HONDA AFRICA TWIN

A fine time to fall

Motorcyclist - - Garage - —Zack Courts

RE­MEM­BER THOSE AVONS I men­tioned last time around? They even­tu­ally gave up—but not with­out a fight. While they won’t take the crown for max­i­mum mileage, the Trekrid­ers lasted about 6,000 miles and worked quite well, bear­ing in mind they’re a lit­tle more street ori­ented than they look.

For an ex­tra layer of tip-over pro­tec­tion I’ve de­cided to try Bark­busters on the AT (bark­busters.net). Th­ese two­point alu­minum bars cre­ate a shield around your hands for just less than $100. At that point I fig­ured it was worth up­grad­ing to the plas­tic guards ($37) and the accessory “skid plate”—a black plas­tic puck that mounts on the end of the bar to pro­tect the alu­minum. The ’Busters are sim­i­lar to the stock AT hand­guards but much stronger. Plus they come in red, which adds a splash of style.

In my gal­li­vant­ing off the beaten path I made sure to smack the Bark­busters through some shrubs and brush to put them through their paces. No com­plaints. I like the se­cu­rity of a solid ring of alu­minum around the bar pro­tect­ing the levers and my dig­its. It’s im­por­tant to re­mem­ber that it’s also pos­si­ble to get your wrist or arm stuck in there in a tum­ble, so take a note from road­rac­ing class­room lessons: Let go of the bike if it all goes pear-shaped.

For an even more rugged look I’ve also been try­ing a stubby wind­screen from Cal­i­for­nia Sci­en­tific. The Calsci Tinted Shorty (calsci.com; $125) rises up 4 inches above the top mount screws, mak­ing it about 2.5 inches shorter than the stock Honda unit. The tint makes the AT look mean; plus it’s bet­ter for off-road use, as it’s less likely to chop my lar­ynx in the mid­dle of a “brap.” On the straight and nar­row it works well too—less cov­er­age, as you’d ex­pect, but with smooth air­flow that hits me ap­prox­i­mately in the fore­head. The only flaw is it seems brit­tle, and is show­ing a crack.

To match the now-stiffer shock, our crafty col­league Will Steen­rod sug­gested slightly heav­ier fork oil. When fix­ing the fork seal I blew jump­ing the AT he re­placed the stock 10w with 15w Bel-ray. The re­sult has been fairly pre­dictable— slightly harsher over small bumps and also a lit­tle less prone to blow through the stroke on a big hit. I might re­search stiffer springs if I re­ally wanted to rail the AT, but the heav­ier oil is a step in the right di­rec­tion. Clever—and cheap!

Mostly, what I’ve con­firmed in this up­date is that I like the AT in this trim. It’s a stel­lar tour­ing bike—some­thing I learned early in this process. That be­ing the case, I think aim­ing the bike to­ward ad­ven­ture with af­ter­mar­ket parts makes it a more com­plete ma­chine. With its short wind­shield and knob­bies, it’ll still lope down a free­way all day long. The Africa Twin has served me—and this project—well. Al­most time to go back to the moth­er­ship.

WRIST Zack Courts MSRP (2017) $13,299 MILES 15,477 MPG 49 MODS Bark­busters, wind­screen, tires UP­DATE 7

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