Although they are a relatively new name on the American motorcycle market, BETA is an Italian motorcycle manufacturer with a long and storied history. Founded in Florence in 1904 under the name of Societa Giuseppe Bianchi, the company got its start with a line of handmade bicycles. By the end of the 1940s, the company had changed its name and switched to motorcycle production to keep the pace with the transition to motorized transport that had spread across much of Italy. The name BETA, was derived from the initials of the two men who ran the company: Enzo Bianchi and Arrigo Tosi. The earliest motorcycles the company produced was the Cervo 48, which was really little more than a bicycle that had been outfitted with and engine and a roller transmission. Slightly more sophisticated was the sporty-looking Cigno, with its 48cc, single-cylinder engine, double cradle frame, telescopic forks, and shock absorbers. By the 1950s BETA was producing 125 and 175cc, two-stroke models derived from competition bikes. It was also in the 1950s that BETA bikes began winning competitions such as the Milan-Taranto race. When off-road bikes became popular in the 1970s, BETA began to tilt its efforts in that direction. By the 1980s, the company was one of the most recognized European bike manufacturers in terms of enduro and motocross. In the 1990s BETA motorcycles won three consecutive World Trials Championships, six Indoor World Championships and five European titles. The company has maintained a production plant in Rignano Sull’Arno near Florence since 1972. BETA produces around 17,000 motorcycles a year and around 15,000 engines. Out of every 100 bikes the company produces, about 70 are distributed in the U.S. and other countries, while around 30 remain in Italy. Other countries BETA markets their bikes in include France, Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg. Today the same family that started it back in 1904 manages BETA.
The 2011 BETA RS-Supermoto is a lightweight dual-purpose motorcycle that’s capable of handling rugged trails and city streets with equal aplomb. There are two variations on the Supermoto for 2011, the Supermoto 400 and the Supermoto 520. Both models are basically identical in terms of specifications. The key difference is that a 498cc four-stroke engine powers the 2011 BETA-RS Supermoto 520, while a smaller 398cc engine powers the Supermoto 420. Both engines are liquid-cooled, single-cylinder and feature double overhead cams. Engines are paired with six-speed manual transmissions and power is transferred to the road through a chain final drive. Both models also feature an inverted fork front suspension with a rear suspension that consists of a twin sided swing arm. The RS-Supermoto 400 and RS-Supermoto 520 also feature front hydraulic disc brakes and rear hydraulic disc brakes. Despite its slightly larger engine displacement the 2011 BETA Supermoto-RS 520 weighs the same as the 400, with both models weighing in at just 249 lbs.
Both the 2011 BETA RS-Supermoto 400 and Supermoto 520 reflect the Italian manufacturers continuing commitment to quality and excellence. While many motorcycle manufacturers today utilize robots and assembly lines, BETA motorcycles are still assembled by craftsmen, as they have been for more than one hundred years now. Riders who are looking for capable and stylish dual sport models will appreciate the 2011 BETA RS-Supermoto 400 and 520 for their versatility, off-road capabilities, and street legal on-road manners. The bikes both have classic off-road styling with knobby tires, extended forks, good ground clearance, and race-inspired graphics. However they’re also outfitted with street-legal lighting, versatile suspensions, and handling ability that makes them practical for on-road use. Other amenities included on the 400 and 520 include twin sided swing arms, driver and passenger foot pegs, one piece vinyl seats for two, and kick starters. One disadvantage to the 2011 BETA RS-Supermoto is that its gas tank holds less than many similar models in its class.