If you are one of the many off-road riders who have never ridden a trials bike, you are missing out. Not only are you missing a ton of fun on the bike, but you are also depriving yourself of some essential bike skill-building seat time that is guaranteed to make you a better, faster and safer all-around rider. I was reminded of this by Beta’s recent new model intro, during which a bunch of motorcycle magazine editors were invited to compete against each other in a mock trials competition while spending some time aboard Beta’s all-new bikes. The event was a great way to sample some of the latest trials-specific machines from Beta, including the highly upgraded Evo 125. Here’s a look at what we thought of this sweet little machine:
For 2011, the Evo received a number of changes, all of which centered on increasing balance, predictability and response, three features that are absolutely essential in trials. The main redesign is in the new piston profile and crankshaft, which also sports a lighter rod to increase overall output while keeping vibration at a minimum. A new, lighter flywheel reduces weight and inertia, while a revised silencer and ignition mapping both aid in better torque.
Speaking of torque, this tiny powerplant serves it up generously; the amount of low-end power put out by the 125cc motor is incredible. If you were to just hop on the bike and go, it would be difficult to guess that the displacement is that small, seeing as the bike features great response and incredible traction. Sure, it winds out in each gear a little more quickly than, say, a 300cc trials bike, but through proper shifting and the correct feeding on of the power there is not a lot of difference at the enthusiast level between what the 125cc motor can and can’t do compared to the bigger bikes. Also, the Evo 125 has excellent response for roll-it-on applications, and the exhaust is quiet enough that you could likely cruise this bike around your backyard with the neighbors ever knowing.
Like any trials machine, the Evo 125 has insanely sharp controls, which include a perfect hydraulic clutch. The brakes were both sharp and consistent, and the jetting was perfectly suited to the rocks that we were climbing-or should I say ‘attempting’ to climb, because it takes some guts to get the Evo even halfway near its full potential! In fact, trials star Colton Haaker (pictured) made the rounds on the Evo 125, and even with the insane leaps that he was making the bike looked like it had a lot more left in it.
A number of additional upgrades grace the Beta 125, including new bodywork, lighter wheels and different engine mounting for better climbing ability. These changes all contribute to easy, solid handling that doesn’t feel sketchy in the least. At low speeds, the Evo is precise and easy to maneuver, yet it still maintains stability when cornering faster or slamming into large obstacles. The suspension was just fine for our lightest (155 lb) test rider, while our larger (190+ lb) rider had no negative comments regarding excessive bottoming or anything of that nature. Sure, the bike has some odd ergonomic traits (among them the super-long shift lever, padless seat and tall handlebar), but what trials bike doesn’t feel this way?
At a $6599 retail price, the Evo 125 is not the cheapest cross-training tool you’ll ever encounter, but it is likely one of the best. Beta has a proven history of success in trials, and with more and more crossover between trials and off-road the gap between the two sports is steadily shrinking. Whether you’re a full-on enduro guy or a part time trials enthusiast, the Evo 125 could be the best purchase you ever made in terms of advancing your skills while having the time of your life on two wheels. If you ever get a chance to try one of these bikes, hop on it!For more information go to www.americanbeta.com, and stay tuned to Dirt Rider for more trials bike tests and info.