2017 Beta 125 RR-S
The Really Little Bike That Can!
- Serious trail bike with serious capabilities.
- Perfect for beginner riders learning the sport we love.
- A little heavy on the scales.
- Suspension components aren't top tier like some other bikes have.
- New entry level dual sport model from Beta.
- A bike in a class of its own.
Beta came out with a new model for 2017 in the 125 RR-S. It serves as more of an entry level bike for a brand known in the US for high-performance race and dual purpose machines. Based off of the bigger RR-S models visually, the bike sits in uncharted territory since it is a street legal 125cc four stroke. DBT set out to see where it fits and how it works.
- All new for 2017!
This bike is all-new to the US market so everything is changed. First, the four-valve SOHC engine is built in Italy. It houses a six-speed gearbox, cable operated clutch using liquid cooling. It is carbureted with a 26mm Mikuni. The chassis uses a molybdenum steel/double cradle frame design and fits plastic that mirrors the look of the larger Betas. Size-wise the bike is about two inches shorter than the bigger RS bikes and has roughly a 2-inch lower seat height. It has a 1.6-gallon tank. The front fork is a 41mm unit with 10.3 inches of travel while 10.6 inches of travel is offered from the rear suspension. Seat height is claimed at 35 inches with 25mm of bike sag while still having 13 inches of ground clearance.
- Motor is strong for what it is.
- Very smooth hit with most of its power in the upper RPMs.
To put it simply, 125cc four strokes aren’t built to be the fastest. They are often thought of as beginner friendly and lacking in power. But this motor is different. It still isn’t a 250F or even a 125cc two-stroke by any means but it is the best 125cc four-stroke we have ever ridden. It’s capabilities are much higher than your typical 125 four-stroke play bike. In order to ride on the road, you must be able to ride at a fairly high rate of speed to keep up with traffic. This bike does that. Likewise, it’s capable of being ridden very slow when necessary with torquey power. Its first gear could be slightly lower but it still allows you to lug it through any rock canyon or tight single track if the rider isn’t too heavy on the scale. Similarly, it pulls smoothly and revs out quite high--surprisingly.
The bike starts right up with the choke when cold and purrs to a nice idle. At sea level it is a bit lean overall but at altitude of any kind it is fine. There isn’t a ton of torque but there is just enough flywheel effect to keep the bike from stalling even with a beginner rider aboard. More advanced riders just go right past the bottom end and ride the bike in the mid to top-end power all the time as that is what it takes to ride the bike at speed. Yet beginners can ride it anywhere in the spread and will quickly learn the value of RPM when riding the 125 RR-S. RPM just brings speed with enough power to get the bike over most obstacles aside from having to lift the front wheel much
What proved to be difficult was getting the front wheel up to get over an obstacle on the trail. On most bikes you can give a quick blip of the throttle and the front wheel will come up but it was tougher on this bike with the mellower hit it has. This could be a good thing; however, since you wouldn’t want a beginner rider looping out on their maiden voyage aboard a motorcycle. Expert riders could use the clutch and do it but it takes work.
Shifting was good on the Beta and the clutch could take abuse in hill climbs but it will fade a little if you abuse it like we did. It cools quickly with the 1000cc of oil in the engine and being water-cooled--much better than other play bikes subjected to the same torture. We rode the bike on serious mountain trails up to 9000 ft with a 200-lb. rider aboard and were continually impressed where the bike would go. Not fast but it will get there, unless the trail is downhill and the little Beta is about as good as any similarly suspended bike.
Also, this bike is very quiet, almost too quiet. You can barely tell the bike is running. The exhaust isn’t doing this any favors either but that’s part of having a bike that you can legally ride on the road as well. Opening up the exhaust would also require jetting work, we suspect so don’t just slap on an exhaust system and hope for the best. The bike will likely lose power without the right carb setting.
- Forks worked well in all conditions for a wide range of riders.
- Shock is under-sprung for all of our testers.
With experienced riders of multiple sizes riding the bike, they all felt the 125 was unbalanced. For riders around 160 lbs, the forks worked well in all conditions and we didn’t experience too much bottoming. It was very plush and was welcomed when riding in rocky technical trails where the whole bike shines really. The shock; however, was a little different. We feel it is sprung a little too light and it blows through the stroke quite easily. We noticed this the most in large whoops or when the bike gets jumped or ridden off a drop off. Even our smaller tester riders felt the need for a stiffer shock spring. Something different about the suspension on this bike is the only adjustments you can make to the bike is adjusting the preload on the rear shock. This isn’t too much of a hinderance when considering the market it attracts but more experienced riders may want some more adjustability.
Chassis - Handling
- Aesthetics and ergonomics inspired by their race models.
- Stable and agile.
The claimed weight of this bike full of gas is 253 pounds which is very heavy for a 125cc. However, it doesn’t feel that heavy on the trail. It still isn’t as light or agile as a 125cc motocross bike but at the very least it is manageable when you’re riding it. Saying that, it is stable when you get going at high speeds. And when you’re on a slower single track, the bike still performs well and you can move around freely without too much trouble.
Like all of Beta’s RR-S models, it is pretty slim and we didn’t feel like it needed to be thinned down at all which some dual sport bikes have needed in the past. The seat is well padded and the overall comfort is pretty high for a race inspired design. Also, there is minimal vibration to the rider,
The brakes were a little weaker than we would have liked them to be but when you consider who the target market for this bike is, they will be just fine. Although the gas tank is only 1.6 gallons, you can ride very far on a tank of gas. We were able to go well over 100 miles per tank when sticking to the trail. However, once on the open roads, we averaged about 50 MPG, drastically decreasing the distance we could ride. The odometer tells you your current speed, time, miles ridden, and even your fuel level.
We experienced a couple problems with the bike but none that can’t be fixed. After riding in rougher conditions at higher speeds, the license plate on the back of the bike actually broke off. It reaches down pretty far off the rear fender and we suspect bottoming out the rear suspension allowed it to clip the rear tire thus breaking. Similarly, the blinkers just above the license plate also got torn up a little. They are still attached to the plastic hanger but they cracked slightly allowing them to flex more than intended. Mechanically the bike felt solid and we have been very impressed with Beta’s durability now and in the past.
- Solid machine for any rider no matter their skill levels or capabilities.
- Offers a viable option for those not wanting to spend a fortune on a full size bike.
Overall, the Beta 125 RR-S is a great trail/play bike for the rider who isn’t worried about being the fastest from point A to point B or one who rides in deep sand. The bike itself is a serious trail bike built by Beta, with the ever important license plate. It certainly isn’t a race bike but it excels in the discipline it is built for. Similarly, you could easily teach or help a newer rider and make them more comfortable being on two wheels on this bike. The mild motor and lower seat height really help. Riders can grow with the bike and since there is an element of high-performance with it in comparison to other small displacement bikes, it has a wider scope of usability. It could even be a grocery getter if that’s what you’re looking for. Either way, anyone who rides this will have a good time no matter the skill of the rider or the terrain being ridden on.
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