2018 BETA THUMPERS REVIEW: RR350 RR390 RR430 & RR480

A brief overview of the 2018 thumpers with a pile of changes that are quite noticeable when riding the Italian beasts. Interested to hear of known issues from anyone with a new bike to add to the list below for prospective new buyers or existing owners.

 

THE CHANGES FOR 2018
All the four stroke RR350 RR390 RR430 and RR480 have a weight reduction of 5.3kg, mainly through a lighter engine, redesigned frame and lithium battery. Personally I've never worried about weight too much but all the bikes feel considerably lighter in harder terrain, and feel more flickable in cornering. 

Beta clutches have traditionally been heavier than other brands and they've finally opted for a new lighter clutch in 2018. I do a lot of clutch slipping and these middle aged fingers would ache after an hour or two with a stock Beta clutch, but the 2018 one has a much easier pull. 

The Beta four stroke engines have all been tweaked, with probably the biggest change being a dual fuel injector system. Apparently it's increased power across the rev range but I mainly noticed there was some extra lowdown grunt on all the models, which has in effect made the power even more linear than it was. It will be interesting to see if it increases fuel range as Beta claims. The snappy response from idle (especially the RR430 and RR480) with the fuel injection also seems to have mellowed a lot. I remember buying a G2 throttle tamer for my RR480 a few years back but I doubt it's needed now. 

For me the biggest change in engine characteristics compared to earlier years is the mapping switch. In the past I've found most mapping switches don't make much difference but throw it into rain mode and all the engines become very docile and tractable at lower revs. All the bikes will still wheelie like mad once you wind the revs up though, which is handy if you are riding in mud but occasionally get some good grip. 

To me those were the differences that stood out. Beta say the new frame has less flexing but I can't ride hard or well enough to tell lol. Ditto with the suspension upgrades, there are minor changes but think Beta dialed in the Sachs suspension well for gumbies since 2015 and it's all been good since then - aggressive riders may beg to differ. There's a new gear shift selector, I've occasionally hit false neutrals on earlier models so maybe they've cured that. What else? The Beta 2018 models get a new airbox, skidplate and Takasago wheels. The Japanese rims have a good reputation so that can't hurt. 

2018 BETA RR350
So let's look at the individual models, starting with the 2018 RR350. While it is lighter and has more low end power, it has the same characteristics as last year's RR350. It is essentially the same weight as its bigger brothers, but less reciprocating mass does mean you can throw it around in corners more. Surprising grunt but it really comes alive the more you rev it. For more details, see our old RR350 review here.

2018 BETA RR390
The 2018 RR390 has really changed. The longer stroke engine always made the 390 an extremely tractable bike with very predictable power, but I suspect that dual fuel injection has really woken her up. I found the 2018 model revved up much faster and was keen to spin up if I applied too much throttle. Then I put her on the rain map and she was back to the thumper that could lug up hills so easily. More than any other model this felt like two completely different beasts with the mapping switch. See our RR390 review.

2018 BETA RR430
This review found the 2018 RR430 is a real weapon if you hit that throttle too hard. Surprisingly the new engine has almost the same lowdown grunt of the old 480 and is tractable if you are easy on the throttle, but spins up faster if you crack the throttle. See the RR430 review here

2018 BETA RR480
The 2018 RR480 felt the least changed. The lighter weight is noticable in slower terrain, but the beast makes so much power already that it's hard to feel the increase this year. It's still the gentle giant and won't give any nasty surprises unless you are ham-fisted on the throttle. Personally I'd like to see Beta develop this into more of a dual sport or light adventure bike mode, it's such a good engine for dirt and road work. Our RR480 review

POTENTIAL ISSUES
What's not to like with the 2018 Betas? The good news in this review is the Beta crew haven't been resting on their laurels and have fixed niggling issues over the years. What haven't they fixed yet? 

That Beta pointy ended sidestand. It's always funny watching parked Betas topple one by one in soft soil. Most of us screw a little baseplate on to fix it. 

The shape of 2018 Beta fenders mean they tend to break instead of bending. The only good news is that as with most parts, Beta plastics are incredibly cheap compared to most other manufacturers. 

Some will still want a kickstarter and you can order this. Personally I think the starter motors are so reliable now, and there's always bump starting or other techniques if you are stranded in the bottom of a gully. 

 The Beta oil pump gears are still made of plastic and need replacing at 100 hours. You normally should be checking your clutch around this point so it's an easy job, but some owners put in the steel replacements made by Boano so they can forget about it.

