With the popularity of Toni Bou videos on YouTube, the sport of observed trials motorcycling has had its highest profile in America since the 1970s. While two-strokes are the engine design favored by the true believers (and Beta’s world factory riders), four-stroke trials bikes have quite a bit of appeal for motorcyclists looking to cross-train, and the 2016 Beta Evo 300 Factory 4T is among the most attractive bikes of the genre.
Annually, Beta releases late-year Factory versions of its trials bikes, often giving customers a glimpse into the next year, as well as tapping into the Beta accessory catalog to upgrade the bike functionally and visually (anodized bits, plus carbon fiber pieces).The star of the Beta Evo 300 Factory 4T is its muscular engine. Drastically oversquare, yet tuned for torque and geared down for trials, the 300 Factory can take a rider virtually anywhere a motorcycle can go. For those who think a 297cc motor might be too small, keep in mind that the entire motorcycle weighs just 153 pounds, sans liquids (the tank hold just three quarts of high-test).[Visit our Motorcycle Reviews page]Beta upped the performance of the Factory by fitting it with a high-end titanium exhaust that adds power and a more serious sound; the bike is still relatively quiet, particularly at the low revs the bike typically runs at.There are two engine mappings on the Beta Evo 300 Factory 4T, with a button (and helpful pictograph) at the frame downtube where the radiator is mounted. Sunshine (up) indicates a more aggressive delivery, and Rain (down) tamping down the power.Even though the use of a Mikuni carburetor, rather than fuel injection, limits how much the motor can change, no one will fail to notice the difference between the two settings. Sunshine revs up much faster than the Rain mode, and you feel it right off idle.Trail riders and explorers will be big fans of the Sunshine power mode. It gives the bike a bit of an enduro feel, and allows you to ride faster trails at a good clip. The suspension is soft, so that has to be kept in mind when riding fast, rough trails, but the motor is more than willing to make some time.Riders unfamiliar with trials bikes will find the ergonomics alien, but the Beta Evo 300 Factory 4T is a standard layout, with wide, flat-bend bars and a standing-only position due to the lack of seat (a saddle is an option from Beta).Thanks to the light weight of the 300, riders typically quickly adapt to the layout of a trials bike and can take off down a trail immediately.While learning to ride competitive trials can have a fairly steep curve, having fun on a trials bike will be natural to most off-road riders.Aiding in the ease of use are the outstanding high-end Michelin Light (front) and X-Light trials tires. They are lightweight and sticky beyond belief when aired down to trials specs—about five psi in the rear and six psi up front, per Michelin.Trails that might be completely inaccessible on your enduro bike—such as California’s Sledgehammer Trail and Utah’s Five Miles of Hell—becomes a motorcycle playground on the Beta Evo 300 Factory 4T.Sure, you’ll have to dab here and there, but negotiating extreme trails on a trials bike is incalculably easier than on an enduro bike, even for those new to trials bikes. The Beta’s four-stroke engine is a great platform for this kind of riding, as it focuses on finding traction in absolutely all conditions.While we were skeptical about the use of a carburetor in a large displacement four-stroke trials motor that must perform strongly and predictably off-idle, the Mikuni constant velocity carb does an outstanding job.The vacuum circuit prevents too much fuel from being dumped into the Beta’s combustion chamber by a ham-fisted throttle jockey, so stalls and flame-outs are highly unusual. The Mikuni CV carb is not as good a fuel delivery system as the Honda Montesa Cota 300RR’s fuel injection, but the carbureted Beta Evo 300 Factory 4T does cost $1400 less.Starting isn’t much of an issue. The choke is there for cold days, and there’s a hot start button that we never used on even the hottest days. Just get the motor into the compression stroke and give the kickstarter a stab while in neutral—more often than not it is a one-kick exercise.Another Factory feature that makes the Factory 4T effective on the trails is a brake upgrade. It gets lighter discs and increased braking power. The discs are small, but with the weight of the bike and the sticky Michelins, plus the lower overall speed of the bike on trails, it does a great job of slowing down the motorcycle.Of course, in