2017 Beta 125 RR-S Review | First Ride

A play bike with a plate.

For 2017, Beta is making an assault on the performance-oriented dual-sport market. They have a 500 RR-S, 430 RR-S, 390 RR-S, 350 RR-S, and this, the smallest of them all, the 125 RR-S. And you can also see that Beta has a penchant for non-tradition engine displacements. Now, out of all of these bikes that are 50-state legal, why chose the smallest? There are quite a few, actually, if you are the right kind of rider (and the $4,999 MSRP is definitely one of them).

What You Need To Know:

- MSRP: $4,999
- 125cc four-stroke, four valve, liquid cooled engine
- Lower 35 inch seat height
- Normal 21 inch front and 18 inch rear tire sizes
- 41 mm non-adjustable fork
- Pre-load adjustable only shock
- License plate, electric start, digital fuel gage, 1.6 gallon tank

Beta 125 RR-S
The Beta 125 RR-S has been sold oversees already but it is making it's debut in the US.Photo By Sean Klinger

Engine:

At some point or another most of us dirt bike riders have ridden a 125cc four-stroke playbike from one of the Japanese manufacturers, but get that mental image out of your head. This Italian made, four-valve, liquid cooled engine is way more advanced than the air cooled, two-valve kid’s bikes, which can feel like they can’t get out of their own way.

When the motor is cold, it wants to keep hitting the snooze button, but pull in the handlebar-mounted choke and let the bike warm up for 60-90 seconds and it is wide awake and ready to rip (well, as much as a small for stroke can). The engine character is a little hard to describe. It is mellow as far as raw power goes, but it is way more fun, responsive, and peppy than other small bore four-stokes, including full-size bikes like the Suzuki DR200 and Yamaha XT250. It is relatively quick-revving for such a small motor and the transmission is well matched to the power. First gear is very low allowing for real crawling and moderate hills, second through fourth are for normal trail riding and fifth and sixth are tall enough for comfortable street riding. We got it up to 65 mph.

Beta 125 RR-S
The 41mm fork is not adjustable. It is very soft, but very comfortable and actually matches the overall feel of the bike perfectly.Photo By Sean Klinger

For fun, smell-the-roses-style trail riding this bike has just the right amount of power. Where the engine will start to hinder you is if you point the bike up a gnarly hill, or a semi-gnarly hill with really loose dirt. Also, if you head down a technical trial that requires hoping over big logs, ledges, boulders or any other double diamond obstacle, there is just not the snap available to make that happen.

Beta 125 RR-S
This Italian-made 125cc four-stroke, four-valve, liquid cooled motor looks nothing like Japanese playbikes that we are used to seeing in this displacement.Photo By Sean Klinger

Suspension:

The fork is a 41mm inverted setup without adjusters on top or bottom. The only way to make any changes in feel is to open them up and add oil and/or swap the springs. Out back it isn’t much different since there are no clickers to adjust either, but you can set sag via spring preload adjuster. In the dirt both are very, very soft, but not out of the norm for a small dual-sport machine. In fact, we’d say that since the Beta has more travel and a more controlled, real-dirt-bike feel, the suspension is much more dirt worthy than other bikes in the same price range.

Beta 125 RR-S
Rocky creek beds are perfect for the 125 RR-S.Photo By Kris Keefer

Get going too fast or try to bash through off-road chop and you’ll really find out what the fork and shock sound like when they bottom out. But, where the RR-S’s suspension shines is moderate sized (softball to basketball) river rocks. We don’t have any super rooty trails in our immediate vicinity but we would say the suspension would do equally well there as well. This is because the soft compression and quick rebound keep the wheels always in contact with the ground and rolling forward, not getting deflected off line or pogoed out of control.

Beta 125 RR-S
As long as the hill doesn't get too steep or loose, the 125 can tackle it with low gears and lots of throttle.Photo By Kris Keefer

Overall:

The best thing about this bike is that the motor and the suspension work together, synergistically, to make a really fun, albeit mellow, plated play bike. The motor isn’t strong enough to really get the suspension out of shape, and the suspension is perfectly setup for calm, mildly-technical riding.

Beta 125 RR-S
The low seat height and very manageable power make the Beta perfect for a beginning off-roader.Photo By Kris Keefer

Other things to note that sweeten the deal is that it could easily get more than 100 miles on one small tank, you aren’t going to go through tires very fast, and it is one of the quietest gas powered motorcycles we’ve ever heard. At idle in the shop, a coworker had didn’t know it was running until he walked up to it.

Who is this bike for? Well, we’d say it would make the best, first time adult rider bike since it is the right size, mellow, and street legal. It’s a great, back-of-the-motorhome bike since it is relatively light (252 lbs., which is way lighter than bikes in the same price range), moderately priced, and street legal. And it would be great farm/utility/mild commuter since its quiet, sips fuel, and, I don’t know if we’ve said this yet, it’s street legal.

Beta 125 RR-S
This bike will not wear you, or anyone, out. This combined with its great gas milage means a full day of constant riding.Photo By Kris Keefer