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Discussion Starter #1
Hi, I am Dries van der Walt, a South African bike journalist who attended the press launch. I have just published my report on the launch here: http://www.wheels24.co.za/BikesQuads...egend-20151202. I have also posted launch pictures on Instagram if you want to have a look – my username there is also DriesOnBikes.

Having spend two days riding the bike on and off the road, I am happy to answer any questions you may have to the best of my ability.
 

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Hi, I was not able to get the link to work but did find the review on the site, thanks.

What are your views regarding the on road handling? Does the large front wheel slow the handling or affect the stability?
 

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I have a question Dries: Honda accessories for the AT are quite expensive. Would it be possible to hang a pair of aftermarket soft saddlebags over the pillion without them rubbing on the rear tire? I had to construct a "stand-off" for that purpose on my NC700XD and it works great.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
What are your views regarding the on road handling? Does the large front wheel slow the handling or affect the stability?
On-road handling is fairly good, although the rear wheel breaks out easily under really hard, weight-forward cornering. Tightening up the rear suspension alleviates it a bit, but the stock Dunlop rubber on the launch bikes seemed to get overwhelmed by the torque when you accelerate hard out of corners.

The big front wheel doesn't affect stability much – as I said in my report, it is an extremely stable bike. Because of the front wheel's size, the bike is not is sharp in tight corners, but thanks to the stability it really shines in fast sweeping curves.

My overall opinion is that for an off-road-focussed bike, it handles extremely well on tar.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
I have a question Dries: Honda accessories for the AT are quite expensive. Would it be possible to hang a pair of aftermarket soft saddlebags over the pillion without them rubbing on the rear tire? I had to construct a "stand-off" for that purpose on my NC700XD and it works great.
You might have to go the "stand-off" route on the Twin as well – the high exhaust pipe on the right and the big clearance between the rear wheel and subframe on the left could be a problem with soft luggage.

There are built-in mounting holes for the official luggage, so if your engineering skills allow, you could use these for a removable frame. Also, since the AT is likely to be a volume seller, less expensive after-market luggage will probably be available fairly soon.
 

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Question about the tires, what did Honda fit for the launch? All the press photos feature road focused handling vs launch photos where its clearly wearing more aggressive dirt rubber.

Just wondering if Honda plans to offer knobbies as an upgrade or something...

Cheers!





Or did Honda provide bikes with both road and off-road focused tires?

 

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Question about the tires, what did Honda fit for the launch? All the press photos feature road focused handling vs launch photos where its clearly wearing more aggressive dirt rubber.
Just wondering if Honda plans to offer knobbies as an upgrade or something...
<snip>
Or did Honda provide bikes with both road and off-road focused tires? /QUOTE]

Excellent question Paige. Most owners don't have the luxury of changing rubber when they change from paved roads to dirt. A proper test should mimic conditions the owner of an AT would experience on a real ride. Or, a disclosure of the differences should be noted.

On a related topic: Dries, are Honda technicians available to help riders with suspension settings when changing venues each day? Or is everyone on their own to deal with setting up their test bikes? While changing tires isn't feasible, I think most owners could perform these adjustments if they knew test riders did so to get the most out of the bikes.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Question about the tires, what did Honda fit for the launch? All the press photos feature road focused handling vs launch photos where its clearly wearing more aggressive dirt rubber.

Just wondering if Honda plans to offer knobbies as an upgrade or something...

Cheers!

Or did Honda provide bikes with both road and off-road focused tires?
Honda provided both. In essence we rode four different bikes each: one pair (DCT and manual) with dual-purpose tyres, and another pair with knobblies.

The tar road mountain passes and dirt road tracking shots were done with the DP-tyre bikes (if I recall the latter was about a 5km stretch of dirt road), but the serious off-road stuff was done on knobblies. We also did a similarly short stretch of tar road on the knobblies to access the off-road area.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
On a related topic: Dries, are Honda technicians available to help riders with suspension settings when changing venues each day? Or is everyone on their own to deal with setting up their test bikes? While changing tires isn't feasible, I think most owners could perform these adjustments if they knew test riders did so to get the most out of the bikes.
Honda techs were on hand and very helpful in answering questions and adjusting things when requested, but I adjusted the rebound damping on the rear suspension myself during one of the stops. The adjustment made a marked difference to the handling, so it is something I would advise owners to experiment with.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by erey View Post
The AT will come with Dunlop Trailmax 610.

