2020-1 Project Bike: Africa Twin CRF1000L

AFRICA TWIN INDEX PAGE

Tubeless sealing the rear wheel
Africa Twin – Ready for Africa
Africa Twin in Africa – Review
CRF800L?
Africa Twin back in Africa 2021

With well over 100,000 sold by now, I was well behind the curve getting an AT. A T7 was what I really wanted but at the time they were too new to find used at a worthwhile saving. Plus I’ve had a soft spot for Honda’s big twin since trying one in 2016. It looks a bit better than a T7, the motor feels as good, the seat may well be comfier and the shock also has an HPA plus there’s adjustment up front. You can see why the AT became a hit.

Mine came from the Honda Adventure Centre (HAC) in Wales (now in Exmoor) via Motoden in North London. It’s the first time I’ve bought a bike from a dealer since the mid-1980s, and it’s the biggest capacity and heaviest bike I’ve ever owned (last being R100T from the same era). It’s not even a year old and has less than 2000 miles. Once I knew the reg, I tracked mine down on HAC’s Facebook page (left). MI5 needs analysts like me.
It bears the scars from trying to teach people how to ride off-road on a (verified) 240-kilo bike, but Motoden’s price reflected this. They sold their handful of ATs in as many days. There was a DCT going for another 500 quid, but up to a point, I got DCT out of my system a couple of months ago, running an NC750. I couldn’t face the extra 10 kilos on the AT, though I doubt I’d have noticed the overall added mass.

One good thing with being late to the party is there are now loads of used parts on ebay. I’ve already snagged a new LHS side panel, some upper crash bars (which failed to protect the former), a pair of wheels from the disastrous ‘Spoke Corrosion-Gate‘ scandal, and I’ve sent my screen to Palmer who’ll send back their adjustable version. My seat came set at 900mm with a drop to 870mm (35.4″ – 34.25″). You want that if you lean more than 9° off vertical.
Another benefit is the bike has gained some small improvements or changes over the years. My 2018 MY differs from the 2016 original I rode:

  • New dash layout
  • Seven-step traction control
  • Throttle by wire (electronic; no cable)
  • Stainless spokes
  • Redesigned and self-cancelling LED indicators
  • Revised engine mapping to improve sound and mid-range
  • Euro 4 so less power: 87 > 80
  • Three riding modes (Tour, Urban, Gravel)
  • Lighter balancer shafts
  • Lithium-ion battery
  • Wider footpegs with steel brackets
  • Redesigned passenger pegs
  • Coated fork tubes (seals are leak-prone; one of mine was repaired prior to delivery
  • New exhaust

They say it was the power lost from attaining Euro 5 compliance which saw the AT grow to an 1100 for 2020. The 11’s additional power is negligible but obviously, there’s more than enough to do what needs to be done. Let’s just hope the fuel economy from the 18.9-litre tank is tolerable. My one-litre AT also has a modern array of electronic riding aids and modes about which, like many old-school know-alls, I’m still a little ambivalent. Riding and fiddling will be believing.

The ex-School bikes came with Metzeler Karoo 3 tyres (right) with a spaced-out tread I’m not convinced by for road longevity and sideways dirt-grip. There looks like 3000 miles left in the back but I have a set of Michelin Anakee Adventure 90/100 tyres to try.
My plan is to use the bike on my February tours in Morocco, then carry on further south with a couple of other guys and see what happens. For that trip, something like another Michelin Wild might be a better idea.

Other than that, it will be the usual set up for gravel travelling, but with less to do than usual. You get that when you buy a proper bike.

  • Fit a centre stand
  • Fit my 12-year-old Barkbusters
  • Hardwire the Garmin Montana
  • Add a TPMS kit
  • 12-v PTO for the heated jacket,  compressor + USB
  • Palmer adjustable screen
  • Handlebar risers

As I have a spare set of wheels, I’m tempted to get the CWC Airtight tubeless band on the back which has the necessary lip. Or, seeing as it’s sitting right here by the desk, I may have another go at DIY sealing – at least on the wide rear rim (right). I have a lipped front 21-inch rim, but it’s a 1.60; the AT front is a 2.15 and is probably best left that size.

Luggage wise, I may just keep it very simple.

For how it all went see the links above. It’s not over yet.

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