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Why the Africa Twin?

18904 Views 32 Replies 22 Participants Last post by  bbingle
Hey all,
I thought it might be interesting to find out a little about yourself and why you chose the Africa Twin.

I'm 24 years old (about to be 25) and currently I reside in the Kenai Peninsula of Alaska. Let me start by saying, I've ALWAYS wanted a sport bike. Starting in high school, and following me all the way through college, was the burning desire for something fast. The sleek lines and the sound an engine makes in the high revs has always appealed to me.

Since moving to Alaska, I've taken some time to think about the practicality of such a motorcycle. First off, there's not much paved road for exploring here. The roads that are paved are constantly covered in gravel from rain and from people driving onto the highway from a gravel road.
Secondly, distances between towns can be quite far, and that's a long time to stay hunched over when you're 6'2". There's also not a lot of room for passing cars and doing other things sport bikes do.
That's when it hit me. There other machines on two wheels much more suitable for adventure.

Now onto why I chose the AT...

It's Alaska!
The Peninsula has been dubbed "Alaska's Playground" for several reasons, one being the enormous amount of off-road trails to explore. I've always been a fan of exploration and the outdoors and seeing everybody up here on their 1200GS and 1190s made me very curious about the adventure market.

Cost (purchasing/maintenance)
The AT is fairly affordable. For around $12,000 you get well built machine from a reputable company. The Honda I had prior to moving was a 1980 CB 750C and it ran like a top. I haven't had the chance to test an AT out, but judging by the specs, and hours of review videos watched, it's one **** of a bike. I expect it should be fairly reasonable to maintain compared to a KTM or BMW. The nearest dealership for KTM and BMW is a few hundred miles from where I live, but there's two Honda dealerships only minutes from me so that choice was obvious.

I know people may say that the bike is overhyped and/or doesn't perform like "they thought it should" but what single thing does? It has two wheels, you can take it off the beaten path, and it gives you a sense of freedom that's not as attainable in a car, or on a sport bike.

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I had an SV1000 nakedbike which had a great engine, but budget suspension and brakes. I replaced it with a 990SMT, which had great suspension and brakes, but I never liked the engine that much. It was a V twin, but 75 degree never felt or sounded right, and it was mechanically noisy with abrupt fuelling and the pipes running under the seat cooked me in the Australian Spring and Autumn, let alone Summer. Ended up I just never rode it.

Got into dirtbikes, and then started thinking the Adv thing seemed like the way to go. Toyed with the idea of a modified dirtbike, then bought a DR650 to mod to a bike I'd be happy to do some big distance.

Local KTM dealer had a demo day and I finally got to ride an 1190 R. Oddly, I found the power delivery too soft compared with the SMT, and it felt huge. Rode the SMT again, and it was its usual hyperactive self. Fun, but still a road bike I realistically wasn't going to ride much. No reason to keep it, so left it still up for sale.

Tried an AT for giggles. The AT felt like it was halfway between the two. Smooth, good power delivery without being too soft or too abrupt. Overall very smooth, but felt like that 90 degree V twin I missed. Even sounds good with the standard (ugly) pipe. Brakes ok rather than being good, but hugely powerful brakes aren't such a good idea on dirt anyway. Heavy - even heavier than the SMT - but carries its weight well once you're moving. Easy to ride, and tips in to corners far better than I expected. Just overall it's a nice, smooth, easy to ride and very competent package.

A week and a half later my new AT was in my shed. Finally sold the SMT during the waiting period between signing up for the AT and collecting it, and the DR650 has gone too now.

I guess I picked the right time to test ride one.
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Hi ATAlaska, first and for most, my 2 what your heart wants! To me, everyone has a passion and whether it's motorcycles or what you love and make yourself happy before trying to impress someone else!

The "hype" about the AT has more to do with several things that lead people down several paths of opinions that range in either positive or negitive feelings about the bike. Personally I believe the "hype" has more to do with the legend of the original bike and the fact that it wasn't ever really available in the States. It does have and continues to have a very positive reaction from current and previous owners for simplicity, reliability, capability and ease of ownership. These traits again add (in my opinion) to the legendary status of the AT.....and lend's itself to the current "hype" (and the reality is we won't know whether the current bike is anything like the previous bike for several years, "hope" might be a better used word here).

