HONDA AFRICA TWIN
A fine time to fall
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