In this week's show, Ray talked us through his insurance win, we have another look
I once worked with a guy who was heavily into MotoX. I had only been riding motorcycles for a year or two, and never been on a dirt bike, leave alone off road. This college of mine, talked me into joining him for an open day at Digger McEuan MotoX park in Taupo, and after one lap on his 2006 Honda CRF250R I was hooked. I decided I wanted to buy a dirt bike, and knowing nothing about them I decided to get the same bike as he had. This lead me on a very steep learning curve. There were many whiskey throttle moments, and the bike spent more time on its side than on it's wheels. Since then I have owned an additional 2 CRF250Rs, a CRF230 and a Yamaha WR250F. Each bike had its ups and downs, but each one taught me something new about what I wanted in a dirt bike.
When you are brand new to the sport, unless you have someone to guide you, it's not easy to work out what style of riding you like, what you need, what you're doing wrong and what you need to do to improve. Although I loved the big jumps of the MotoX track, I tended to get more enjoyment from trail riding. a relaxed jaunt through the bush where you can ride with mates, go your own pace and generally have fun. However, riding a MotoX bike on a trail ride brings with it it's own irritations, like having to find a tree to stand your bike up when you stop. My love of trail riding is possibly something that lead me to adventure riding. It's basically the same, but with an ADV bike you have the freedom of riding anywhere any time instead of waiting for the organised trail ride.
This all may seem like a bit of a ramble, but much like a good trail ride, its meandering around, threading it's way through the trees, and will eventually end up at the point... that being the Beta RR 430 4T.
The Beta RR 430 is an enduro bike, with a Fuel injected 430.9cc single cylinder engine, and thats pretty much it. Oh, no wait. it has a button to switch between the 2 available power maps. Theres no ABS, no traction control, not bluetooth. It's just you and the machine.
Weighing in at 109kg dry, it's light, a lot lighter than the ADV bike I ride daily. Taking a look at the side profile of the bike you can see it's very flat from the 9L fuel tank, back through the seat to the tail. The seat height is 940mm off the ground, which on paper I would have said was too tall for me, but it's also very narrow making it very easy to get a foot down to the ground when you need to. All this comes together to make the bike feel very easy to manage, it's incredibly nimble and easy to ride.
Ive had the Beta RR 430 for a few weeks now, with the intention of testing it out in as many different environments and styles of riding as possible. I want to show you what it's like to not only ride for a day or a weekend, but what it's like to live with.
My first outing on the bike was a trip to Wellington's south coast and an area known as Red Rocks. For a first ride, this was a great way to get to know the bike. The terrain is rocky, with patches of soft sand and deep loose river rocks. I have never ridden a bike so well balanced and nimble out here. I was riding rings around my riding buddies, going places I have never even attempted before. I hate using the words confidence inspiring, but thats exactly what the 430 was. I came back after riding 35odd kilometres with a massive smile on my face. Usually I'm the slowest rider, and the one ready to turn back first. But on this ride, I wanted to keep going.
A couple of days later, I was entered into round 2 of the national Enduro series at Moonshine. Based near Upper Hutt, the area is known for its slippery mud in the forrest sections and even more slippery rocks. Having never done an Enduro before, I didn't know what to expect, but I was welcomed warmly and there were loads of people keen to share tips and tricks and guide me through the day. I started stone cold last, and things didn't really get any better from there. I put the bike through hell. I dropped it on the slippery sections, and came close to overheating it on a particularly gnarly hillclimb in the middle of T2. After such a positive first ride, this was a serious reality check. I never actually got to a place where the bike was stuck, I always found it reasonably easy to get it out of the situations I put it into. But there was no way I was going to be setting a competitve time.
In the tough stuff, when I was working hard, I was surprised to find the Hydraulic clutch was light and beautiful to use, even with arm pump. The brakes are strong and have loads of bite (too much sometimes). The bike is good, seriously good, I, however, am not. My lack of fitness let me down and after completing one loop out of the required 3, I limped back to the pits with my tail between my legs. An awesome experience, but an Enduro rider I am not... not yet anyway.
My third ride on the bike was along State highway 2, from my home in Upper Hutt, to my office in central Wellington. Riding the Beta RR 430 to town is not something I imagine most owners of these bikes would do often (if ever), as the Beta does not come equipped with an ignition barrel. There is no key required to start the bike. Security needs to be taken seriously. When you park it, theres not much stopping someone walking away with it... or worse starting it up and riding away with it.
Riding the bike through the 50 KPH zones was fine. But, I had a nagging thought in the back of my head that those knobbly Maxxis tyres, which had allowed the bike to gain traction so well on the beach and in the mud, would be sketchy as hell on the tar seal. They weren't actually that bad. Sure they re no Pilot Road 4, but putting such a road focussed tyre on a bike like this would ruin it.
Once on the motorway and up to 100kph, the bike has a fair amount of vibration. Not only from the single cylinder thumping away, but also the tyres. There is no wind protection so you get all that wind straight to the face and chest. Dress warmly and you'll be fine. I found the lack of disturbed wind to my helmet refreshing, and not as noisy as I thought it might have been. There's not much in the way of luggage space unless you sacrifice some of your seat, so I've only carried a backpack.
All up, this bike is not a motorway commuter. It will do it if forced to, but so will an electric pushbike. The Beta RR 430 is just not designed for motorway commuting, and so it was not overly enjoyable. That said, When you get into traffic, it's very narrow and easy to filter 0n. I imagine it would be my bike of choice if required to evacuate a large city on congested motorways, in the event of a zombie outbreak. Another bonus of a road legal dirt bike is next time I'm heading to Red rocks or somewhere like that, I would probably just ride the bike there instead of trailering it.
I started this ramble my talking about the other dirt bikes I've owned. Each one from the CRF250R to the WR250 was better than the last. And I'm pleased to say the Beta RR 430 continues that trend. It's the single best bike I've ever ridden on a beach or in muddy forrest conditions. And I have to say, compared to the other dirt bikes I've ridden, the Beta RR 430 is the best I've ridden on the motorway too... possibly because it's the only one thats road legal. The 430 is a joy to ride, it's fun, playful, agile, and begs to be spanked. You can almost hear it whispering to you to unleash the power. I invokes a deep down, long forgotten hooligan inside me. It's happiest when blasting down the beach with the 4-stroke engine on full noise.
There is plenty more to do with this bike, and I shall share my future experiences with you as we go, so keep an eye out.
I cant wait to ride it more.