We’ve been on a mission to test all the dual-sport bikes we can get our hands on for 2023. Three years ago Beta redesigned both the off-road and dual-sport lines, and their four dual-sport bikes were all built on the same platform differing only in displacement. They have double-overhead-cam motors, steel frames and Sachs suspension. The 500 is actually 478cc and has a six-speed gearbox with separate compartments for the engine oil and transmission oil. In 2022 they gave the 500 with a new ECU and a diaphragm clutch. All the settings on the fork are adjustable without tools. The fuel tank is 2.4 gallons. The brakes are Nissan, the tires this year are Michelin DOT Enduros (We are running Dunlop EN91 on this test bike) and the gearing is a tall 15/48 combo.

The chain is an O-ring unit and a skid plate protects the frame rails and center cases, along with a bit of armor for the water pump and ignition.What we love most about the Beta is the fact that it has none of the penalties normally associated with dual-sport bikes. It’s not overly plugged up, it’s not overly lean, the mapping is crisp and clean and it runs great. Beta has to play by all the same rules as KTM Husqvarna and Honda, but as a smaller company, they can operate closer to the edge. Accordingly the bike is a little louder than Austrian and Japanese dual-sport bikes, but still quiet by any rational standard. As a result, the bike is considerably more powerful than a KTM 500EXC or a Husqvarna FE501. It’s still a sweetheart, though, The power delivery is smooth and gradual. It doesn’t flame out or stall, although we admit that the gearing is taller than we would like. We put the 2023 500 on our scale as soon as we got it. Without fuel but with mirrors and everything else, it weighs 254 pounds. That’s heavier than the Austrian bikes, lighter than Honda.

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