knows who Beta is. For the record, Beta is an Italian
motorcycle company, and even though the motorcycle
itself is new, the company is not. It was already old when
it started in the motorcycle business with scooters after
World War II. Trials bikes came in the 1980s. About 10
years ago, Beta started making off-road bikes, which at
first had KTM motors. Now they are 100 percent Beta,
which is weird in itself. The finish and refinement of the
current motorcycles seem more like the product of a big
Honda-like company than the limited-production offerings
of a small Italian firm.
The Beta is made in Italy, but the parts come
from all over the world. The brakes are by Nissin
and the ignition is a Kokusan.
The three-year-old Beta 300RR motor is fairly similar
to that of the KTM 300XC, as well as the Husqvarna
TE300 tested in this issue. In fact, it shares most of the
same specifications: 293cc displacement, 72mm bore
and stroke, six-speed gearbox, 36mm Keihin carburetor
and Kokusan ignition. But, it’s obviously a newer
motor; if nothing else, the position of the electric starter
demonstrates that. Beta places it inside the engine case,
under the gearbox. KTM still houses it externally as if it
were an afterthought. It has a case reed and a mechanical
power valve, just like the KTM. The only clue that the
Beta is made by a much smaller company is that it’s a
world-spec bike. The 300RR sold here in the U.S. is the
same as the ones sold in Italy, Bombay and Botswana.
It comes with DOT tires, a horn and various other street-legal accessories. You might be able to get it licensed in
Vermont, Arizona or some other run-what-you-brung state,
but as far as the federal government is concerned, it’s a
closed-course motorcycle, just like a Honda CRF450R
motocross bike. This year the engine got a few updates,
including a cylinder and head that were offered last year
on the limited-production Race Edition. The power valve
and ignition map also received changes.
Beta uses a steel frame mated to Sachs suspension.
In case you’re curious, yes, it is that Sachs. It’s the same