Yep, the Beta uses a KTM engine, and every rider took the time to say something positive about the power. Much of the test trail was quite tight with turns that called for first gear on most bikes. But the Beta is no longer "most bikes" with the 540 kit. It has massive torque, but it never feels anything but electric and controllable. As a result this big boy could rail the turns in second for much of the trail. There is a touch of vibration, but not significantly more than the 525. Perhaps if you revved it there would be shakes, but why bother? You don't hear the engineer revving a locomotive do you? Shifting? Not much of that, either, but it seemed fine, and the juice clutch handled the added grunt with no issues.As far as handling, the Beta drew mixed comments. None of my group was less than 5'10", and most were taller, so where other riders found that the Beta felt top heavy, most of my guys thought the Big B dropped into turns nicely. The suspension that aided the Beta in the speed-oriented tests was not as impressive on tight, choppy and technical trails, and the overall feedback from the fork was too harsh. It wasn't bad, but of our five bikes, two made the top six, so the Beta had tough company.Honestly, the only real complaint my group had was with the seat. The foam was shot, and we all felt like we were sitting on the seat base. Sure, some people don't even notice seats, but we did, and this isn't a good one. All told, that is a pretty small flaw in a bike with one of the best off-road motors ever and a chassis that can do it all.
--Karel KramerI have hundreds of hours on the two KTM 525s I owned, and this 540 felt the same, but better. It never runs out of power, but it never runs out of control, either. Unlike some monster motors, this one never gets away from you. The chassis felt like it rode high in the front (or low in the rear), so the front didn't compress into tight slow corners like an off-road suspension set-up. The Beta doesn't really feel heavy for a big off-road four-stroke, and it is fun, but I recently felt the need for a lighter, more nimble bike. I ride a 300 two-stroke now, and as nimble as the Beta is, it isn't as active and light feeling as my two-stroke, and that is the feeling I'm looking for these days.
--Don Kelley: 5'11"/200 lb./B riderI was working the motocross test, and the Beta was one of my favorite bikes on the track, and I turned a fast time on it. It was just so easy to ride with so much power and torque available. The course had some tight, awkward turns, but I didn't have to downshift on the Beta, just lug it way down, and it would pull right back up to speed without abusing or even using the clutch. My experience on the track motivated me to take it on the trail later in the day, since I thought it was a contender for a top spot. On the more open trail, and even on the tight sections with some flow and rhythm the Beta was still a winner. In the real tight, survival section, though, it felt a bit too big. I know some guys didn't like the seat, but I never even noticed it one way or the other. I liked the whole bike, but the motor is the real jewel.
--Dave Donatoni: 5'8"/160 lb./ExpertI was totally surprised by how much snap and power this bike had down low. Off the line it really lurches and wants to wheelie because it has so much hit. The bars felt super wide and the bike kind of under-steered like the front end was pushing out. You could sit up front and put your weight over the tank which helped a little bit, but overall it still didn't turn exactly right for me. I rode the escargot course in both first and second on this bike, but with the snap and the torque I definitely think it could have pulled a gear high had I tried second the whole time.
Chris Denison/5'10"/155 lbs./Tetris MasterThe Beta is a unique bike. In my opinion it is set up for a taller rider, which made it a little more difficult for me to get used to. The suspension is ok for smooth trails, but seemed to blow through the stroke easily on the rough motocross track. The bike's power is great; it has a controllable bottom end and a smooth mid-to-top, which was a major plus. One negative about the bike would be its seat, after a day of riding it was softer than a loaf of bread, and left me with sub-frame imprints on my behind.
Chris Dvoracek 6'/170 lb./Expert