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Beta Explorer
May 14, 2024 version

 Introduction 
5/14/24

 Modifications 
6/23/24

      Page links

Click pictures to  supersize.

I bought a brand new 2024 Beta Explorer in October 2023. Timberline Motorsports in Buena Vista was the first dealer in Colorado that I found to get one on the floor. Ryan and Rodney were happy to process my purchase. Paperwork was completed and signed quickly.

The Explorer was impressive at first sight. I rode around the parking lot for 3 minutes then loaded up for the ride home.
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Ready to ride.
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Weight

161 pounds: 81 front, 80 rear. Weighed just home from the dealer.


American Beta Parts Finder and Ordering (update)

American Beta has added access to an online Beta parts ordering page. Parts diagram starter page

I clicked on 2024, then scrolled to the bottom of the list to find and check on the Explorer. Finding parts and getting them into a cart, then ordering them was easy enough..... I ordered a drive chain and chain guide. Shipping was higher than I've paid other on-line vendors for the same parts.

The parts I ordered arrived as scheduled. Happy.

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VIN

The Explorer has a VIN, inscribed on the steering tube, just like regular motorcycles (picture below, VIN partially obscured for privacy). The dealer prepared a title application document using the VIN of my new Explorer. My dealer also applied for a CPW OHV permit and gave me the temporary 60-day permit copy. I will be riding in the same category as a motorized vehicle and will not be permitted to ride bicycle trails.

Shortly after filing all the paperwork and paying fees at the local DMV office I received a Colorado OHV title.

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Short Ride

I went for a very short ride (5 miles) just to get a feel of the Explorer and to see how well the tires worked in the dirt and how the suspension felt. The tires were unacceptable, and I will be switching to Shinko 241's very soon. I had these on my X-bike (Light Bee), and they were very good for the terrain I ride. The seat was hard as a board, and the suspension was very stiff and bouncy over the small braking bumps in the road. I will be adjusting the suspension settings very soon also. I have an idea on how to fix the seat.

The good news is that the Explorer fit me very well, and the power and agility were very good also. I was grinning the whole ride, bumps and all, and was most pleased that I bought the Explorer. It will be a very nice fit for me.

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First Long Ride

Saturday was 'long ride' day, and I rode down River Rd with a friend who was riding his Sur Ron Light Bee. I had fiddled with the suspension before the ride, and the Explorer felt much better. I rode in Turtle mode for a while, then switched to Rabbit mode. These are slow and faster as defined by Beta. We rode to Turkey Rock, then my friend rode the Explorer around a bit. His comment - this isn't a bicycle with a motor; it's a small motorcycle. That's the way I felt about it too. I don't plan to race the Explorer, or to try to ride it all day long. 5 or 6 hours would be a target time. I won't ride it on technical single-track. It needs a clutch before I'd go that route. It will be my fun bike, quiet and speedy now and then, and it will let me explore without people even noticing I'm there.

As the ride was just coming to a close, I could see my truck about 100 yards away, and all of a sudden, the Explorer slowed to a crawl. The battery indicator on my display showed just 1 solid bar and 1 flashing bar (out of 10), and this indicated 20% charge remaining. The Explorer switches to Turtle mode when this happens. It seemed like I was crawling along compared to the faster Rabbit mode I was just experiencing, and I reached the truck with a sense of relief. It looks like I'll be doing a re-charge when I got home. The total odo was 30 miles, and that's the low end of the advertised range. From my X-Bike experience, I know that the first 4 or 5 charge cycles are getting the cells into better condition, balancing as needed, and the performance improves noticeably. I expect the same with the Explorer.


