Beta motorcycles, and specifically, Beta USA, has been a big supporter of the Kenda AMA National Enduro series for the past few years. In 2015, Beta USA is stepping up its involvement in the series with the addition of a full-time team manager for its enduro team. According to team owner Tim Pilg, Beta gets a lot of good exposure riding the enduro series and that’s part of the reason Beta has decided to “pony up” for this year’s series.
Freelance photojournalist Shan Moore had a chance to talk to Pilg about the 2015 national enduro team and also find out about Beta’s new Cross-trainer, which the manufacturer is billing as an entry-level bike for the enduro rider.
Q: Let’s talk about the enduro team. You just hired a new team manager for the east coast team; someone who is a familiar name to the enduro community, right?
A: Yeah, I hired Zack Huberty as an east coast team manager. He has enormous passion for the sport and he has really good people skills. He’s a graduate of Penn State and we hired him to manage Cory Buttrick, Jesse Groemm and Justin Sode’s bikes for the national enduro series. He’ll be at the races prepping the bikes and making sure everyone has what they need.
Q: Groemm was a hire you made during the off-season.
A: I started looking at Jesse last year, but when I went to the Colorado national I really had an eye opening about his abilities and about how he wants to race and wants to win. We started chatting and it just went from there.
Q: So you have Sode and Buttrick back?
A: Yes, Sode will race the enduro series in the Pro class, plus GNCC in the XC2 class along side Jesse Groemm. We also have Buttrick back. We were set back a little last year with Cory’s injuries, but he wants to win and he knows how to win. He’s still pretty young and I’m confident he’ll do very well. Cory is going to race the enduro series on a 300 RR.
Q: Why have you decided to focus on the national enduro series?
A: Well, basically I like what Alan Randt has done with the series. I watched the series shrink a few years back. It had very small participation. And then Alan took it over and made some hard decisions. One decision was to eliminate time keeping, and I know it was a tough decision, but it paid off and I love what he’s done with the series. He has a passion for the series, and we like the exposure we get from the enduro series. In fact, the bikes Beta builds are built for enduro racing. Our bikes are hardcore enduro bikes. The NEPG is getting a lot of exposure with the series and there’s a lot of talent out there in that series. Enduro is very important to us.
Q: Let’s talk about the new Beta Cross-trainer. Why should the off-road guys be excited about Beta’s new Cross-trainer.
A: The Cross-trainer was basically a project we started three or four years ago, and the idea was to create an entry-level enduro bike. We did this for a couple of reasons. Let’s say a guy is out there who is in the market for a bike and maybe he’s not a racer but he’s a hardcore weekend rider, he just doesn’t compete. So he’s checking out bikes and the big bikes are just too intimidating. So ultimately we wanted a design a bike that was less intimidating but one that still had the performance. So we started with several different configurations. At first we took a trials bike chassis and added long-travel suspension, but that didn’t meet our goals. So then we tried putting a trials bike engine in a full-size enduro chassis however the fun factor was just not what we wanted. So ultimately, we started with the engine from our 300 RR, took away the “hit” and created a smooth power delivery that is easy to ride, we created a special exhaust system and put this new engine configuration in a smaller chassis. It still has a power valve but the settings are completely different. It doesn’t have a hit but it pulls through the entire range. The bike is very nimble and it weighs about the same as a 125 off-road bike does. It feels like a 125 but it has the power of a 300. The price came in under $7000.00 and we’re very excited about it. We’re going into production in February, so the bikes will be available here in March.
Q: So when you say a smaller frame, explain that to us.
A: Yeah, the bike is a little better than an inch shorter than a standard RR, and about an inch-and-a-half lower than the RR. Compared to an average enduro bike, it’s about two-and-a-half to three inches lower. The Betas are on the average an inch to an inch-and-a-half lower than the competitors. So the Cross-trainer is another inch lower than that.
Q: So it’s a smaller overall chassis, but it still uses the full size wheels?
A: Yes, it still have full size wheels. The bike looks a little smaller as well, so a vertically-challenged rider will feel right at home on the bike.
Some people are comparing it to the KTM Free Rider, but that wasn’t our target. It would be a great bike as a second bike for an extreme guy, because it rides very well on the extreme stuff, but the ultimate market is the entry-level enduro.