Frank Schroeder is Beta through and through. The Export Manager has been at the company for some 30 years, the man bleeds Beta. His passion for the company and their direction is entirely encompassing and pours from him. We spent slightly more than five minutes asking him about the 2015 models.
//Words by Llewelyn Pavey//
Reducing the capacity of the engines was a bold move for Beta. Where did the decision come from and what’s the principle?
“For Beta the decision was very easy. We took a look at our customers and they are very average riders, hobby riders. The bikes that were selling well for us were the 350 and 400. The 450 seemed to be too much for people, it might be the tool for attacking the Enduro 2 class but we were seeing a movement toward smaller engine sizes in our sales figures, as well as those of other brands.
“So we checked the engine, we made a 430 and found that power and torque could be almost the same as the 450. We decided to sacrifice a tiny bit of power to make a better handling bike, by reducing oscillating mass. It’s not a surprising step for Beta however; it’s the same with our carburettor bikes. We are happy to head in our direction, for example, we are going to hold onto the three remaining carb’s until we have to change them under the Euro 4 regulation.”
All the major bike brands used Keihin EFI (apart from Sherco) but Beta have used a more unknown company in dirt bike circles in the form of Synerject, why?
“Beta have always been carburettor fans, we were under no real pressure to switch or make any snap decisions about using EFI. This is probably the main reason for our choice. We’ve had a lot of time to check the situation out, to try the different versions and all the other brands of bike. We tested the main brands and were not totally happy, so we kept looking.
“We tested a lot with this Synerject system and the feedback we got was extremely good from all our test riders. Sometimes for a smaller company like us we can receive more support and assistance in development than if we go to a huge company like Keihin. This way we are higher up the priority list and end up with a better product in the long run.”
What were your test riders looking to achieve with the EFI?
“At Beta we are aiming to produce smooth power output, it’s why we use carburettors still. Our competitors are a little abrupt with the initial power delivery and when there is low grip it’s easy to loose traction. We didn’t want this at all; our goal was to have something that was very close to the carburettor on the initial throttle opening.”
Like other areas Beta have a very unique direction with the their suspension set-up. What is the idea behind that direction?
“There are few different things behind our suspension choices and direction. Firstly, the business relationship between Beta and Sachs is extremely good, we have good communication and they can provide an excellent, fast response to our requests. For the company it’s great because we say something and they react accordingly. The settings we finalise they implement into the final product. In our experience this is not the case with other companies.
“The actual set–up of the suspension is something we feel works for Italian riding. A huge portion of our bikes are sold in Italy, most of the riding is done in the first 15cm of the travel, it’s not full of big hits. Our normal customer is doing slower, technical riding and for this we think the set-up is perfect. In the past, the people that haven’t liked the suspension set-up have generally come from countries where the riding is more cross-country based. That’s faster riding than we have in Italy. We set the suspension for the technical riding we do here in Italy.”