Tuesday, 5 August 2008

He Says - Why the Africa Twin

Why the Africa Twin? There is more debate on about which bike to take travelling then there is any other debate in the entire rest of world. The main reason for this is that there is no correct answer it is completely subjective and truth is any bike can do it BUT every one has their own reasons and think they are right. Of course we are right by choosing the AT, every one else is wrong, okay not wrong just not right, well not .. “not right” but…. ahh bugger it..

All makes of bikes have strong points and weakness, each and every bike is a compromise. The bike you chose is depended on what compromises you are willing to make and which ones you are not. So back to the question of why the Africa Twin. The answer is simple.. it is a simple bike and I love it. I love the ride I love the looks and feel.

I will play fair and discuss the negatives first. It is way way too tall for my pint size pillion to ride alone, so I have to do all the riding (wait is this a negative?). It is only a 750, so is a little on the low power side for two-up touring, this means we have to go slower (slower means we can see more.. again is this a negative?). It is rather heavy by today’s standards, which means I have to work hard to ride it sometimes. It is a bloody big bike! The Africa Twin is known to have a few faults including rubbish fuel pumps that need to be tossed out and replaced, the rectifier can fry, and the worst of the bunch is the out-put shaft is unforgiving of a too tight chain and will strip. The Honda OEM seat was created by an S&M fanatic that was dating Satan at the time. I am sure there are more negatives but I cant think of any more, and as all who know me know I hate to concentrate on the negative aspects of anything.. Oui you! Keep your mouth shut!..

The up sides of the Twin:

It looks amazing. I love the feel of it…yeah okay I already said this.. moving on

It is not the best Dual sport, I would give this to the Tenere’, it is not the best big rally dirt bike, (KTM Adventure gets that). It is not the best long-distance tourer (don’t know maybe BMW GS, or Goldwing??), it is far from the best roadbike (way to many to chose from), not the fastest (does the hyabusa still hold this title?). However the AT can jump from road to dirt without down shifting, on the dirt it is my skill not the bike that holds us back, it can sit on the road for hours on end and keeps going, it is fast enough to scare me. So all in all it is not the best at anything, but it is the best do anything bike.

The Africa Twin is an “old technology bike”, runs on carburettors! There are only two bits of electronics on the bike, the trip computer that is really only useful as fuel gauge, and the rectifier/cdi. The latter two are solid state.. so they are either working or not end of story. This means that I can fix most things, and if I cant the local mechanic in some small town probably can. The more modern bikes may be lighter, faster, more efficient.. but you need a computer science degree to change the spark-plugs… do they even have spark plugs? I wont even get into the fuel mixture controls, I have a screw.. they have a computer chip. What about idle, I have a tumb-screw.. the new bikes have a ahhhh… satellite controlled positronic brain for all I know. I have hydraulic disk brakes, some new bikes have ABS.. if a sensor goes pop in ABS.. bike stop, bike no go till new chip is mortgaged . If my hydraulic brakes go pop.. I have no brakes.. but I can still go forward (notice I did not say stop going forward). There are hundreds of examples where the Africa Twin is behind the times, but this means it is simple and when travelling the KISS principal is key, it means that MacGyvering is possible, it mean we can fix things and it is unlikely to cost 6-million dollars.

Less of a driving force was the plethora of toys available for it, if you can think of something you want for it, someone already has though of it and is selling it. I made many of the toys for the bike, but this is predominantly because I am a tinkerer and cant stand not to play. It is an illness but I like it.

Finally it is a Honda. I have been riding bikes since I was about 8 years old. I have owned everything from a Triumph to a Suzuki, to a Harley to a Yamaha and several Hondas. I have found that of all the bikes I have owned you can abuse a Honda and it will keep going… I have never found this on any other bike. (yeah yeah your is good too mate, but we are talking about me here..). Honda reliability is not just a advertising slogan.