Factory Off-Road Bikes—Zane Roberts’ Beta 250 RR Race Edition

This Beta 250 RR Race Edition that Roberts races in H&H is close to stock.

Beta didn’t consider desert racing in the 250 RR Race Edition’s design parameters, but it’s proven very capable of tackling the faster hare & hound courses as well as more technical.
Beta didn’t really consider desert racing in the 250 RR Race Edition’s design parameters, but it’s proven very capable of tackling the faster hare & hound courses as well as more technical going in hare scrambles while in remarkably stock configuration with Zane Roberts aboard.Mark Kariya

The common belief is, “You can’t do well in the desert on a 250 against the 450s, two-stroke or four-stroke! And, you’d have to dump a ton of money into a 250 to race it.”

However, Zane Roberts has the results to prove otherwise.

Although a Beta support rider and not fully factory-backed, the soft-spoken young man from Minden, Nevada, regularly wins the very competitive Pro 250 division in the Kenda/SRT AMA Hare & Hound National Championship Series. Even more impressive, he generally finishes inside the top 10 overall—and all this in his first year in the series and on a 250 RR Race Edition that's not too far removed from standard issue.

“There’s not a whole lot going on,” Roberts muses. “I run it pretty much stock from how Beta sends it to me.

“I was actually really surprised when I [first] rode the bike that Beta puts together a really good base platform that doesn’t need a whole lot [of modifications for racing]. Certainly there are times a [steering] damper would help or revalved suspension, but for the most part I don’t find that I need it.

“They’ll probably do 80 miles an hour stock, so they’re fast,” he says of his six-speed racer (yes, it comes that way from the factory) in regard to one of the first questions anyone asks of a desert racebike.

Depending on terrain, Roberts runs either the Millville II (shown here for the hare & hound in Panaca) or the Washougal II. No matter where, though, he depends on Nitro Mousse inserts to avoid the possibility of flats.
Depending on terrain, Roberts runs either the Millville II (shown here for the hare & hound in Panaca) or the Washougal II. No matter where, though, he depends on Nitro Mousse inserts to avoid the possibility of flats. Also, he generally prefers a 49-tooth DDC rear sprocket to go along with the standard 14-tooth front for desert.Mark Kariya

So what exactly has he done to it to shift its focus to hare & hound competition?

Starting from the front, Kenda tires with Nitro Mousse inserts go onto the OEM wheels. (“Shoot, I’ve been running that front [insert] for probably six months now,” he adds. “We get a long time out of the front [inserts].”) He goes with the Washougal II in front and either the Washougal II or Millville II in back, depending on conditions.

“I like both of those [rears], but usually I get a little longer durability out of the Millville II so I run that most.”

In perhaps the most surprising revelation, Roberts declares, “We run stock suspension. I actually like that. We just adjust the clickers; I like it like that. It’s not revalved—it’s stock, just how it comes from Beta,” he insists. Even the springs are OEM. Sag is set anywhere from 100 to 105mm.

Another surprise is Roberts decision to forego running a steering damper—something most others consider mandatory for desert racing with its higher average speeds.

“It doesn’t shake that much or anything,” he notes.

Some of the most obvious visual clues that differentiate this from one off the dealer’s floor are the larger-capacity IMS tank, taller Seat Concepts seat, DDC rear sprocket, and full FMF exhaust system.
Some of the most obvious visual clues that differentiate this from one off the dealer’s floor are the larger-capacity IMS tank, taller Seat Concepts seat, DDC rear sprocket, and full FMF exhaust system.Mark Kariya

Bullet Proof Designs aluminum guards provide more protection for the standard radiators, though the skid plate is a regular Beta unit.

A non-plated FMF Factory Fatty expansion chamber and matching Turbinecore 2.1 silencer/spark arrestor replace the Beta exhaust, the spark being mandatory for use on public lands.

On the intake side of the cylinder, jetting changes are minimal. “Usually, depending on elevation, we’ll move the needle one [slot for the] clip,” Roberts shares. “Jetting, we change it a little bit from stock, but it’s not a whole lot. We’ve gotten to the point where we know, ‘Okay, we’re coming up to 5,000 feet,’ we’ll adjust the needle one clip, go back down to sea level and adjust it. It’s around 2,500 feet where we start [our base settings].”

While the 250 RR comes with oil injection, that’s discarded for Roberts’ racer. Instead, he relies on premix at 50:1, currently running AmsOil, the fuel carried in an oversize IMS tank with dry-break quick-fill receiver.

