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First Impression - Beta 2020 RR Enduro Lineup

The Italian family-run Tuscany-based Beta Motorcycles has released their 2020 RR enduro bike range and there is a plethora of features to be excited about. The 2020 enduro range is comprised of eight models, four two-strokes (125/200/250/300 cc) and four four-strokes (350/390/430/480 cc).

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During the press launch, the Beta marketing department made it clear that the 2020 model year has been another transformational milestone for the 170-employee passion-driven company. The four-stroke models are all new, from the chassis, motor, subframe, suspension to fasteners, brand new plastics and ergonomics. The two-stroke lineup received a new frame (same geometry as previous model but stiffer), revised airbox, brand new composite subframe, new plastics and ergonomics and many more updates.

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Here are some of the details for the new 2020 lineup to whet your appetite before you read our complete review in the next issue of Inside Motorcycles.

Chassis

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• New frame with redesigned geometry and rigidity for increased agility and stability. Weight is reduced and reliability boosted with the use of precision-cast components, while comfort is improved and vibration reduced thanks to new head bolts. The frame is also narrower at the base which improves handling over difficult sections and typical off-road tracks. The four-stroke model frames receive new geometries and flex characteristics while the 2T model frames retain the same geometry but with 15% stiffer flex.
• Modified swingarm now longer for the four-stroke range and the 200 cc two-stroke model, for better stability and traction.
• Completely redesigned tailpiece, greater strength to reduce breakage during off road riding. This will be a welcome upgrade to those who broke many-a-fender when whiskey throttle took over. All filter box components and related accessories are now housed inside the fender and subframe (electrical components and oil reservoir for two-strokes).
• New air filter boot, which provides a more waterproof design and according to the Beta technical staff a more precise EFI tuning and carb jetting.
• New Filter mounting system, providing quicker and more accurate installation similar to other manufacturers currently on the market.
• Improved fork design compared to previous version, with new inner cartridge to lower the center of gravity providing the perfect level of plushness while also improving the action of square-edge impacts. Internal valving has been updated to work in-line with the new frame design.
• New rear shock absorber with a new spring top-out system to improve grip and contact with the ground during hard braking.
• New longer shock bumper with more progressive compression. This ensures good protection of the buffer and improves bottoming resistance.
• New valving, to work in-line with the new frame.
• Cooling system with water hoses placed inside the frame and more efficient radiators. This apparently improves heat transfer and allows engines to operate at lower temperatures even in the most extreme conditions.
• Larger capacity fuel tanks, of 9.1 litre (2.4 US gallons) for four-strokes and 9.5 litre (2.55 US gallons) for two-strokes. Besides providing greater range, the new fuel tanks improve ergonomics and ease-of-movement in the seat.
• Wider handlebars for greater control.
• Exhaust with new layout in line with the bike's new rear section.
• Side stand with bigger foot.
• New precision-cast footpegs that are better at shedding mud and teeth to increase boot grip.
• New chain guide, longer to suit new swingarm.
• New brake pedal, more robust and with larger bearings.
• Shorter 430/480 cc gearing compared to previous models.

Engine

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Four-stroke (350/390/430/480 cc):
• A complete redesign, with the aim of reducing the weight and bulk of moving parts, achieved by raising the clutch and moving the crankshaft back (it does not make the bike longer). Moving the center of gravity closer to the swingarm pivot makes for significantly better handling. An overall weight reduction of around 1 kg (2.2 lb)
• A redesigned magnesium clutch cover, redeveloped to improve the oil flow into the clutch assembly more efficiently.
• Magnesium flywheel cover, redesigned in line with the rest of the engine, now with a more functional and modern look.
• New water pump system that improves flow-rate and therefore the efficiency of the cooling system's ability to transfer heat, keeping average temperatures lower, improving performance, and providing a more simplified cooling hose system.
• Cylinder and head redesigned matched with the updated cooling system to lower engine temperatures.
• Oil circuit redesigned to provide better heat transfer between oil and water in the front section of the crankcase in order to keep the oil temperature lower.
• Clutch with redesigned discs in a new material to ensure smoother and more modular gear shifting.
• Redesigned gearing, now shorter and lighter.
• New gearshift mechanism with lighter cam to improve shifting.
• Gearshift lever redesigned in line with the new engine and frame layout.
• Addition of a neutral sensor.
• Updated EFI mapping.