Charge

I removed the battery from the Explorer. Or rather I should say, I tried to remove the battery. It wouldn't budge, not even a smidgen. Yes, it weighs 35 pounds or so, and it might be too heavy for this old coot to lift out. After trying for several minutes, I decide to try prying an edge up by using a very large flat-blade screwdriver under one edge. Nothing moved. I didn't want to poke a hole in the battery case, so I put the screwdriver aside and returned to using my muscles. I managed to put a little twisting torque on the battery, and it started to lift away from its resting spot. Finally, it lifted away, and I pulled it out of the frame. Inspecting the cubby-hole the battery was resting in, I spotted a rubber strip along the front edge of the area, The battery had stuck to the rubber and only released when I got very aggressive. I suspect that future removals will be easier because the rubber and battery won't semi-bond due to shorter contact intervals. I will know what to look for in the future.

Here's a thought. I can just leave the battery in the cradle and connect/disconnect the charger as needed. Of course, the battery may bond ever more so with the rubber, but what's the harm in that.

Plugging in the charger, I began the full-charge process that I read would take about 3-4 hours. I used the 5A setting instead of 10A, on the theory that the first re-charge should somehow be gentle... It took 4.5 hours, and I worked in the garage the whole time, checking the flashing light on the charger now and then. I let the battery sit over night before returning it to its cubby hole.

That process was a bit tedious also. The battery would just not settle in, but it stuck against that rubber and wouldn't scooch up enough to let the back end knobs settle into their shaped cradles. I finally got it fully in place and resolved to never remove it for charging again. Whew.

Note 10/29/2023

While reading the RFN ARES RALLY PRO INSTALLATION GUIDE, I came across the following tidbit on page 7:

"4. Insert the battery, align the front end of the battery with the rubber base, press the front end in, and then press the rear end of the battery down to snap it into the battery bracket."

This note describes exactly what I did to get my battery back in place. When they say "press the rear end of the battery down" they mean press HARD. You're pushing against the rather stout battery brackets.

Update - instead of pressing the rear of the battery down, do this. Stand on the left or right side of the Beta, face forward and place your hands on the frame rail and battery junction on each side, fingers downward and thumb above. Now squeeze the battery downward. The battery will snap in easily. Well, not 'easily', but easier than when just pressing down.

So, why am I reading the RFN ARES RALLY PRO INSTALLATION GUIDE? As you will eventually discover, the RFN is the parent ebike that the Explorer is based on. I have so far not found an Installation Guide for the Explorer.

To get a copy of the guide, go to: RFN CATALOGS (at RFN-USA) and click on ASSEMBLY GUIDE


See also Battery Upgrade on the Modifications page.


Brakes

There is a 'thing' about the brakes that I don't like, but I have found a possible solution.

I found this comment in a Youtube video comments area:
"Hold the m button down for 15 seconds turns off brake sensor to keep motor on while braking"

On my recent ride, I noticed a peculiar behavior when applying the brakes, then releasing the brakes, and then rolling on the throttle. There was a shudder or stutter that seemed to come from the motor. I thought this stutter was a 'regen' event and carried on. This regen event occurred every time I applied the brakes then rolled on the throttle. Even very light braking and light throttle caused the regen to occur. This behavior was most troubling, and when I read the quote above, I thought this process might eliminate the regen.

This morning I rolled the Explorer out and turned the key to turn the power on. I did a short run down the driveway to insure that the regen was still happening. It was. With the Explorer stopped and the power on, I pressed the M button and held it. After about 15 seconds, the display flashed off/on/off/on, and I released the button. I did another run down the driveway, applying the brake(s) and throttle roll-on several times, and the regen did not occur. I applied both brakes, front brake only, and rear brake only, and there was no more regen. Success. I also verified that turning the power off and on reset the regen on. (Correction from previous comment.)


The Key

Here is a clip from some document I was reading:
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Here is a picture of the ignition lock on my Explorer:
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Thing is, the printed instructions don't mention the PUSH position on the lock. It's upside down in the picture above. In order to get the key to the Handlebar lock position, you must turn the handlebars all the way left and then PUSH the key in while turning it past the PUSH symbol. I suspect this is designed to keep you from accidentally locking the handlebars if you switch the key from PowerOn to Power Off and go all the way to the lock position as you remove the key. I, and many others, never give a key a glance when we switch off and remove the key.
NOTE: This description has been corrected as a result of more complete testing.