The other aspect of this hype is more the promise (or wish) of a manufacture other then the establishment (BMW, KTM) to deliver on a promise of a go anywhere, do anything bike for everyone. Again, not to say we don't have such bikes on the market, the KLR, GS, 990, come to mind, and many more could be added to the list, but the "wish" or "desire" brings this "hype" into the forefront of discussion. Whether you like or dislike the current breed of ADV bike at this stage is from personal belief and or formulated influence of your riding background. Personally, the market (to me) keeps going in the wrong direction. We keep getting more power, more weight, more gadgets but are loosing focus of what these things could do and instead we keep getting bikes that lend more to do with staying on the road then going further off-road!

I LOVE what Honda did with the current AT. So far my complaints are few. Yes I could go on about it should be lighter and have heated grips and cruise control standard etc.......but again, simple, reliable, capable and ease of ownership, I would gladly take over those other things. I've owner a 1200GS, put 55,000miles on it, loved it but it' wasn't cheap. I know from a service aspect alone I'll save thousands of $$$ by owning a new AT compared to my old 1200GS.

One last thing. I met a chap ridding across America on an original AT a few years ago. I couldn't believe how "unrefined" it was compared to my 1200. It was fat, had what seemed like half the hp and looked strained with all his boxes and his girlfriend on the back! Let me tell you though.....we rode off road for a few days and he was going at twice the rate I was (my terrible riding skills), and never did he or the bike looked uncapable! I got to know him and the original bike by the time we went our separate ways. Now a few years on, doing this ADV crap, I can see what the "hype" is all about and to me I don't see the AT as that at all. Hate it or like it, it's here to stay and a warm spot in my garage is waiting for it because I certainly have a warm spot in my heart for it.

Good luck on your search.
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Riding 40 years. Owned 30 bikes. Done some courses off road and on tracks. Advanced training with the police. Trained many others myself. And lead maybe 50 ride-outs around the world. Wrote an eBook thriller with lots of bike action in it (called "04:15"). I'm a global moderator on another forum. And I follow all types of world level motorcycle racing.

What I’m seeking…

It’s where my heads at. I want my bike to be very comfortable, smooth, have good ergonomics, decent looks, build and reliability; to work well as a genuine all-rounder (including some dual-sports / fire-trails riding when the mood takes), be affordable and something with potential to please beyond initial years of ownership.

Why the AT…
- Suspension is apparently excellent, providing a very smooth and comfortable ride
- Honda build quality and reliability is legendary, so it should go forever
- Incredible frugality claimed, giving a useful large tank range
- Good looking machine, with angles that definitely grow on you - it looks purposeful
- Adventurous rally scheme graphics; bold & characterful for a Honda
- 270 degree firing order gives the exhaust a characterful bark

Why DCT…
- DCT version is generally voted better by the journo's, especially off-road
- Super smooth seamless changes with the DCT, ideal for two-up touring
- Manual mode provides quick and pro shifter type functionality

- A bit low on power (95 hp and 70 torques), but sprightly at real-world speeds and stable at 3-figure speeds.
- A chain drive bike, but maintenance is much lower than it used to be


Hopefully I’ll be very happy with the bike, which in theory arrives 3 weeks today – here’s hoping!
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Why the Africa Twin

After 39 years of motorbikes I wanted to get a 'final' bike into my garage. One to keep forever.
It was going to be lots of other bikes over the years and 2 years ago was going to be a 2014 BMW GS1200.
That changed when the twin was launched. I decided I wanted relative simplicity, less gadgets. A bike I could ride without worrying about anything really.
After a 30 minute test ride I bought one very early. I have had it 3 months and 2000 miles now and am very happy with my decision.
All I need now is a 1984 R80GS to keep it company.
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Im a 36 year old with the following bikes over the years

At 12 years old had a honda scooter 80cc
At 16 had my dads old kawsaki 250klr
At 18 had my brothers old honda 600 xr
At 22 years had used suzuki quad 400 ltz
Went to college and got married+3 kids
At 30 had a used suzuki quad 450 ltr
At 32 had new canam renegade 1000 xxc
At 34 had a new canam maveric 1000 xxc

Most bikes were used for offroads use, going on mountain trails

And now I just want a bike with Honda reliability that can take me on road, through traffic and occassional offroads.

I live in Haiti and so Im looking for the most reliable with the least electronic package. I do not have the luxury of stopping by the dealer for minor electonic glitches.

