2019 Off-Road Factory Racebikes—Max Gerston’s Beta 430 RR Race Edition

To be employed in faster hare scrambles

The left profile of Max Gerston’s Beta 430 RR Race Edition dirt bike.
Max Gerston’s Beta 430 RR Race Edition is actually his practice bike, but he proved it’s more than capable of winning.Mark Kariya

Max Gerston used his Beta 390 RR Race Edition to good effect when he won the Kenda/SRT AMA West Hare Scrambles Regional Championship Series in 2017. A combination of factors dropped him to fourth in 2018, so he went into 2019 even more determined to recapture the championship, even if it wasn't in his contract with Beta. His primary responsibility for the Italian concern is the AMA EnduroCross National Championship Series and various extreme enduros.

One of the weapons he chose to hunt with is his 430 RR Race Edition practice bike, though he hints that he might break out a two-stroke 300 RR Race Edition for tighter, more technical courses as round 6 in Bellingham, Washington, always is. (Since hare scrambles isn’t in his contract and budgets being what they are for a small company, Beta is naturally reluctant to dole out both a racebike and a practice bike.)

Gerston’s stiffened and revalved Beta 430 RR Race Edition.
As with any top-level rider, dialed suspension is vital and Beta USA has Gerston’s Sachs components stiffened and revalved to his early season preferences. After that, he simply rides and doesn’t believe in going crazy adjusting it for every race. The Renthal 999 handlebar is lower than one might expect given his slightly taller frame.Mark Kariya

Why the switch to the larger-displacement machine? The competition is getting faster and several venues feature faster layouts overall.

“It’s funny you should ask,” he muses. “I actually rode a 390 the first two rounds this year, then I switched to a 430 just because [round 3 at] Gorman [California] was really high-speed and I remember last year I was getting pulled there. This race (round 4 at Shasta Lake, California) is high-speed and I remember last year I was getting pulled pretty hard here.

“The bike itself is pretty similar [to the 390] anyway and I’m a bigger guy, so I might as well ride the bigger bike,” he continued. “It’s not like I’m not strong enough to ride it. It kind of fits my size and my style as far as lugging the bike; it seems to fit my style a little bit better. That’s kind of why I switched. I still love the 390, but the 430 just has that much more pull, more grunt.”

The FMF Q4 with the spark arrestor insert of Max Gerston’s Beta 430 RR Race Edition.
Unlike many of his rivals, Gerston prefers running his FMF Q4 with the spark arrestor insert (a requirement in many races held on public land, of course) as he feels it provides better power delivery more in keeping with his smooth, lower-in-the-power-curve style.Mark Kariya

Asked what differentiates his bike from an off-the-showroom-floor model, Gerston replies, “To be honest with you, [there’s] not very much that makes this different from an off-the-floor bike. I obviously have the [Sachs] suspension dialed and sprung for my weight and my preferences [by Beta].

“I just set it at the beginning [of the season after figuring out settings] and leave it alone,” he said. “This year I had my suspension on my 390 and I had them stiffen it up for the 430 and [Beta] sent me [suspension] just to get ready for Gorman. Honestly, it works pretty good everywhere—it works fine in the rocks and everywhere else, so it’s like I might as well just run it how it is. And I’m a believer in not messing with it too much. I get it set and I pretty much just ride my bike. I think you can lose yourself pretty easily chasing the suspension setting, whereas if you just get it to where it’s good or even better than good, you feel it and then just ride it and get used to it. I think there’s more benefit to that than chasing a suspension setting all year long.

“Beyond that, it’s a lot of basic stuff and just regular setup stuff—how I like my handlebars and stuff like that.

“The engine is stock—it’s completely stock. I just have a lot of bolt-on stuff [from sponsors].”

Getting into some specifics, Gerston shares, “Well, I’m picky about my handlebars, so I have a BRP rubber-mounted [top] triple clamp with [model] 999 Renthal handlebars—they’re a little bit lower. I like that because I’m a little bit taller rider. A lot of people think it’s the opposite [of what a taller rider would like], but I like it because it stretches me out a little bit and keeps me in that aggressive stance. [I also run] an IMS big tank with quick-fill [receiver] and ARC levers with Enduro Engineering flag-style hand guards.

“We run the FMF [Q4] exhaust standard and I actually run it with the spark arrestor all the time. I just like the way that it gives it a little back pressure for bottom-end power. I’m not a revver; I don’t over-ride the bike. I keep it low in the rpm, so I set it up so it works well like that. Some of my other teammates opt to run an aggressive [ignition] map with an open pipe, but I think it makes the bike slower, to be honest with you. But it sounds good! I just run a little bit more—I guess you could say—corked-up version of it and it keeps that bottom-end really nice and strong.”

The tank of Max Gerston’s Beta 430 RR Race Edition.
The dry-break-equipped IMS tank lets Gerston stretch miles between pit stops and remains unobtrusive. He counts the speed bump on his Seat Concepts-covered saddle as indispensable, but runs his engine stock except for the FMF exhaust.Mark Kariya

Gerston also points out the sharkfin straight out of Beta’s accessory catalog that protects a solid rear rotor. “You never know if it;’s going to rain or not, and I feel like I’ve got a little more progressive feel out of the solid disc,” he insists. “Instead of such a touchy, touchy feel, it’s really more progressive so I can get on it soft, medium, or hard and have a different [level of power] rather than just locking it up. I prefer stock brake pads,” he added.

“One thing I like about this bike a lot is the seat bump addition [to the Seat Concepts seat]. It’s half a bar pad stuck in there and it keeps you up there on that bike, especially for a race like this [one at the Chappie-Shasta Off-Highway Vehicle Area] where you have big hills and water bars and stuff—that thing helps a ton!

“We’ve got Samco silicone hoses to keep the bike reliable and cool [as well as a] BRP chain guide. For this race I threw on a Regina X-ring chain instead of standard chain because if there are water crossings, you wash your chain lube off and it goes from bad to worse.”

Right side of Max Gerston’s Beta 430 RR Race Edition.
As a slightly bigger rider, Gerston has no problem employing the 430 in most rounds of the hare scrambles series, though he enjoyed good results on his 390 in the tighter first two rounds this year and might even press the two-stroke 300 RR into service for the really tight races on the schedule.Mark Kariya

Gerston runs a red anodized Rekluse clutch cover for both strength and bling. Kenda Washougal IIs over Takasago Excel rims provide traction, and a Twin Air filter helps prevent the engine from ingesting foreign matter. IMS Core footpegs help keep his feet where they’re supposed to be. “Those are huge [benefit-wise, not just physically]!” Gerston praises. “They help a lot.”

He laughs, “Everything on my bike’s [pretty close to] stock—it’s pretty ridiculous—but that’s how I like it! I prefer it like that.”

And it obviously worked well since he won the Shasta race convincingly, his second triumph of the season, increasing his point lead over Beta USA teammate Joe Wasson, who rides a 430 as well, both in the hare scrambles and hare & hound wars.