Two-stroke (250/300 cc):
• Now with a counter-balancer to reduce vibration by increasing inertia and improving the power delivery curve. The counter-balancer improves the power delivery throughout the rpm range.
• Cylinder head redesigned (250 cc only) to improve torque at low rpm.

Two-stroke (125 cc):
• New cylinder with modified exhaust port and diameters.
• New exhaust flange.
• New exhaust valve system and new boosters. New clutch cover with air purging system operated by the modified clutch mechanism; modified oil inlet cap position.
• New exhaust valve drive, opens at a different rate to improve power delivery.
• New expansion chamber.

Ergonomics

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The new lineup comes with a new redesigned tank, making it very easy to practice the proper riding technique ie. crotch as far forward as possible when cornering. The foot pegs are slightly higher to keep your feet away from catching the ruts or tree stumps and definitely noticeable compared to previous model. The seat is definitely soft, and after about 10 minutes of seated riding, the foam compressed completely and many of the testers (including myself) were feeling the plastic seat pan under their butt. The cover is also quite slippery which allowed for quick movements around on the bike, but we prefer the gripper seats available on the market today as they allow you to stay planted during hard acceleration and in gnarly terrain, especially hill climbs. This seat however; nicely motivates you to stand up while riding. When standing, I found the cockpit extremely comfortable for my 6-foot 2-inch frame and wouldn’t change much to make it perfect.

Overall I was extremely pleased with many of the updates that Beta has made for the 2020 model year and it showed that they really listened to the feedback from their clients. Their goal for this year was to make the most rideable enduro bikes on the market at a very competitive price and I must say that they really hit their mark with the 2020 lineup. Watch for our complete review of the 2020 Beta Enduro RR lineup in the October 2019 issue of Inside Motorcycles, on newsstands and in mailboxes this August.

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Monday, 29 July 2019 12:12 Published in Feature Stories


First Impression - 2019 BMW F 750 GS and F 850 GS

Inside Motorcycles just got back from the media press launch for the two newest middle class adventure bikes from BMW Motorrad and thought we’d give our digital followers a sneak peek at our first impressions of the new entry level and mid level BMW adventure machines. You can read the full detailed review of the new machines in an upcoming issue of Inside Motorcycles.

As I mentioned in my Inside Line editorial in the last MX and Off-Road issue, the adventure bike segment has been growing substantially. BMW bikes have always been at the forefront of this segment since the mid 2000s when the British television series Long Way Around with Ewan McGregor was on the air. Following the series, the show made middle-aged men part with their hard earned money by flocking to the nearest BMW dealership to plop down deposits on a shiny new 1150 GS.

This launch was focused on the entry to mid level products from the BMW line, the F 750 GS and F 850 GS. Both machines are brand new and have some substantial changes from their F 700 and F 800 predecessors. There are also a lot of shared components between these two new models.

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The F 750 GS is slotted into the “mostly on road with occasional off road” category and BMW is targeting new motorcycle riders as well as the female segment with this model. The stock low seat height of 815 mm (optional lowering kit drops the seat height to 770 mm) is going to be welcome news to riders with a short inseam as it allows them to have a confident connection with terra firma when stopped at a stoplight or uneven off-road terrain. The narrow midsection also makes it easier to reach the ground. The motor, an 853 cc power plant that shares the same displacement with its bigger brother, with different intake and exhaust cams, puts out a respectable 57 kW (77 hp) at 7,500 rpm. The motor is free revving with a crisp throttle response, however you do have to get into the upper two thirds of the RPM range to stay in the meat of the power. This allows new or inexperienced riders to progressively explore the motor’s characteristics as they get more comfortable on the machine. On the road, the bike feels light and flickable and surprisingly very fun, even for experienced riders. Fitted with street rubber, the tight and twisty roads put a smile on all the journalists’ faces. When taken off-road, the F 750 GS can definitely hold its own, and we had no trouble navigating the gravel roads and rocky double tracks of Colorado and Utah, even with the street tires. When pushed on the off-road terrain, the cast aluminum 19-inch front and 17-inch rear rims, already mentioned street tires, rear shock and telescopic 41 mm fork and quickly reach their limit when ridden in more technical terrain or by a more aggressive rider in the 180 to 200 lb range.

