2018 Beta 300 RR Test

Beta’s 300cc off-road bike designed for the casual off-roader

The 2018 Beta 300 RR comes with several updates to the engine; the biggest changes are a new cylinder and crankshaft, a new clutch, and a new frame geared at being stiffer for better turning.Mark Kariya

This article was originally published in the December 2017 issue of Dirt Rider.

The two-stroke is alive, well, and seeing constant improvements, especially in 2018 as several manufacturers have drastically improved their two-stroke off-road and enduro offerings. The 2018 Beta 300 RR is one of those machines, weighing a claimed 10.4 pounds lighter than the 2017 model. The 2018 bike comes with several updates to the engine; the biggest changes are a new cylinder and crankshaft, a new clutch, and a new frame geared at being stiffer for better turning. The bike also gets updated fork settings and redesigned bushing, a lithium battery, and a new subframe, fender, and skid plate. We hit the trails to see how significant the changes that were made felt out in the field.

Engine

The 300 RR oil-injected two-stroke (the Race Edition model is not oil injected) makes power in a very smooth and controllable manner. It’s not the snappiest or most powerful-feeling 300cc two-stroke on the market, but it has more than enough for the average off-road rider and enough for an off-road racer. This reads like a criticism, but this is the target Beta has for this bike. It’s made for the rider who wants a “real” off-road bike but not necessarily a racebike. The 300 RR has a decent amount of torque, enabling the bike to climb hills and obstacles at fairly low rpm, but it feels like it could benefit from having a little more horsepower to allow it to be lugged more comfortably at low rpm. It transitions predictably and smoothly into the midrange and the top-end, which are both good, but overall the bike feels like it’s most at home when ridden lower in the rpm in the tight and technical terrain. A few great qualities to complement the power are that the bike shifts smoothly and the clutch is easy to slip with both an easy pull and a good engagement feel. The engagement is on par with the other 300cc two-stroke off-road machines and is easy to modulate when the going gets tight.

A downside to the engine is the vibration. With counterbalanced two-stroke engines available, the 300 RR engine puts out noticeably more vibration than other two-stroke motors of the same size, and it is especially noticeable at high rpm. It’s not overwhelming, but it does become more noticeable on a longer ride as it’s transmitted through the handlebar and footpegs.

Suspension

The Sachs fork feels like it is set up on the stiffer side, and even multiple clicks to try and soften the compression still left the fork feeling rather firm. On bigger hits when landing on the front wheel first, the fork absorbed the impact pretty well. However, when landing on the rear wheel first in more of a slap-down landing scenario, the fork felt harsh. The fork is not as progressive as one would expect an off-road bike to be and would benefit greatly from a softer initial part of the stroke instead of a firm feeling throughout the entire stroke. For example, in areas of the trail infested with small rocks, the front end seemed to deflect occasionally instead of absorbing the impact that would come with a fork with a softer initial feeling. We’re keeping the bike long term and will report back changes after the suspension is fully broken in.

The shock has more of a dead feeling that works well for casual off-road riding. Unlike a motocross bike, the shock doesn’t respond quickly when unloading off of an obstacle or jump face, leaving the front end high in these types of scenarios. Speeding up the high-speed rebound a little made a small difference in making this better, but the overall dead feeling is still very much apparent. A positive to the shock is that it absorbs just about everything you throw at it, tracks very well, and stays planted. For the casual off-road rider the bike is designed for, the rear shock does the job very well.

The 300 RR oil-injected two-stroke (the Race Edition model is not oil injected) makes power in a very smooth and controllable manner.Mark Kariya

Chassis/Handling

The Beta 300 RR chassis has a small overall feel to it. It’s slim from front to rear, making it easy to move around on with little interference. The bars are noticeably narrow, which helps when navigating through tight trees, but takes away from the overall leverage that comes with a wider bar. The bike is easy to throw around and put where you want it but isn’t overly sensitive to rider input, making quick direction changes on the trail a largely effortless feat. The Beta performs at its best when the trail is tight and technical, which doesn’t come as too much of a surprise given the company’s trials background.

Conclusion

The Beta 300 RR does well in what it is designed to be: a fun bike for the casual off-roader. With an engine with strong top-end power, firm suspension, and a slim chassis, the Beta 300 RR can tackle most types of terrain and suits either slow or faster-paced riding. The engine isn’t the most powerful or torquey, but it has plenty of power for most off-road riders. The 300 RR feels significantly lighter than a 250cc four-stroke off-road bike and is comparable in lightweight feeling and nimbleness to its fellow two-stroke competitors. It’s a fun bike, and it’s going to make a lot of two-stoke fans happy.

Second Opinion

Allan Brown
Age 47, 5'10", 175 lb., Off-Road Intermediate

Two-stroke 300cc bikes can be fantastic off-road trail machines. From the second I started this bike, it was noticeable that this two-stroke did not feel like it had a counterbalancer. Fortunately, most of the vibration is transmitted through the frame and footpegs (better than through the bars). The engine runs well, and jetting is crisp and responsive on the trail. If you are planning on pushing this bike or racing it in stock form, you may be a little off your regular pace. The Sachs suspension, as tested, is overly stiff for off-road competition. I would certainly want to do some work on the suspension before it would be race ready. It would be advantageous to upgrade the tires from the Michelin Enduro Competition (ISDE) tires to more aggressive off-road tires. Overall, I think this could be a competitive off-road racebike, but it would take some work to make it comparable to the other bikes in its class.

2018 beta 300 RR

MSRP: $8,499
Seat Height: 36.8 in.
Ground Clearance: 12.25 in.
Fuel Capacity: 2.5 gal.
Weight (tank full): 242 lb.

What’s Hot

  • Good, light feel when riding
  • Oil injection
  • Beta BYOB (Build Your Own Beta) Option. Upgrade the suspension and tires from the factory

What’s Not

  • Vibration
  • Suspension is too stiff, which affects the overall performance potential of the chassis
  • Engine lacks a little torque for a 300cc