LONG TERMER: 2018 Beta RR430 | Archive | Back End | Bike Reviews
Being entrusted with an ADB long-termer is the closest thing to landing a factory ride a swapper like me will ever experience and is the biggest perk of the job.
THIS FEATURE WAS FIRST PUBLIHSED IN ADB ISSUE #470 – NOVEMBER 2018
WORDS: OLLY MALONE
PIX: MITCH LEES
Although it doesn’t come with a full-time mechanic or a bunch of Monster Energy girls, pros have told us it’s better than a factory ride. We don’t have to win anything, or train, or commit to racing, or follow intense diets, or post 75 times a day on Instagram to keep sponsors happy, we just need to produce flash photos for our print, digital and social platforms.
Looking back on almost 12 months with the Beta RR430 I realise I took a very different approach to my other long-termers, the very clichéd but extremely appropriate less-is-more approach. In the past I’ve acted like a kid in a candy shop with their dad’s credit card, bolting on every possible accessory under the sun. Things were different with the 430 and although at 28 years I still look like a kid thanks to my inability to grow facial hair, I would say I was far more restrained – I was like a diabetic in a candy shop, watching my sugar intake.
In my past life, well before I landed this job at ADB, I had a very, very modest budget to spend on parts for my bike and everyone told me the same thing: “Do your suspension first.” This can be a very expensive exercise if you take the road of cone valves and diamond-like-coatings but I always went the budget option; sag, clickers and fork oil height and that was the first thing I did to the RR430. But first I needed Andrew Clubb’s blessing.
Clubby was the original guardian of the RR430, I was just ‘looking after it’ while he recovered from a nose job or something. Unfortunately for Clubby, there were delays with his enhancements and things just didn’t pan out as hoped. In the end Mitch had no choice but to sign the adoption papers over to me. After two months in which I couldn’t touch a thing I finally had free reign.
Like most manufacturers, Betas are set up from the factory for 75-90kg riders and I fall within that range. Seeing as the spring rates were right it was just a matter of fiddling with the damping. Lucky I had the help of a bloke with a fair bit of experience in this type of thing.
Ben Grabham was the Beta man at the time and he offered to set up my bike to suit my style.
He’d watched me ride a few times and must have seen I needed help. I didn’t even bother trying to explain to him what I thought I needed, he already knew. He only softened the fork’s compression damping by one click but spent more time on the shock. We set the sag between the recommended 100-115mm, went four clicks softer on the low-speed compression, left the high-speed compression alone and went four clicks softer on rebound.
These adjustments were subtle but made the bike more balanced and neutral for trailriding at my pace. I’m not racing, I’m just a trailrider. I didn’t want stiff suspension and the Beta caters for that.
We started to refer to it as the lounge chair after a ride where we swapped between Mitch’s WR250F, Justin Carafa’s Sherco 125SE-R and the RR430. The Beta was much softer and plusher than the other two but, for trailriding, that’s what I wanted. Heavier riders would benefit from stiffer valving or firmer springs.
The stock ergonomics didn’t cry out for any changes. Even though I’m too tall to ride dirtbikes I left the ‘bar, grips, levers, seat and pegs all as God intended when the RR430 rolled out of the factory in Tuscany.
I left the engine untouched. It’s not the most powerful 450ish engine in the world but it does produce a lot of torque. That’s what makes it such a capable trailbike because torque is what you want for climbing hills and lofting the front wheel over logs at short notice. You can short shift all day and enjoy the ride, or put your head down and work the gears to squeeze the most out of it. I didn’t need any extra power.
I ran into my first issue with the RR430 during a wet ride up at the Watagans. I led our group up a hill that in the dry is a challenge but, after two days of rain, it could crush your sole. My sole wasn’t crushed but I did find the boiling point of the Beta RR430. It was about half way up the hill when I was stuck on a tree root in a rut deeper than the Mariana Trench. After a lot of wheelspin and not much progress the Beta decided it was time for a cuppa and boiled the billy.
