2020 Project Bike: Africa Twin CRF1000L


Tubeless sealing the rear wheel
Africa Twin – Ready for Africa
Africa Twin – In Africa

With nearly 90,000 sold in four years, I’m well behind the curve getting an AT, but T7s are still too new to find used at a worthwhile saving, and I’ve had a soft spot for Honda’s big twin since trying one in 2016. It looks better than a T7, the motor feels as good, the seat may well be comfier and the suspension also has an HPA on the back and some sort of adjustment up front. You can see why the AT became a hit.

Mine came from the Honda [off-road] Adventure Centre (HAC) in Wales via Motoden in North London. It’s the first time I’ve bought a bike from a dealer since the mid-1980s and the biggest capacity and the heaviest bike I’ve ever owned (last being R100T in 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 (right). MI5 needs people 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.

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 Corrosiongate‘ 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″).
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 become an 1100 for 2020. The 11’s additional power is negligible but obviously, there’s more than enough to do what it needs to do. 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 spacey 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 90/10 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 Mich’ 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 the 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 simple.