2015 Beta Dealer meeting in SoCal. Mid-Range Off-Road Summary (RR's up to 430)
The 2015 Beta two-stroke RR's are undeniably some of the best off-road motorcycles that I've ever ridden. Smooth and powerful, light and stable. Out of the crate they are tuned and outfitted well enough that you could win your next race. I'm not as fast or aggressive as most of the guys I ride with, but I laid down a hot lap on a 250RR Race-Edition yesterday to get a good comparison with a standard RR. Yes, the harder I pushed, and the further down in the stroke it stayed, the better the Marzocchi fork felt. But, I didn't feel any of the harshness at slower speeds. The '15 250 has a bit more punch on the bottom (when in the alternate map) compared to the 2014, but the mid-range and top end are still there, sounding like a '90's motocrosser as you row through all six gears. The changes for 2015 on the two-strokes are small and should be classified as refinements. Good stuff. Summary: Go get one.
But what about the rest of the line? What's with these unusual displacements on the four-strokes? Well, I thought it was unusual too, until I rode them back-to-back.
2015 Beta 430RR. I jumped on this thing expecting it to feel like a 450. Wrong, well sort of. From the saddle, the bike feels much lighter and easier to change directions than any 450 you've ridden. A quarter mile into the ride I considered hopping off to make sure I was on the correct bike. At that point I needed to lay down some serious throttle for an upcoming obstacle and I nearly shot my ass off the back of the seat. 450 power? Yep, and then some. Summary: start recalibrating your brain, 450 power with a lighter feel.
2015 Beta 390RR. OK, so now I'm still a little bit skeptical, a little bit wary. I'm trying to forget expectations. I set off on the 390 and arguably had the most fun I've had on a dirt bike in a long time (and that's saying a lot -- it's been a big year). Lightweight, narrow, four-stroke? Check. Good suspension working in the stroke? Check. Plenty of bottom end power? Check. Good top end? Check. No seriously, the range of power coupled with the chassis on this 390 is something all to itself. I had no problem riding it a gear high and was still able to clear obstacles with the front end... without the clutch. And, when I needed to haul the mail I just rolled it on. No, it doesn't overrev like, say, the next bike below, but when you need it you're already there, smiling. Summary: maybe the perfect all around woods four-stroke.
2015 Beta 350RR EFI. Here's the bike that had the longest line all day. Beta's first fuelly. Beta is building the EFI units in conjunction with Synerject. It's a bit unique since it incorporates a stepper motor in the intake to control closed-throttle RPMs. This means slightly less engine braking than a traditional four-stroke -- it was noticeably less than the other two, but still had some. The engine starts clean and runs flawlessly, so the map must be spot-on. I will say, for what it's worth, that the injected engine feels and sounds a little "digital" compared to the carbed ones. Anyway, this bike is a thrill ride, a secret weapon, a gun in a knife fight. No lie, the chassis and handling feels like you are on a 250 two-stroke and this engine cranks out unbelievable power for its size. Yes, I had to ride it a gear lower than I would have expected, but once I learned that, it was always there when I needed it -- and then some. And, overrev? Oh yes. Has anyone ever seen me do a turn-down on a tabletop jump? That's because I never have.... until yesterday on the 350RR. Summary: Thinking about changing directions and accelerating? You're already done.
If you were able to demo one of these bikes, which one would it be?