Introduced eight years ago, the Beta Xtrainer has always been the red-headed stepchild of the boutique Italian brand’s dirt bike lineup. Designed as something between a trials bike and an enduro bike, featuring a more compact frame and lower seat height, the Xtrainer never lived up to its potential as a novice-friendly trail bike capable of taking on highly technical trails—until now. Beta reworked the Xtrainer last year, but we never made the time to ride it. There are more updates this year, and we nabbed the first one in the fleet. As it turns out, the 2023 Beta Xtrainer is a huge step forward for the model, and I love it.
- Suspension always held the Beta Xtrainer back. The Ollé R16V suspension was always wanting—we last tested it in 2018. It was both harsh and bottomed easily. Sorting out the Ollé suspension wasn’t a simple task, as they’re unusual units. You could get the $2500 suspension upgrade package through the Build Your Own Beta program, but now your budget trail bike would have a price tag of over $10k.
- Beta has gotten serious about the Xtrainer’s suspension, and it works incredibly well, which makes a world of difference. The nicely balanced action is supple and resistant to bottoming at trail riding speeds. This isn’t an enduro bike—if you’re looking to charge your way down a trail, Beta has an RR that will suit you nicely. The 2023 Beta Xtrainer is for fun trail riding speeds and taking on rougher conditions as you explore more challenging trails. If you want to run an RR pace, but are looking for a lighter bike that is less expensive, you’ll be disappointed in the Xtrainer.
- Although fully adjustable, we didn’t stray much from the stock settings. Beta suspension testers must have worked overtime on the Ollés. We were never tempted to soften the suspension, as it already was plusher than a Beanie Baby. Attempts to stiffen things up unsettled the balance, with the side-effect of losing traction as the Xtrainer started getting skittery. Weighing in at a featherweight 232 pounds with the new, larger 2.3-gallon fuel tank topped off with straight gas, the Xtrainer is extra sensitive to clicker adjustments. We learned to accept bottoming on g-outs in exchange for fantastic traction and a comfortable ride through even the rockiest terrain.
- The 2023 Beta Xtrainer’s 292cc two-stroke motor has two power settings—Sun and Rain—and they make a huge difference. The good news is that the Xtrainer’s handling and suspension action work with both power modes—that’s not always the case, as a change in power delivery will affect how a bike steers and how the suspension reacts. So, let’s get into the two modes, which go by pictograms rather than official names. It’s also worth mentioning that we had a non-stock FMF Turbinecore 2 spark arrestor installed to keep us legal.
- The Sun mode delivers an interesting experience, and there’s a learning curve for its use. Put the 300-class motor into the Sun mode, and it loves to rev. The power comes on in the meaty midrange, and will run into an impressive and controllable top end; on an open road, it’s good for over 70 mph. At the bottom end, while the motor may sound like it’s bogging, especially on hillclimbs, it’s not. There’s enough torque available that when you dial on the throttle, the Sun mode pulls smoothly into the midrange without so much as feathering the clutch. It would be easy to think my 115 pounds was not weighing the Xtrainer down, but even with 200+ pound riders aboard, there was no bogging. With 292cc to work with, there’s plenty of power to go around.
- Push the handlebar-mounted button and put the Xtrainer into the Rain mode, and it pulls strongly off idle. As soon as you crack the throttle, you’ll know which mode you’re in—a good thing since the indicator light on our test bike didn’t work. Power isn’t abrupt down low, but I had to finesse my throttle hand. The Rain mode transitions linearly into a strong midrange, and drops off quickly—it does not want to move into the top end. Even so, that range from idle to the top of the midrange is wide and usable. You dial on the power predictably with the throttle, making the case-induction two-stroke a wonderfully responsive trailbike motor. There is a new airbox on this year’s Xtrainer, which may have given the powerplant just a bit more low-end boost.
- I can take both sides of the question of which power mode to pick in different situations. It’s not simply a matter of Sun for fast situations and Rain for slow. When picking my way through a rocky stream bed, the soft low-end of the Sun mode was perfect, as long as I didn’t need a blip of immediate power to get up a step. When slaloming through the creosote bushes in the desert, I preferred the Rain mode as I could easily steer with the rear without having to run the motor at high revs. Figuring out the best mode for conditions takes some time, and it depends on your riding style.
- For those who want even more power delivery options, the power valve is adjustable. The downside is that it requires a tool to adjust, so you will have to put some time in to tweak it to your taste. We were happy with the standard setting for the all-around riding we do. We can go from technical rocky single-track to big hillclimbs to sandwashes in 15 minutes. While there might be a better setting for those who live in a single-terrain area, we’re happy with the stock setup for diverse riding.
- Beta could have made it easier to switch power modes. While the handlebar switch is an improvement over the frame-mounted switch on the RRs, I can’t reach it with my thumb while maintaining my hold on the left grip—and my hands are not small. The switchgear has a non-functional turn signal switch that would be great as a power mode selector.
- The diaphragm-spring hydraulic clutch is fantastic. The action is predictable, and the touch is lighter than you’d expect for a 292cc motor—and that is a good thing since the reach to the lever is fairly far. For a trail bike designed for ease of use, this is surprising. You can adjust the clutch lever, but it’s a fine line to ensure the clutch is still disengaging the transmission when two-fingering it. The pull and engagement are also adjustable, though that involves pulling the clutch cover. While we’re discussing the transmission, the six-speed shifts effortlessly, and there’s always the right gear available.
