When talking about real dirt bikes that come from the factory with license plates, there are only three brands that offer said machines. Out of those three, Beta is the newest to join the street-legal brigade, and it offers five models in its RR-S line: the 125 RR-S, 350 RR-S, 390 RR-S, 430 RR-S, and 500 RR-S. As you may have noticed, Beta doesn’t like to conform to the typical dirt bike displacements, yet, since it is an off-road brand, adhering to the strict 250 and 450 sizes that trickled down from motocross isn’t necessary; it can experiment with different-size motors and let the customer decide what works for them. To keep things from getting out of hand with so many models, Beta’s model lineup has its mellower off-road four-strokes being street-legal, then its gnarlier Race Edition models, which are off-road only. The Race Edition bikes have a few different components and none of the extra street-legal components, or the weight that comes with them. Speaking of weight, the '18 430 RR-S is claimed to be 8.7 pounds lighter than last year’s machine, but as our shop scales show, it is still a hefty 270 pounds. The 430 ditched the kickstarter, but the cases are the same as the ’17 and can be retrofitted with a kickstart backup if desired. Additionally, the clutch is all-new and is another place that the bike lost some weight. It also has a new frame that is said to be more rigid than previous RR-Ss. Other new items include a new gear change system, new fork slider, stronger turn signals, new Excel rims, and white plastics.

2018 Beta 430 RR-S
New white plastics offset the red frame quite nicely.Sean Klinger

As we learned with last year’s 500 RR-S and confirmed with this 430, Betas start really easily. Within a millisecond of touching the starter, the bike is idling and ready to go, but this also might be why we ran into a bit of an issue. Perhaps due to the starter motor being so strong and quick, it drains the battery faster than we could recharge it on a slow trail with about six or seven starts and stops. For that reason, we really could have used that kickstarter backup.

2018 Beta 430 RR-S
Left: Instead of using its own dash, Beta just uses a Trail Tech Voyager GPS, which is way better than any OEM display.
Right: A stock skid plate is a plus.
Sean Klinger

In the engine department, the 430 RR-S is a tick off the pace of other off-road 450s. Even though it's not a 450, we would expect a little more excitement from a 430cc engine, but with that being said, we still really like this motor. There is a sneaky-fast quality that doesn't rip your arms off or sound super aggressive—or even rev super-fast—but it sort of reminds us of a KTM power curve, but with more torque and meat at the bottom. The controllability factor makes the bike less intimidating when navigating off-camber, sketchy single-track where if you got a little whiskey, you could be flying off a cliff. On the other hand, you can also wring the bike out and it's more aggressive higher in the rpm, again, with a KTM-like feel. The throttle response is just okay, not instantaneous, but pretty good. Also, one of our testers liked that there was just the right amount of engine-braking to help control the bike down steep hills.

Unlike the 2018 Beta 300 RR that we also tested, the 430 RR-S’s Sachs suspension offered much more of a comfort feel rather than a performance-based feel. The plus side of this is that, even though the bike is heavy overall, it handles rocks, logs, and trail chop really well at low speeds and you can pick your way through tight trails all day long. However, on any fast-paced, whooped-out trails, we got a bouncy pogo feel from the shock. We went three clicks stiffer on the fork compression and two clicks stiffer on both the high-speed and low-speed shock compression and two clicks in on the shock rebound. This left us with a little bit more balanced bike when hitting bumps and whoops at a moderately fast pace. We can blame this all on the suspension because if the bike went on a diet (again!) it would make everything better, including the suspension.

2018 Beta 430 RR-S
Top: It takes a bit of work to get the front end up, but that was made more difficult by our dry testing conditions and the low knobs of the FIM Michelin Enduro DOT tires.
Bottom Left: Sachs suspension takes some getting used to, but out of the box it's ready for gingerly pace.
Bottom Right: Exploring off-road from your garage is pretty awesome.
Sean Klinger

Other than the front end wanting to tuck on fast, flat corners, we felt the 430 handles pretty well, especially for a street-legal machine. The bar feels a little tall, and it’s not the bend because the stock bend is pretty flat. It’s like the frame comes up high in the front of the bike. Standing feels fine, but the seat felt slightly low to some test riders when sitting. It’s not super thin or wide feeling between the legs, just a neutral, natural width. The handling, like the suspension, gets better at lower speeds. Just leaning the bike and using your lower body to maneuver around tight corners, the 430 RR-S responds well and the mellow power delivery complements this.

Who is the Beta 430 RR-S for? This would make a beauty of a bike for someone who lives near tight, steep single-track connected by dirt roads and needs the power to rip up some climbs every once in a while. With some minor suspension work, this bike could be good in the desert, but in stock form, it wants to be on rough, slow trails.

2018 Beta 430 RR-S
Top: Steep, rocky trail? The Beta 430 RR-S is all about it.
Bottom: The motor will go faster than the stock suspension wants to
Sean Klinger

What’s Hot

  • Usable, sneaky-fast power

  • Nimble handling on tight trails

  • Get-out-of-jail-free card (license plate)

  • Quiet exhaust

What’s Not

  • Even with weight savings, it is a hefty machine

  • Stock FIM tires don't have as much grip as we are used to

  • Stock suspension will not be happy on fast, whooped-out trails

2018 Beta 430 RR-S
The soft fork makes turning hit-and-miss. At low speed and in a rut, it’s a hit. At high speeds on flat, it’s more of a miss, but each rider can set this up how they want.Sean Klinger

Second Opinions

Tristen Morts, Age: 22, 6'2", 185 lb, Expert Moto/Off-road
Where I found the engine really excelled was through the midrange and top-end. It never felt like you ran out of gear and it carried through the gears smoothly. The engine-braking worked well going downhill; if you needed to downshift, the transition was smooth and worked in your favor being able to control the speed you feel comfortable with. Hillclimbing is where I found the power of the Beta to benefit most. Second gear was sufficient on nearly every hillclimb I rode up, and I never felt the need to shift. The 430 had the power to carry me to the top of the hill without revving too excessively, and if I needed to chop the throttle to maneuver over an obstacle on the way up, it didn't bog on me and that mellow response didn't make the bike want to wheelie as I got back on the throttle.

Allan Brown, Age: 47, 5'10", 175, Vet A
Any bike that I can ride from my driveway straight into the trails is something I would want in my garage. The first thing I noticed riding the 430 RR-S is the front end felt quite heavy. Considering it's a 430 four-stroke I was expecting a slightly stronger engine. I am assuming Beta may have had to do a few modifications to the engine and its EFI system to meet the 50-state street-legal rules resulting in a slight loss of overall power. The super-plush suspension is certainly more at home on smooth fire roads. You can easily ride this bike everywhere you ride your normal trailbike, but you might want to upgrade the suspension if you plan on using it more for trails versus roads. Sitting on this bike, I felt like the triangle of footpegs-seat-bar was a little off as the seat seemed low. When standing, the bar felt comfortable and helped keep me in a centered to forward position. In stock form, I would say this is a good casual trailbike that you can ride anywhere. With a few upgrades and modifications, it has plenty of potential to be a more aggressive off-road bike.

2018 Beta 430 RR-S
The torquey and tractable power makes slick situations less of a challenge.Sean Klinger
Specifications
MSRP: $9,899
Seat Height: 36.1 in.
Ground Clearance: 12.2 in.
Fuel Capacity: 2 gal.
Weight, Tank Full: 270 lb.