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BMW Motorrad sees the F 850 GS fitting the ADV spectrum just below the flagship 1200 GS where the F 850 GS is equally comfortable on road as well as off-road. This statement quickly becomes apparent, as soon as you have a look at the components on F 750 GS’s bigger brother. The cast aluminum rims are replaced with cross spoke wheels and the 850 gets the more off-road oriented 21-inch front wheel but sticks with the 17-inch rear, USD 43 mm front fork and beefy rear shock, paired with the very capable 853 cc 70 kW (90 hp) motor. The stock seat height is 860 mm, 45 mm taller than the F 750 GS but in line with other manufacturers’ bikes in this category. Suspension travel is also increased and respectable at 204 mm/219 mm front/rear compared to the F 750 GS, which comes in at 151 mm/177 mm. The F 850 GS is truly a lot of fun on- and off-road, with good power to make it fun on the pavement and to spin the tires in the dirt when you turn off the traction control for maximum fun factor.

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The stock electronics package comes with two standard riding modes on both machines (Rain and Road) and optional Dynamic, Enduro and Enduro Pro mode for the F 850 GS. Our test machines were equipped with the Enduro Pro option and we were very impressed with its customization capability for turning off traction control and ABS to suit different riding terrain.

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When you combine a very capable pair of motorcycles with the BMW brand that prides itself on being a premium brand, you may expect the price to be out of range. However, you might be surprised. The F 750 GS starts at a Canadian MSRP of $11,200 and the F 850 GS at $14,800. If you want to load up either model with every option available, the price will go up by an additional $4,600.

2019 BMW F 750 GS
MSRP: Starting at $11,200
Colour: Light White, Austin Metallic Yellow, Stereo Metallic Matt
Engine: Liquid-cooled in-line twin
Displacement: 853 cc
Power: 77 hp @ 7,500 rpm
Torque: 61 ft-lb @ 6,000 rpm
Frame: Bridge-type frame, steel shell construction
Weight: 224 kg (493.8 lb), wet
Seat height: 815 mm (32.1 in)
Suspension (front): 41 mm telescopic fork
Suspension (rear): Single shock adjustable for spring pre-load and rebounds damping
Brakes (front): dual 305 mm discs with double-piston floating caliper
Brakes (rear): 265 mm disc with single-piston floating caliper
Fuel Capacity: 15 L

2019 BMW F 850 GS
MSRP: Starting at $14,800
Colour: Rallye style Tri-Colour, Racing Red, Pollux Metallic Matt
Engine: Liquid-cooled in-line twin
Displacement: 853 cc
Power: 90 hp @ 7,500 rpm
Torque: 68 ft-lb @ 6,000 rpm
Frame: Bridge-type frame, steel shell construction
Weight: 229 kg (504.9 lb), wet
Seat height: 860 mm (33.9 in)
Suspension (front): USD 43 mm telescopic fork
Suspension (rear): Single shock adjustable for spring pre-load and rebounds damping
Brakes (front): dual 305 mm discs with double-piston floating caliper
Brakes (rear): 265 mm disc with single-piston floating caliper
Fuel Capacity: 15 L

Friday, 02 November 2018 16:51 Published in Feature Stories


First Impression – 2019 KTM 790 Duke

Every fall, Milan, Italy provides the backdrop for the unveiling of the latest and greatest innovations from the motorcycle industry. When KTM rolled the production model of the 790 Duke onto EICMA’s world stage in November 2017, fans of naked bikes stood up and paid attention. Now, almost a full year later, with the production requirements for Europe’s motorcycle-centric population satisfied, the 790 Duke has arrived as a 2019 model in North America. When KTM called with an invitation to test out this machine on California’s sun-drenched twisties, the answer from IM was a resounding “YES!” Our full review will be in your mailbox and on newsstands in the near future, but in the interim here is a First Impression look at this exciting new motorcycle.

