Have you ever wondered why Beta has four off-road bikes that look virtually identical? So have we. The 350, 390, 430 and 480 are supposed to have completely different personalities.  Is it true? We had ridden them all, but not back to back, so we asked the guys at Beta to prove it to us. If the four bikes are so different, bring them on! Let us ride them all and see for ourselves. Who knew that they would follow through? A few weeks ago, Rodney Smith arrived at our doorstep with four brand-new Beta four-stroke off-road bikes. 

All four of them were the Race Editions. The standard models have Sachs suspension while the Race Editions use KYB. For 2024, the Race Editions also have the newest generation frame, which has increased rigidity. There’s also a big upgrade in detailing and cosmetics. The Race Editions have a front-axle grab handle, aluminum footpegs, a two-tone seat cover with a score-card holder, a red, white and blue color scheme and anodized parts almost everywhere you look. The single most important factor in the way a bike handles is usually the motor. Smooth, mild power can make a poor bike handle like a champion. Lots of power, on the other hand, can make a great motorcycle painful and difficult to ride. It didn’t really surprise us that all four bikes have their own handling traits because they have different levels of output, but the difference isn’t quite what we expected. 

The Beta 350RR Race Edition sells for $10,999.

Beta 350RR. This is the true trail bike of the group. It’s not slow by any means. It has decent bottom end, but when you want it to move out in a hurry, you have to be willing to scream it and use the clutch. Don’t worry, you won’t hurt anything. It’s made to be revved. You can bump the 350 off the rev limiter all day and go impressively fast. You can also idle along at a quiet, passive pace and have a blast. The 350 does it all well. When it comes to riding at full gallop, though, the 350 is more work than the others. You have to keep it on the bubble just like a 250F motocross bike, and if you miss a shift point, it can steal your momentum through the next two or three sections. The 350’s greatest strength is that it feels 20 pounds lighter than most of the other bikes. This isn’t real, of course. It’s the exact same weight, so in a real racing situation, you don’t have any real-world advantage–just a mental one.

The Beta 390RR Race Edition sells for $11,099. Can you tell the difference between it and the others? There’s a tiny decal on the top of the right shroud saying which is which.

Beta 390RR. The long stroke of the 390 motor gives it a distinctly different feel. It seems to have a much longer powerband. It starts lower than the 350 and just seems to go on and on forever. It might even rev higher than the 350 on top. Nowhere along the way is there any kind of hit or surge. It just keeps on making more and more power. This makes it a better race bike than the 350, plus the fact that it just goes faster. We would still swear that it’s a little heavier than the 350. That’s a theme that we will repeat over and over through all these bikes. Increasing the power increases the perception of weight.

The Beta 430RR Race Edition sells for $11,199. In each case, the Race Edition sells for $500 more than the standard version.

Beta 430RR. This is the race bike of the group. It has the most aggressive powerband, the biggest hit in the middle and it feels the fastest of all. Keep in mind that all this is on the Beta scale, which means that it’s still a very mild, smooth and controllable motorcycle. It’s just that the 430 has a little bit of a tiger inside, whereas the other three are all pussycats. We don’t know how the development of the 450 motocross bike went in Europe, but we would bet that the very first prototype was based on the 430. As a consequence, the 430 can throw an occasional tantrum. None of the other bikes will stall unless you force the issue. This one can occasionally stop in its tracks if you go too low in the R’s or maybe get clumsy with the rear brake. On the other end of the RPM scale, it feels like it had a substantial power advantage over the others.

The Beta 480RR Race Edition sells for $11,299. It has the same actual displacement as the 500RS dual-sport. Both measure 477.5cc

Beta 480RR. This bike has the same displacement as the 500RS dual-sport bike. It also has a very similar personality. It’s torquey, smooth and sweet. The big motor has a more gradual power delivery than the 430 and peaks at lower rpm. You don’t really scream the 480 like the other bikes. It feels natural to rumble along all day without ever twisting the throttle in anger. At low rpm, the 480 is just as hard to stall as the 350. The mapping is absolutely perfect. For all these reasons, the 480 feels more like a cruiser than a racer. You certainly can go fast on it, but you don’t have to rev it out, stomp gears or even touch the clutch.

