Abs of alu­minum for the AT

Motorcyclist - - Garage - —Zack Courts

all of my up­grades to the mighty CRF1000L so far have been for com­fort. To honor the bike’s rep­u­ta­tion (and its ca­pa­bil­ity) it was high time to of­fer the AT some pro­tec­tion and then knock it around a lit­tle. Honda’s de­sign of the Africa Twin speaks to its in­ten­tions— there’s lots of ground clear­ance (nearly 10 inches) and the ex­haust head­ers are routed to the side of the frame cra­dle so they can’t get pinched if the bike high cen­ters. Smart.

The kind of rid­ing I typ­i­cally do, even if it’s push­ing the bike’s lim­its, doesn’t usu­ally in­clude tri­als-style rid­ing over red­wood logs or boul­ders. Even still, a burly skid plate is on any ad­ven­turer’s wish list, my­self in­cluded. There are tons of op­tions (and hope­fully I’ll try more), but I de­cided to try Al­trider’s ver­sion ($326; al­ It’s a sin­gle piece of 4.1mm alu­minum that’s cut and then Tig-welded into shape and mounts to the un­der­car­riage of the bike with four M8 bolts. A skid plate is a bit like a hel­met, in that if you’re test­ing it you might have been a lit­tle too ambitious. But in the spirit of find­ing out whether or not it’s worth its weight in alu­minum I went to look for some spots to high-cen­ter an Africa Twin. I found this ugly pile of rocks along a dry riverbed and then men­tally aligned my­self with the kind of per­son who might splat­ter into this mess of rub­ble. Hence this photo of the AT with its belly beached against the stones.

Af­ter my plate-tor­ture out­ing I can say the Al­trider piece held up well. It’s gouged and scratched but clearly ready for more. It’s up to you whether or not that’s worth the ask­ing price—just like it’s your pre­rog­a­tive to or­der the ex­ten­sion that adds rear­ward pro­tec­tion to the plate. Con­sid­er­ing the stuff can get da­m­aged if a big ADV touches down amid­ships, three or four bills doesn’t seem so bad.

The other ad­di­tions that dis­cern­ing read­ers will have no­ticed are the Africa Twin’s new sneak­ers. They’re called the Trekrider ($362; avon­moto. com), Avon’s an­swer to the ques­tion of which tire to use for split­ting time be­tween pave­ment and dirt. Even though they’re dubbed a 50/50 tire, I think the split leans to­ward as­phalt use. I’ve been im­pressed with street per­for­mance and ended up last­ing about 5,600 miles be­fore they were toast. On loose gravel and dirt roads they work well but not dis­cern­ably bet­ter than the Dun­lop Trail­max rub­ber the AT came with. I would have said the Avons were more of a 70/30 tire. Still, they of­fer a more rugged look without giv­ing up street chops and have de­cent dura­bil­ity.

Next up will be a shock up­grade to fix the AT’S soggy stocker and likely some pre­emp­tive crash­bars to help save the bike from what I can only as­sume will be over-ex­u­ber­ant shock test­ing. Buckle up, Africa Twin. I see jumps in your fu­ture.

wrist Zack Courts msrp (2017): $13,299 miles 10,962 mpg 48 mods Skid plate, tires up­date 5

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