2016 Beta 300 Xtrainer

A Different Breed Of Bike

By it’s very nature, hard enduro riding is just that, hard. Large boulders, downed trees, slick rock faces, off-camber turns, vertical ledges all make for extreme off-road riding that beginner riders and entry level bikes just aren’t ready to tackle. But Beta has created the 300 Xtrainer (pronounced cross trainer) that is aimed at beginner riders and it is equipped with features that are designed to handle more than smooth trails and mellow obstacles.

Many people want to compare this bike to the KTM Freeride 250, yet the only thing these bikes have in common is that they are overall smaller than a full-size dirt bike and they both are aimed at helping a less experienced pilot feel comfortable. While the KTM is sort of a trials/off-road bike hybrid, the Xtrainer is much closer to a full-size dirt bike in both feel and performance. According to Beta, the Xtrainer was designed as an “entry-level off-road motorcycle” but is actually very similar to Beta’s RR models.

There are quite a few parts on the 300cc machine that make it more rider-friendly and better suited for a beginning rider. First, the frame is 15% smaller than Beta’s standard enduro machines, which makes the seat height 1 ¼ inch lower, saves about six pounds, and shortens the wheelbase. Next, the bike is oil injected, meaning that straight gas goes in the fuel tank and two-stroke oil goes in the 650cc oil tank located under the seat. There are two warning lights on the dash - one lets you know when the oil is low and should be filled, the other lets you know when the oil is completely gone and you should kill the motor. Beta says that the oil tank should last roughly through two full tanks fuel; we found that it took six rides (or 100-120 miles) to drain the oil tank.

The motor is based on Beta’s 300 RR, but has been detuned. It has milder cylinder porting and there are spacers in the air intake tract and the power valve air chamber to mellow everything out. Another difference that’s easy to spot is the bike’s expansion chamber, which is overall smaller and has a more squared-off shape, which gives the motor more bottom end and less of a hit. According to Beta, the spacers can be removed, yet this is not recommended since the bike would loose some of the low-end power and torque, but because of the mild cylinder porting and different exhaust, the motor wouldn’t noticeably gain any top-end power. Rather, Beta suggests playing with the power valve adjuster to tune more hit (backing the adjuster out) if that is desired.

As far as the ride goes, we’ll start with what we liked: The motor is surprisingly good. After the KTM Freeride, we were worried that the Beta might have a trials-like power that is not so great for normal off-road riding, but the Xtrainer delivers a smooth, super torque-y spread of usable power that most beginning riders wouldn’t have any issues controlling. There is just the tiniest amount of a hit in the middle of the power that we only noticed in first gear, which is very low and only useful for a crawling pace. Second gear is still low enough for most technical riding and with all the torque and lugability, the bike is nearly impossible to stall. Almost all of the power is made from the bottom to mid, with the top-end just making a lot of noise that doesn’t translate into more speed. When short shifting and chugging along, the Xtrainer is the happiest and gets a great traction. Even though it is smooth and mild, this is still a 300cc two-stroke and when you need it, you have plenty of power on tap, albeit lower in the rpm than a normal 300’s power. We were worried about hillclimbing the Beta, thinking that the mellow power would hurt the bike’s ability to ascend steep terrain, but boy, were we wrong! Clicking into second gear and pointing the Xtrainer up a hill, we were treated to plenty of power and traction - a great hill-conquering combination! Although we were lower in the rpm than we would be on a 250 or normal 300, we could get up steep trails and hills with ease. The only real downside to this power plant is that it doesn’t ring out like a non-mellowed motor, which forces you to shift sooner; fortunately, the bike is a six speed so it doesn’t run out of legs as quickly as it would with fewer gears.

As for the chassis, there are pros and cons. With a lower seat height and smaller overall package, this bike is more than flickable. It is nimble and reacts immediately to rider input and, while it isn’t that much lighter on the scale, while riding and maneuvering the bike it seems much lighter than a normal bike. Also, being closer to the ground means that dabbing and footplant pivots are much easier. However, this light overall feeling turns from a boon in tight, technical sections to a bust in faster, open riding. There is very little stability at speed and one tester commented that the bike felt as if it had a hinge somewhere in the middle allowing the front and rear wheels to move around somewhat independently. The Xtrainer has a twitchy feel that takes away some confidence when riding fast. The cockpit is tighter than a normal bike, not annoyingly so, just enough to take some getting used to. Also, with the shorter wheelbase it is easier to slide back too far on the seat and upset the bike’s handling.

