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Romaniacs Spec Beta Xtrainer

In less than a week we head off to Romania for the 2017 edition of Red Bull Romaniacs, and even though the old saying goes “it’s not the bike… it’s the rider”, we’ll do whatever we can to give us a better chance of finishing in one piece!

So here’s a full run down of all the mods we’ve done to our lowly Beta Xtrainer in an attempt to make it Romaniacs ready!

Firstly (and most importantly) we designed custom graphics and had them printed up in super quick time by Amped in Cornwall, UK.

Everyone knows custom graphics make you go faster, but we thought we better do some other bits and pieces too so looked at more protection, like our current joint favourite mod the P-Tech pipe/sump guard from Estonia.

It’s really nicely made and looks the nuts! It does add a bit of weight over the standard skid plate and a carbon guard but the level of protection is phenomenal and well worth the extra lardiness in our opinion. We first saw this style of guard a few years ago on a friend’s Romaniacs silver class finishing bike and have been trying to find one since. This guard is for the RR, but like many things, it fits the Xtrainer perfectly with no modifications – DECENT!

We also added clutch and ignition side protection with these nice lightweight hand made plastic guards from Enduro Hog in Slovenia. They were approx. £50 for the pair and came to the UK in a matter of days. Really easy to fit by replacing 3 engine bolts on each side with the supplied slightly longer versions. Shame we didn’t add them from day one as the cases have taken a massive beating in the technical rocky Spanish terrain over the last couple of years!

Sticking with the protection theme, our rear disc guard from Enduro Engineering has seen a lot of rocky abuse and held up well (swing arm looks a little tired though).

We’ve also stuck on a KTM (Acerbis) front disc guard saved from one of our old Rally bikes (note the hole badly made for the Rally ICO).

We’re running a mousse in the front and a Tubliss in the rear. We’ve run Tubliss for years now and I have personally had no problems so far… we’ll be carrying a tubeless repair kit, but frankly I think the risk of a (probably) fixable puncture is outweighed by the grip offered by 1 or 2 psi in the rear, which is nothing short of cheating!

We’ve used Mitas double green stripe super sticky tyres before at the Red Bull Nirvana Extreme in Spain, and they were incredibly grippy but become a bit wallowy (is that a word?) at low pressure, plus the bubblegum compound lasts hours! So for Romaniacs we’re going with Michelin Comp 3 Enduro rear tyres and Comp 4 front – the Comp 3 rear works really well at super low pressures in every type of terrain we’ve tried them in. We might try a super soft tyre for the prologue if we can be bothered to change it (and depending on the weather)… but we’re not trying to win anything so it’s probably a bit overkill.

Our Beta Xtrainer Suspension Upgrade post talks about our move to WP front forks and Fox shock. In doing so we moved over to using a set of nearly new KTM wheels we had spare – they look a bit beefier than the standard Xtrainer ones, and as the other three Dirtpunk riders are on KTM/Husqvarna bikes, it means we can take just one set of spare wheels between the team.

Front wheel fits perfectly with just a swap of the spacers (you can also interchange KTM small and large axle spacers too), but we had to shave off approx. 1.75mm from each of the rear KTM spacers to get the wheel to fit.

A quick bit of measuring and then in minutes fellow Dirtpunker Gabe at Zen Overland had rinsed the spacers… ace!

I think we had owned and ridden the Xtrainer for about a week before we moved from the standard pipe to a FMF Gnarly (it didn’t help that we smashed the original to bits). The Gnarly gave a huge increase in power, and although it is known for it’s boost to low down torque, on the Xtrainer it felt a little too angry – almost too aggressive with the bike’s shorter wheelbase. Our 300RR with the standard FMF pipe actually felt softer and easier to ride in comparison.

We tried to play around with jetting and the power valve but that intitial hit was still a bit too lively. We did manage to soften things out a little by modifying the throttle tube to a more cam style shape and have been riding with the Gnarly for well over a year with good results, but for Romaniacs we’ve switched to (our other joint favourite mod) an FMF Factory pipe and it is so much nicer – much smoother for technical riding and if the style is your thing it looks proper factory!! (The Gnarly is going to Romaniacs too as a spare though).

