I bought my Africa Twin brand-new in August '96, to replace my Transalp. The Africa Twin was the only bike I've ever been interested in, so I set out to personalise it as soon as I could. Below are a few of the modifications, some have been great, others a disappointment. I have a well equipped garage, and do all my own servicing.
1:1: The first thing that I did was to fit my 'Givi' pannier racks. I had taken these off the Transalp when I sold it, and the dealer I bought the bike from got me the adapters as part of the deal. The kit fitted fine, and apart from the poor quality of the powder coat on the cast aluminium racks, they have served me well. Because of the large exhaust muffler, the offside pannier sits very far our, I always pack this pannier lighter than the other and try to balance them otherwise the bike handling suffers. The topbox has a moulded backpad on it, which my wife swears by.
2: Also in my box of bits robbed from the Transalp was a remote controlled alarm. I fitted this on the offside behind the bolt-on cover by the fuse box. I wrapped all the wiring in black insulation tape and it is very well camouflaged. I don't use it as much as I should, but it gives me a bit of peace of mind.
3: I have had a long flirtation with after-market exhausts, and the first that I bought was a second-hand 'Produro' road legal one. It weighs about half the OEM one, and is very low profile. It was a doddle to fit, using the original brackets, but I changed it back at the end of Autumn '96. It had become very stained (despite being stainless) also I was a bit worried about it getting very hot, possibly because the carbs needed adjusting, and at this stage didn't want to mess with them.
4: I do nearly all of my riding around Wales, and as a keen mountain biker and all-round outdoor enthusiast. I use the Africa Twin to do exploring. I own a Garmin GPS2 which I mounted on a custom bracket on the handlebars. I also managed to fit a small 12v accessory socket on the warning light panel, which has been tremendously useful. With the GPS I can mark places that I find interesting for later reference and use the information to look for new trails etc. I have done quite a few miles off-road, but I know my limits! Another good thing about the GPS is that it gives so much other information. Altitude, speed, accurate time etc. I may never actually get lost, but it's always there to keep me informed. Since writing this, the Garmin died, so I bought a Magellan 315 instead. Although a budget model, it does everything well, and is more user-friendly. The bracket I use is a modified Touratech aluminium one, which was poorly made and didn't last very long at all in it's original state.
5: After reading the amazing amount of information on the ATIC and Ray Fels' webpages I became very interested in modifications. First of all I did the tripmaster modification. This was a bit daunting to start but really very simple. After a little soldering, my tripmaster now gives me a km/h function, which should be very useful when I take the bike abroad.
6: All electronic instruments fascinate me, so I fitted an electronic thermometer as well above and to the right of the speedo. Also a 'flux-gate' electronic compass to the top of the tripmaster.
7: Ray Fels soon convinced me that I needed to do a few modifications to the engine. I had just bought a new 'Produro' (not road legal) can and went the whole hog and ordered a K&N filter and DynoJet kit from MPS. I took the tank off, cut 40mm holes either side of the air box, took the carb tops off and following the excellent instructions, fitted the new jets and needles supplied in the DynoJet kit, drilled larger holes in the slides and managed to get everything back together. The K&N was a straight swop for the stock filter. I didn't ride it around much until it had been put on a dyno at Gloucester and set up by a technician. The mixtures were way out and I was shown how to adjust them, and also how to balance the carbs. After a lot of fiddling about and putting in the slightly smaller jets supplied in the DynoJet kit (apparently the large ones merely waste fuel and produce no noticeable gain) it had it's final Dyno run. I have a graph somewhere, and the results were really quite impressive. The power and torque are both up throughout the range and the bike is noticeably smoother. Also, it uses a lot less fuel and has a slightly higher top speed. Although these modifications cost a lot, they were well worth it. The other thing is that the rumble from the exhaust is fantastic, bikes are for exciting the senses, I hate bikes that whirr - sometimes you can hardly tell that the engine's running.
8: 8: After a near-fatal encounter with an even dozier driver than the usual, I decided to fit some extra-loud air horns. The only place that I could think of was one on each side of the radiator, pointing downwards, behind the fairing. Make no mistake, these horns will kill small animals and make your ears bleed. I really enjoy using them when I have to.