Now, for the suspension. Beta went with a brand called Olle for the fork and shock on the Xtrainer, and they claim that this suspension is simpler and easier to maintain. Olle suspension is typically found on more budget-oriented dirt bikes such as the Italian HM motorcycles and some of the entry-level Scorpa trials bikes. While we can’t speak to the maintenance, the simplicity is definitely apparent. The fork has one spring in the right leg, and the rebound and damping in the left, but you can only adjust the spring preload and rebound settings. There is no clicker for compression, which is frustrating since that is exactly what this bike needs more of! The fork and shock are both very soft, very springy, and move around a lot. This contributes to the unstable-at-speed feeling; the Xtrainer absolutely hates riding whoops or rollers. That being said, the quick and soft action of the suspension is perfect for picking through rock gardens and riding creek beds. The wheels stay planted to whatever you are riding over and there is no deflection or harshness, just forward drive. To test the bike with an entry-level off-roader on board, we had our 110-pound web producer Lindsey Lovell take the XTrainer for a spin. She felt that the suspension was soft even for her weight and slower speeds. That being said, she commented that she would feel comfortable learning Endurocross-style obstacles at her own pace aboard the Xtrainer.

Ultimately, who is this bike for? First off, we can say that only certain people can race this bike, and in only certain races. Morgan Tanke races an Xtrainer in the Women’s class in EnduroCross – she is on the smaller side even for a female rider, and her race bike has Marzocchi suspension. Where we see this bike making the most sense is for a new rider, or a shorter/smaller rider looking for a capable two-stroke trail machine but who is intimidated by the power and size of a regular 300cc off-roader. This also would make an excellent second bike to play ride. It won’t tire you out and since it is easier to handle, you might be willing to attempt some gnarly trails you wouldn’t normally ride. We applaud Beta for taking a stab at a new bike platform, for bringing oil injection to a current two-stroke, and for offering a modern entry-level dirt bike.

MSRP: $7,299

Seat Height: 35.7 in.

Ground Clearance: 12.7

Fuel Capacity: 2.25 gal.

Weight, Tank Full: 238 lb.

"Like any other machine, the XTrainer has its limitations, and it can be frustrating when you try to push the bike past the boundaries of what it is capable of—faster, more experienced off-road riders will find themselves wishing for a standard 300 RR anytime the speeds get too high or the trail gets too tough aboard the XTrainer. That said, keep this bike inside of the box of what it was meant to do and you'll be rewarded with light handling, fun power, and a playful overall character. Other than the ground clearance feeling a few inches too low, the bike ate up some rocky riverbeds, and it was a hoot on flowing, tight trails where the speeds and the rpm stayed low. Would I want to race this bike at an enduro? No, but if I was to go out play riding with my wife, or if I was doing trail maintenance in rugged terrain, the XTrainer would be an awesome choice." —Chris Denison/ 5'10"/155 lb./Off-Road Expert

"Being that the Beta X Trainer is targeted toward the beginner rider, I was pleased to see electric start, low seat height, and friendly power characteristics. The engine is smoother than a normal 300cc two stroke and had amazing low end torque, nowhere in the rpm range is necessarily exciting, but it has a strong pull from bottom to mid. There is no point in revving it out because all you're doing is making more noise and wheel spin, the traction and pull are all in the bottom to mid range. The suspension is quite springy which makes it great in rock gardens and small trail chatter but when speeds pick up, it's quick to blow through the stroke and spring back with a lack of damping. This could be the reason for the "busy" feel that is felt mostly in the rear but also slightly in the steering. The bike almost feels as if there is a hinge in the middle and the rear starts stepping out in any low traction situations. Overall I think this bike would be great for a beginner who would be intimated of faster, taller bikes. The other great thing is that the engine is difficult to stall and wants to keep spinning even at a very low rpm." —Michael Allen/6'/180 lb./Off-Road Expert