Although our hand modded throttle tube worked well, we had got the idea from a G2 Throttle tamer but in the UK they seem to be rarer than hen’s teeth! We had run out of time to import from the USA but then we had a brainwave… KTM uses the same throttle tube as Beta (up to 2016 or 17?) and so a quick look through the KTM powerparts brochure revealed that KTM had rebranded the 2-stroke 3 cam G2 (as they do with a lot of stuff) and so it was available to buy for an eye watering £133.

It comes with a standard profile cam and a ‘mid 200X and soft 400X’ profile – we’re running the soft and it’s really good for technical riding, and having the flexibility to change the riding style of the bike by simply changing the cams is great, but if you just want to smooth out the initial hit then it’s not that much better than our hand modded £5 plastic throttle tube!

The radiators are filled with Evans coolant, and we’ve really stress tested them in Spain in 38 degree Celsius horrible slow moving single track. The bike does get hot with the smaller radiators compared to the 300RR and the fan is on pretty much constantly in super technical riding, but we’ve not lost any coolant.

I think maybe we’ll treat her to bigger radiators and maybe even a better water pump when we get back (depending on how well behaved she’s been).

Our Meca System’s radiator guards have held up reasonably well on the Xtrainer and protected the rads…

…although we can’t whole heartedly recommend them any more after they didn’t seem to offer a whole lot of protection on our 300RR?!? Maybe just an an unlucky impact, but they also foul the forks on full lock on the RR which is a bit of a pain… recommendations for better radiator guards in the comments please!

We needed a larger tank than standard for the mountains of Spain, so we thought why take any risks in Romaniacs too and went for the IMS large tank. It was hard to find in the UK as it has to be imported from Beta USA – you can’t buy direct from an IMS dealer which is a bit of pain. We managed find a company in the UK importing them – Sinister Powersports.

Lastly the seat foam has had a little shave, and under the it we store our toolkit and tubeless repair kit in the space created by fitting a smaller lithium battery. The top two carb breather tubes are routed up in there too for deep water crossings.

We’ve left the Oil Injection in the Xtrainer and our RR and have had no problems so far (touch wood)… still, would be a real shame not to finish because it stopped working so we may yet take it out when we get to Romania though.

So there we have it… if only the rider was half as ready as the bike!

Questions or comments please? Leave a comment

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Can you really rally a Beta Xtrainer?

Short answer… yes.

Long answer starts in October 2016 with a sudden onset of madness and an entry into the 2017 edition Redbull Romaniacs 😳, and so we’d just started a full blown suspension change to KTM WP 4CS forks and a Fox Factory Podium Shock to see if the bike would be man enough (full details on the suspension change will come in a later post).

Fellow Dirtpunk rider, and all-round ‘super chap’ Gabriel Bolton from Zen Overland had persuaded me to enter the Hafren Rally (Wales, UK) a while back on ‘BFF’ matching 2017 KTM 6-Days 350 four strokes. He’s been near the top of the 2016 championship for a while now. We’ve been partners in crime on many exploits together in the past, Mondo Sahara, PKUP, Tuareg Rallye and Rally Albania to name a few.

So a few days before the event a plan was hatched… why not try the Xtrainer with it’s new suspension instead of the much more suitable KTM and use the Hafren Rally as a place to setup the suspension for fast riding? What could possibly go wrong?

Nothing actually – there were a few scary moments on the sighting lap, the front was a little soft but easily fixed trackside with the separate fork top rebound and compression clickers.

The rear was too soft as well, but during the first pit stop we got the pipe off the bike to gain access and give a full turn of the preload adjustment ring, and upped the low and high speed compression by a 3 or 4 clicks, and dialed in a fair bit of rebound damping to try and stop the bike acting like Buckaroo in the whoops.

We started near the front of the fast pack in 9th and 10th position and were surrounded by the rally Rally Lite 2 class (450+ 4 strokes) so sure, we got overtaken by some fast boys on fast bikes, but we also overtook a few too!

The Xtrainer was fantastic in the woods and single track sections, but alas… with standard gearing she was topping out at around 110kph on the open fast tracks… we were never going to be a winner…

So, we would say you most definitely can Rally a Beta Xtrainer running upgraded suspension… I’m not sure we would try high speed racing on a box fresh Xtrainer with standard suspension though 😉!