9: The OEM bulbs had to go, I swapped them for some ultra-bright ones that I saw in Halfords.
10: I managed to make myself a small 'gadget box' which fits between the fairing and rev counter. It was a bugger to cut to shape, but it's great for visor wipes, small coins (yes, there are some toll bridges in Wales that charge bikers) and other bits & pieces.
11: In January 1998, my wife and I had nasty spill at a place called Abergwesyn. The lower half of the near-side fairing was scratched (new sticker 150mm x 75mm - £30), and the aluminium engine guard was bent in and deeply scratched (I fixed it myself better than new, but a new side piece would have been £113). I purchased a set of Motad engine bars from M&P, fair do's they are poorly made crap. A part of the bracket has broken after a short while, and they seem to amplify engine vibration so much that one of the front engine guard brackets has broken away. I have taken them off and the broken one is going back to Motad for repair/replacement. I'm not sure what sort of protection if any, these bars would give in a scrape. I strongly suspect that they would be worse than useless.
12: I hate getting cold fingers, so I got hold of a set of heated grips. I spent a while getting the wiring right so they look neat and they are very effective. My wife succumbed to a Giali heated waistcoat as well, so there is another electrical socket for this on the nearside by the base of the seat.
13: After the spill at Abergwesyn, I noticed that the nearside hand guard was deeply scratched and a small crack had appeared. Fearing yet another encounter with the sheer greed of Honda spare part sellers, I took the advice of ATIC and fitted a pair of Acerbis 'Brushguards' with spoilers, cost about £50 (less than a Honda one?). They are absolutely great, it took a bit of fiddling to fit them, and under no circumstances should you decide to not fit the bar end weights - the bars vibrate unbearably without them. It takes a bit of ingenuity but they go together well in the end. Also they look the part.
14: I saw a Micron carbon end can kit advertised for the Africa Twin and thought 'that's for me', it too is not road legal (who cares? - coppers don't stop trailies) but it looks really nice, the body stays cool to the touch and it has a nice sound. On the downside, the bracket needs a lot of farting around with to not look a complete pigs ear. The first end-can lasted approx 3000 miles, which was no good at all. The carbon fibre delaminated and went all fragile. They sent me another one FOC, but I hate to say that this one has started to go as well.
15: I am a great believer in chain lubrication. Chain sprays are a chore to use and the residue is really hard to clean off the wheels, bodywork etc. The only answer is a 'Scottoiler', and there are plenty of places to put it on a trail bike. Mine is tucked away behind the nearside side panel. The chain and sprockets are in tip-top condition after 16000 miles and I expect to double this before replacement is necessary. However, I soon got fed up with taking the side-panel off, so now have fitted a 'Touring Reservoir' behind the number plate, this is a much better job!
16: Tyres - I've tried a few and here are my thoughts. I don't care what anyone says, the T66 was the best tyre for the AT - period. What a shame that you can't get them any more. I have been forced to use Bridgestone Trailwing instead, and apart from it lasting a bit longer than the T66, I'm not happy.
17: The saddle was never as comfy as the Transalp's, I stupidly believed the hype and ordered a 'Corbin' one from M&P. It took several months to come and is no better than the original. The only good to come of it was that it is quite a nice 'lairy' purple colour which I like, and also it taught me to NEVER EVER USE M&P AGAIN. My quest for a comfortable butt has only recently reached it's end. I bought a Gel seat pad, and despite all the laughs it has brought you fat-bottomed lot, it has been possibly the best purchase yet.
18: At the Welsh Bike Show at Builth Wells I picked up the Honda official workshop manual for the XRV750. This is a 'must have' for any would-be tinkerer and is very thorough.
19: I ordered a flip-up Ermax screen at the Birmingham show. It looked foul and was total and utter crap, I used it to tart up a special 'downhill soapbox' that we made, we crashed and it got smashed (see pic) GOOD!
20: On reflection, whatever you do, don't tart your AT up with accessories. a) it's expensive. b) you will go mad dealing with companies who are shite and c) you will never be able to sell the bike 'cos you have fitted so many accessories on her!