Honda Africa Twin Adventure Sports | Wakey wakey!

After a quiet festive period, the Honda reminds us how quick a ‘slow’ bike can be

Honda Africa Twin Adventure Sports

BLEARY EYED and about a stone heavier than before Christmas, (the waist button of my Dane textiles now pops open when I bend over to do my boots up) I roll the shutter of Visordown’s super-secret underground bunker up and get ready for the first ride of 2019.

Tight textiles aside, it feels good to be back on a bike. My clutch control seems to be about as accurate as my five-year-old daughter's colouring in but it manages to sort itself out by the time I’ve hit the A1 back up to Coventry.

Once the humdrum of the city of behind me and I’m on the open road, I’m perplexed by how quick the bike, that I described in other updates as ‘not the quickest bike in the world’, actually Is – for the record, the fastest thing I'd driven up to then was the TV remote!

I think one of the issues with the Adventure Sports is the name and not the Africa Twin part, it’s true to that moniker. It’s the word ‘Sports’, it conjures up an image of a bike that’s going to devour continents and bend time and space in the way that a VFR1200 or a H2 SX would but it’s just not that kind of bike. And it’s not Honda’s fault because the sporty element of the ‘Twin isn’t a nod to footpeg scraping hero rides, where you laugh in the face of sportsbike riders while two-up with a ton of luggage. And I was reminded of what Honda meant when they included the word ‘Sports’ in the name of this bike as I set off to find the location for the photos included in this article.

If you’ve driven, ridden or hitchhiked along the M6 just north of Coventry, you’ll recognise that plane in the pictures as the static marketing tool of a paintball centre located at the side of the westbound carriageway. I’ve wanted to take a ride up there and look around for ages but never had the chance and it’s literally a stone’s throw from the motorway, how hard could it be to reach it?

Dressed appropriately for the ride, Dainese road boots, jeans and leather jacket, I head off with a vague idea of the direction of the centre, rushing to get there before the winter sun dips behind the horizon. Little did I know the short and easy ride from the B4029 I had imagined quickly became a muddy, cow-shit strewn hack down rutted farm tracks for what felt like an eternity!

Weirdly, this was the sportiest the Africa Twin has ever felt! I’ve done the green lane thing on the bike and found the tall seat, high CG and 200kg weight make for an unwieldy beast on tighter technical stuff. But on the fast, flowing and heavily rutted tracks that lead to the paintball centre it was awesome. With my eyes focussed far down the road, the bike hopped and skipped over the potholes and ruts with little complaint. With the TC now switched off – yes, I’ve figured out if you hold the traction control button down it turns the system off completely! – the back end was happily sliding about sending rooster tails of muck high into the air behind me.

All to quickly I’d reached the destination for the pictures and set about positioning the bike next to the Jaguar, Ground Attack Fighter and started snapping. First flying in the late sixties, the Jag’ flew sorties for the RAF, French and Indian air forces and was still in use as late as 2007. Like the Honda, the plane was a bit of a Swiss army knife and was employed as a fast response fighter, bomb carrier and trainer. It flew combat missions in the Gulf War, Chad and even played a part in the Cold War, as well as thousands of missions in peacetime. With a top speed of over 1000mph, it’s fair to say the Jag’ is a shade sportier than the Adventure Sports but I was beginning to understand what Honda meant when they coined the name of the bike.

It’s still not perfect mind, small things like cruise control and an adjustable screen would lift the bike and make it more real-world usable and something people would be willing to pay a premium for.

Some of the handlebar’s switchgear still doesn’t make sense to me, the thumb-operated headlight switch for one. It seems strange that when you want to change from dip beam to main or flash the headlight you have to move the thing that keeps you secured to the handlebar – your thumb – up, over the grip and to the switch. What’s wrong with a finger operated one?

But hey ho, they are but small gripes made of an otherwise very capable bike!

Big thanks to Rupert who got in touch to advise about some sweet looking modular handguards I’m in the process of try to get sent out. They work year-round by having sections you can remove in hot weather to help increase airflow or you can increase the size of the guard in colder weather, helping to keep the breeze off your hands. He also pointed out the Givi adjustable screen he’s been using so I’ve sent off for one of those too!

Check out the links below for the screen and handguards and keep an eye out for an update when they arrive.

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