Upon initial glance, the 790 Duke fits right into the Duke family, sharing the same aggressive minimalist design right down to split LED headlight, but make no mistake: while the 790 Duke adds to the lineage of a lineup that will celebrate the 25th anniversary of the original Duke 620 in 2019, this motorcycle represents a new chapter for Austria’s best-known motorcycle manufacturer.

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Developed with a goal of creating a mid-point in the brand’s street lineup, the 790 Duke is the culmination of over 100,000 man-hours that went into creating this motorcycle. At its heart is KTM’s all-new compact LC8c 799 cc DOHC liquid-cooled parallel-twin engine. In addition to being the company’s first foray into this configuration, the pairing of the engine as a load-bearing element of the chromium molybdenum tubular steel frame is another first for the company. Thanks in large part to this new frame design, the 790 Duke tips the scales with a svelte dry weight of just 169 kg (372.6 lb) and with a claimed 105 horsepower the resulting power-to-weight ratio moves it to the forefront of the highly competitive middleweight class. KTM representatives explained that the engine has been tuned to provide low-end torque without sacrificing the ability to pull power out at the top end. While it is easy to be skeptical of statements like these, it was immediately clear when riding the bike that the 790 Duke delivers on this goal as it pulls hard from the initial twist of the throttle right through to its 9,500 rpm redline.

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Despite having a very reasonable Canadian MSRP of $11,499, the 790 Duke is loaded with standard features including up/down quick shifter, full-colour TFT display, WP suspension, steering damper, ride-by-wire throttle and power-assisted slipper clutch. In addition to Bosch-controlled lean-sensitive traction control, motor slip regulation and ABS, the 790 Duke includes selectable ride modes of Rain, Street and Sport as well as a Track setting which allows complete control over the level of rider aids including the ability to turn off wheelie control. True to KTM’s Ready to Race mantra, the inclusion of a Supermoto ABS setting, which allows the rider to disengage the cornering ABS on the rear tire, as well as the ability to set the shift linkage to a race pattern without additional parts will satisfy even the most dedicated track day enthusiasts. Need further proof of the abilities of this motorcycle? Take a visit to YouTube and check out Chris Fillmore’s record setting 2018 Pikes Peak run. Save for an exhaust system, rear sets, slick tires and removal of unnecessary street-legal components, the bike you see in the video is essentially the same one that is waiting for you on the showroom floor at KTM.

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Anyone who has ridden the 1290 Super Duke or 390 Duke will find the upright, slightly pitched forward riding position very familiar, although the size of the 790 Duke actually feels more comparable to the 390. The ergonomics are very comfortable and thanks to KTM’s forethought to include ample adjustments – four options on the triple clamp plus three further options for rotation – the tapered aluminum handlebar can be positioned to meet a wide variety of physical reaches and riding preferences. Despite being raised to accommodate the level of ground clearance that the 790 Duke’s sporting intentions require, the footpegs are comfortably positioned and riders of various heights reported being impressed with the absence of any leg cramping or fatigue.

So, is the 790 Duke as good in real life as it is on paper? KTM refers to this model as “The Scalpel” which reflects the company’s stated ambition of creating “the sharpest street weapon.” In the case of the 790 Duke, these slick marketing slogans are also accurate descriptions of this motorcycle. From the first corner to the last, this motorcycle impressed with its uncanny confidence-inspiring ability to handle anything that was thrown at it. Light and manoeuvrable, the 790 Duke moves from side to side with ease and tracks perfectly through corners at grin-inducing lean angles. It accelerates with a ferocity that will make its competitors nervous and is built to be equally capable commuting across town as it is carving through canyons or tearing up the track. On top of all of this it looks great, sounds awesome and is surprisingly comfortable. Add in an $11,499 MSRP and it looks like KTM has a winning formula.