Most Pro-level riders insist on revalved, re-sprung suspension front and rear. Roberts insists he’s perfectly satisfied with the standard springs and valving.
Most Pro-level riders insist on revalved, re-sprung suspension front and rear. Not so with Roberts who insists he’s perfectly satisfied with the standard springs and valving; all he does is adjust the clickers. Likewise, the brakes and wheels are stock, though he fits Kenda tires and Nitro Mousse inserts at both ends.Mark Kariya

Currently, Roberts depends on a FunnelWeb air filter. “I find with the two-strokes, you’re running them so wide open all the time, they’re sucking a lot of air so the FunnelWeb will just help me get through a full race because I had—not on Beta—but I have had problems in the past on two-strokes sucking dirt through filters in a really dusty race. Or we’ll run a regular filter with a skin on it [but] usually I run the FunnelWeb for races just because it’s the safest bet, in my opinion.

“I run a DDC sprocket on the rear; you can literally run those things for, like, three years,” he says. “They last forever! I’ve been on the same one all season.

“We were messing around with gearing a little bit, going between 49, 50, and maybe a 48[-tooth rear sprocket] if it was a really fast race, but I found that most races, a 49 is what I need. If I go to a 50, which is what I ran at the last hare scramble in Washington, it was just a little too jumpy for me, especially [being at] sea level. I just keep the stock [14-tooth] countershaft sprocket.”

For chain, “It’s whatever Beta sends me, whatever their stock O-ring chain is,” Roberts says smiling.

Being 6-foot-5, he does use a 1-inch taller saddle from Seat Concepts. The footpegs are the same ones that come on Beta’s limited-run Race Edition models, but he swaps the stock shift lever for a Tusk item that’s half an inch shorter and farther out.

“You wouldn’t think that [I’d need a shorter shifter with] big feet, but I’ve just gotten so used to the same length after so long,” he notes. “On a two-stroke where you’re shifting as much as you are, I was struggling with [the stock shifter. The Tusk shifter] just makes it feel a little more comfortable for me.”

Roberts may be 6-foot-5, but he sees no need to run bar risers for his preferred Renthal Twinwall 997. He’s not picky about grips, though he prefers ARC levers since they’re practically unbreakable.
Roberts may be 6-foot-5, but he sees no need to run bar risers for his preferred Renthal Twinwall 997. He’s not picky about grips, though he prefers ARC levers since they’re practically unbreakable. Note that he doesn’t insist on having a steering damper, making him one of the few pros to not use one. (Could it be because of the leverage his height gives him?)Mark Kariya

Renthal’s Twinwall 997 handlebar fitted with ARC levers provide Roberts’ steering apparatus. He’s not particular about grips and runs whatever happens to be around; for this race in Panaca, Nevada, it was a pair of waffle-pattern ProTapers.

“I’m not picky about that; as long as they’re not too stiff I’ll just run whatever,” he admits.

In regard to normal maintenance, Roberts says his racebike gets a top end job every two or three races, the bottom end getting a make-over every seven races.

“It doesn’t really need it, but just being a racebike, you like to be careful,” he points out. “My practice bike, we’ll go 60, 70 hours on a top end and it’s probably closing in on 200 hours and we haven’t done a bottom end yet. Obviously, the racebike doesn’t need it that often, but you just want to be careful. Other than the oil change every couple rides and the filters and whatnot, it’s not too much maintenance. I don’t have an oil sponsor; I just run whatever we get. Just being a support rider, I can run whatever I want to run so whatever’s at the house!”

To complete the factory look, Roberts runs a Racer Decal graphics package. Coincidentally, his hare & hound racer doubles as his mount in the Kenda/SRT AMA West Hare Scrambles Regional Championship Series, where he’s enjoying a similar run and leads the Pro 250 points chase there as well.

“It’s the exact same bike,” Roberts says. “Depending on where we’re going, I might adjust clickers. Obviously, I’ll adjust jetting. Like I was saying, sometimes we’ll play with the rear sprocket a little bit, one tooth here and there. I kind of just decided the 49’s what I like because the bike will still do 75 miles an hour, but it’s really good down low as well.

“It’s a really versatile bike as far as that because it has a six-speed transmission and just good power. I find that if I run the 14/49 gearing, I can ride it just about anywhere.”

And Roberts not only rides it just about anywhere, he’s proven he can win on it just about anywhere.