addition to its cross-training capabilities, the Beta Evo 300 Factory 4T remains a trials bike at heart. While it is not the ideal trials competition mount for the neophyte due to the strong powerplant’s willingness to overpower in tight conditions—the standard 250 4T is a better choice—clicking into the Rain mode makes the bike fully rideable in authentic trials competition sections.For the dedicated trials rider, the Beta Evo 300 Factory 4T would be an unusual choice. The Honda Montesa Cota line has a much larger following, and Beta offers highly competitive, lighter, and more conventional two-stroke trials bikes in 125, 200, and 250cc sizes, plus two flavors of 300 (standard, and Super Smooth).Still, the Beta Evo 300 Factory 4T is a fully competent trials bikes. Like all Betas, it turns with precision and confidence, though the 4T likes smoother conditions for its best cornering behavior.Turning is compromised by the four-stroke power delivery when inching around a full-lock turn, which is more difficult to control than a two-stroke. Higher-level riders who hop the rear wheel will notice the 4T is a heavier bike than a two-stroke, and hopping the 4T’s front wheel isn’t quite as easy due to the power delivery.The suspension, while short of the outstanding level of something like the high-end Vertigo trials bikes, is still excellent and puts the power to the ground ably. The plush feel is a good one, and you will only bottom the suspension out in a trials section if you leap off of a tall obstacle. Even then, bottoming is controllable.In jumbled or wet terrain, the 300 4T is a traction finder. You have to watch your throttle hand, but it will work its way through technical sections more easily than a two-stroke.Rock steps, a standard obstacle in the trials section repertoire, take a bit more planning on the 300 4T, but are completely doable. Instead of zapping the rocks like on a two-stroke, the four-stroke method is more like a caterpillar—which some riders definitely prefer.The hydraulic clutch—upgraded on the Factory—is flawless, if a tad heavy, though you won’t use it on the 300 4T as much as you would a two-stroke.Any sort of loose section that requires power will be perfect for the Evo 300 Factory 4T, as the torque is abundant, and the rider can choose the most appropriate power delivery mode.For trail riders looking to cross-train, the 2016 Beta Evo 300 Factory 4T is an excellent choice. It offers plenty of power for open trail riding, and the option to check out a nearby competitive trials event.Trials riders will be a bit more difficult sell, with two-strokes competing from one direction, and the two thumpers from Honda Montesa attacking from the other end.Even with that competition, the Beta Evo 300 Factory 4T offers the panache and appeal of a premium Italian motorcycle. The fit and finish is outstanding, and the single-spar frame that integrates the fuel tank simply looks spectacular.Add on the Factory anodized aluminum triple clamps and rims, plus a few other bits, and you have a motorcycle that is extremely aesthetically appealing, in addition to being a great ride.The 2016 Beta Evo 300 Factory 4T may be a niche motorcycle. However, for those who find that niche to be alluring, it fills it with style, grace, and power.Photography by Kelly CallanRiding Style
Hello everyone and welcome once again to Motos and Friends, the weekly podcast brought to you by Ultimate Motorcycling. My name is Arthur Coldwells.
Motos and Friends is brought to you by Yamaha. You can check out the amazing YZF-R7 at your local Yamaha dealer, or of course at YamahaMotorsports.com. The YZF-R7 is an amazing supersport machine that is comfortable too!
In this week’s first segment, Editor Don Williams takes the smallest BMW ADV bike on an urban adventure in Los Angeles. The BMW G 310 GS is a full size motorcycle with a modest engine, so of course we wonder if it is a little too underpowered and might struggle. Don put it through its paces and gives us his take.
In the second segment, Neale Bayly and Kiran Ridley have returned from the Ukraine to Paris where Kiran is based.
Kiran is an award winning photojournalist, and as an accomplished documentarian, he has covered stories as diverse as drug smuggling around the Mexican border, to the devastation of the Australian Bush Fires, to the tragedy of the Mediterranean migration crisis. Neale and Kiran reminisce about their motorcycle adventure in the Ukraine, and their observations and experiences with the incredibly resilient people of Ukraine, who have been put through such brutal hardship.