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My guess is front tire wear. My Mefo Explorer tire started howling at 1,000 miles.
Check for cupping on the front tire.
 

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I had the howling problem. I checked the chain adjustment and alignment, even thought it might be the clutch... put on new tires and voila... no more howl!
 

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My bet would be front tire... The stock Dunlop on my 2017 was getting noisy at about 1200 miles. Not enough to bother me, but definitely noticably louder. I pulled it and put a Shink 705 on front, and it got quiet.

May be something else, but that is my guess.
I have a '17 DCT model with the stock front tire and I have noticed it howling lately (3500 miles). Close inspection revealed that it is cupping also. I have already bought a new set of Mitas front and rear but have not installed them yet. I am sure that will quiet down the front tire.
 

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Please let us know the outcome.

Some tires make noise and some make lots of noise. In fact, all tires make noise.

I live in the Country, where it is VERY quiet and my front Patio is is 500 feet from a 55 mph, nicely paved blacktop road and I can tell when a car or pickup is a half mile away from the tire sound and even little teenie-weanie death traps like the current Japanese starter cars actually make the HUM and the pickups with aggressive winter/ summer tires don't hum, they HOWL.

Bikes and scooters do they same thing to a lesser extent.

I remember when I bought a brand new 2010 Triumph Scrambler twin and the bike was very quiet except for a rather annoying tire hum: Get up to 50 mph or so and shift into neutral, turn the engine off and it was very apparent. The tire pressure was correct.

Some of my past adventure bikes like my GS 1100 and KTM 640 exc, DR650 and several KLR650's, with aggressive DOT approved tires made a heck of a racket, all the time at any speed, especially after a few hundred miles from new! Oh well. (LOW pressure= more noise)

MY ATAS only has right around +- 2,000 miles and with the correct tire pressures, there is very little noise at all.

If the OP is worried and the bike is under warranty, take it to a Honda dealer and let the service dept ride it and give their opinion.

Good luck.

Sam:)
 

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Hi from Japan.
I think the cause of the sound is probably the tight tension of the chain.
If the tension of the chain continues to be strong, the axle shaft (spline) of the drive sprocket will wear.
If you drive the Africa Twin for a long time in that state, you should check the F sprocket spline.

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The AT has one of the more "saggy" tension specifications that I have seen. Nevertheless, Honda set the spec. Maybe something to do with being offroad capable?
 

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(The photo is my friend Africa Twin. )He unfortunately scraped the drive shaft spline.
The wheel travel of AT is long. I think the service manual setting is tight.
When the tension of the chain is tight, the sound will be high-pitched.
If you hear a dog barking, it's probably a tire tread problem, as pointed out.
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Check the chain. I got new tyres fitted and lad who refitted the wheels was being genuinely helpful and said that chain was loose so he tightened it a bit.

I got the noise particularly 60-80mph on the motorway and was concerned.

slackened the chain a little and it’s gone! (The noise!)
Barry
 

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Discussion Starter #29
I tensioned my chain to the looser side of the spec. I can just barely slap the swingarm with my chain if I flick it up hard enough.

Note: I heard this noise BEFORE I decided to set the drive chain tension for the first time... the noise was the actual reason why I thought I should adjust it in the first place. I only have 1200 miles (~1900km) on the bike. I've checked, cleaned , and lubed it religiously every 300-350 miles or so. I only moved the axle because of the sound. I wasn't even sure it was warranted.

I haven't checked the axle alignment yet as work has kept me too busy to really ride much. I went for a couple short rides and the sound is still there-why wouldn't it be? I haven't fixed anything. I honestly can't imagine the alignment is off much if at all.


I am hearing impaired but believe that I hear the sound strongly coming from the rear wheel. I will check everything again when I get some time.
 

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Discussion Starter #30
Upon seeing what Tetsuhiro shared, I think I will remove the drive sprocket and check the spline. Lube with a little grease to be sure its not that. Thank you for the information, Tetsuhiro!
 

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Upon seeing what Tetsuhiro shared, I think I will remove the drive sprocket and check the spline. Lube with a little grease to be sure its not that. Thank you for the information, Tetsuhiro!
At 1200 miles I seriously doubt you have a dry spline. If you do lube the spline use Honda Moly Paste. It's like $35 for a 2oz tube but anything else is useless.

If the axle chain alignment marks are OK I doubt your rear wheel is out of alignment either (key the pundits that the marks are a joke).

It sounds more like tyres wearing. Heavy front braking or running with low tyre pressures will cup the front then it starts to howl - sometimes more as you lean the bike a bit. At certain speeds the front and rear sometimes set up a synchronous beat vibration. I wear ear plugs and only notice it when riding without plugs.

Chain tension is a possible cause and is best /easiest and more consistent to set on centre stand or a bike lift - you should be able to just push with a finger the chain from bottom to touch the chain slider at the mid point between sprockets. There is an inverted V on the upper chain slider at the mid-point. Anything tighter is too tight. This is a long travel suspension so chain tension varies a lot as the rear wheel moves. The manual gives a dimension when on the side stand. This is for a stock bike unloaded without any accessories and with rear preload set per manual -- if you have a loaded bike, have set the suspension sag for your weight, have aftermarket springs or have a heavily loaded bike the manual advice means nothing and usually results in a too-tight chain.

Also, the chain rubs on the sliders and makes noise. Chain lube quickly stops the noise.

Lastly, the right side bearing has been failing on many ATs around 25000km. Mine did. Water gets past the seal and into the bearing which then becomes rough. I only noticed it when changing tyres and checking bearings by hand - noticed nothing whilst riding.
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Discussion Starter #32
Good points to consider. I'll recheck the chain since I DID increase the rear preload. I'll check that the chain barely touches the guide where you say. Pretty sure it will, but I'll be sure. Tires show no cupping as far as I can see. I also don't have much to be seen as far as chicken strips either. I'm a pretty learned rider.

I think I actually bought the very last Moly60 tube in my state a few years back to lube the very dry driveshaft splines on my Concours 14. I'll use that.

The rear bearing was what I began seriously considering. I noticed it looked like the grease was weaping out as if it overheated or something. But seems to roll smooth with no perceptible grittiness heard through a screwdriver.
 

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My pick will be tires, ditch them they are garbage anyway .....but I really think its the tires
 

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Discussion Starter #34
Yeah. I'm not a fan of these tires at all. I need to find a tar and chip road to try and isolate them.
 

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This image "almost" has that 3D look to it.
I think it happens when something is reflected off the blackness of the bearing hole on the computer screen and scrolling the image at the same time.
it's the 'Disco' LED lights in the background at the shop, a white LED work light and the iPhone 11Pro.
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What kind of tires are you running and how old (miles or km) are they?
 

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I have battlax adv A41R for stock tires. At about 4k, km's I noticed the front started howling. At 5k km's I fitted a b&b bash plate and the howl volume seamed to double over night.
Its barely noticeable travelling on a smooth surface at 80 klicks until I throttle off or lightly brake, then it really loud. With the weight shift forward.
Anyway if all else fails a new front might be worth a try.
 

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Mine howled like a ******* with the Goldentyre knobbilies on it, definitely howls when the chain is dry or needs adjustment. This is on a 2020.
 
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