In the end, we can’t really pick a favorite because all four bikes excel in slightly different environments. The 350 and the 480 are the trail bikes while the 390 and 430 feel more like racers. For the full story, check out the June, 2024 print edition of Dirt Bike.


How fast are the top pros compared to guys who pay for their own bikes? Glen Helen is hosting an event where the stopwatch will tell all. It’s called the Stopwatch National, and the purse is big enough to guarantee that at least some factory guys will be there to get ready for the outdoor season. Here’s the low-down:

8:00am – open practice for all riders
10:15am – lineup for race. Verify transponders
10:30am – Moto 1 – 30 minutes plus 1 lap
11:10am – Pro Only practice
11:30am – Open Practice for all riders
12:15pm – lineup for race. Verify transponders
12:30pm – Moto 2 – 30 minutes plus 1 lap
Cash and Trophy presentation after Moto 2
1:15pm – Pro only practice
2:00pm to Dark – Open practice for all riders
Must be a pro rider or have raced pro in the past
Must RSVP and be accepted by GHR to enter race.
First 25 riders to RSVP will be selected by GHR initially
(free practice on May 2nd, 9th, and 16th if selected)
Last 15 riders selected by GHR from late RSVPs
Must have transponder on bike to lineup to race.
• GHR will have pro only practice sessions May 2nd and May 9th
leading into the Stopwatch Nationals on Thursday, May 16th.
• Ambulance and Flaggers on-site on May 16th for Stopwatch National
• Track will be ripped and prepped just like a National race.
• All spectator fees go to support Alpinestars mobile medical unit
• Pros can bring their starting grids if they like.


Skyler Howes

The third round of the FIM World Rally Championship is taking place at this moment in Portugal. The Rally Raid de Portugal is at the halfway point now and American Skyler Howes sits in third overall. His teammate Tosha Schareina is leading the overall standings. There are two days left.

Skyler Howes: “The day started very well and around kilometer 220 there was a lot of dust, I could not see very well and I forgot rule number 1 which is that you should not drive fast if there is no visibility and I had a big accident, fortunately the airbag saved me and I was able to continue without problems, but I lost 3 minutes very valuable.”


Paul Buckley will be honored as a new inductee into the Legends and Heroes Moto Museum at the April 13th, 2024 Supercross in Foxborough, MA. Paul will be on stage to receive his plaque just before the evening opening ceremonies. Please join them in this celebration, and be sure to come by and see their display in the Fan Fest area before the racing begins. Since 1975 the name Paul Buckley has been synonymous with cool motocross photos, Paul’s photos have been published around the world. Riders like Bob Hannah, David Bailey, Jeff Ward, Ricky Johnson, Jeremy McGrath, and Ricky Carmichael have all been captured in MX photos by Paul Buckley. Industry clients like Fox Racing. Racer X, ESPN magazine, Renthal, Dirt Action One Industries. Transworld Motocross, Dirt Rider, and many others use Buckley MX photos in their ads, catalogs, and editorial spreads. Countless racers from New England have had their motocross racing careers documented in photos by Paul Buckley.



Photo by David Dewhurst

Are you ready for outdoor MX? It’s almost here! It all begins in about six weeks at Pala. Here’s the schedule:

Fox Raceway National
MAY 25
Fox Raceway at Pala
Pala, CA

Hangtown Motocross Classic
Prairie City SVRA
Rancho Cordova, CA

Thunder Valley National
Thunder Valley Motocross Park
Lakewood, CO

High Point National
High Point Raceway
Mt. Morris, PA

Southwick National
The Wick 338
Southwick, MA

RedBud National
RedBud MX
Buchanan, MI

Spring Creek National
Spring Creek MX Park
Millville, MN

Washougal National
Washougal MX Park
Washougal, WA

Unadilla National
Unadilla MX
New Berlin, NY

Budds Creek National
Budds Creek Motocross Park
Mechanicsville, MD

Ironman National
Ironman Raceway
Crawfordsville, IN

See you at Pala!

–Ron Lawson


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