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Bud plays in the sand at Weston Beach Race

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Straight from the horses mouth…

With all the talk coming up about Weston, I was keen as to hit the sand. The Yamaha wr250 well prepped and feeling fit I was ready! Last year not making it to the top 100, my aim was to make it this year.

With a start number of 130 I had a decent start up the front, pulling 96mph down the straight I had the advantage over the Mx bikes into the first corner.

Keeping my head high I made few mistakes and chose good lines, riding clean all day and with no bike problems made the day go smooth.

With fast pit stops from www.pressureservices.co.uk I lost little time.

I managed 16 laps in the 3hrs, taking 63th place out out 800+ riders. So more then happy, and giving me a seeded number for next year, bring it on! ✊🏼

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Expert win for Bud at Wolbrough Barton


He’s been at it again, latest race report from Bud…

Sunday took me to Wolbrough Barton for the South West rounds. The track was a well laid out 5 mile course of tight twisty woods and fast open fields.

The start went well being 1st into the corner. Then two other more “experienced” riders got in front, which I kept with till the 1.5hr mark.

With a fast pit stop I came out in front of the pack where I got into a rhythm and loved the last hour, still feeling fit, and managed to get up amongst the championship riders. A greats day, still need to improve on passing but learnt a lot from following the other riders (Gary McCoy & Tony Penhaligon) happy to take the expert win, 5th over all with the 4th fastest lap!i

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Bud stomps into championship class

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Photo by Sarah Turner

Not content with kicking ass in Expert class, Bud has a go at Championship class at Nancymellon…

Sunday took me to my local track for a 3hr hare and hounds. Stepping up to championship class for this event I was unsure of the outcome on the flowing woodland/mx track course.

With some strong champ riders I managed to get second into the first corner, as the lap went on I was passed easily by the faster riders, but by the first hour I had pushed past 4th place and had to make the first fuel stop.

As the race went on my fitness came into the racing, battling into second place. At 2hr in I was lying in second, once fuelled  again I pushed hard to catch Ian Martin having good battles and swapping positions.

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Photo by Sarah Turner

The last half hour I was up front and still feeling fit, increasing my lead to over 3 minutes when the flag dropped! Just goes to show “the old 2005 Yamaha can still smoke the 2017 KTMs!”

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Bud’s CTR Race Report

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So, Bud’s jacked in the ginger KTM and gone blue, we caught up with him to find out how he’s getting on with the new bike…

After a few hard races getting used to the Yamaha WR250 (coming from the Ktm 200EXC), I’m starting to get to grips with the bike. I’m really pleased with the power delivery, suiting more h&h and fast flowing races. Along with the plush suspension out the box, it makes for a great bike! I’d like to thank Marsh Mx for sorting a great deal and supporting me with parts for 2016!

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Now used to the bike, Sunday took me to Llandovery for the CTR 2.5hr H&H. With an okay start of 5th off the line the first couple of laps was an ice rink!

As the weather dried up, so did the track, leaving a fast flowing mixture of woods and fields!

Pacing myself for the race I took a good speed till the half way pit stop, as I came out the track was drying and rutting nicely so started to push and take bigger risks on the harder lines.

Racing my own race for the 2.5 hrs I was happy with my pace but my placing was unknown. I was happy to finish and take 3rd in the expert class, the first podium on the dirtpunk yam!

Get on Bud, keep it pinned!

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Bud Benney’s been a hustlin’ in Hustyn Woods

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Photo by Gooner Snaps!

Bud’s been at it again… ripping it up at the South West Championship…

Sunday took me to hustyn woods for round 3 of the South West Championship. The start of the day went well, after a sighting lap of the special test I knew I was in for a hard day on a trials tyre!  A tight whoopy woods test for 4 timed tests.

The first test was a struggle to get the speed but as the day went on the lines came in to make a enjoyable ride. With slack check times the results came down to the tests. All day no one knew where they stood and I came away thinking I had a poor result 🙁 .

Only to find out I took the expert win with the fastest test times each lap, which finished off a great days racing! 🙂

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Beta Xtrainer – Farkles!

We’ve been back over to Spain with a big box of farkles (that’s sparkly upgrades for our non-American readers) to create an Xtrainer on steroids.

