Living with the Africa Twin (Part 1)

As previously mentioned, I met an owner of the 2016 Africa Twin and asked him how he felt about the bike.

Somehow Japanese motorcycle dealers in Singapore don’t offer test rides, and regulations require all motorcyclists to be insured on the machines they ride so that presents a speed bump in things and I couldn’t get a first hand experience riding an Africa Twin, so the next best option? Ask an owner!

Meet Leon and his 4 kids.

Honda Africa Twin in Black

Yes 4. Including the motorcycle. (See where I’m going with this?)

Since I spoke with him, its been 2 months of owning the bike and he was nice enough to entertain my questions.

Could you tell us about your previous motorcycles?

Leon: Vespa s150,Honda CRM125, Honda XR400, Honda CB400 Super4, Suzuki DRZ400SM.
What influenced you to ride red and buy the 2016 Africa Twin against other motorcycles from the catergory?

Leon: Honda is synonymous with reliability, while service and maintenance costs are also significantly less. The Africa Twin is a legendary machine with roots in the Dakar rally. Honda had alot riding on the marque and its reputation.
Prior to your purchase, were you able to get some saddle time and try it out?

Leon: No. Boon Siew Honda does not offer test rides.
In that case, how did you feel the first time you rode it and how do you feel about it since?

Leon: It had a very natural and light feel to it. The ergonomics also felt spot on, while the engine and transmission perform smoothly with seamless shifting. I’ve had it for 2 months already.

In the face of demanding requirements, Honda and other reviews claim it to be an extremely intelligent machine. Does it just live up to its reputation or deliver more than that? Is it worthy of the Africa twin badge? 

Leon: Honda’s DCT is awesome. For the naysayers and disbelievers, you’ve got to ride one to believe how good it can be. I’m currently waiting for the crashbars to arrive before I try taking it off road. But judging from numerous global ride reviews, off roading looks set to be more fun and easier.
You’ve had some time to clock mileage on the machine, how do you find the ride? Does it feel lacking or have any shortfalls in the components?

Leon: Since it was my first time riding with DCT transmission, I was quite surprised by the loud sound of the gear changes. Checked with my friend who owns the manual transmission model and he verified that it was normal on the 1st gear. I’ve grown accustomed to it as long as they do their job. The ecu has four different mappings. ‘D’ for urban riding and fuel economy. While you have the ‘S1, S2, S3’ modes – These modes bring out the performance from the engine. S3 being the most aggressive, allowing you to drag gears into the higher RPMs and perform late shifts. I’ve yet to try the suspension off road but on road, it does its job quite well.
Are you thoroughly satisfied with the machine? Have you got any peeves you can’t stand on the machine or wish it had something else?

Leon: The windscreen is just nice for the urban setting and some off road travel. I do wish it had cruise control to let me rest my palms during those long stints on the highway. A taller windscreen would also be better for highway speeds.It would have been good if a centre stand came as standard equipment too. The speedo/tacho display is also easy to read both day and night.

Honda Africa Twin Speedometer

How do you find the quality of the build and parts on the bike? 

Leon: It’s a Honda. What more do you need? Fit and finish is beautiful. 5 stars for Japanese engineering and quality! In the ergonomics department, the setup is comfortable – just right and I’m not fussy either. It’s easily adjustable to fit both taller and shorter riders.

Does Honda provide for accessories?

Leon: Honda provides a lot of OEM add-ons and accessories to for the bike; eg: Taller windscreen, panniers, 12V cigarette socket… These can cost quite a bit but there’s also a lot of aftermarket products available for owners to choose from.
There were a few more questions than that, so stay tuned for Part 2!

(featured image was taken off motorcyclist online)

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