Italian manufacturer Beta Motorcycles has launched its 2020 range into NZ from the hills of the Southern Coromandel.
Beta recently changed to a new distributor in the New Zealand market, with Euromoto taking over from previous distributors Precision Motorcycles and NZ Trials respectively.
As a division of the wider Triumph Motorcycles New Zealand group – which itself hosts well-known brands including Triumph, Aprilia, Piaggio and Moto Guzzi – Euromoto boasts a link to a larger number of dealerships through its parent company which Beta’s previous importers could only dream of.
Euromoto is already well on the way to building its network, with four dealers offering the whole range and one speciality trials dealership already up and running.
“We’ve started off with basically four dealers, so very small, but we want to develop from there up to maybe eight dealers throughout the country,” says Beta New Zealand brand manager, Mike Ramsey.
“In the interim, we’ve put together a bunch of really good service agents which will cover the outlying areas and work with the dealers so as we’ve got somewhere where people can go to get their bikes serviced.”
The Tuscan brand's enduro lineup was on show at the local launch, with the trials models sadly left behind. A pity, as we would have loved to have trialled the trials models after discovering how smooth and easy to operate the Tuscan brand's enduro line was.
Descending down a gravel track into the Beta 2020 model press launch, the gnarly conditions Beta NZ had chosen to debut their 2020 range in were on full display.
First impressions of the bikes were good. Arriving later than planned, the bikes were already out on the trail busting berms and tearing up paddocks with pleased looking riders aboard, both looking decidedly dirty at the same time.
Beta New Zealand chose to bring only the enduro models to the launch, leaving the more specialist Trials machines behind for the day. On offer for the assembled members of the NZ motoring press to play with included the 2-stroke 125, 200 and 300 models, along with the 350, 390 and 480 4-strokes.
The range of bikes entering the market for 2020 is impressive for a boutique European outfit. Not only is Beta offering a range of five Trials machines of various displacements – the segment which is where the brand has its strongest historical links – but also a range of capable enduro contenders ranging from a 125cc 2-stroke to a rather unique 477cc 4-stroke offering which (for now at least) can also be road registered.
But it was the RR Enduro models which we were to be testing, with the range of bikes featuring top-notch componentry including fuel injection and different rider maps a novel surprise, while the inclusion of an electric starter on all was a welcome addition to the mix as well. Beta doesn’t mess around when it comes to speccing their bikes out.
Each bike in the 2020 Beta Enduro range makes use of a tough molybdenum steel frame matched with adjustable ZF suspension front and rear. The suspension action was better than expected, with the bike neither bottoming out or feeling like a pogo along the varied track we were riding. The factory settings definitely felt well suited to a fat rider such as myself.
While steel isn’t the lightest material for building a frame with, the Beta range still manages to tip the scales at a competitive weight, with the heaviest bike (the RR 480) weighing in at only 108kg with a near-perfect 50/50 weight balance over each axle.
We chose to start our ride day aboard the entry point to the Beta 4-stroke range, the RR 350, which was promised as being the best introduction to the 2020 Beta range for a relative novice trail rider.
Immediately noticeable was the Beta’s ergonomics, which have been tailored for ease of mobility on the trail. The seat is one of the flattest on the market, allowing for ease in weight transfer while tackling off-road terrain, while the seat height itself is an accessible 930mm for 2-stroke models and 940mm for the 4-stroke models.
In complete contrast to the 4-stroke models, the 2-strokers offer wild power match to a lightweight for the most agile handling characteristics.
With hot competition for the fire breathing 125cc RR 125, the mid-sized RR 200 2T was quickly snatched away from the group. The power delivery of the 2-stroke models varies, with the larger capacity bikes providing a decent chunk of 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 but also open up into a full-on attack if the throttle was cracked fully open.
The biggest difference between the two engine approaches, however, became apparent at the end of my first lap aboard the RR 200.
Setting off from the pit area and over the first river crossing, it was immediately apparent that the 2-stroke machines are much more nimble than their more complex 4-stroke stablemates.
Whereas the 4-strokes will happily plough along the trail, keeping the front wheel of the RR 200 planted was much more of a challenge. While in more 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 make for a competition-winning combination, for a non-racer with debateable fitness levels the result was more an exhausted rider after just three short laps. The competition-ready machines requiring an equally competition-ready rider to make the most out of them.
When it came to picking a bike for one last hurrah before the day came to a close, however, I couldn’t help but be drawn to the versatility of the RR 390 4T. With its broad power delivery, dual rider maps and incredible ease-of-use, it was a clear favourite of many during the launch.
BETA RR ENDURO RANGE BASICS
PRICE: From $12,795
ENGINES: Available in a range from 125cc 2-stroke to 480cc 4-stoke models
PROS: Build quality, competitive pricing, broad range,
CONS: Limited number of dealerships,