Anomalies

I found this wire/connector hanging out in the breeze. I had to remove one bolt to get the wire/connector tucked back behind a cover. When I had the battery out, I looked in the cavity below to see if any other potential problem wire/connectors were hangin' around, but everything looked ok.
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When I removed the seat-retaining butterfly bolt to see how the seat raised up and down and see the battery access, I encountered a problem when trying to put the bolt back in. It kept cross-threading for a dozen times before I gave up. I ran a very sharp drill bit that was just a little larger than the hole in the seat plastic, rocking forward and backward to allow a different approach angle for the bolt insertion. It worked, and the bolt finally screwed in with no difficulty.

I bought a few butterfly bolts and carry them in my tool pouch 'just in case'.
Stainless Steel 304 Wing Bolts M6-1.0 x 25mm


Long Ride #2
Don't worry that I'll write up every ride. I'm just noting these early rides to show set-up progress and problems...)

I rode 30 miles of 4WD roads in the Poncha Loop area, east of Highway 285 in the San Luis Valley. The battery ran down to the last 2 bars, one of them blinking. Just like the first ride.

I felt more comfortable on the Explorer this time, but problems remained. I definitely need different handlebars; I was hunched forward the whole ride and never got comfortable in my shoulders and arms. The new handlebars I ordered will be on the bike for the next ride.

Engine braking - I sure miss it. Having to use the front brake to slow down on slight downhills really gives the right-hand index finger a workout. I eventually started using two fingers, which helped. I also was noticing the lack of shifting and the clutch. Cockpit work-load is definitely down, and welcome.

I did not adjust the suspension and paid the price. Very little bump compliance. Another area that will be fixed before the next ride.

I did not have a GPS unit on the handlebars, and missed it sorely. Backtracking without the benefit of a GPSr is a bit of a stresser, but I managed finally. GPSr on the handlebars next ride, for sure.

The forest was in full display mode and I had a great ride. More to come.

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Charging Note

I left the battery in place this time and after raising the seat, I hooked up the charger. I used the 5A setting again. It took 5 hours this time. I don't know why it took longer than the first charging..


Mileage

I'm getting about 30 miles per ride, which is considerably less than the sales hype I've read. I expected that the battery performance would increase over time and use, but I'm not seeing anything yet....


Suspension

I checked and set the forks and shock settings.

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'Settings, from seated' = screwed all the way out to last detent; fully soft. There's a technical and less confusing term, but it escapes my memory just now.
+1 means screwed in 1 click.

I changed the spring preload by un-screwing the spring lock nut 1 turn. This resulted in a bit more static and rider sag.

I left the shock mounted when I did the adjusting. I used vise-grips to grip 2 spring coils lightly, enough to remove tension on the lock nut. I located and removed the set screw on one face of the nut. I rotated the nut one complete turn out. I re-installed the set screw and removed the vise-grips.

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Time to see how it rides now...


Rear Rack - fyi

Steel rear rack. Easily installed to the rear section of the Explorer. It is powder coated black to help protect from wear and tear. Perfect for bringing along a small pack on any adventure! Fits 2024+ Explorer. - $129.99

On Beta USA web site: Explorer Rear Rack

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MAJOR UPGRADE...

74v 58ah Battery for RFN Ares Rally and Beta Explorer

This battery and others are sold by motoclops.com located in Monument, CO.

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Replacement battery on the left, stock battery on the right.
Notice of shipment received: 12/21/23.
Battery received and installed: 12/28/23. See Modifications page.


Curious

This is what I saw when the battery ran down to the last dribble.

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The little orange icon in the lower right corner looks like a gasoline pump, like you see in a gas station. Why would the low battery light on an electric vehicle be a gas pump? Click on the picture to see it better.

Here's a closer look.

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Never mind. It's an electric recharge station ☺


Battery Gauge add-on

Cheap at-a-glance assist.

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For comments/discussions:

Beta Explorer E-Moto - ADVrider

Beta Explorer First Ride Impressions - Thumper Talk

See also my Modifications page.

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