In this week's show, Ray talked us through his insurance win, we have another look
I have been riding the Beta RR430 4T for the past few months, and it's time for a full review.
Let's start with the specs.
The RR430 is a single-cylinder 4-stroke motorcycle with a definite dirt bias.
We have a 21-inch front wheel, and 18 inch rear wheel, and everything in between is built to save weight.
The engine has a 95mm bore, 60.8mm stroke, displacement of 430.9cc, and a compression ratio of 12.33:1. It's water-cooled, and fuel injected, with a button to switch between the 2 preloaded maps. With a seat height of 940mm it's a fraction on the high side, but racers never need to touch the ground anyway right?
The narrow seat makes does help to get a foot down when you need to. Couple that with a wet weight of less than 120kg, and you have an incredibly nimble steed indeed.
Up front, we have an upside-down fork with 295mm travel, and a mono-shock down the back with 290mm travel, both fully adjustable. Front brakes are aggressive, with loads of bite, enough to catch out the inexperienced, a single 260mm disc up front and a single 240mm disc down back. With loads of level feel, they actually haul the bike up very well.
When you buy the bike it comes in "Road guise" with a spark arrester plate welded over the exhaust opening, a catalytic converter in the mid-pipe, and a larger front sprocket. The dealer who set this bike up for me (Motorazzi Wellington) removed all these things, installed the smaller front sprocket, ensured the indicators were installed, and even loaded a more aggressive map on the ECU.
The engine is conventionally mounted with the air going in the rear and the exhaust coming out the front. I know this because I have managed to melt a few holes in my riding gear during the time I've spent on this bike (the downside of wearing motorcycle pants over boots). And while we're speaking about melting things, the one and only actual design issue I can find with this bike is the right-hand rear indicator is right in the path of the hot exhaust gasses, meaning if you take it for a good blat down the beach, you're going to melt the indicator. Generally, motorway speeds seem not to melt the indicator, it's only when you get into slow-speed situations where you are asking a lot of the bike.
But, indicators are replaceable. Just look at the design and the lines of this bike. from its light plastic front fender, through the bars, to the flat and low fuel tank, the flat seat, and out to the tail. The Beta RR 430 is a bike made to race. It's clearly designed to allow the rider to move their weight, and that is a win. Theres enough to clamp onto with your knees, but there's also nothing to get in the way when you need to shift weight around.
There's something to be said for Japanese reliability and that heritage has been enough up to now to keep the big names riding Blue, Yellow and "Big-Red" machines from the land of the rising sun. But take Brad Groombridge for example, incredibly talented on two wheels, and traditionally a Suzuki rider. He's been winning at cross-country events for decades, one taste of the Italian-designed Beta, and he was hooked. joining forces with Wilks Penny Motorcycles and mounting the Italian machine to come 3rd overall at the 2022 NZ Enduro championship.
Now, I'm no Brad Groombrige, but I have muscled a few dirt bikes through the bush in my time, and it's easy to see that Beta has got something very right here. Usually, in my group of mates, I'm the first to ask to stop for a break or turn back when the going gets really tough, but on multiple outings on the Beta, I was riding rings around some of the more experienced guys in our group. Is that because the Beta inspires confidence? or just because it handles the terrain better than other dirt bikes I've ridden? I'm not entirely sure, but what Ido know is that the Beta RR430 brings out the hooligan in me. Shift the weight back on the seat slightly then it will pop the front with just a slight twitch of the throttle. Load the front into a corner and it will ride the berm all the way around. It's so well balanced and has power on demand, really does make me look good.
I've tested our Beta RR430 in a few different situations, and I'll break them down for you now.
Highway riding and commuting:
In this scenario, it's the tyres that really let the bike down. Arriving with a set of Maxxis Enduro knobleys, I was nervous to ride on the highway in anything but dry calm conditions. The bike will do it easily, but the grip levels are just not there. That said, I did a couple of days commuting on the bike, and yeah, it did it. 100kph down the motorway, no problems.
Because the bike is very light, you need to make sure your tyres are well balanced, otherwise, you are going to feel every vibration. If I was going to own this bike, I would be looking for a 2nd set of wheels, so I could rock something street focussed on the road, and keep the Maxxis Enduros nice for weekend dirt missions.
This really showed me how good the bike is and how unfit I am. If I was fitter, we might have gone further. But, because the bike is light, it really excelled in the enduro testing I did with it. I had the confidence to attempt things I'd never done before. hopping over large logs for example. The Maxxis Enduro tyres were outstanding, offering grip everywhere, and never did I put the bike into a rut and have to dismount and push out. Getting into some of the tough rutty hill climbs during the enduro test is where I noticed for the first time how buttery smooth the clutch lever is. It might just be one of the best-feeling clutch levers I've used.
This test showed me how truly blissful and beautiful the bike is to ride. Free-riding around the beach, in the sand and loose river rocks, I had all the grip in the world. I wasn't restricted to riding in the wheel tracks of the 4WDs that frequent the area, I could get off track and explore. and the lack of weight in the bike ensured if I did get stuck I would muscle my way out with ease, but I never needed to. This was actually one of the most freeing and positive experiences I've ever had on a dirt bike.
When the going gets tight, the bike possibly has too big of an engine. In the tight single track or knarly parts, I needed to keep momentum up and air passing over the radiator. Because I'm generally a slower more cautious rider, I did find the bike getting hotter than it otherwise would, but in the hands of a faster rider then it would have been perfect. I found myself always in first or second, so maybe gearing it down for this sort of riding would be a good idea. That said, it handled everything I could throw at it with no problems. and when it did get warm I took that as a sign I needed to stop and take a break.
What's it like to live with?
Maintenance is pretty easy, with oil changes every 10 hours, an easily accessible air filter that should be cleaned and re-oiled every ride or so, and a chain to adjust. I also found myself checking the radiator quite frequently and topping up the coolant level. It's very light and easy to push around the driveway. I actually think it's lighter than all previous dirt bikes I've owned. But my daily is a heavy ADV bike (twice the weight of the 430) so I might just have my rose-tinted specs on. The downsides are that it brings out my inner hooligan, and that tends to lead to me outriding my skill level and hurting myself. The flip side of that is we now know the Beta RR430 crashes well, with no damage to the fairings or engine and minimal damage to the end of the bars.
Overall, the Beta RR430 is an outstanding dirt bike, but only an ok road bike, really it should only be used on the road to get from one trail to the next. Unless you have a set of road tyres for it, and then it would be an awesome motard. It's a brilliant confidence booster. I've ridden loads of bikes in recent years, and this is one that stands out because it has both scared me, and excited me at the same time. The Beta RR430 is one of few bikes I've ridden for a few weeks and not actually wanted to hand back to the dealer when my time is up with it.
Here is possibly the biggest praise I could bestow on the Beta RR430... I would own it, and that's not something I could or would say about many bikes.