V strom vs Africa Twin

Discussion in 'The Perfect Line and Other Riding Myths' started by whittrated03, Dec 20, 2012.

  1. whittrated03

    whittrated03 Steady Rollin' Man

    Apr 1, 2011
    I own a 650 Strom and out of the 26 motorcicles ive owned, the Wee is hands down the most dependable and flexible. Ive put 75k, 50k of that being dirt/gravel! Ive replaced only normal wear items and never been stranded.
    Ive always been a Honda enthusiasts, especially a huge fan if the Africa Twins. My question is how thet 650 V Strom compares to the AT. I have no plans on selling my Suzuki but would love to have an additional motorcycle ,possibly a Honda Africa Twin. Can anyone explain to me or compare the similarities and differences between the 2 motorcycles? Basically what I'm looking for is a riders review or comparison of how they actually feel going down the road, trail, interstate and how dependable the Honda is...... because I obviously know already how dependable the Suzuki is. Some other categories I'm interested in is dependability, cost of maintenance and overall customer satisfaction.
  2. the Pheasant

    the Pheasant Been here awhile

    Jan 14, 2008
    Wild west Wales
    There are effectively three AT models: the 650cc RD03, the 750cc RD04 based on it and the redesigned 750cc RD07. I owned a 650 AT which I rode off-road in the Italian Dolomites and on which I rode over 1,000 miles in a day at the end of a 10-day tour around Italy. I have ridden the RD07 750 a bit on and off road. I have no experience of the Wee Strom beyond looking at it - with, I'll admit, little enthusiasm.

    I'll assume the OP is aware of the engine performance differential.

    IMO ATs are slightly underpowered and a little thirsty given the performance they offer. That's about the only criticism I'd offer. Maybe the RD04 is overweight but the other two are reasonably light for their era. The 03 and 07 both have a chassis well-suited to off-road use. The 04 is the same as the 03 so should be as good. Riding position is great for the average rider. Power delivery is linear with good drive from low revs but little 'hit'. Low-speed balance is superb. A few years ago an Irish rider on an 07 won the Cambrian Rally in Wales by a huge margin. Rally-prepped versions of the 03 and 04 won their class in Paris Dakar.

    The bikes are tough but clad in expensive and easily damaged bodywork. Engine reliability is excellent. If the carbs give trouble it's usually the choke plunger, which corrodes and sticks open. Some problems have been reported with the CDI units.

    The 07 is a lovely bike to ride on and off-road and will please most riders provided outstanding engine performance is not required. All models look great and are well-finished. Prices in the UK have been strong in the last couple of years as they are a classic in the making.
  3. Pecha72

    Pecha72 Long timer

    May 5, 2008
    Helsinki, Finland
    From the early Nineties, I owned a total of five Africa Twins, one 650 and four 750´s. Sold the last one about 2001. Now I´m on my third DL650, and before the Wee, I had an SV650. Probably some 200-250 thousand kms on those Suzukis, and at least the same amount on AT´s, though I wasnt keeping records of that.

    Keep in mind the “latest” AT model (RD07) was the best handling of them all. Actually that model already came out in 1993, and that was in fact its last major change, two decades ago.

    It probably still outperforms the Wee off-road. But that´s about it. The DL is a much more modern motorcycle, with FI and optional ABS. Perhaps surprisingly (but not really, when you consider its age) the AT´s handling was really affected disturbingly, when you put the missus and lots of luggage on board. The Wee needs some small tweaking to its suspension, but basically it carries a lot of weight without starting to feel it has a hinge in the middle (that´s what the AT sometimes felt like to me!) Strip their fuel tanks and fairings, and you´ll see why: the Wee has a real sturdy aluminium frame (it also explains on the other hand, why the Wee isn´t so much of an off-road bike). Also fuel consumption on the AT sometimes went sky-high, when you went on the motorways with high revs and lots of luggage. On the Wee, not so much.

    The headlights on the AT sucked compared to the Wee. I´ve had buffeting issues on both bikes, but regarding this my newest 2012 Wee has been the best of them all out of the box. The AT had to have its valves checked every 12.000 kms, and at least I often had to ajust them, too, whereas on the Wee the interval is twice as long, and it uses shims, they don´t often need adjusting. Without touching the fuel system the AT suffered more at high altitude.
    The AT could be a tiny bit easier for a DIY mechanic, but the Wee´s not a pain either. ABS is just great for road-riding, only available on the Wee.

    I really liked the looks of the Africa Twin-models, and its basic technology (even with its few minor glitches like the fuel pump) was just as bulletproof as on the DL these days, both are as reliable as they get. In fact I still love the AT, that bike just somehow had balls, something that the Wee might lack! But on the other hand, I´m not going back, unless Honda makes an updated version of the AT, which frankly does not seem likely. For my use (commuting, weekend rides, longer trips), the Wee does more or less everything the same or better. It´s about 10 hp more powerful, too, despite being 100cc smaller, and uses considerably less fuel. Uses tubeless tyres. Throttle response on new FI models is real nice, too, so it feels even sharper. Carburetors really are a thing of the past nowadays. And if I did a lot of off-road, I wouldn´t choose either of these bikes for that, I´d go for something a lot lighter, maybe a 250-400cc.

    Come to think of it, the AT's may not in fact be as bulletproof any more, simply because of their age. Everything eventually wears out. Their production stopped about the same time as the Wee's production started.

    (But it´s just my 0.02 on the subject.)
  4. RedShark

    RedShark Long timer

    May 10, 2005
    Long admired the AT, and much enjoy my DL now - thank you for the concise summary/observation. Rode a TransAlp some, but never an Africa Twin.
  5. WoodButcher

    WoodButcher Long timer

    Sep 17, 2004
    Austin, TX
    do you have a line on one? Since they weren't (as far as I know) brought to the US by Honda, there aren't many and they came by private importing. Makes it just a bit harder to get parts because Honda dealers don't have part numbers so you might have to get some of the more model specific parts from overseas. There is a thread in Beasts about them, I believe. I had a Transalp and loved it and always thought the AT's looked cooled, but they were harder to find than the TA's.