The long maintenance intervals, electronic aids, innovative materials and go-anywhere attitudes that make our modern adventure bikes such a joy to own are still lacking features on the showroom floor. Should every modern ADV bike come fully loaded with a skid plate, crash bars, lever guards and luggage? I think most would argue "no!" — part of the fun is getting to choose your own upgrades to personalize your bike for your needs. Like most any bike, the Honda Africa Twin can use some help to be fully kitted for travel. Twisted Throttle hosts a wide range of upgrades for the Africa Twin, so we went to town on giving this enjoyable bike a better time in the backcountry.
1. SW-Motech Sidestand Foot Enlarger
Is the ground not flat enough for your center stand? Are your friends losing their sidestands into the soft ground? Whip out your sidestand footpad and impress the masses with soft-ground-conquering aluminum magic. The lightweight and well-executed sidestand foot helps keep a heavy bike like the Africa Twin upright in softer parking situations. It’s also removable, in case you’ve got a friend in need of support for their lacking sidestand.
2. SW-Motech Center Stand
Tire changing, chain maintenance, rear suspension work and other regular service procedures shouldn’t be ignored even if you’re away from home. The SW-Motech center stand is sturdy and safely keeps your rear wheel elevated off the ground. Installation is fairly straightforward, with the exception of the spring, which took some work to get into place. However, the spring does a great job of keeping the stand from noisily slapping around on bumps while riding.
3. SW-Motech Footpeg Extensions
When off road, you will often find yourself up on the pegs navigating tougher terrain. While small, unobtrusive footpegs have their merits, a wider platform can bring a new level of comfort and control to the game. With the SW-Motech footpeg extensions, you get just that—more surface area for comfort and control. The only down side is for those with motocross boots, because there isn’t enough adjustability in the shift lever to fully accommodate some of the thicker boots. For general adventure riding boots, these are an excellent upgrade, improving function and comfort.
4. SW-Motech Crash Bars
Depending on how many sets of crash bars you’ve installed on different bikes, you’ve likely encountered some that need a concoction of sweat and profanity to mount. That’s not the case with the SW-Motech crash bars for the Africa Twin. As you’d expect, their crash bars are fully compatible with the SW-Motech skid plate. They installed smoothly and, while our test bike hasn’t seen major impacts with the ground, they’ve held up well and without noisy vibration against other parts of the bike.
5. SW-Motech EVO Tank Bag w/Mount
Wallet, cell phone, charger cable, snacks, tire pressure gauge, registration and insurance—what else do you keep in your jacket pockets? And what if all those things could be on the bike instead of hanging off your body? The EVO tank bag carries all of those things, including provisions to wire in a charging system for electronics that should stay out of the elements. A quick-release system allows easy access to the gas cap but maintains security to keep the tank bag where it belongs while riding. Small enduro bikes can feel awkward with a tank bag, but I wouldn’t take a larger adventure touring bike very far without one.
MSRP: Tank Bag—$293.95 + Mount—$41.95
6. SW-Motech Mirror Extensions
Motorcycle jackets, especially bulky adventure riding ones, tend to block large portions of our rearview mirrors. While the stock mirrors work well enough, gaining a few extra degrees of visibility with the SW-Motech mirror extensions can pay off time and time again. Off road, you might be slightly more likely to clip a tree branch with longer mirrors, but in any other riding situation you can benefit from a greater view of what’s behind you. They’re not marketed as vibration-reducing, but the pair I got are plenty smooth on the Africa Twin. Note: The mirrors can impact the MRA Vario windscreen during full-lock turns, even with the extensions installed. MSRP: $83.95
7. Barkbuster VPS Handguards & Wind Protection
When lightweight dirt bikes smack the ground or nearby trees, lever guards are some of the first things to come into contact with obstacles. When heavyweight adventure bikes come into contact with the same things, it’s even more important to protect valuable parts. The Barkbuster VPS handguards do just that, in a sleek, natural set-up with good protection from the obstacles in your path. While the added wind protection isn’t critical in the summer, it’s well worth it in cooler weather and in heavy rain. Installation is as simple as any other handguard and with high quality, heat-treated aluminum, they should last a long time.
8. MRA Vario Touring Windscreen
Taller riders will appreciate the adjustable spoiler on the MRA Vario touring windscreen, as it redirects air farther over the helmet to avoid troublesome buffeting. At my 6'2" height wearing a dirt helmet, I found the tallest setting appropriate to keep air flow completely under control. Aiming to reduce wind fatigue on your chest, arms and head, the MRA Vario windscreen is 3 inches wider and 7 inches taller than the stock Honda unit. Another bonus of this design is that there aren’t any focal hotspots that could melt dashboards on hot, sunny days. Note: This windscreen sometimes impacts the mirrors during full-lock turns, even with the SW-Motech mirror extensions.
9. R&G Stainless Radiator Guards
Rocks, roost, trees and anything else you’ll see in the backcountry can punch through thin aluminum radiators, so a radiator guard is often a must-have. While these guards needed some light Dremel work to trim them down, they bolted right up after some elbow grease. I haven’t exceeded the durability of these guards, but for typical backcountry rides they work well, look sleek, and don’t rattle around. If you’re taking any serious backcountry expeditions, consider protecting the coolant that’s protecting your engine.
10. SW-Motech Skid Plate
The SW-Motech skid plate fits the Africa Twin lines organically, and installs so easily you’d think it was an OEM unit. Big bikes like this can come down hard on equally hard obstacles, so keeping the oil pan protected can take some meat. SW-Motech offers what it takes to keep your engine oil where it belongs, without adding unnecessary bulk. While I didn’t push the skid plate past its limits, I can only say that if you bust through this one, you’ll probably have bigger problems to worry about than a leaking engine.
11. SW-Motech Dakar Soft Saddlebags
A bridge between hard and soft luggage, the SW-Motech Dakar soft saddlebags combine the best of both worlds. A simple top compression strap keeps the bags snug, while the roll-top closure integrates perfectly with waterproof liners for a weatherproof seal. ABS plastic in the shell of each bag keeps them open for easy access, while keeping your legs safer from impact than traditional hard cases. My only gripe is that you can’t compress a completely empty bag flat. For 95% of riding purposes with larger soft bags that need a rack for support, these hit the mark perfectly.
12. SW-Motech Steel Top Rack
Dual-sport and adventure bikes are all about versatility and practicality, so there’s no reason to avoid an upgraded top rack like this one. Clean finish, appropriate looks, simple installation, and all-important strapping mounts make the SW-Motech rear top rack a no-brainer for the Africa Twin. From Rok Strapping down groceries to mounting fuel cans for a cross-country trip, a top rack like this is well worth it. Everything I used for securing loads, from cargo nets to basic straps, confirmed that SW-Motech knew how owners would use the equipment.
13. R&G Front and Rear Axle Sliders
Without a chance (fortunately) to test the sliding ability of the R&G axle sliders, I can only comment on their appearance and feeling of quality. These simple bolt-on accessories can go a long way in keeping your bike looking and feeling pristine even after a simple parking lot tip-over. The pieces are solid and bolt up very sturdily to protect axles and swingarm from damage.
14. SW-Motech EVO Side Carriers—Off-Road Version
The regular EVO side carriers work well for normal applications, but for more spirited riding you might want to opt for the ruggedized off-road version. Additional hardware adds security and rigidity to an already solid platform, so you can feel comfortable bringing your gear wherever you can physically take it. The EVO side carriers let you mount up Dakar soft saddlebags or hard luggage solutions to suit your preferences for hauling belongings.