I sat my clunge on an Africa Twin today, Newcastle Motorcycles/Honda were doing a completely no commitment demo up at Hartside Cafe, so up I trotted, and followed a group of approx 10 riders out for a 40-50minute ride around the back roads surrounding Alston, it was actually pretty good fun. They promised even if I rode it sideways down the road it wouldn't cost me a penny, sign me up I said.
I ride a 600 sports so the Africa Twin was a lot heavier and taller than I'm used to. I'm aging now, bought the sports bike when I was 27 I think, I'm now 34 so I'm turning into an old fart and prefer using the car. I thought the Africa Twin was very comfortable though, very much an upright position. Bloody heavy though, and very unsettling as I'm an avergely tall person but was using my tippy-toes to keep upright and it was pretty dodgey.
I rode the DCT (dual clutch) automatic -- it's the first time I'd rode an automatic motorcycle. It's pretty swish, I mean easy to use so while you're cruising down fast roads, into twisties, or even slowing down to enter towns it does take a lot of the workload away from you. Which is nice, hill starts are especially easy although there's an unsettling feeling of "do I trust it not to stall?" when performing a hillstart.
Do I like automatics? Nope. There was one occassion where it was very dodgy. Number 1, turning right at a tight country junction, normally you'd have the clutch depressed, so you're fairly safe and aren't going anywhere. I was looking left-then-right at this junction, and when I twisted my body to look down the road, I must have blipped the throttle by a fraction, the bike lunged forward to the left and I almost went arse-over-tit since I am tip-toeing and it's bloody heavy. Your natural reaction is to pull the clutch in -- there isn't one! -- so it takes a split second for your brain to then think: hit the brake!
After that unsettling event, I also noticed it is very hard to smoothly pull away from junctions. Since there's no noticable slippage on the clutch, it's all-or-nothing, and as soon as you turn the throttle the bike pulls hard, causing neck-jolting accelleration from junctions.
Generally the bike felt planted, there was a definite feeling of weight, which meant cornering felt very safe, and you could get some nice lean in, especially on the twisty roads up to Hartside. We didn't go offroad as such, but took on some cobbles, heavily pot-holed and gravelled roads, it could feel squirrely. But was easily managing speed-bumps and pot holes at 40 without much discomfort. Some of the riders were tarting around standing up on their pegs, so I gave it a go, but it was uncomfortable, if you stood up on the pegs you found yourself very much leaning awkwardly forward with your weight down onto the bars like a sports bike, and at 40mph going over speedbumps, it was uncomfortable.
I think one of the things I'd read about the original Africa Twin was that it couldn't do high-speed? This thing was a 1000cc parallel twin, and it could easily and smoothly sit at 80, it had much more to give, got its second wind at 9krpm like the CBR but I couldn't ride it to its full potential due to the group (and the fact I've not riden a bike for months and am an old fart).
There was no belly pan for rock protection, it might be an option? Seems like it would be a requirement as there's a massive radiator sitting wide open to damage at the front of the bike -- if off road was really your thing I think this could be a problem.
Back to the auto box, it has 2 main modes, D and S, D is generally for cruising on fast roads, S is for around town, S (sport) has 3 submodes, 1-3. I successfully managed to get it to go from 1 to 3, but could not for the life of me figure out how to get the modes to return down to S1 or S2, only back to D. Seemed a bit dodgey. Is possible to put the bike into manual mode only, but I don't think this would be overly practical as the gear selector is on the switch-gear (there's no pedal) and is a bit fiddly to use. You can use the gear selector while in automatic and it's fun for down-shifting but is quickly over-riden by the autobox after a few seconds.
Regarding the instrument panel -- couldn't see the display at all, it was really reflective and I actually found it really hard to read. I don't have this problem on my own bike, I also note that on their website it's a multi coloured display, but the one I had was black-and-white and fairly impossible to read.
Lovely bike, lovely weather, props to the group leader as he took us down some very interesting routes.
12k I think for one of these new.
Last edited by Jim Mc on 22:39 - 17 Sep 2017; edited 8 times in total