I bought my RD07a Africa Twin in July 2014 after my XT660Z fried its ECU and sensors in Poland returning
to the UK from Mongolia. Stuck at the side of the road, with a bag of useless spanners, I vowed that my
next travel bike would be an ECU free zone. I had seen another rider on the Mongolia trip using an Africa
Twin and was impressed with how reliable and fuss free it was.
First impressions of the Africa were that it seemed very old school in its power delivery and brakes.
However, although maybe 10kg heavier than the XT660Z it replaced, it seemed lighter by virtue of the
fact that it seems better balanced and carries its weight low. Fuel economy is impressive also, with
my bike averaging between 52 and 60 mpg over the 15k miles I've ridden it. You get the impression you
are sitting "in" the bike as opposed to astride as in the case of the XT. Seat height is lower than the
XT also, on the XT I could just about flatfoot, whereas on the Africa its a very comfortable reach.
Mechanically its quite a simple bike, and for the first time in years I am again doing my own servicing.
I also fitted a Remus end can, which sounds great and assorted Rugged Road goodies such as Crash Bars
and Rad protection. The bike is also capable of carrying a pillion without any fuss. In 15k miles I have
only needed to adjust my chain once (today), so its surprisingly gentle on chains. However, to extend
chain life I have a touring scottoiler fitted. Heidenau K60 Scouts work well on this bike. I've recently
removed a set that covered 11k miles. They were still legal but the back was starting to square off and
get a bit squirmy on wet tarmac. The bike is surprising offroad, it just seems that u can get anywhere.
Its also a bike that stays quite stable on gravel roads even if you stay sitting down. It is a heavy bike
though and better to go steady offroad to avoid having to pick it up.
If I was asked to point out any negatives though, I would have to say the seat is horrible. I changed the
seat to a Corbin which unfortunately I also find quite unfriendly albeit wider than the standard seat.
Probably going to try an airhawk next. Also the bike is a bit down on topend power on open roads. I did
a ride last Autumn out to Eastern Europe, and the bike felt decidedly slow riding across Germany. If it
had another 20bhp and cruised at 90mph instead of 75-80mph then it would be perfect.
I've had no punctures/breakdowns over the 15k miles I've ridden so far. When changing to a new set of tyres
a few weeks back though it was pointed out that the rear rim is starting to degrade and blister inside.
At some point I will probably have to change the rim for an excel or something similar. Other weak points
on the Africa are the Fuel Pump and Regulator/Rectifier. I fitted a new Reg/Rect when I bought the bike,
and also checked the connectors were healthy as a preventative measure. I was lucky that the previous
owner had already fitted an aftermarket Facet fuel pump, so that was one less farkle required. Apparently
the standard fuel pump burns out the points and then fails. Common fixes are a new set of points and
connecting a capacitor to stop arcing. However, even if the fuel pump fails, by keeping the fuel tank
topped up you could make it home as gravity feed works when the tank is between 50% and 100% full. (you
would need to bypass the pump)
Overall I love the bike. Its reliable, its simple enough to do your own spannering, its economical on
fuel, its gentle on Chains/Tyres and Brake Pads. Sounds great, handles fine on and offroad and brakes
are adequate once u get used to them. I've fitted Stahlbus valves to the front calipers to ensure my
brakes are bled as well as possible, and to make it easy to bleed at the roadside if the need ever arises.
For me this is a travel bike, and I am confident it will not only get me to my destination, but will also
get me home again.
I can't see myself ever selling this bike - 3500km on and off-road through Morocco without any issue. In comparison to the mix of other bikes on the trip (KLR, GS, S Tenere, Transalp & TDM) I found that off road I had the advantage of "smooth stability", Downside is weight relevant to not being able to go to that that next level of kickass fun.
Really great bike
I bought a 1990 AT (RD04), more or less on a whim, and it turned out to be a very good surprise. I've had a Suzuki DR 650 and Honda 750 VFR prior to this one, and I would choose the africa twin any day over them!.. It's a big bike, yes, but it handles like a breeze,and such well balanced. I used it everywhere, going to work and for adventure. Driving slalom between cars is very easy since it high and not that wide, plus a low point of balance. I have never felt uneasy about leaning it down in sharp turns. Put on some knobby tires, and you have an awesome gravel road killer, there is plenty of torque to make the tail drift :) For being a 23 year old bike, the suspension very up to the job too.
The only negative thing is that spare parts in sweden, are hard to come by, especially fairings and panels..also the original seat is bit harsh for longer trips.
To summarize, the bike was cheap and it was worth every penny! I'm thinking of rebuilding it to a lighter rally version to increase it's awesomeness :)
I passed my test back in September and bought an RD04 Africa Twin. There is more than enough power to do anything you want with this bike. I also have a CBR600 as a second bike. I will always take the XRV over the CBR as it is so much more fun to ride.
I have done 5000 miles since passing my test and the bike has been faultless. It even survived a nasty crash after sliding on some black ice near Exeter and only needed a brake lever after going 250m on its side down the road. Picked it up and started first time.
Two up, it is fine, though be aware that the seat is one long seat and your pillion can slide about a bit!
I changed my screen for a tall one, and added some semi-off road tyres (mitas e-07) which makes the Twin into a fantastic off road bike. Mine kept its own against a CF250 up the devon greenlanes, and despite its weight will match anything on the rough stuff!
There are LOTS of superb accessories for the RD04 on german ebay which is good, as it seems that the likes of Touratech have forgotten that the original (and more off-road biased) 650 (RD03) and 750 (RD04) Africa twins ever existed which is a pain!.
I plan to change the gearing a bit with different sprockets to make motorway mileage a bit better. Mine manages an average of 34MPG which is ok but not as good as the later RD07/A.