So there you have it, a review of the 2018 RR350 RR390 RR430 and RR480. As with any bike, get a test ride if you can. Sometimes you can watch a pile of reviews and think you've found your perfect bike, but then go for a ride and not gel with the bike at all. But I think these latest Italian beasts tick the boxes for a lot of guys, judging by the comments that were flying around on this Beta Ride Day.

beta.JPG

Wow! Lighter by nearly 12 lbs?!  Makes my 2014 an overweight pig by those standards. Good reviews to help justify spending the bucks to upgrade.

Even happier I chose the 350 again :)

;0)

Great review thanks i had a 390 on order but been told not available till end of December so may go for the 430 rr as its available in the uk,used to ride a 300 sherco 2t.

 

Great review as usual.

I'm wondering if the new clutch and gear shift mechanism will fit my 2017. It looks like the new clutch has more springs which should really help with pressure plate flex and stability. Question is, how much for a whole clutch assembly???

I will eventually replace my Motobatt AGM with a Shorai LiFe battery so I'll achieve some of that weight loss. But the kick starter stays on.

An independent review, who is the reviewer? And I would really like to know a method to start a non kicker in a gulley or other situation where bump starting is not possible. As a true SR that is a worry for me.

Edited by YHGEORGE
33 minutes ago, YHGEORGE said:

An independent review, who is the reviewer? And I would really like to know a method to start a non kicker in a gulley or other situation where bump starting is not possible. As a true SR that is a worry for me.

Lift the back wheel off the ground on two bikes. Put them together start and run the good bike up spinning the rear of the good bike. Use a tall gear then let the clutch out on the stalled bike. Not easy but it can be done. 

The reviewer is this guy https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCJAvmhgP0h1AEKY8vTEJPJg   Local Aussie guy with a monotone voice pretty funny. 

MM

Edited by MartyMOOSE
On 10/3/2017 at 1:50 PM, OZ DRZ said:

A brief overview of the 2018 thumpers with a pile of changes that are quite noticeable when riding the Italian beasts. Interested to hear of known issues from anyone with a new bike to add to the list below for prospective new buyers or existing owners.

 

THE CHANGES FOR 2018
All the four stroke RR350 RR390 RR430 and RR480 have a weight reduction of 5.3kg, mainly through a lighter engine, redesigned frame and lithium battery. Personally I've never worried about weight too much but all the bikes feel considerably lighter in harder terrain, and feel more flickable in cornering. 

Beta clutches have traditionally been heavier than other brands and they've finally opted for a new lighter clutch in 2018. I do a lot of clutch slipping and these middle aged fingers would ache after an hour or two with a stock Beta clutch, but the 2018 one has a much easier pull. 

The Beta four stroke engines have all been tweaked, with probably the biggest change being a dual fuel injector system. Apparently it's increased power across the rev range but I mainly noticed there was some extra lowdown grunt on all the models, which has in effect made the power even more linear than it was. It will be interesting to see if it increases fuel range as Beta claims. The snappy response from idle (especially the RR430 and RR480) with the fuel injection also seems to have mellowed a lot. I remember buying a G2 throttle tamer for my RR480 a few years back but I doubt it's needed now. 

For me the biggest change in engine characteristics compared to earlier years is the mapping switch. In the past I've found most mapping switches don't make much difference but throw it into rain mode and all the engines become very docile and tractable at lower revs. All the bikes will still wheelie like mad once you wind the revs up though, which is handy if you are riding in mud but occasionally get some good grip. 

To me those were the differences that stood out. Beta say the new frame has less flexing but I can't ride hard or well enough to tell lol. Ditto with the suspension upgrades, there are minor changes but think Beta dialed in the Sachs suspension well for gumbies since 2015 and it's all been good since then - aggressive riders may beg to differ. There's a new gear shift selector, I've occasionally hit false neutrals on earlier models so maybe they've cured that. What else? The Beta 2018 models get a new airbox, skidplate and Takasago wheels. The Japanese rims have a good reputation so that can't hurt. 

2018 BETA RR350
So let's look at the individual models, starting with the 2018 RR350. While it is lighter and has more low end power, it has the same characteristics as last year's RR350. It is essentially the same weight as its bigger brothers, but less reciprocating mass does mean you can throw it around in corners more. Surprising grunt but it really comes alive the more you rev it. For more details, see our old RR350 review here.

2018 BETA RR390
The 2018 RR390 has really changed. The longer stroke engine always made the 390 an extremely tractable bike with very predictable power, but I suspect that dual fuel injection has really woken her up. I found the 2018 model revved up much faster and was keen to spin up if I applied too much throttle. Then I put her on the rain map and she was back to the thumper that could lug up hills so easily. More than any other model this felt like two completely different beasts with the mapping switch. See our RR390 review.