After that ride I boiled the big girl a few more times in technical, first-gear terrain at one of our favourite spots. Grabbo suggested we fit a radiator fan so that’s what we did and I never boiled the bike again. The fan is a factory Beta part available from the Beta Australia online store for $167. If you’re boiling your Beta 4T and don’t drink much tea it’s a solid investment. It’s compatible with radiator guards and you’ll never notice it’s there until you stop the engine after a gnarly section of trail and hear the whirring sound of the fan.
WEAR AND TEAR
There’s not much to report regarding wear and tear. I clocked up 40 hours on the RR430 and, in that time, I did four oil/filter changes, kept the air filter clean and adjusted the chain to remove slack due to stretching. The brake pads still had plenty of meat on them so, obviously, I’m not riding fast enough, but I found my previous Yamaha WR450F long-termer to go through pads a little faster, especially the rear. Maybe it’s the dry weather we’ve been having in NSW as mud destroys brake pads. Both the sprockets have a lot of life left and the chain, although stretched, is in good shape.
For the oil changes I tried a few different types. I used Ipone fully-synthetic 10W50 in the sump and transmission the first time around with great results, especially from the transmission as there was almost no clutch drag.
Rock Oil supplied us with a range of products for the Beta’s next service. Because the transmission oil and engine oil in the RR430 are separate I ran Rock Oil fully-synth 10W50 in the sump and Rock Oil Gearbox Racing oil in the transmission. The Gearbox Racing oil produced a little more clutch drag than the Ipone 10W50 and the factory oil so, for the next service, I ran the Rock Oil 10W50 in the sump and transmission and that fixed the clutch drag.
The Beta Australia spare parts department only heard from me once during my fling with their RR430. I only hassled them for two things; a new O-ring for the transmission oil filler cap and … a new left radiator.
The replacement radiator was necessary because I made a dog’s breakfast of a pivot turn on the side of a hill. Not having radiator guards, the accident put a pretty good dent in the left radiator. Mitch caught the whole thing on camera, if you need a laugh head to the ADB Magazine Instagram.
That was the extent of the damage – no broken levers, no bent shifters, not a ding in either rim, the Beta was still in pretty good shape by the time I was done with it. Again, I’m clearly not riding fast enough.
WHAT WE DONE
Besides suspension settings, the most significant change I made was fitting a new type of hoop from GoldenTyre featuring the Flite Tubeless System (FTS). If you’ve never heard of FTS that’s okay, neither had I.
It’s new technology that is unique to GoldenTyre where the tube is a permanent part of the carcass, creating a tubeless tubed tyre, if that makes sense. It allows you to run lower pressures without risking pinch flats, reduces weight and speeds up tyre changes.
I am a huge fan of the way they handle and the benefits they offer and if they weren’t so expensive they would be the only tyre I’d run. At $170 for a front and $235 for a rear they cost over $100 more than a traditional tyre, although you need to factor in the saving in heavy-duty tubes. If you want to read the full review on the FTS tyres turn to page 130.
In the past I’ve become slightly carried away with fitting performance parts to my long-termers. On one hand you can argue that one of the reasons for having a long-term test bike is to fit and test aftermarket parts but, on the other, that doesn’t give the bike a chance to shine in stock trim.
I never had the urge to farkle with the RR430, it’s a well balanced, neutral trailbike straight out of the crate. Beta’s motto is “Ready for anything” so it’s not a race bike and I didn’t treat it like one. I’ll be sad to give it back. In 40 hours of trailriding all I did was keep the oil fresh, the air filter clean, the chain lubed and air in the tyres.
If you’re a trailrider who goes riding every other weekend I can’t promise that you’ll get the same results but I’d be surprised if you don’t because I was in no way babying the RR430. It’s been a very easy bike to live with, gave me hours of fun and asked for little in return.