Bike Preparation

Balance/synchronise carburettors
Having the carburettors working equally as a pair means they are both supplying equal amounts of fuel/air mixture to the engine, thus minimising vibration, smoothing power delivery, and increasing economy.

Change engine oil and filter
The benefits of this are self-explanatory! Oil is an engine’s ‘life-blood’. Honda recommends an 8000 mile oil change interval. However, when the same oil is responsible for lubricating the engine, gearbox and clutch, and also some cooling, my own personal opinion is that leaving the same oil in the engine for any more than 4000 miles is madness, with oil and a filter costing so little, and being so beneficial to engine and gearbox longevity.

As this trip is nearly 4000 miles, I will be changing oil just before I leave and refilling with fresh motorcycle specific 10w/40 semi-synthetic. Car engine oil can cause the clutch to slip on most motorcycles.

Change front suspension forks oil
I had been meaning to change this for some time but had put it off as it sounds complicated. Instead it could not have been much easier! The fork oil is responsible for providing ‘damping’ to the front suspension – helping to limit the amount of movement of the springs, while still providing good levels of shock absorption.

The oil that was drained looked like the original factory fill! It was iridescent black with tiny particles of metal from the internal fork assembly. After a thorough flush and refilling with 10 weight fork oil, the front suspension is noticeably harder, and no longer dives as severely while braking! It has improved both the handling and the braking ability of the front end, as the dive is now much more progressive and controllable. Much better, a worth-while job.

Check and adjust valve clearances

The valves control when the air/fuel mixture is let into the engine. They need adjusting periodically (Honda say every 8000 miles which seems right) to check they still open and close properly, at the right time in the combustion cycle. The clearances are checked using a feeler gauge (Basically an accurately measured strip of metal), and altered using a screw and locknut arrangement.

For reference, the Africa Twin XRV 750 valve clearances are:

Intake – 0.13 to 0.17mm
Exhaust – 0.18 to 0.22mm

Fit Scottoiler
Due to the distances involved on this trip, it seemed sensible to fit a Scottoiler along with the new chain and sprockets. I had been meaning to do this for a while! I bought the Scottoiler from Infinity Motorcycles in Guildford who kindly gave me some spare bulbs as required by law in Europe.

Have seat foam replaced
The Africa Twin is renowned for having a seat that, as standard, is best described as ‘utilitarian’! The original foam had lost much of its comfort, and with an average daily mileage of over 200 during this trip, I will need a comfortable place to park my behind!

The seat was re-packed with fresh foam by a company called G.A. Wells, details below. The difference is immediately noticeable, it has made a vast improvement.

Tel – 01509 504700

G.A Wells & Sons
9 Hall Croft
LE12 9AN

Inspect possible sticking choke cable

If the choke is sticking, the engine will not be running at the optimum air/fuel ratio, leading to poorer performance and economy.

Modify and test standard screen
Fit Powerbronze Flip-Up Screen
The standard screen on the Africa Twin directs air right into my face, which means it is extremely noisy! I am experimenting with cutting down the screen to try and alter the airflow. I have also ordered a ‘flip-up’ screen from Powerbronze. This should re-direct the flow of air up and over the bike, cutting down the windblast and noise.

Repair fairing upper cowling
Some over-enthusiastic jumping (Well, technically it was the landing…) cracked the bottom mounting points of the fairing. Repaired with some rubber washers to help absorb some of the forces transmitted to it in future, and a hot glue gun!

Replace front and rear brake pads
Because stopping is good. I also gave the callipers a good clean while the pads were out.
Replace front brake discs
One of the front brake discs was warped, which made heavy braking rather unpredictable as the bike would have an ‘on-off-on’ braking style as the disc made and lost contact with the brake pad. Combining this with the soft front suspension mentioned earlier meant that the effect on handling was terrible.

Two new discs later (From David Silver Spares) and the braking is smooth and a lot more powerful.

Replace chain and sprockets
As well as the current chain and sprockets looking a bit tired, I also wanted to put a smaller sprocket on the back wheel, to lower the gearing so that the engine does not have to rev as high to maintain cruising speed. As standard the bike takes a 45 tooth rear sprocket, I have fitted a 40 tooth, bringing 80mph down from 6000rpm to 5000rpm. The effect on acceleration even with a passenger, is minimal. As 5 teeth is a lot to alter a sprocket size by, I was surprised just how well this worked.

The standard 124 link chain has had 2 links removed, and now the required chain tension can be reached with the chain adjusters at their lowest setting, leaving lots of adjustment.

All parts supplied by B & C Express.

Replace failed dashboard clocks and trip computer back lights.
I had been meaning to do this for some time, and having the fairing removed for repair made access a lot easier. The trip computer came apart a lot easier than I was expecting, and it was simple to replace the lamps on that and the dashboard clocks.

I decided to go one step further and replace all of my dashboard lights with LED’s (Light Emitting Diodes). These are brighter than a normal lamp yet consume a tiny amount of power. They also run significantly cooler than normal filament-based lamp, and have a life-span of around 50,000 hours!

I sourced mine on e-bay as this is quicker, easier and cheaper than using Maplins. The dashboard clocks take 501 type wedge bulbs. I used ‘4 LED Xenon white HID look 501 W5W sidelight bulbs’. They give a pure white light rather than the dull beige colour the clocks had previously! Much nicer.

The warning lights take T5/286 type wedge bulbs. I ordered ’10x T5 / 286 mix colour dashboard LED bulbs’ as this came with 2 x blue, green, yellow, white and red bulbs. Enough of each colour to do the whole light array, with some left over as spares. Perfect!

One problem I did have is that the indicator dashboard light does not work properly with an LED. It seems the current flow is reversed depending on what way the indicators are being used. With a normal filament bulb this is not an issue, but as the “Diode” part of the name suggests, LED’s will only work with the current flowing one way.

So for example, if I indicated left, the dashboard light would work, but not if I indicated right. If I take the LED out, turn it 180 degrees and put it back into the dashboard socket, it would come on if I indicated right but not left!

This problem has now been solved with the use of a bridge rectifier. I bought a pack of 15 on eBay for £3 inc. P&P. I will need to fit it in-line with the indicator LED to allow it to work in both indicator directions.

Replace fuel filter

Replace failed speedometer cable
Because ignorance is no defence…

Replace front and rear tyres
I will be using Continental Escape tyres on both wheels as I have found they give a good mix of grip, wear rate and price!

Replace handlebar grips
The grips that came with the bike were perished, split, and generally knackered. Replaced with some nice Scott grips which are also thinner and allow more feel.

Replace Honda hand guards with BMW GS1150 hand guards
I discovered that it is possible to fit BMW GS1150 hand guards to the Africa Twin with no modification. As the hand guards that come with the Africa Twin are not very effective against the cold and rain, this seemed sensible.

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