Duing the tests, Honda put the Conti TKC-80

Touratech put the Karoo 3 during their test.

For us, we will have only the non-choice of the Dunlop.

The launch bikes were on Dunlops.
Not being familiar with Conti TKC80's I G-oogled a review: http://www.canyonchasers.net/reviews/tires/conti/tkc80.php where the tires were mounted on a Multistrada 1200 for the test. I was struck by this comment: "With the TKC 80s, without even realizing it, we found ourselves running speeds between 60 and 80mph down dirt roads and even two-track with utmost confidence. Making mediocre dirt riders, such as ourselves, feel like superheroes." What caught my attention was that it was so similar to your remark giving credit to the Africa Twin (apparently also shod with TKC80's) "Riding it in anger on a dirt track, you soon forget that this is not a mid-sized bike – the Africa Twin is is one of those rare bikes that makes an average rider look good and a good rider look brilliant." Not challenging your conclusion, just wondering if the TKC80's had more to do with it than you might have known.

But maybe not more than Honda knows, since they made tire choices for both segments of the test. While I can understand wanting your product to perform well, changing from 20/80 dual sport Dunlops to 80/20 Conti's in the middle of the test, is somewhat deceptive, if not actually unethical on Honda's part. It seems a buyer should be entitled to take delivery of the same bike he has read reviews of, not one suitable for only half it's stated mission.

Am I getting preachy? Sorry... it's too cold outside to play and I have nothing else to do with my time. :(
 

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For most D/S and ADV bikes, manufacturers tend to error on the side of fitting tires that are primarily pavement oriented*, as that is the type of surface where most buyers/owners will do most of their riding. I'd estimate that less than 10% of AT buyers will change out the OEM pavement tires for something more suited to serious off-road work.



* KTM being an exception to this, particularly on their EXC350 & EXC500 models which come shod with off-road worthy DOT knobbies.
 

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I don't think it's unfair of Honda to change the tires based on the terrain for each day. No point building a great off road bike and then not being able to utilize it cause you have street tires on. It's up to you and I to fit appropriate tires based on the riding we anticipate doing.

For what it's worth, TKC80's have a great reputation for both on and off road but suffer from a short lifespan. Fitting them for the off road segment is a smart move as most ADV riders would be familiar with them on other bikes, and so can compare the respective qualities of the bike and not be distracted by tire differences.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
The tyres do have a lot to do with it – I was also surprised to realise that I was going at 70+ mph on some of the dirt sections. But I think it goes further than that – the general stability and balance of the bike inspires enormous confidence. I don't think good tyres can save a bad bike, but they will certainly improve a good one.
 

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I don't think it's unfair of Honda to change the tires based on the terrain for each day. No point building a great off road bike and then not being able to utilize it cause you have street tires on. It's up to you and I to fit appropriate tires based on the riding we anticipate doing.
Hmm, would you mind if a manufacturer fed just a tiny bit nitrous oxide into the intake system, or mounted DOT slicks on the vehicle to pick up a few tics on the vehicle's 0-60 time for magazine testers? How about if computers on unnamed diesel powered Bugs were modified to burn clean when being emission tested and not burn clean when not being tested? And that VW, er the manufacturer, advertises high fuel economy and environmental purity?

I think the line should be drawn at failure to disclose any significant variation between as tested and as purchased off the showroom floor. I'm sure Honda wasn't hiding anything from the testers, but should have made it clear the tire changes had to be pointed out in the reports. People can draw their own conclusions when they know the facts.
 

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I reckon I'll be fitting a set of Conti TKC70's to my AT at the nearest opportunity which from reading provide a good combination of longevity, wet grip and respectable off-road riding. They are a 60/40 split with more bias to on-road which is what I'll be doing mostly when commuting. The TKC80's offer a 50/50 split but as already mentioned have a shorter lifespan.
 
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