2010 Beta 450 RR: FIRST RIDE

| December 24, 2009

The Beta enduro bikes we’ve ridden in the past started with a KTM motor, and the Italian manufacturer built its own chassis around it. The combination resulted in the Beta RR machines – technical trail specialists with a heart of orange.

As one of the most well-respected names among trials bike manufacturers, Beta has plenty of credibility in off-road. Still, the Austrian pedigree did a lot for the line of RR enduro machines. Nonetheless, Beta decided it was time to take on the challenge of creating its own unique power plants.

The 2010 model year marks the introduction of the all-new all-Beta line of RR enduro machines, and lucky us, we were invited to a private ranch to come hit the trails on the only one in the country: the all-new 2010 Beta 450 RR.

As guests of Tim Pilg and the Beta crew, we took a trip up to the Central Coast where we spent a day romping through the rugged terrain of Arroyo Grande wine country.

Right off the bat, the biggest wow factor of the Beta is the motor. In all honesty, our expectations weren’t high given that it’s Beta’s first attempt, and the KTM 450cc XC motor is a tough act to follow. But we’re glad to report that the Italian manufacturer really knocked it out of the park with the 450cc DOHC four-stroke mill. It strikes a fantastic balance between tractability and snap, which we immediately discovered on the rocky, muddy single-track trails. The RR’s ability to put power on the ground is impressive, and even through mossy creek beds and loose rocks, it will keep chugging forward.

From the creek beds up the slick switch backs and along the sweeping ridge roads, the motor kept on shining. For the amount of low-end tractability it has, the mid-range snap was a pleasant surprise. The Beta motor feels very 250F-like in the way it revs freely and stays so light on its feet. Yet power is on tap everywhere and it will pull just about any gear without complaining.

Not to be overshadowed is the all-new chassis. The 450 RR has an all-new frame, and it appears the Italians took some inspiration from the new Husabergs as it also has a plastic subframe with built-in grab handles (though unlike the ‘Bergs, these are in the right place). It appears the bodywork also went up a notch in quality – the new plastics feature a push-button seat release and tool-less airbox entry. And let’s not forget those bold new graphics!

The suspension package remains Marzocchi up front and a linkage-mounted Sachs shock out back. The Marzocchi fork maintains its same characteristics – not as plush as the Showa, KYB or WP forks that continue to spoil us – but still gets the job done. On the whole, the suspension package really shines in the tight, technical terrain – the tougher the better! Of course, that’s never been a problem for any Beta. Where they have struggled in the past, however, is in west-coast style high-speed terrain. We didn’t have a chance to test the 450 RR in any such conditions this time, but hopefully we’ll have a second date with the exotic beauty soon and have a more thorough report on the all-new, all-Beta 450 RR.

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