FIRST RIDE: 2023 BETA 200 RR RACE EDITION
BY CHAD DE ALVA
The Beta Motorcycles 200 RR Race Edition is unique to the world of off-road two strokes. Most manufacturers sell 300s, 250s, and in some cases 125 or 150 displacement two-smokes, but Beta is currently the only manufacturer selling a 200. If you’re familiar with off-road two strokes, you’re probably trying to figure out how a 200 stacks up to the other, more common displacements on the market. The short answer is that the Beta 200 RR Race Edition is in its own unique category, that in one word is best described as fun.
Like many Beta Motorcycles, the 200 is available as both a RR or a RR Race Edition. This article focuses on the Race Edition. If you’re wondering what the differences are between these two models, know that it is much more than what might be visually obvious at first glance. The race edition bikes feature unique graphics and styling, as well as functional blingy bits, such as an axle puller on the front axle. Different foot pegs and other aluminum parts all contribute to a bike that looks brilliant in factory trim. Italy’s ability to make beautiful things clearly extends beyond cars. Yet, perhaps the most significant difference between a race and non-race model is the suspension. The race models feature KYB closed cartridge forks and a KYB shock, whereas the RR models come with Sachs suspension. Additionally, the race edition motors get tweaks like a more aggressive CDI and other tuning adjustments to make a bike that is better suited for aggressive riding and/or racing use.
The 200’s chassis is in a word, compact. This helps the bike exude a very agile, almost mountain bike like feeling. Swapping back and forth between the Beta 200, and a 300 from another manufacturer, the 200 almost feels like it has been scaled to 90% the size of other dirt bikes. While this may initially sound like an undesirable attribute, it all makes sense when you ride the bike in a low attack stance. This is not a bike that you can stand straight up on like you’re starring in a BDR film – you need to get low and aggressive on this chassis. If you try and slack off by standing tall, the bike will feel cramped and twitchy, yet if you tuck in and really get into attack mode, you’ll be able to reap the benefits of this super fun, flickable, compact chassis.
Press the starter button, and the 200’s carbureted motor instantly jumps to life. Twist the throttle, and the bike eagerly and instantly reacts. Feed the power to the ground with Beta’s awesome clutch, and you’re off to the races. In stock configuration the bike’s power valve is set to engage after the bike has some spool on to produce that classic two stroke warp drive hit, and staying in the power on this bike is a surefire way to install a perma-grin on your face. Just to see what the motor was capable of, we backed the pre-load off of the power valve spring to trade the warp drive out for maximum low end torque. This quite effectively turned the 200 into a little torque monster that performed well above what one would assume given that it’s 2/3s the displacement of a 300. If you’ve ridden a 125 / 150 and felt like the bike had nothing down low for technical work, know that the Beta 200 has the twist for all of the hard enduro / technical work. Just watch Jonny Walker ride one like a trials bike if you want to see what a 200 can do when it comes to riding one like a trials bike.
Even with the power valve set to engage quickly, the bike still has plenty of go on the top end. The 200 is an absolute hoot on the turn track when you hold it on the throttle stop like a 125, and it still has an ample serving of torque when it’s time to pick your way through the big rocks and lug things down low. The 200 has no problem hanging with 300s on single track, and when it comes to sheer power output when drag racing out of corners on a twisty windy dirt road that snakes its way up the side of the mountain, the Beta 200 RR Race pulls well above what you would assume 2/3s of the displacement would provide. The motor is a ton of fun – enough said.
In the suspension department, the KYB boingers are well suited to the bike’s Race Edition moniker, and their performance is as good as advertised. The 200 Race Edition is valved for big hit high speed performance, and when bombing around the desert or other places where whoops or other high-speed hits are involved, the bike does great. However, when it comes to playing in the rocks or other types of riding (i.e. technical singletrack) where a more compliant ride is desired, the KYB’s factory valving leaves performance on the table. Setting the bike up for this type of use would certainly help, but it’s important to remember that Beta is very deliberate about the intended use of their bikes, and Beta encourages riders who want more of a trail bike to look at the RR edition models.