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2019 KTM 790 Duke
Canadian MSRP: $11,499
Colours: Orange, Grey
Engine: Liquid-cooled DOHC parallel-twin
Displacement: 799 cc
Power: 105 hp @ 9,000 rpm
Torque: 64 ft-lb @ 8,000 rpm
Frame: Chromium molybdenum tubular steel with engine as stressed element
Weight: 169 kg (382.6 lb), dry
Wheelbase: 1,475 mm (58.1 in)
Seat height: 825 mm (32.5 in)
Suspension (front): WP inverted 43 mm fork
Suspension (rear): WP shock absorber with adjustable preload
Brakes (front): dual 300 mm discs with radially mounted 4 piston calipers
Brakes (rear): 240 mm disc with 2 piston caliper
Fuel Capacity: 14 L

Friday, 26 October 2018 12:48 Published in Feature Stories


2018 KTM 1290 Super Adventure S - Initial Impression

A visit to KTM’s North American headquarters in sunny Southern California last week provided a break from Canada’s persistent winter weather and the perfect opportunity to test the brand’s latest adventure bike offering: the 1290 Super Adventure S, which is making its inaugural appearance in Canada as a 2018 model. You will be able to find Inside Motorcycles’ complete in-depth review of the KTM 1290 Super Adventure S in an upcoming issue, but we couldn’t wait to share our initial thoughts on this exciting motorcycle. 

Saturday, 07 April 2018 17:59 Published in Industry News


2018 Panigale V4 S - First Impression

When I heard that they lightened the dash by a few hundred grams, with that level of attention to detail I knew this was going to be one serious bike. Actually scratch that, I knew well before the press launch that Ducati’s new flagship superbike was going to be momentous. This is after all Ducati with a heritage rich in racing and phenomenal red paint.

Monday, 29 January 2018 17:57 Published in Industry News


2018 Honda Gold Wing - Initial Impression

This week IM visited Austin, Texas to test the all-new 2018 Honda Gold Wing. Completely redesigned from the ground up, this is the first major update of Honda's flagship touring machine since the introduction of the GL1800 in 2001. Our complete, in-depth review of the 2018 Honda Gold Wing will be featured in an upcoming issue of Inside Motorcycles, but we couldn’t wait to share our initial impressions of Honda’s latest model.

Thursday, 18 January 2018 22:56 Published in Industry News


Honda Unveils All-New 2018 Gold Wing

In a fitting tribute to the country that elevated their flagship-touring machine to iconic status, Honda chose the United States as the location for the global launch of the redesigned 2018 Gold Wing on October 24, 2017 in Santa Barbara, California.

Thursday, 26 October 2017 10:56 Published in Industry News


Press Launch: BMW K 1600 B

As I circulate the fast, long sweeping turns of the Blue Ridge Parkway at speeds that shall not be named for risk of incriminating myself, I smirk as I realize that I’m on a bagger not a sport bike. Simply put, you can corner with confidence at the same speed as most other baggers top out.

Sunday, 27 August 2017 18:25 Published in Feature Stories


Press launch: Kawasaki Versys-X 300 in Utah

Kawasaki has given the Versys-X 300 somewhat of an identity crisis. The all-new 2017 model is positioned as a street bike, and is listed as such on Kawasaki’s Canadian website. But then there are the dirt-leaning dual sport looks, and the marketing imagery of the bike being ridden in the dirt and splashing through mud. You’d be forgiven for being as perplexed as I was about who exactly this motorcycle is intended for.

Friday, 12 May 2017 13:36 Published in Feature Stories


FIRST RIDE: 2017 HONDA REBEL 300 AND REBEL 500 (with photos!)

For the international launch of its fresh, youthful 2017 Rebel 300 and 500 models, Honda chose the oceanfront neighbourhood of Venice Beach, California. The vibrant location, what with its trendy restaurants, cafés and free-spirited community, served as the perfect backdrop for the exciting new Rebel series.

Tuesday, 04 April 2017 17:06 Published in Feature Stories


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