WHAT’S A PURVINES BETA?
Over the last few years, the mega corporations have lost
interest in factory-backed off-road racing. Very few motorcycle manufacturers still have in-house efforts, relying on satellite teams instead. Thus, outfits like AmPro, Fred Andrews
Racing, Johnny Campbell Racing and RPM are big players
in the off-road world. That’s how Purvines Racing fits it. It’s a
private team with equipment supplied by Beta, a small
Italian motorcycle manufacturer that’s making significant
inroads in the U.S. market. The team is run by Ron Purvines,
a financial manager by day who’s also passionate about racing. A few years ago a private team like this would have had
no chance to compete at the highest level. Fortunately, with
the help of Tim Pilg and the rest of the crew at Beta, the
Purvines team is on sound footing this year. Nick Burson is
teamed up with Axle Pearson, Jeremy Purvines and Justin
Morrow, which makes the team a serious threat.
We caught up with Nick right after the third round of the
National Hare and Hound series and hitched a ride on his
Before we tell you the stuff that makes Burson’s bike
special, you have to get your head around the fact that
it’s a Beta. This isn’t a bike that you see every day. The Beta
498RR is beautiful and exotic. The motor is made by Beta; it
isn’t a Yamaha or a KTM stuffed into an Italian frame. It’s an
electric-start, four-valve, double-overhead-cam four-stroke,
just as sophisticated as anything from Japan or Austria. The
most unusual feature is the fuel-injection system. There isn’t
one. The engineers at Beta didn’t want to rush into the
grand fuel-injection experiment with the rest of the off-road
world. The bike has a Keihin FCR carb, which, until further
notice, is still as good as it gets for fuel delivery. Beta will
probably go EFI someday, but for now, carbureted bikes are
The frame is steel, and both the fork and shock are made
by Sachs. Nick’s stock suspension was revalved by desert
specialist TBT, although Nick is experimenting with
Marzocchi equipment. He has a history of riding weird
bikes. He was one of the only riders in the world who had
success racing the Husky TE449, which is quite an accomplishment. He used a Marzocchi fork that he learned to set
up, and, in the future, he might try to graft a set of Zokes
onto his Beta. He’s in no hurry, however, and is satisfied
with the Sachs components for now.
Getting aftermarket performance parts for a Beta isn’t easy.
There isn’t a very deep pool of companies that make stuff for
offbeat Italian bikes. Most of the parts Nick uses come from
Beta’s own parts catalog. The company has a “Build Your
Own Beta” program, with a selection of items that you can
order when you buy your bike. That’s where the 3.8-gallon
Clarke fuel tank came from, as well as the brake pedal and
various guards. FMF’s Power Core 2.1 stainless exhaust sys-
tem is also in the Beta arsenal, and Barnett is currently testing
clutch parts for the bike, making it one of the only aftermarket
companies to jump into the Beta pool without coaxing. The
rest of the motor is absolutely stock.
Nick’s personal touches include Flexx bars, ARC
levers, Fastway pegs and handguards, and a GPR
steering stabilizer. George Earl at Up-Tite, a California
dealership, has also climbed on the Beta bandwagon in
a big way. He offers a massive skid plate and a carb
vent chamber that solves most of the float-bowl
problems associated with the FCR.
The Team Purvines race bike is
based on a Beta 498RR.
Actually, it’s mostly stock; a Beta
doesn’t need to be much more
exotic than it already is.