- With excellent suspension action and a wonderfully supple motor, the intuitive handling of the 2023 Beta Xtrainer is the cherry on top of a Sunday ride. With the compact dimensions of the chassis, even smaller riders will feel in control. With the suspension travel limited to 10.6 inches at both ends, the center of gravity is low. The supple suspension, controllable motor, and lack of mass combine to make me feel like the master of the bike. Even when I get out of shape on the Xtrainer, a rare occurrence, I can quickly bring it back to stability. This builds confidence and encourages me to push my boundaries.
- The Shinko 216MX tires always find traction. The tires are DOT- and FIM-approved, so the knobs don’t exceed 13mm in height. Despite that handicap, they work fine in sandwashes and are good in hardpack. Still, if you don’t need street legality, stepping up to a full off-road knobby suitable for your local conditions when the Shinkos wear out makes sense.
- The brakes are strong—maybe a bit too strong. It’s easy to modulate the front braking, though I did manage to get a bit too aggressive on a downhill and auger in once. The rear brake doesn’t have as much feel as I would like. These look like the same brakes used on the heavier and faster RR models. Slower riders will definitely want to investigate pads with less bite.
- Although the seat height is 35.8 inches, it feels much lower—something I rarely say on a dirt bike. Thanks to the magic of sag, at five-foot-six and with a 30.5-inch inseam, I am almost flatfooted on the Xtrainer at a stop in my Alpinestars Tech 7 Enduro boots. This gives me all sorts of confidence to take the Xtrainer places I might not want to take a full-sized dirt bike. It makes everything easier, including turning around on a tight trail. When you add in the narrow seat and light weight, the 2023 Beta Xtrainer feels almost trials-bike light, which is absolutely fantastic until you approach its top speed. It does start to get nervous when tapped out in sixth—a small price to pay.
- Life with a carburetor can be complicated. When we started the 2023 Beta Xtrainer for the first time, the pilot jet was clogged. The orifice is tiny, and on close inspection revealed there might have been some debris in there. Getting to the pilot is a bit of a pain, though it did require removing the otherwise excellent 36mm Keihin PWK carburetor—no, I didn’t do it; Editor At Large Bill Kranhold performed the task ably with his personal Beta experience.
- Jetting is spot-on, working fine in altitudes ranging from around 2500 feet above sea level to about a mile up. All it took for crisp running was a little dialing in of the idle and air circuits. The new lithium-ion battery fires up the Xtrainer instantly—remember to use the choke when it’s cold. Also, don’t forget to turn off the petcock at the end of the day and empty the float bowl. We would love to see EFI on the Xtrainer ASAP.
- An oil injection system makes things easier in a mixed garage. It’s nice to be able to run straight gas in the fuel tank. You don’t have to have separate fuel supplies—if you’re out riding and require refueling, you won’t need to have two-stroke oil with you. The oil tank lives under the seat; no tools are required to access it. You do have to remove one bolt to get to the air filter.
- The 2023 Beta Xtrainer will please just about anyone other than the fastest go-fast guys. This latest iteration of the Xtrainer moves it to the front of the trailbike class. At $8299, it’s more expensive than the Kawasaki KLX300 ($5699) but less than the Yamaha WR250F ($8899)—perhaps two of the Xtrainer’s closest competitors. However, it’s hard to argue against the effectiveness of light weight, a low and compact chassis, a flexible two-mode two-stroke motor, and (finally) excellent suspension. Xtraining was never so fun.
Photography by Don Williams
2023 Beta Xtrainer Specs
- Type: Two-stroke single
- Displacement: 292cc
- Bore x stroke: 73 x 69.9mm
- Compression ratio: 11.55:1
- Fueling: Keihin PWK 36mm carburetor and case induction
- Exhaust valve: Beta Progressive Valve
- Cooling: Liquid
- Starting: Electric (kick optional)
- Lubrication: Electronic oil-injection
- Transmission: 6-speed
- Clutch: Diaphragm style w/ hydraulic actuation
- Final drive: O-ring chain
- Frame: Perimeter-style chromoly
- Front suspension; travel: Rebound-damping and spring-preload adjustable inverted Ollé R16V 43mm fork; 10.6 inches
- Rear suspension; travel: Fully adjustable linkage-assisted Ollé R16V piggyback shock; 10.6 inches
- Front tire: 80/100 x 21
- Rear tire: 140/60 x 18
- Front brake: 260mm floating disc w/ Nissin caliper
- Rear brake: 240mm disc w/ Nissin caliper
DIMENSIONS and CAPACITIES
- Wheelbase: 57.8 inches
- Seat height: 35.8 inches
- Ground clearance: 12.6 inches
- Footpeg height: 15.4 inches
- Fuel tank capacity: 2.32 gallons
- Oil tank capacity: 22 ounces
- Wet weight: 232 pounds
2023 Beta Xtrainer Price: $8299 MSRP
2023 Beta Xtrainer Review Photo Gallery