Out of my experience, Honda has amazed me through out the years. I still see my 1996 xr600r bike in the street. Had a plastic make over but still runs new.
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Why the new AT?

I acquired an original 1988 AT five years ago; immaculate JDM model with 20,000 km [12,000 ml] on it.
Since then it's gone places a big bike shouldn't go, been used as a commuter and loaded with camping gear for weeks on the road. It could do with some new valve stem seals now @ 65,000km, but it still starts with half a crank and gets on with it.

It's basic, slow, clunky and brilliant. In isolation all the parts that make it are very average, but it works, and continues to do so, way above what you would expect.

Now the old timer is retired - never to be sold - and the CRF1K has taken over.

Despite 28 years between them the same traits remain: basic [for a new bike], average components and not real quick.

I had a KTM950 ADV before the old AT and it was fantastic except for one thing: it was a KTM.

All I ever wanted was a Japanese bike maker to say "lets make our own KTM 950, but we will make it start easy, put it together properly and easier to fix".

Honda seem to be the first manufacturer who has done this so far. Others will probably follow with more sensible engine [smaller] and fuel tank [bigger] sizes. Currently it's the only multi-cylinder rig out there that is fairly dirt-able with my dodgy riding ability.

Sorry Triumph, your Tiger 800 felt like a 'loose' used bike sitting in the showroom with no miles on it. BMW 800 GSA seemed like a good idea until I looked into the ownership hassles - going back to the dealer to replace a minor electrical item because they have to make the CANBUS system 'recognise' the new part; get real.

Of course the CRF1K too heavy and big to be a real dirt bike. A trail bike is for playing in gnarly mud/sand, big hills and thick undergrowth. The more scratched the plastics are = the more dumb things to have ago at.

Anyway, after trying to ride 240 kg of wayward Honda, I feel like an enduro god on the little bike : )
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I might as well join in...

I'm 41 and have been through the mill too; started riding at 6 etc...

I live in Quebec where the roads are terrible and this year I am planning to do the TAT- riding there and back too.

The choice was: Used KTM 990, 800GS

I had no choice about the DCT and, to be honest, am a little worried about being stranded in the middle of nowhere if it fails or the battery goes flat.
Why the AT ?
Why not.....:smile2:
• It's a brand new model
• Most people won't ride it off road
• They're less common than unicorn poo

Can anyone else think of 'devils advocate' reasons? It seems we are mainly preaching to the choir here!
The last new bike I bought was a Benelli Tornado in 2008. Great fun, but sadly written off thanks to a diesel soaked roundabout.

Having ridden bikes for over 40 years I have had quite a few different makes and types. They have mostly been good for what they were designed for. Toured all over Europe and Australia with Suzuki 500 2-strokes. Canada with a Kawasaki 750-4. Raced a variety of things including Yamaha 2-strokes and, most recently a Post Classic Yamaha FZR (Never been any good but great fun). Odd delve into Trials and a couple of enduro seasons on a GasGas.

I decided I wanted a 'do anything bike' and to shed some of the older bikes I had sitting gathering dust. I've had several Ducatis and was very tempted by a Multistrada but couldn't see the point in all the gizmos, power and expense. Have owned a BMW but, basically, didn't like it. I had been going round in circles trying things and not being inspired for a couple of years until the Africa Twin appeared. From the spec it appeared to tick the boxes. When I went for a test ride I was sold. It's ideal for the poor roads round here. Suspension copes with potholes, ruts, gravel etc. The upright riding position suits me now my flexibility is not what it used to be. The mirrors work! It has loads of torque and real world usable power. And, dare I say it, the engine feels like an early Ducati except I am not waiting for it to detonate at any moment! Handling suits me. It sounds like a proper bike.

For me, it seems to be a bike I can tour on, take off road occasionally, will certainly deal with forestry roads easily, will keep up with the folk I usually ride with and generally be a lot of fun.

