2023 Beta 350 RR-S Review [High-Performance Dual-Sport]

At five-foot-six and 115 pounds, the world of dual-sport bikes is tricky for me. On the one hand, I like the lower seat height of motorcycles such as the Honda CRF300L/LS and the Kawasaki KLX300, but they both weigh over 300 pounds, the suspension is basic, and the power modest, though reliable. Frustratingly, there’s a chasm to the higher-performance alternatives, such as the 2023 Beta 350 RR-S and other Euro choices. Compared to the Japanese 300s, the Beta’s seat height is a couple of inches taller, but the Italian dual-sporter also weighs nearly 50 pounds less, has far more power, and has superior suspension. Price? Well, for the cost of the Beta, you can almost buy both the Honda and the Kawasaki 300s—two for the price of one. What to do? Well, go riding, of course.

2023 Beta 350 RR-S Review: Dual-sport Motorcycle

Every time I hop on a high-performance dual-sport bike, I’m reminded that I’m not the target audience, so my comfort zone will be stretched. Based on experience, I know that the 2023 Beta 350 RR-S chassis is outstanding, but still tall. At a stop, I have to slide my butt halfway off the narrow seat to ensure one Alpinestars Tech 7 Enduro boot has a solid interface with the ground. Other than that, the Beta is slim, light, and serious, and that inspires confidence.

Starting the fuel-injected 349cc motor is easy—just push a button. The short-stroke motor fires up instantly and settles into an authoritative idle. A kickstarter is optional, though realistically, I probably wouldn’t be able to start it that way. Electric starting really has made full-sized dual-sport bikes accessible to smaller, lighter riders.

2023 Beta 350 RR-S Review: For Sale

Before I take off, I have a couple of settings to consider. The motor has two power maps indicated by the Beta-named Rain and Shine pictograms, with no documentation explaining exactly what those modes mean. New this year is a traction control switch—on and off. Swapping between these two pairs of adjustments gives me four power delivery combinations to choose from, which is always a good thing. I started with traction control off, as that’s how I’m used to riding dirt bikes.

Taking the power maps one at a time is revealing, and unexpected. Given my weight, I would instinctively go with the Rain mode, as the Beta has a deserved reputation for being a dual-sport hot rod. I’m not racing, so a softer hit is welcome and functional. However, it doesn’t work that way.

The Rain map on the 2023 Beta 350 RR-S gives the motor a stronger and torquier bottom end that flattens out as it moves out of the midrange. This makes the 350 a bit jumpy for me on single-track trails. The throttle response is more sensitive than I need it to be, even though I have pretty good throttle control based on decades of trials bike riding.

Switching over to the Shine map, the 350 suddenly has that smooth lower-end power delivery that I love, along with a more robust transition into the mid-range, which is fun. Also, the motor willingly revs out, so I can haul across open desert terrain.

2023 Beta 350 RR-S Review: MSRP

That makes the Mode choice easy for me—Shine on you crazy Beta! Of course, if you’re heavier, as all of our other test riders are, the low-end muscle of the Rain map can be more of a help than a hindrance. The heavier test riders switched between the Rain map on technical trails and the Shine map when high speeds were possible. Personalization is a good thing.

With that sorted out, it was time to consider the traction control setting. Again, citing my trials background, I use my right wrist as my traction control system, and I don’t typically spin up the rear tire as I ride. I didn’t feel the need to switch on the traction control, but that’s not how bikes are tested, so on it went, and I’m glad I did.

2023 Beta 350 RR-S Review: Price

There’s nothing wrong with how the 2023 Beta 350 RR-S motor runs with traction control off. However, with traction control engaged, the power curve feels even smoother. That encourages me to be more aggressive on the throttle, and I go a bit faster and ride slightly harder. It’s not a big deal, but it’s there.

Once I had discovered the smoother throttle response with traction control in the Shine map, it was time to see if it helped the more abrupt low-end of the Rain map. As expected, it does, though not quite enough. However, given my weight, I still prefer the padded-down low-rpm power delivery of the Shine map and the ability to tap into the high-rpm power without switching maps.

2023 Beta 350 RR-S Review: Specs

Moving between maps and traction control settings is a bit of a pain, as the buttons are on the frame just behind the steering head. I’d like them on the handlebar, but Beta won’t put it there due to concerns of accidental switching. Hmmm, the kill button is on the handlebar. Regardless, I’d trade the risk of unintentional map or TC switching in exchange for convenience.

As a trail bike, the 2023 Beta 350 RR-S feels like magic. Weighing in at 255 pounds with a full 2.4-gallon fuel tank, I can put the bike wherever I need to. It’s not as agile as the Beta XTrainer I had been riding earlier this year, but that’s an unreasonable standard—the RR-S is a four-stroke dual-sport rather than a 300-class two-stroke off-road bike. It does give me an idea, though. The 350 RR-S’s motor in the XTrainer chassis would make for a more accessible, smaller-displacement dual-sport motorcycle. Beta also offers 390, 430, and 500 dual-sport bikes, so why not differentiate the 350 a bit from the big boys?

