We’ve been on a mission to test all the dual-sport bikes we can get our hands on for 2023. This week was all about the Beta 500RR-S. We already have a little history with this bike; Tom Webb purchased our 2022 test bike and loves it. Beta offers dual-sport bikes in four different engine sizes—350, 390, 430 and 500. 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 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.

Tom Webb has been riding his Beta for over a year and loving it. He made a number of modifications, of course. Beta Factory Suspension offers a Factory kit, which he installed. You can read about Tom Webb’s Beta 500RR-S modifications here. As for the 2023 models, it will appear in the June, 2023 print edition of Dirt Bike.


While we are talking dual-sport, you can c heck out these videos.


Americans were well represented in the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge this week. Frenchman Adrien Van Beveren won for the Monster Energy Honda team after five days of riding. His teammate Ricky Brabec was still recovering from his Dakar injuries and finished seventh, just behind Skyler Howes. Mason Klein had mechanical trouble and didn’t finish.

Ricky Brabec: “We made it to the finish of Stage five, first of all congrats for the all team. I am glad I made it to the end in one piece. Now we will take the positives and the negatives home with us and work on it to improve in the future. The next race is almost in my backyard so let’s try to win it. Now I also want to thank the whole team for their constant and amazing support. ”

Skyler Howes: “It’s been a good day for me today, I did my best and made it safely to the finish line of the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge. Obviously, it would have been nice to finish a little higher up the order. There have been a couple of places where I could have done things better, but I’m happy with my riding here in the desert and I’ve gained a lot of experience for the future. We head to Mexico and the Sonora Rally next, which is a really special event for me, and I won it last year, so hopefully and can do the same again this season.”

1 VAN BEVEREN Adrien 42 FRA Monster Energy Honda Team 17:13:39
2 BENAVIDES Luciano 77 ARG Husqvarna Factory Racing 17:17:57
3 PRICE Toby 18 AUS Red Bull KTM Rally Factory Team 17:18:52
4 CORNEJO José Ignacio 11 CHI Monster Energy Honda Team 17:18:54
5 EVAN BRANCH Ross 16 BWA Hero Motorsports Team Rally 17:19:56
6 HOWES Skyler 10 USA Husqvarna Factory Racing 17:20:02
7 BRABEC Ricky 2 USA Monster Energy Honda Team 17:23:44


2006 KTM 400EXC

Thousands of motorcycles have gone through the testing process at Dirt Bike since I started. Literally. Most of them I don’t remember. Some I do. I ran across this photo of the 2006 KTM 400EXC this week and it made me smile. This bike I remember well and I think if it were sold today, it still would be a winner. The RFS motors that KTM had through the early 2000s were great. They were based on the Husabergs of the late ’90s. KTM bought Husaberg just for that technology.  In 2007, KTM made the EXC line into dual-sport bikes, and even though they passed emission and noise testing, they still ran great. By 2008, the RFC motors were no longer in production under the KTM name, but they were used in Beta’s first four-strokes and in Polaris quads. To this day, those units are highly prized.


Daytona is here! This is the longest-running race in the Supercross calendar and to this day, it’s unlike anything else. Peacock will have a prerace show beginning at 1:30 p.m. ET/10:30 a.m. PST and then carry live coverage of the  night show beginning at 7 p.m. EST/4 p.m. PST. CNBC will also have a Monday re-air of the Daytona Supercross night show that will happen at 1 a.m. EST Monday/10 p.m. PST Sunday. You get the results as they happen right here at Dirtbikemagazine.com

See you next week!

–Ron Lawson


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