My favourite bikes were a Norton Commando 750 combat I had in the 70s and the early Ducati Monster 916 I borrowed at one point. The Africa Twin does it for me too!
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When you are retired and have been riding for 46 years, using a clutch leads to repetitive motion disorders of the left hand - I am 67 and I have a 2013 R1200gs, a 2012 Triumph Scrambler and a Suzuki VStrom 650 that lives in Tucson. The AT DCT model is the obvious cure for the repetitive motion thing and my left hand only has to last for another few weeks (according to my dealer) or a few months according to everyone else - Silver or Red, I am taking the first AT DCT that makes it's way to New Hampshire
I'm 54. I've had bikes since I was 17 up until 10 years ago when I discovered road cycling and it took over my life to the complete and utter exclusion of motorbikes. Trips to Europe with a motorbike became pilgrimages to the Alps with a road bicycle to ride the grand cols you see in the Giro, the Tour and the Vuelta. But then suddenly about 9 months ago I suddenly had an epiphany where I discovered there was a huge void left by no longer having a motorcycle. But I didn't want to revisit the sports and sports tourer scene because, to be frank, I'd started to find them too bl**dy uncomfortable. Even when I was younger they hadn't been that pleasant.

So a more upright bike was on the cards. The Ducati Scrambler had just come out so I tried one - it was all going well until I came to a bendy road and I realised I couldn't live with a bike that wasn't much cop in the twisties. I then tried a Versys (650 and 1000), a Tracer and then a GS 1200. No contest - the GS was a clear class above. But then I started researching them a bit and I realised everyone had one and everyone moaned about the same things - great bike, cr*p gearbox, high running costs, overly complicated and too heavy. And wide!

And then I read about the return of the Africa Twin. So I thought I'd wait and try it. Waited, rode it, loved it and then anguished over whether it was better or worse then the GS. There's no doubt the GS is great to ride and is relatively well-proven with a plethora of add-ons to do more or less anything. But for the following reasons I chose the AT:

- Gearbox (I have a DCT)
- Cost (both to buy and, more importantly to me, to run)
- Plush suspension - important on rubbish UK roads
- Honda reliability (assumed at this stage of course)

I nearly didn't buy one because I dislike tubed tyres, I wanted it to be lighter (even with DCT!) and I was naffed off we have to pay more for DCT in the UK than some other countries.

But to ride it is to really like it. And I can change the wheels quite easily - albeit negating some of the price benefit. The weight is, and always will be more of a problem.

I've no regrets though - even though I can hear the spokes corroding as I write this.
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I nearly didn't buy one because I dislike tubed tyres,
That makes two of us! Started researching the options. Meanwhile going to fill the tubes with gloop.
I nearly didn't buy one because I dislike tubed tyres,
That makes two of us! Started researching the options. Meanwhile going to fill the tubes with gloop.
Let us know if you find anything. Alpina wheels are the only one I'm considering at the moment - well, the only ones I know about so far that is... About £1400...
- Plush suspension - important on rubbish UK roads
You're a funny man. Try Quebec; I'm African and the roads here are the worst I have ever come across!

As far as tubed tyres go... I'm super glad because I'll need to be fixing flats on the run.
Try Quebec
I hope to one day! Never been to Canada I'm afraid to say. Actually, that's not strictly true - we refuelled at Gander once...

Speaking of Canada, I hope everyone in the fire zone is safe and sound. It looks pretty horrific over there.
The Africa Twin always had a kind of mystique, a kind of perfection, and solid reliability, it is a round the world type of bike. It looks unique with it's sexy fairing/tank combo design. And since the Americans never got it, it had a European feel and look to it. You'll still see them touring all over Europe and the world and will for many years to come.

And now our long awaited brother bike, the new Africa Twin, is here and wow I really love mine. Somehow in the looks, the ergos, the feel, it IS an Africa Twin with way more power and a very good suspension.

It's NOT a dirt bike, it's NOT a sport bike, it's NOT a tourer or a cruiser. But it does all these things pretty well and comes back dry and begging for more.

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It's NOT a dirt bike, it's NOT a sport bike, it's NOT a tourer or a cruiser. But it does all these things pretty well and comes back dry and begging for more.

What EB said. Plus the option of DCT available for a newbie off roader like myself is a massive plus.
Coming from a classic back ground, I was in the market for something more comfortable for those long days on the road. Classics just don't cut it. So went and tested everything I can get my hands on. I wasn't sold on DCT straight away, but knew it would be a massive plus for the long run. And it has proven to be so, I love this bike so much I sold one of my 3 bikes because it is not going to get ridden again for a long time.
....sometimes I hope to get on the forum and stumble upon negative comments to appease my nerves while waiting for delivery, and the more I read, the better you guys make the AF seem to be. Cant anyone give a negative feedback? Talk smack about the color or maybe the blinker blinks too fast guys are just torturing me with all those positive comments lol
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