125cc Of Pure Fun
Beta’s all-new 125 RR two-stroke off-roader is quite the surprise.
1-2-5. It’s crazy how just these three numbers can conjure up so many wild thoughts in your head. I know it does in mine. Those three numbers make me want to open up a handful of throttle and bang through the gearbox, all the while savoring the sweet sound of each and everyone of those cubic-centimeters being rammed through the exhaust pipe and out of the back of the muffler. It’s music to my ears.
Unfortunately, 125cc two-strokes basically got shown the front door when the manufactures finally figured out how to make four-strokes competitive in the late 1990s. Thankfully, a few companies like Beta haven’t forgotten about them and continue to make them; they know that there are plenty of us two-stroke diehards still out there.
By Nic Garvin | PHOTOGRAPHY BY SPENCER OWENS
WHAT IS IT?
Usually when we think of 125cc dirt bikes, we think of motocross, since 125cc two-stroke enduro bikes, unlike 125cc motocrossers in the day, have never really been all that popular here in the United States, but Beta’s new 125 RR is pure off-road, having been fitted right out of the crate with a headlight and taillight, an extended rear fender, an 18-inch rear wheel, D.O.T. tires, a speedometer/meter, horn, and a kickstand that automatically retracts when you unweight it. Actually, it’s close to being street legal, at least in a few states. Beta says that the 125 RR is designed to fill the need of both the play rider and the serious off-road racer who might be considering racing the new XC3 class in GNCC.
The Beta 125 RR is a brand new model. It has a chassis and engine that were designed specifically for it. The engine is all Beta, built in its manufacturing plant in Rignano sull’Arno, Italy, and is carbureted, via a 36mm Keihin PWK mixer. At the other end of the cylinder is an FMF exhaust pipe and an in-house-built muffler, sans spark arrestor. The Beta’s engine uses a crankcase reed-induction system, which is fitted with a Moto Tassinari VForce 4 cage. A six-speed transmission transfers power to the rear wheel.
To save weight, unlike some of its bigger two-stroke brothers, there is no oil-injection system, or electric starting, just manual kick. (However, Beta says that the engine is ready to accept an accessory electric-start system should you want one.)
The engine is unique in that it features a replaceable dome inside the combustion chamber that alters the characteristic (for more top end or more bottom end) of the power delivery for certain types of terrain. We did not have another dome to try, but, if it works as promised, it seems like a pretty neat idea. The Beta Progressive Valve (BPV) exhaust power-valve system, however, is easily adjustable via an external built-in dial. The BPV design comes straight from the 250 and 300 RRs.
The liquid-cooled, 124.8cc engine sits in a red-painted molybdenum steel/double cradle frame based on Beta’s bigger brothers but designed for the 125’s smaller engine, and is supported by a Sachs 48mm open-cartridge fork up front and a single Sachs shock in the back, both are fully adjustable, including high/low-speed damping clickers in the back.
Nissin handles braking duties, front and rear. These are the exact same brakes found on the bigger bikes. Brembo manages the hydraulic clutch’s operating system.
Claimed dry weight is just 207 pounds. True or not, it doesn’t really matter, because the 125 RR feels ridiculously light on the trail, even with all of its off-road goodies tagging along for the ride. You can truly throw this super agile and maneuverable motorcycle around with ease. But, that was to be expected; what really wasn’t expected, however, was the performance of the little engine—it is shockingly good and powerful!
Don’t let the headlight and kickstand fool you—this little bike hauls. It might look like an enduro bike on the outside but it actually performs a lot like a motocrosser on the inside, at least in the engine department. It makes really good bottom-to-mid power (for a 125) and it only gets better from there. It loves to be revved and when it is, you’ll be rewarded with fun high-revving energy. We didn’t get the chance to ride it back to back against any other 125, but we wouldn’t necessarily bet against it in start-straight drag races with any of the current 125cc motocrossers out there, like the KTM 125SX and Yamaha YZ125. Besides the Beta, the only 125cc off-road bike out there that is the TM, but we haven’t ridden it yet. (Sherco is supposed to be introducing a 125 off-roader soon.)
The Beta Progressive Valve is not a gimmick. It actually works. Easily accessible, turning the BPV adjuster counterclockwise creates a more aggressive pull from the engine, turning it clockwise, gives the bike a more balanced, smooth and less-aggressive hit. We liked the aggressive side best and pretty much just left it in this position most of the time, but it’s a nice to have the ability to finely tune the engine at a moments notice.
We had no real complaints with the Beta’s stock jetting; it’s very crisp and clean, but, down the road, we’d probably try tuning out a slight lean spot that we noticed on top.
Overall, just like any other small-bore dirt bike, riding in the high-rpm range is the best way to get the most out of the Beta. The six-speed transmission changes gears smoothly, which is a good thing, because you shift it a lot compared to what you’re probably used to riding these days.
There was, however, an odd noise, like two rocks rubbing against together, that came from the clutch when put under a heavy load. It didn’t appear to mean anything harmful and didn’t affect the way it performed, so we just kept riding it and ignored it and nothing terrible ever happened. Otherwise, the clutch felt smooth and operated well.
A 36-inch seat height will have some people stretching a bit to reach the ground, but, overall, the Beta is a comfortable motorcycle. Ergos are neutral and the fairly large 2.25-gallon gas tank blends in smoothly with the rest of the motorcycle. The tank is slightly smaller in capacity than the 250 and 300 RR tanks.
Suspension is good but a little on the plush side. When trail riding, this bike has no problems devouring rugged terrain or any obstacles that might get in its way. That doesn’t necessarily mean it’s set up from the crate to go terrorize the local track, but right out of the crate, for a lighter rider, it’s easily enjoyable for slow-speed turns, single-track, and technical trails. Heavier and more aggressive riders, and those who will be hitting the MX track often on the Beta, will most likely look for ways of stiffening up the suspension.
Overall, the Beta 125 RR is a pretty cool motorcycle. It’s way faster than we thought it would be and a lot easier to ride, too. And it’s just plain fun to rip around on. It’s not for everyone, though, but that’s not the bike’s fault, just the nature of a 125cc two-stroke off-road bike. However, a young rider wanting to learn how to ride off-road fast in the shortest amount of time possible, a bike like the Beta would be a fantastic way to go. 125s make great teachers and the Beta 125 RR would certainly be a great teacher, while being capable of winning races before graduating to a bigger bike. It’s an outstanding performer and pretty much race ready right off the showroom floor. Just mix the fuel, slap on some hand guards and you’re ready to go.CN
||2018 Beta 125 RR ($7999)
||Liquid-cooled, case-reed, 2-stroke, single
||Beta Progressive Valve (BPV)
||Keihin PWK 36mm
||Molybdenum steel/double cradle
||48mm Sachs USD fork, fully adjustable
||Aluminum-body Sachs single shock, fully adjustable
|FRONT WHEEL TRAVEL:
|REAR WHEEL TRAVEL:
|DRY WEIGHT (claimed):