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As we prematurely ended our last ride by killing the standard pipe, first thing we bolted on was the Beta 300RR FMF Gnarly pipe and a carbon pipe guard from UK company Pro-Carbon Racing.

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The Gnarly pipe fits straight on the bike with no mods, and the carbon guard fits the pipe like a glove. The guard looks to be of nice quality but it doesn’t offer the same coverage as other guards. It does look like it’ll protect from most impacts (being usually frontal) nicely though.

The Gnarly transforms the bike, turning it into a bit of an animal!

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We managed to put a fair old dent in the left rad with just one off on our first Spanish outing so it was time to get some rad braces. The only ones we could find in the UK were surprisingly affordable from Meca System – the French company usually renowned for their ‘outrageously’ expensive Rally Parts.

The braces look nice and solid and aren’t hit by the forks on full lock – they do foul the non-standard Gnarly pipe though…

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…but a quick bit of persuasion with the file on a Leatherman tool soon sorted that out.

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We’ve warped enough brake rotors out in the rocks of Spain to know it’s worth getting some brake protection… Enduro Engineering make a nice machined rear fin that replaces the rear caliper hanger, it actually feels a similar weight to the cast hanger we swapped it with. We couldn’t find a Beta front disc guard in time, anyone know of one please holler in the comments!

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In an effort to save our lady wrists out in the mega-rocky Spanish terrain we stole some KTM PDS bar clamps off of our rally bike. They fitted perfectly with no mods… niiiiice!

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As 99KG for the Xtrainer was feeling a bit lardy we thought we’d stick in a Lithium battery that weighs just slightly less than air… saving kilos over the lead acid version. It was actually meant for our KTM 350EXC, but in a fit of greed I swapped out the Lithium for the Xtrainer battery instead. Strangely though, it just did not want to play nice on the first outing and seemed to make the starter not hook up properly? It then went completely flat in a rocky riverbed after numerous restarts… great with no kicker and no way of bump starting!

We’re not sure whether it was because it wasn’t the right model battery for the Xtrainer, but a quick swap of battery in the field meant the Xtrainer worked great again with the correct lead acid battery and the Lithium battery worked just fine in the four stroke KTM all weekend… weird.

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We stuck a front hall loop on too from our friends at Kriega… (great for pulling bikes with flat Lithium batteries out of rocky riverbeds!).

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But, probably the greatest upgrade cost less than £10… 15w fork oil.

The fork oil really did transform the bike into something you could ride really fast (and was proven in race conditions). The damping was improved no-end, but it did sometimes feel a little harsh on impacts from jumps. It was also a super easy upgrade, as only one of the forks needed to have it’s oil replaced (the other has only the spring and no damping).

Don’t get us wrong, the bike is still softly sprung compared to modern Enduro bikes, but the oil definitely helps. I think we’ll still be looking for a heavier front fork spring (and probably a shock spring too) in the future though.

So… Is it now the extreme enduro secret weapon we hoped it would be? Find out in the next blog post when we take it racing…

 

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Bud’s Easter Enduro Eggstravaganza (groan)

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Photo by Trace Clarke

What did star Dirtpunk racer Bud Benney get up to this Easter? Did the Easter Bunny poo out any chocolate eggs for him? We caught up with Bud to get the lowdown…

With a busy Easter weekend racing I was off to Friday’s Track & Trail for a 2.5hr hare and hound. The race took off to a strong start – 3rd into the first corner the race was looking good. Taking the hard routes over the logs and tyres made the race interesting and mixed up the tight woods and open fields. With a long battle in the last hour I managed to come away with a 2nd in experts and 4th over all.

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Photo by Trace Clarke

No rest for the wicked… Sunday I was off to Brass Monkeys Enduro. After walking the test it looked for a great day with a long test of stubble cross and flowing woodland. It turned out to be an awesome day setting off with Enduro legend Gary McCoy on my minute, watching his lines all day I learnt a lot! The tests went well with consistent 12 minute times and without dropping any time I took a 3rd in expert. Good results for an Easter weekend racing!

Next event to lookout for is Cornwall Super Enduro where Bud has already got his sights on ex-world champion David Knight 😜, be sure to book in for a day on the pipe!