After some delay, I finally wrangled a ride on the new Beta. It is a good news/bad news scenario. The bad; we could not get a bike from Beta. Don’t know why, we just didn’t get the invite. I am sure it is a story of high demand, low supply, blah blah blah.
The good; we got an invite from a first time Beta owner in Hawaii to come out and ride! Thanks to Richard Garcia for the hook up. More good: we also got to compare a KTM 250 Freeride, 200xcw and a sweet 300xcw ISDE model in our testing. I had also raced a 200xcw on the same course the day before. Thanks to Sam Bird of Hawaii Rides, Chef John and Mark Jefferies for those bikes. FYI, those are some of the guys you may see in some of my more extreme Baja rides. But there is more! We got to ride on Oahu Hawaii on some super cool single track, just the kind of thing for these quasi extreme bikes.
As we were spending our test time on someone else’s brand new baby, this is not going to be an all out “ride it like you rented it” test. We were gentle, but is was still enough to get the basics and more important, some significant comparisons with the other bikes.
Because this is really just a first ride impression, not a full review, I am going to give you a quick and dirty ride impression. It is enough to tell you at least half of everything you need to know about the X trainer, the rest can only come with extended ride time.
Right Down The Middle
Whatever the differences are between a 300 enduro bike and a KTM Freeride 250r, the Beta is right dead center between them. Claimed weights put it about 10 lbs lighter than a 300RR where the Freeride is 20 lbs. That is about how if feels on the trail too.
The X trainer feels closer to a traditional bike in handling also. There is nothing particularity unique feeling. It is probably closest to the 200xcw in that sense.
The motor is as smooth as you can possibly imagine. There is no hit, even in the midrange, just nice, slow, ultra smooth delivery. It is stronger than the Freeride right off the bottom. But the 250R actually has more punch in the midrange. Neither bike is much for top end.
By basically shutting off the powervalve on our 300xcw, we could make the xcw smoother, but it was still no match for the gentle X Trainer.
Suspension is again right down the middle, not as good as the 300xcw, but a measurable amount sturdier than the Freeride. At a moderate pace it worked quite well.
The front brake again was better than the Freeride, but needed far more effort than the 300xcw.
Overall ergonomics were very standard feeling.
Nothing to report on the oil injection, other than it appears to work and the bike does not smoke much. The Japanese could make it work 40 years ago, so no reason to think otherwise for the Beta’s.
No real gains in seat height, the tape read 36.5″. I would hope this style of entry level bike could have a lower seat.
Graphics started to wear in the first hour.
For the most part it just feels like any other Beta for ergos.
Our bike came with Golden Tyre 216’s on it, nice choice.
Freeride or X Trainer?
I have to say, I think Beta nailed the concept just a little bit better than KTM for an entry level enduro bike. Their interpretation is not far removed from a standard 300. I think more riders will feel at home quicker on the X Trainer. The Freeride will probably do more as an extreme bike, but it tends to feel awkward at first. The Freeride ergonomics and handing are better suited to standing, therefore more advanced riding techniques.
X Trainer Versus 300rr or 300xcw
Now the lines get very grey. All the Beta’s get oil injection this year, so that takes care of that. I would opt for a full enduro bike. On the other hand, for the style of riding that they have in Hawaii, the X trainer would be hard to beat, even for me. It has enough motor, brakes and suspension for terrain where you can never exceed 3rd gear. I am sure it will be a traction master in slick conditions.
Just about everyone I have encountered wants to debate this question and I am not sure there is a perfect answer. Add flywheel, Rekluse and old KTM hockey stick silencer to any 300 and you might build something pretty close. I wonder if we can get Don Emler to build some of these crazy looking pipes? Or, you can just plop down $7,299 for 2016 model Beta and have it ready to roll.
The bottom line for the X Trainer- super easy to ride, very natural feeling and an amazing motor for someone who is only looking for smooth power delivery. Be cautioned, this is not intended to be an out of the box extreme race bike. I say that because I have encountered a number of riders who assumed as much. As for our X Trainer owner Richard, he was looking pretty happy and confident on his new ride.