Beta Trials Bikes: Become a better rider by slowing down
Beta has a very long history dating back to 1904 as a bicycle manufacturer in Italy. It wasn’t until 1948 when they first started producing motorcycles. The name Beta stems from its founder Enzo Bianchi and Arrigo Tosi.
Today, Beta offers a complete line of off-road and trials bikes but in the 1980s they first launched a line of trials bikes that a lot of us know them by. Around 2004 Beta got back into off-road and the brand has been solid ever since, yet still lesser known than its other European counterpart.
For the longest time it seemed like trials riding and trials events were separated from off-road riding and motocross. Today, that’s not necessarily the case and they kind of go hand in hand; especially if you take a look at virtually every Hard/Extreme Enduro rider. As Endurcross started to gain ground, it was evident the top riders all had some sort of trials background and that is when trials cross-training was a must-do if you wanted to be competitive. Riders with no trials experience realized that strength and power was not enough to tackle gnarly sections and that finesse and specific techniques that can only be learned from riding a trials bike and then adapted to a big bike was the key.
Today you see top off-road riders performing insane feats on full off-road bikes once seen done only by elite trials riders. Riders like Graham Jarvis, Cody Webb, Alfredo Gómez, Jonny Walker, Colton Haaker, or Taddy Blazusiak to name a few, have all spent time on trials bikes to hone their two-wheel craft.
Beta USA invited moto journalists out to Gary LaPlante’s MotoVentures riding school facility in Anza, California, east of Temecula. The idea was to have a fun day of riding motorcycles and stress again how much fun and essential trials can be to making any rider into a better rider.
If you ever wondered how top Hard Enduro racers make sections look so easy, they probably use trials techniques or something they first learned via riding trials.
I forgot how much fun trials can be until our day on the Betas. They had three different bikes to pick from, the EVO 250 and 300 two-strokes and a 300 four-stroke. All three were very easy to ride and great for all skill levels and the four-stroke is so buttery smooth anyone can take on technical sections very easily, even when just learning. It does take a few tries to get accustomed to a trials bike, the seats are not really designed to sit on – LOL. Knowing the basics is the best way to get everything out of a trials experience. Getting a little coaching from a seasoned trials rider is the best way to ramp up your skills and have the most fun.
You forget how little balance you might have when you are told you can’t put a foot down or you lose a point; lean on a rock with the foot peg, lose a point; go outside the markers, lose 5 points; have to push your motorcycle in a section, lose 5 points. Keep forward momentum. Don’t dab and stay in the boundaries, lose zero points. The rider with the lowest score wins. I did not win!
After a day on the Beta, I once again realized that even though I can still jump 70-foot tables or doubles at the local moto track, and maybe hop over a log here and there, my slow-speed technical enduro skills always need improvement—at any age.
Now getting a trials bike is back on my list of motorcycles I need in my garage and under my feet.
For more information on Beta USA, check out betausa.com.