Cold Hands, Warm Heart
With half of the country swapping their slippers for flippers as flooding hit, our mid-Wales test venue was mercifully unaffected: slippery rather than submerged - conditions were ripe for testing a two-stroke. And although sunshine gave way to showers almost as soon as we arrived, things began well for the Beta as it tipped the RUST digital scales at 111.8kg. Not quite as good as the 109.9 kilos the Italians claim, but right on the money for the 300 class, and lighter than all but the Austrian-made machines.
The Beta continues to impress as I thumb the electric start button - something no modern enduro machine, either two- or four-stroke, can afford to be without. The motor bursts into life with the first turn of the starter gear, and the same story is played out throughout the day. There’s no protracted churning, with the throttle cracked a smidgen it fires-up at the first revolution every single time. I never bother with the kicker.
This is excellent, though the location of the starter motor does concern me slightly. It’s tucked beneath the motor, snugly located within the frame rails and protected by the plastic sumpguard, so hopefully it’s not going to suffer from impact damage. However, it is likely to see an awful lot of dirt packed-in around it, and I’d want to keep all of the contacts and connections clean to keep corrosion at bay.
Anyway, it doesn’t take long for the engine to settle to an even idle, and with the choke off it revs cleanly. Time to play…
The first few hundred yards take us out of a small quarry and into the woods. Beneath the carpet of fallen leaves the mud is thick and claggy, doing its utmost to clog the tyres. I try a ‘trialsy’ approach, picking my way through, and it works until we reach a sharp turn, then a steep climb. Three-quarters of the way up I run out of grip, and talent, and the rear wheel steps-out as it meets a root. Back down and try again, though this time the route is straight up, no messin’.
Third gear, build the revs, and the tyre spins momentarily until it clears its filling of mud. Then we rocket up the hill, accompanied by a deep ‘bwoooar’ from the FMF pipe. There’s absolutely no fuss; no slithering: just effortless forward motion.