2018 BETA RR430
This review found the 2018 RR430 is a real weapon if you hit that throttle too hard. Surprisingly the new engine has almost the same lowdown grunt of the old 480 and is tractable if you are easy on the throttle, but spins up faster if you crack the throttle. See the RR430 review here

2018 BETA RR480
The 2018 RR480 felt the least changed. The lighter weight is noticable in slower terrain, but the beast makes so much power already that it's hard to feel the increase this year. It's still the gentle giant and won't give any nasty surprises unless you are ham-fisted on the throttle. Personally I'd like to see Beta develop this into more of a dual sport or light adventure bike mode, it's such a good engine for dirt and road work. Our RR480 review

POTENTIAL ISSUES
What's not to like with the 2018 Betas? The good news in this review is the Beta crew haven't been resting on their laurels and have fixed niggling issues over the years. What haven't they fixed yet? 

That Beta pointy ended sidestand. It's always funny watching parked Betas topple one by one in soft soil. Most of us screw a little baseplate on to fix it. 

The shape of 2018 Beta fenders mean they tend to break instead of bending. The only good news is that as with most parts, Beta plastics are incredibly cheap compared to most other manufacturers. 

Some will still want a kickstarter and you can order this. Personally I think the starter motors are so reliable now, and there's always bump starting or other techniques if you are stranded in the bottom of a gully. 

 The Beta oil pump gears are still made of plastic and need replacing at 100 hours. You normally should be checking your clutch around this point so it's an easy job, but some owners put in the steel replacements made by Boano so they can forget about it.

So there you have it, a review of the 2018 RR350 RR390 RR430 and RR480. As with any bike, get a test ride if you can. Sometimes you can watch a pile of reviews and think you've found your perfect bike, but then go for a ride and not gel with the bike at all. But I think these latest Italian beasts tick the boxes for a lot of guys, judging by the comments that were flying around on this Beta Ride Day.

Interesting they use a picture of the US only RR-S as the cover photo of their video. Guess it was just the first picture that popped up for them?

Thanks. But I ride alone most of the time. Maybe a pair of sneakers in a pack is a good idea.

Just one of those micro start battery jumpers is all you need if you're worried about it

Well it's not like there is much of a choice. Unless I'm missing something there is no 4T from any brand that has both electric and kickstart anymore. It's just something we're gonna have to get over. 

Also a 4T Beta won't kick start with a dead battery anyways. So the only thing your saving yourself from is a starter malfunction. 

1 hour ago, ccullins said:

Interesting they use a picture of the US only RR-S as the cover photo of their video. Guess it was just the first picture that popped up for them?

Ha true didn't see that the RR-S if so off our radar here in Australia the RR has rego here :):) with all the RR-S lighting set up. 

MM

Am I the only one to see that Tasmanian Devil at the 2:50 mark? Scary!

5 hours ago, YHGEORGE said:

An independent review, who is the reviewer? And I would really like to know a method to start a non kicker in a gulley or other situation where bump starting is not possible. As a true SR that is a worry for me.

How many guys have been left stranded with a DRZ400 or XR650L?  Electric start dirt bikes without kick have been around for decades, and it's not some epidemic of guys leaving bikes in canyons and hiking out.  This is 2017. If it worries you that much you can purchase a cheap light weight dirt bike jump starter kit on Amazon. 

You don't know who Barry is?  Wow,  you gotta keep up man. 

6 hours ago, MartyMOOSE said:

Lift the back wheel off the ground on two bikes. Put them together start and run the good bike up spinning the rear of the good bike. Use a tall gear then let the clutch out on the stalled bike. Not easy but it can be done. 

yep you can also do it with a tow rope or some kind of strap looped around the rear wheel then just pull it. there's a vid of a guy single handedly starting a DR650 this way. 

You can alwayd opt for the extra kickstarter kit....

1 hour ago, dirtbird said:

You can alwayd opt for the extra kickstarter kit....

A helicopter rescue will probably be cheaper. 

screenshot-www.betausa.com-2017-10-05-08-26-03-839.jpeg

It sparked me to find another 2017 instead of moving on to the 18- mine is a smoker though.

 

12 hours ago, ccullins said:

Well it's not like there is much of a choice. Unless I'm missing something there is no 4T from any brand that has both electric and kickstart anymore. It's just something we're gonna have to get over. 

Also a 4T Beta won't kick start with a dead battery anyways. So the only thing your saving yourself from is a starter malfunction. 

It's so true.  It started with streetbikes, then outboard motors, then snowmobiles, all the kick/pull starts are gone and there are NOT many stranded due to a broken starter, battery deaths, sure, but not the starter.  

I'm going to get a small battery pack for insurance but I'll keep my kickstarter only because it is already on the bike.  

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