The other day we got the chance to tool around on the 2011 450 RS Dual Sport bike from Beta, thanks to our friends at SPEEDTV.com. If you are not familiar with Beta motorcycles it’s probably because they have built their reputation manufacturing trials bikes. We have ridden a few and the quality is second to none. Based on this experience we were really excited to get some seat time on the new RS and since we have a pretty good idea how a Dual Sport bike performs on the street we opted to ride the Beta off-road only. Serious off-road bikes are fun for a few minutes on the street but once the initial excitement goes away, they aren’t exactly comfortable. The RS is targeted to riders who are doing substantially more off-road riding than street riding, it’s definitely not your pals XR650L. For our stint in the dirt we chose to ride at TNT Motorsports in Chester, SC. The fun tight trails they have are blast to ride, we know them well, and they are perfect place to put the Beta through its paces. After adjusting the controls, checking tire pressure and setting the sag we were ready to hit it.
For us, the first impression of a bike we test is really important. An awkward feeling bike, if it’s too tall, too short, too wide, top heavy, whatever, will always feel just a little off. The Beta feels very familiar when you climb on, even with mirrors, turn signal switches, and an enduro meter. Sitting on the bike while it’s on the stand with hands on the grips, knees clutching the slim seat and tank reaching for the bar, you almost have the feeling you have ridden this bike before.
Off the stand, when you first throw a leg over the RS the first thing you’ll notice is how easy this is and that you don’t have to hang so far off the seat to plant your foot on the ground. Thanks to a seat height of 36.6 inches, climbing on and off is substantially easier than most other bikes. Once your but hits the seat, you’ll notice how plush the Marzocchi fork and Sachs rear shock are. It actually takes some getting used to, especially if you jump off a bike with a MX suspension. After a few corners this goes away and the Beta shows it’s no slouch, even if it is a bit soft at the first poke, flicking easily from corner to corner, inspiring confidence along the way. Bottoming out was not an issue, even when landing from medium sized jumps and when you come to a tight section and need to dab, the ground is a full 2 to 3 inches closer than most other 450’s.
Beta originally used a KTM motors for their off-road models in order to focus on building a solid chassis set up. Now 100% Beta, the RS450 motor provides ample grunt in any gear to loft the front wheel easily with a quick jab at the hydraulic clutch lever. On the the top end of the power the Beta power plant is delivered smoothly with no hick ups even though it’s not EFI. The Keihin 39mm carb delivered fuel cleanly and crisply from idle to wide open.
The Beta is up to the task of spirited riding and makes no bones about its purpose as an off-road bike. If you are looking for something to go cruising around town you might want to look elsewhere. But if you are one of the legions of riders out there who take to the trails via one of the many Dual Sport rides that go on across the nation each weekend, the RS is just the right bike for you. It’s a thinly veiled off-road bike that happens to wear that all important license plate attached to its rear fender. You’d be hard pressed to find a more appropriate bike.
To get this level of commitment to an off-road bias with a license plate from any other marque, you have to put in a ton of effort and dig deep into your wallet. Overall the 450 RS is a really fun, great bike to ride. Off-road, it has tons of power, feels well balanced, firmly planted, provides excellent feedback to the rider ,and comes very well appointed from the factory. Brush guards or bark busters would be a nice addition to have for woods riding. On the street, the Beta won’t let you forget its breeding. The RS belongs on the dirt and you will want to take it there every chance you get. The good news is, you don’t have to load it into a truck or van. You can choose to ride it to your local trial… Legally
We have only two complaints about the RS, the turn signal switch and start switch. They both shift around on the bar making them difficult to use and the chintzy stamped steel clamp used to mount the left mirror is really ugly.
Otherwise, the Beta 450 RS Enduro is fantastic and will not disappoint!
Engine Type: Beta-Built single cylinder, 4-valve, 4-stroke liquid cooled, electric start with back up kick starter.
Bore: 95mm Stroke: 63.4mm
Compression Ratio: 11.95:1
Ignition: DC-CDI with variable ignition timing, Kokusan.
Spark Plug NGK LKAR8A-9
Lubrication: Twin oil pumps with cartridge oil filter.
Separate oil for engine and clutch .8 liter each
Carburetor: Keihin FCR-39mm
Clutch: Wet multi-disc
Primary Ratio: 31:73
Final Drive: O-ring chain, Regina
Chassis Frame: All New molybdenum steel with double cradle split above exhaust port. Quick Air filter access from the side.
Seat Height: 36.6”
Ground Clearance: 12.6”
Footrest Height: 16.25”
Dry Weight: 249 lbs. dry
Fuel Tank Capacity: 2.1 US gallons
Front Suspension: 45mm Marzocchi USD fork, adjustable compression and rebound
Rear Suspension: Sachs shock w/adjustable rebound and hi/low speed compression
Front Wheel Travel: 11.4”
Rear Wheel Travel: 11.4”
Final Gearing: 14t front, 45t rear
Front Brake: 260mm floating Braking Wave rotor
Rear Brake: 240mm Braking Wave rotor
Front/Rear Rim: 21” (Front) 18” (Rear)
Front/Rear Tire: Michelin Enduro, DOT approved
Warranty: 12 month Limited Warranty