Here's a quick rundown of each of the machines I tested at the 2019 Beta dealer meeting. The course was a 6-8 minute loop, pretty tight with the longest straight allowing 4th gear or so.
The first bike I rode was the 350RR-S, and in this setting it worked great. For those that don't know, the RR-S series is identical to the Race Edition machines except for front forks and Race Edition add-ons like the shift lever, brake pedal, billet aluminum goodies, seat, and graphics. The big difference obviously is the forks; Sachs open chamber on the RR-S and standard RR machines versus Sachs closed chamber on the Race Edition machines. Anyway, previously I'd ridden this machine in a more "wide open" setting and there the difference in low end and overall power compared to the 390 is obvious. In this tight setting though the 350 worked really well, the most "flickable" of the 4-strokes and plenty of power for the short straight we had on the loop.
390RR Race Edition
Next up was the 390RR Race Edition. I own a 390RR and absolutely love that motor, I've said many times it's like Mama Bears bed, just right! The 390 Race was excellent, Beta did a good job with the settings on the new closed chamber fork and I prefer the feel of it just a little compared to the open chamber version. Torquey down low and and a nice, linear power delivery are the highlights of the 390. Whether you're using the low end in a tight, technical section or revving it out on a straight, to me the 390 is the perfect 4-stroke off-road motor. I rode this machine later in the day as well and confirmed everything above.
The newest addition to the lineup was next, and had the longest line all day as everyone was excited to try this machine. I have to say it is really impressive! It feels a lot like a 300 in that you can lug it, it doesn't have as much power down low obviously but has a surprising amount of torque and if and when you need more a quick fan of the clutch gets it up into the meat of the power. Based on the 125RR platform it's obviously really light and agile, floating over obstacles and trail nasties unlike a 4-stroke. This makes it easy to ride as it won't tire you out, and the linear power delivery helps in this regard as well. This was also one of the few machines I rode twice throughout the course of the day as it was that good!
125RR Race Edition
Hopped on the 125RR Race next and I need to start out by saying it has been many, many years since I've ridden a 125 so I was a bit of a "fish out of water" on this machine. In the tight confines of our test loop I wasn't gelling with this machine, but it's through no fault of the bike. Again, light and agile are the highlights of this little ripper. While it has a lot less low end power compared to the 200, up top it runs strong with plenty of revs to carry a gear longer than you would expect on a 125.
300RR Race Edition
The 300 is the best seller, and for good reason. While not a "2-stroke guy" as I've ridden 4-strokes for almost 20 years I felt really good on this machine, and think it might have been my quickest lap on our little loop. It's a very progressive engine with a linear delivery that allows you a choice of a couple gears for most situations, and the handling is spot on for off road. This bike really made me reconsider being a "4-stroke guy" going forward. The closed chamber fork has had some critics over the years but it really feels good this year. After riding it I came to the conclusion that if you came to Beta from a motocrosser then you'll feel right at home with the Sachs closed cartridge forks. If you've been on other Enduro machines the open chamber forks might be more similar to what you're familiar with. Either can be made to work very, very well for a variety of terrain and speed levels but straight out of the box this seems like a good way to look at the difference. This is the other model I rode again later in the day to confirm my initial impression; truly an amazing machine.
I wanted to try the "standard" 300RR to get a "back-to-back" comparison and the difference is minor. To me the closed chamber fork feels a little more planted and controlled, but the settings on the 2019 open chamber fork are really good as well. Again, the difference isn't huge by any stretch and your criteria when choosing your new Beta might come down to terrain and speed level as mentioned previously. Either can work for any terrain and speed level, and with the option of the fairly new Beta Factory Suspension service allowing you to have your suspension set up for you, where, and how you ride, you can't go wrong with either.
430RR Race Edition
The 430 has a little more "bark" on the bottom than the 390, and riders coming from another brand of 450 might appreciate this aspect of the 430. In more open terrain this would help in lofting the front end over an unexpected trail nasty or torquing out of a deep corner. It does require a little more throttle control than the 350 or 390 in the tight stuff but nothing crazy.
250RR Race Edition
The 250 is an interesting counterpoint, to both the 200 and 300 models. It has a little bit more "hit" than either, kind of like a 250 MX bike from back in the day. It's identical to the 300 other than bore and stroke (similar to all of the 4-stroke engines) but through porting and ignition it does feel different. Falling between the 200 and 300 as far as low-end power as you'd expect but strong up top, I would describe this machine as having a steeper horsepower curve than the 300 with a bit of a bump in the midrange.
300 Evo Sport
I'd never ridden an Evo Sport (trials machine with long range tank and seat, as well as knobbies) so this was an interesting machine to me. Trials purists might not care for it but I can see it's appeal to a certain group of riders. On the trail you obviously couldn't "push the pace" like you can on an Enduro machine but I think it acquitted itself quite well on our short loop. You can actually sit down in a corner, although the ergonomics are completely different to an off-road bike. At a leisurely pace there's nothing it can't conquer, and the handling at this speed is just fine.
Some other highlights of the meeting were being recognized as a top 10 dealer, and let me say it again: A huge thanks to our great customers for getting us there, we really do appreciate each and every one of you that trusts us for your Beta needs! Hanging out with the race team is always good fun, and the team is really strong this year with both returning athletes who are really progressing and some new additions who should all feature on podiums in the 2019 race season! For 2019 Beta continues as the title sponsor of the AMA National Dual Sport series, great events that always have a huge turnout. Beta also announced the Beta Cup for the NEPG series. For you National Enduro riders, race a Beta 125 for a chance to win a 250RR at the end of the year! Finally, the Beta National Demo Tour continues, with 4 hugely successful events so far and 18 to 20 more coming soon.