While I appreciate this intention, I can certainly see how single track and trail riders would be drawn to this bike, and all Race Edition models for that matter. Axle pullers, fancy footpegs, and other accessory parts are common aftermarket add ons to bikes that will never ever see a track or take the starting line of a race in their life. KYB is a much more recognized name than Sachs is in the world of suspension, and riders will want that familiar name, or their buddies will tell them to get the KYBs. A good KYB suspension tuner can certainly set the Race Edition suspension up to work well for trail use, which would quite effectively turn the Race Edition into an awesome aggressive singletrack and trail bike. It’s an experiment I wish I had time to perform, because I can certainly see the potential in turning a Race Edition bike into a trail or hard enduro bike.
That being said, the Beta 200 RR Race Edition performed well everywhere we rode it. From the snowy high deserts of Utah to the northern reaches of the Sonoran Desert in Arizona, the bike handled everything from high speed washes to technical single track and playing in the rocks with ease. In many of these riding areas, the 200’s smaller size and more agile, flickable feel proved to be a welcome change compared to a 300. A smaller and lighter bike is easier to work with in the tight and technical places of the world. Yet the best part is that the 200 has no problem hanging with the 300s. Riding a bike on the top of the powerband will make you feel like a hero, and hanging with your buddies when you’ve got 100ccs less motor is something that never gets old.
Beta has a very fun bike in their 200 RR Race Edition. But I have to admit that coming off of the Austrian two strokes with their TPI and TBI fuel injection, having to jet a carb, and setting out on a ride only to discover the jetting is leaving performance on the table, is a bit of a bummer.
The Austrians have built some brilliant two strokes that run perfectly at every elevation, temperature, and humidity, and you frankly get spoiled with a motor that always runs perfectly. Knowing that potential exists, makes me very eager to see how Beta integrates EFI into their two strokes. A fuel-injected Beta 200 RR Race Edition would be one awesome bike.
The 2023 Beta Motorcycles 200 RR Race Edition is a very fun two stroke motorcycle. Its mountain bike like agility combined with a motor that punches well above what you would expect from its displacement makes for an awesome fun sized package. The chassis rips, and the suspension certainly has the legs to hold up to all of the go fast riding you can throw at it. The carb is easy to get to and adjust, and once you get your settings dialed for where you ride, you’ll get to enjoy this awesome Italian motor. Whether you’re looking for something to ride at maximum warp across the deserts and the go-fast places of the world, or you’re looking for something that with a bit of setup work can be configured to slay at aggressive single track and hard enduro use, the Beta 200 RR Race Edition delivers a unique two stroke experience that never gets old. For more information go to www.betausa.com.
Type: Beta Built single cylinder, 2-stroke, liquid cooled, with BPV power valve system, and electric start with back up kick starter sold as an option
Compression Ratio: 14.4:1
Exhaust Valve: Beta Progressive Valve (BPV)
Ignition: AC-CDI Kokusan
Spark Plug: NGK BR9ECM
Oil Tank Capacity: N/A
Carburetor: Keihin PWK 36mm
Clutch: Wet Multi-Disc
Transmission: 6 Speed
Final Drive: O-ring chain
Frame: Molybdenum steel / Double Cradle w/ quick air filter access
Seat Height: 36.6”
Ground Clearance: 12.8”
Footrest Height: 16.1”
Dry Weight: 211.5 lbs (wet weight, no fuel)
Fuel Tank Capacity: 2.5 US Gallons
Front Suspension: 48 mm KYB AOS Closed Cartridge with adjustable compression & rebound
Rear Suspension: KYB 45 mm body with adjustable rebound and high/low speed on compression
Front Wheel Travel: 11.8”
Rear Wheel Travel: 12.4”
Front Brake: 260 mm floating rotor
Rear Brake: 240 mm rotor
Front/Rear Rim: 21” (Front) 18” (Rear)
Front/Rear Tire: Metzeler Six Day Off Road