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  1. 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.