The Beta 300RR two-stroke off-road bike has been ridden hard this week.  It’s great to see that 300cc two-strokes are no longer considered off-beat machines. At one time, we felt like we were the only ones who noticed how well they worked as pure trail bikes. Now there are six manufacturers on board: KTM, Husqvarna, Sherco, TM, GasGas and Beta. Each of them makes at least two models; one for cross country (like the KTM XC and Husky TX models, which are more racing oriented)  and one for trail riding (the XC-Ws and TEs).  It baffles us that there are no Japanese manufacturers listed here.

The Beta 300RR is one of three 300cc two-strokes  offered by Beta. It’s more of a general purpose off-road bike, while the Factory Model (usually introduced later in the year) is more racing oriented. The company also offers the XTrainer. There’s nothing quite like it: it has reduced seat height and reduced price to make it more appealing to less experienced riders, young riders and women. It’s actually a secret favorite among some of Beta’s off-road racers, who love its trials-bike-like power delivery.

2019 Beta 300RR

The bike we have this week is what really put Beta on the map for us. When the 300RR arrived about four years ago, it blew us away because it was so much more refined than we thought possible, with an integrated electric starter and clean jetting. The KTM of the time was hokey with an afterthought electric starter and spotty jetting. It was Beta and this bike that really woke KTM up and made them put more emphasis on their own 300. Since then, the Beta has undergone a number of changes; the crank and top end have been changed and oil injection has been added.

Beta is a small manufacturer from the Tuscany region.

For 2019, the bike has the following changes:
New engine control unit (ECU)
Clutch actuator with larger diameter
New BPV exhaust valve opening adjustment
BPV power valve springs kit:
New expansion chamber
New ZF Sachs (48 mm) fork with new adjustment system
New fork guards
Fully redesigned ZF Sachs shock

We have actually had this bike for a few weeks, but in the rush to get our 250 MX shootout done, it was sadly neglected. Now, with wet dirt in the So Cal area, there are fist fights breaking out to ride the 300. We weighed it at 229 pounds, without fuel. It’s about 8 pounds more than the 2018 KTM 300XC-W (Carburetor version) and 4 pounds more than the ’18 Husky TE300, but you don’t really notice.  The Beta does feel longer and lower. The power is very similar, although the Beta has most of its output in the mid range, whereas the KTM has more on top. We still haven’t come to terms with the new Sachs ZF fork, which is either too soft or too harsh, depending on the terrain. We will point out, though, that the front suspension seems to be a universal weak point among most 300s. The Xplor fork on the KTM and Husky has few fans. The only real disadvantage that the Beta suffers compared to the new generation KTM motor is that it vibrates more. Look for the test in the April, 2019 print edition of Dirt Bike.


In the next few days we will be spending time on some fun bikes. The KTM 450XC-F is a great motocross/off-road racer. It’s actually my favorite bike for MX in the 450 class, and I think a lot of other riders feel the same way.  For the trail, it’s a little too much for me.

The Tilley family on an afternoon outing.

I’ve been wanting to test a Ural for about 20 years. I finally have one! The Gear Up is a sidecar-equipped horizontal twin made in Russia. It has reverse and a diff lock that allows the sidecar wheel to be driven. The bike sells for a bit over $14,000. Look for more on this bike coming up. There’s even a full line of Ural apparel. You can check it out below. Who knew?


The Las Vegas Mucum auction takes place next week, and it’s wild to look at the motorcycles that will be offered. This one is a 1929 Husqvarna A30 which was modified for racing at some time in the past. It has an 11-horsepower OHV JAP motor displacing 250cc and comes from the MC Collection in Stockholm.  The estimate is between $8000 and $11,000, so you could own this for less than the price of a new dual-sport bike!

Not all of the bikes there are so exotic. This is a 1973 Penton 125 Six Day that was restored by Steve Miller. He’s a collector from Valparaiso, Indiana, who does most of his own restoration work. There are quite of few bikes of his in the auction, mostly Hodakas.

Some of the bikes are historic. This is a 1978 OW35 ridden by Rick Burgett. Moto Armory of East Moline, Illinois, is set to offer 30-plus collectible motorcycles at the Mecum Las Vegas Auction, including two factory works bikes: this one and a Kawasaki and a Yamaha from motocross National Champion riders Jeff Ward. In the quest to keep the Moto Armory collection fresh with new motorcycles, some need to go to make room. If you want to become a bidder, you can do it in person, by phone or on the internet, but you have to register first.


We were thrilled to see Ricky Brabec leading the Dakar rally overall after winning stage four yesterday. It’s the nature of the rally, though, to change daily. Today was the second half of the Marathon stage with the riders doing a mass start. Pablo Quintanilla led most of the stage, but Sam Sunderland stopped for the downed Paulo Goncalves (Brabec’s Honda teammate). Yamaha rider Xavier DeSoultrait took the physical win, but at this point it looks like Sunderland will be given back his lost time, making him the stage winner and maybe even the overall leader. Brabec finished in 11th. It was a great day for the other Americans. Andrew Short was sixth and Skyler Howes was 10th. There will be daily updates here at dirtbikemagazine.com.

That’s all for today!

–Ron Lawson



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