In association with Kiwi Rider
Words: Jock McLauchlan Photos: Geoff Osborne
The 200cc enduro bike has traditionally been a big seller among clubman riders, because they are just so easy to ride yet still bloody capable. Without a doubt, absolute giant killers in the right hands, too. More recently KTM’s 200EXC built a similar reputation as all conquering, easy to ride, highly capable and also perfect for the rider of smaller stature. Until recently that is because, sadly, they aren’t made any longer. This brings us rapidly on to the 2020 Beta RR200. The Italian-made Beta is an all-new machine from the ground up, thoroughly modern and looks to have an excellent build quality.
Late last year we got to throw our legs over the full range of Beta enduro bikes – JB in Italy, Jock here in Thames, NZ. I’ll just say we both came away well impressed. You can read about them all in RUST #43.
While I particularly liked the biggest four-stroke – yes, I’m ‘that guy’ (JB: Jock is solidly built and about 6’2” if not more) – a lot of our team were really singing the praises of the RR200. In fact, Mark Fuller, having had a quick ride, immediately put money down on one and took it home with him! Now Mark is a guy that has been racing and winning on 200s for around 40 years. He is a dead-set 200cc legend. Trust me, if it’s good enough for him…
Anyway, it’s certainly a very grunty wee beastie with two power modes. The power mode button, well placed on the back of the steering stem, gives two quite distinct power deliveries. Rain mode is the more tractable of the two and very enduro-like, suitable for slick terrain. The Dry mode has a real MX, go-fast feel to it with strong, aggressive power.
All the Beta’s two-strokes and four-strokes have a similar feel to them. They’re light yet feel planted, and have quick and accurate steering that is extremely well suited to tighter enduro terrain. They don’t feel like big bikes, yet they’re definitely full sized.
Now, talking more specifically about the 200RR; it certainly feels very light when coming from any four-stroke. This is particularly advantageous in tough conditions and for smaller or female riders. Because the bike is lighter (97kg without fuel) and of smallish capacity the suspension is softer too, which adds to its suitability for lighter riders. Having said that, I’m a svelte 100kg and found I could get along on it pretty well if I just slowed up a little for the bigger, rougher hits.
The Nissin brakes are excellent. Strong, powerful and controlled stopping is there at your finger- and toe-tips. I actually rate the rear brake as better than those fitted to the Euro opposition as it has a large diameter disc that gives it a more positive feel.
As mentioned earlier, the Beta does not feel a large bike, but it has great ergonomics. Way up front they all look slightly wide where the radiators are when you first hop on, but when riding I can say that I never noticed it. Otherwise everything felt very slim and smooth front to back while I was riding and the seat comfortable. All the controls work well and go unnoticed… which actually means they are doing their jobs super well. You know, stuff like that only bugs you when it’s giving you a problem. Also, because it’s an enduro bike you get lights, which means the fun can continue on into the dark.
To sum up, the Beta RR200 is a fantastic off-road bike that has very wide appeal. It is extremely capable in all regards, with the added bonus that it definitely suits the up and coming, smaller/younger/female rider too (delete as applicable). To my mind the other manufacturers who have discontinued their 200cc models have dropped the ball somewhat. Okay, so not all countries have a 200cc race class, but does that really matter? This is an excellent capacity class that just works so well for so many riders – good on Beta for keeping it alive.
JB – I RODE ONE AT THE WORLD LAUNCH
Jeez, I liked this bike. Anyone who rode say a Gas Gas EC200 all those years ago will recall when a 200cc two-stroke enduro could be a torquey, easy going thing. This RR200 is very much like that. Beta didn’t have any specific updates mentioned, although it would seem all the two-strokes got revised crankshafts with new inertia values (and improved lubrication) so maybe it’s that which is enhancing the torqueyness (is that a word?). It’s a mini-me to the RR300, in a fashion, and definitely a neat clubman bike, and so light and rideable it does make the slower clubman rider question whether a 250cc four-stroke is the right choice after all. An easy bike to boss, and not one to go feral on you if you accidentally throw in some whiskey throttle.
LIAM CALLEY – I RACE ONE
Since first riding the Beta RR200 in November, the bike hasn’t disappointed and always puts a big smile on my face. It’s certainly the best bike I have ever had in the shed.
The few changes we made to the bike were fitting an overflow catch tank from my previous bike to help if it wants to overheat, and installed some Barkbusters hand guards to help take the pain away from clipping trees. More recently we put on the new footpegs, which were replaced under recall from Beta. Dad also ground off the inside sharp edges of the brake pedal to reduce the risk of it damaging the side casing. We also got a race plate to replace the headlight. These are only some minor changes, but up next on the list are a sweet graphics kit and some new Bridgestone tyres.
When I first got the bike I was amazed at how much fun you can have in such a small space and spent a few hours one night just riding over a few piles of dirt – and really didn’t want to stop.
In the short time I’ve had the RR200, it’s allowed me to do things I could never do on a motorcycle before. I can really test my balance and technical ability – I’ve made big improvements in my riding thanks to the bike.
My first race on the RR200 didn’t quite go to plan with the banjo bolt for the front brake master cylinder coming loose and all the fluid leaked out resulting in no front brake. It was a real bummer after myself and Dad had spent so many hours prior to the race greasing the bike and giving it a good check over. It’s just something we must have missed
The second race day was at the last round of Sean Clarke’s NZ Dirt Guide Series which went a lot better and got to see the bike’s performance on the superfast sections of track and a little bit of single track. I was blown away by the way it handled both types of riding so well.
My latest race on the RR200 was round one of the Bel-Ray Series. With the Bel-Ray track being really fast and the ground ‘summer’ hard, the suspension on the bike was way too soft and blowing through the stroke and bottoming out. We had already adjusted the clickers all the way in prior to the race, which means it’s going to need a re-valve to suit fast cross-country type of races. I was still able to push hard, but just had to be cautious when approaching square-edge bumps or big hollows.
Apart from that the bike handles the high-speed sections really well and feels really stable, and was able to keep with other riders on 250s and even 450s.
I don’t have much bad to say about the bike at all, and the engine seems to be holding up real well. The things I’m not too keen on are the airbox guard sticking out and getting caught on my boot – which was an easy fix with a bit of heat to push it back in – and I somehow managed rip out the speedo wire at the last round of the Dirt Guide. I think I was just unlucky with that one. I don’t like the standard Beta grips, these are a very firm compound and the donut part of the grip doesn’t have much cover over the inner plastic (as they are lock-on’s), which gets quite uncomfortable by the end of a two-hour race. That’s an easy fix.
Overall, I love that the bike has a real playful nature, and can handle everything from tighter trees through to wide-open flat-out style tracks. It’s a blast to ride and race.
BETA RR200 ENDURO
Type: 190.2cc, liquid-cooled, two-stroke single
Bore x stroke: 62mm x 63mm
Fuelling: Keihin PWK 36, electronic oil pump
Starting: Electric start
Clutch: Wet multiplate clutch
Transmission: Six-speed, chain drive
Frame: Steel double cradle
Swingarm: Aluminium two-sided
Suspension: 48mm USD fork with spring preload, compression and rebound damping adjustment, 295mm travel front; Linkage-type monoshock with spring preload, compression and rebound damping adjustment, 290mm travel rear
Brakes: Single 260mm disc, two-piston caliper front; 240mm disc, single piston caliper rear
Wheels: Spoked, 36 holes
Tyres: 90/90-21 front; 140/80-18 rear
Seat height: 930mm
Weight (dry): 97kg
Fuel capacity: 9.5 litres