Regardless, on single-track, the 2023 Beta 350 RR-S lets me swoop through the woods effortlessly. The steering geometry is spot on. There’s no pushing or tucking, and the RR-S is happy to go where I point it. The chassis has narrower radiator shrouds this year—not that I would notice unless I rode it back-to-back with the ’22.

The Sachs suspension is plush—a significant improvement over earlier Sachs units—and the front end doesn’t shake or deflect. The linkage floats over the rougher stuff, and helps put the power to the ground through the excellent all-around Dunlop Geomax AT81 tires installed when we took delivery. Yes, softening the compression damping helped me. Although the Dunlops aren’t street-legal, I wasn’t too concerned about that. Maxxis MaxxEnduro bikes come standard on the 350 RR-S.

The broad powerband means there’s always another gear if I need it—1st gear is low enough—and I don’t have to shift or slip the clutch much. That’s good, as the clutch pull is on the stiff side for my girl hands.

Out in the desert, the Beta is steady at high speeds. Running from the desert mining town of Randsburg off-road to the scenic Trona Pinnacles is a pleasure. The 350 RR-S slaloms effortlessly between the mesquite bushes, and I can steer with the rear wheel if I like. Stock handguards keep the nasty desert and mountain flora at bay.

At the Trona Pinnacles.

Hitting the dirt roads, the top speed is in the 70s, though the motor feels like it’s revving pretty high at that point—keeping it in the 60s is more relaxing and enjoyable. However, hopping on the asphalt for a few miles made me anxious to return to the dirt, just as it should be.

Hitting some big hillclimbs along the way reminds me of why I like the Shine mode. I can fly up them, take advantage of the overrev when the opportunity presents itself, or back off and find some traction at lower rpm when needed. The Nissan calipers and Galfer discs make for a top-notch braking combination—controllable at lower speeds, and reassuringly robust when required.

A Beta insider told me, “Others are focused 90 percent on building a race bike that is sold to the average rider. Beta takes pride in designing a motorcycle that appeals to the common rider.” While my size isn’t common, the performance I expect from a serious dual sport bike is. The 2023 Beta 350 RR-S fits in an interesting spot. Most guys prefer the 500-class dual-sport bikes, and smaller riders are often stuck with the heavy and slow Japanese alternatives. While the 350 isn’t the panacea that fits perfectly between them, it is a motorcycle that will help a rider transition from the heavier, more street-oriented dual-sport bikes to a serious trail machine. For a smaller, lighter rider like me who still wants to go fast and enjoy a premium ride, the 2023 Beta 350 RR-S slots into a niche I like.

Photography by Don Williams


• Helmet: Arai VX-Pro4
• Goggles: EKS Brand EKS-S
• Communications: Cardo Packtalk Slim
• Pants + jersey: Alpinestars Stella Fluid
• Body armor: Alpinestars Stella Bionic Action V2
• Gloves: Alpinestars Stella Full Bore
• Knee braces: Pod K4 2.0
• Boots: Alpinestars Tech 7 Enduro

2023 Beta 350 RR-S Specs


Type: Single-cylinder 4-stroke

Displacement: 349cc

Bore x stroke: 88 x 57.4mm

Compression ratio: 13.2:1

Starting: Electric (kick optional)

Fueling: EFI w/ 42mm throttle body w/ dual injectors

Valvetrain: DOHC; 4 valves (titanium intake, steel exhaust)

Lubrication: Separate oil for engine and transmission w/ dual oil pumps

Transmission: 6-speed

Clutch: Hydraulically actuated diaphragm-style

Final drive: O-ring chain


Frame: Double-cradle chromoly steel

Front suspension; travel: Fully adjustable 48mm inverted Sachs ZF Open Cartridge fork; 11.6 inches

Rear suspension; travel: Linkage-assisted fully adjustable Sachs ZF aluminum-body, piggyback reservoir shock; 11.4 inches

Wheels: Excel Takasago

Tires: Maxxis Enduro (Dunlop Geomax AT81, as tested)

Front tire: 90/90 x 21

Rear tire: 140/80 x 18

Front brake: 260mm floating Galfer disc w/ 4-piston Nissin caliper

Rear brake: 240mm Galfer disc w/ 2-piston Nissin caliper


Wheelbase: 58.7 inches

Seat height: 37 inches

Ground clearance: 12.6 inches

Fuel tank capacity: 2.4 gallons

Curb weight: 255 pounds

2023 Beta 350 RR-S Price: $11,499 MSRP

2023 Beta 350 RR-S Review Photo Gallery