HONDA AFRICA TWIN
Abs of aluminum for the AT
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; altrider.com). 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
mods Skid plate, tires