Sold my car. Just learning to ride with a new Africa Twin around TN/KY

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Day Trippin'' started by DaCaton, May 26, 2019.

  1. DaCaton

    DaCaton Reckless

    Joined:
    Mar 22, 2014
    Oddometer:
    96
    Location:
    Fort Campbell, KY
    Howdy folks!

    I’ve been a long time lurker here, and have always wanted to get a more dirt oriented bike, but circumstances dictated I couldn’t have a bike for the longest time. If you don’t want my riding history, just know that I’m a noob and skip down to the photos.

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    Here’s a little history of my riding experience:

    Since age 4 I had always had a fascination with motorcycles, and much to my mother’s displeasure, that fondness of two wheeled transportation has never gone away. When I was around eleven or twelve years old, I was given an old 1980’s Honda XR75 to putt around our small family farm on. I spent as much time as I could on it, but fourth gear was tricky to get into and I quickly outgrew it. Then the bike broke and I was unable to fix it, despite my best efforts. I knew little of the mechanics of it, and my family wasn’t poor, but, we didn’t have enough funds to put into a 30 year old dirt bike. Then my family and I moved, leaving the dirt bike to a friend in hopes he would get it running. I never returned, so I have no idea of the fate of the little XR75.

    Fast forward to 2015, i’m 18 years old. Still living with my parents, but working a decent job at a farm in TN. Decided a good way to build credit would be a motorcycle. After countless hours of research and meticulously planning my next bike, and taking the MSF course in preparation , I Impulse bought a 2012 Yamaha FZ6R from the Harley dealer that did my MSF. I put 8,000 miles on that bike in 3 months, I started riding with a group that was ridiculously fast. I did a couple track days. Then one day after riding 250 miles away from home, I was being stupid, dragging a knee on a public road up in the mountains. My front end gave way and I wrecked going around 60mph. Luckily, I was wearing a full leather BiLT race suit that I got off craigslist for $100. I scraped my elbow, but it wasn’t bad. The bike had a cracked fairing, but overall had survived the wreck.


    Then I moved to Alaska and was forced to place the bike in storage to only be sold 2 years later.

    Now, fast forward again, to 2019. I’m back in TN. I’d had my car, a 2016 Mazda MX-5 for two years as a compromise to not getting a bike. It was a convertible and small. Close enough, I figured, but it wasn’t enough. I just got back from being overseas for 9months and decided, what the hell, why not sell the car, and buy a bike? I don’t need a car.

    So, I sold the car on my lunch break at work, dealer gave me a ride back to work, and I relied 2 days on a co-worker/neighbor to get me to work. I went into a Yamaha dealer and looked at an MT-10. It was perfect. Comfy enough for long trips, and loads of power for me to be stupid on it.

    I then checked insurance to see how much it would be for a single 22 year old, and it was somewhere around $7,000 a year. Way too much and completely impractical.

    That’s when I found the Africa Twin. I had seen reviews when it first came out and desperately wanted one, but somewhere along the road I switched to wanting a street bike. I was browsing a local dealers website and I found a brand new 2018 Africa Twin Adventure sports DCT 30th anniversary for $13,000. While I didn’t want the DCT, it was such a good deal (I thought, somebody correct me if I’m wrong) I decided I could live with it, just because I was going to trust all the reviews I had read about the bike and DCT being outstanding.

    ————————————————————————————————-

    So, here we are, 4 days after buying the bike, and 400 miles down.

    I have hardly any dirt experience, and I’m still an inexperienced rider on the street. I’m ready to learn and do it right this time.

    I probably should have bought used, just because i’m going to drop the bike a lot, but I don’t have a car, I wanna roll with something comfy and doesn’t compromise what I need.
    ——————————————————————————————————-

    So, with all that monologue out of the way let’s start the actual little day ride I took today.

    38CDBDF1-FB4A-4ECA-BECC-808E30896AD5.jpeg


    I started the day riding out to a lake about 20 miles from me, taking dirt roads most the way there, and once I got close, I turned off my GPS and just tried to find the lake by exploring. The forecast called for overcast skies, a perfect chance to ride without the Tennessee heat.


    After stopping to enjoy this small lake, I left to go find some more technical roads. It wasn’t long until I found a logging area that looked fun. Unfortunately, it was outside my ability to go through it without getting stuck. My OEM tires didn’t help either. The sun came out again and I worked up quite the sweat getting it unstuck from here. After about 10mins of attempts, I finally got it out and rode out of the logging area making a mental note to come back once it dries up, or I get better tires.
    A2D72D92-506C-45E7-8611-F44D74042ADC.jpeg


    I left the logging area and went maybe a half mile away, found a great road, it looked like it would be a couple miles of difficult terrain, but it ended up being a few hundred yards and a mud pit. I managed to get through the mud pit, but I had to turn around and come back. I decided that my momentum would probably serve me best rather than slowly attempting it. I made it almost all the way and then my back in slid out and I dumped it. Granted, I sort of let off the throttle and slowed down more than I should have, but this is a learning experience! (And an excuse to blame OEM tires.....right?)



    D66D64D4-8489-4272-B907-35FA450E5122.jpeg


    Unfortunately, I broke off my OEM plastic hand guard on the left side, which is fine, I was going to replace them anyways, but now it looks lopsided until I can order the new hand guard. Also, i’m I think I may have bent my stock crash bars in a little, i’m going to have to take it easy until I can get some real protection on the bike I think.


    0AA9D90A-2478-49FA-9031-510CDF5B8B79.jpeg


    So far, i’ve put 400 miles on my bike, with about 30% of that on the dirt and I’m enjoying it. I just blew too much money on riding gear, so once I save up my money again, i’m getting as much bike protection as I can, hard luggage, and additional lighting. I also want to replace the exhaust, and install cruise control.


    I hope to update all my daily learning experiences here on ADVrider and get input on what to do and what not to do. I’m a noob on a 500lb+ bike. What could go wrong?
    #1
  2. RedDogAlberta

    RedDogAlberta High Plains Drifter

    Joined:
    Nov 27, 2009
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    20,570
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    Edmonton, Alberta
    I sold my car last spring over a year ago. I was putting about 3,000 miles a year on it but paying to park it, insure it, service it, etc. I'll be 60 this autumn. It's down to motorcycle and transit pass. A few inconveniences but so far so good. If I have to venture out of town I rent. It's cheaper and I'm in a new car.
    #2
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  3. DaCaton

    DaCaton Reckless

    Joined:
    Mar 22, 2014
    Oddometer:
    96
    Location:
    Fort Campbell, KY
    Woke up and decided to ride 180miles south to Huntsville to go see the rocket center. It was all on road. I need to get cruise control and a better seat for my bike. I didn’t take any interstate roads, and I really enjoyed the Tennessee countryside on the way down.

    BDA1EF54-AF0A-4531-90D9-78D9AC7FFAD6.jpeg

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    Attached Files:

    #3
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  4. jconli1

    jconli1 from the land of pleasant living... Supporter

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    North Bend, WA
    Yowza, that's a big, powerful, very expensive machine to be figuring it all out on... but, to each his own. Definitely start with good engine guards, but maybe consider leaving off things like expensive luggage, lights, exhausts, etc, until you're much more comfortable with what's going on, as they're always the first things to take a hit.
    #4
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  5. DaCaton

    DaCaton Reckless

    Joined:
    Mar 22, 2014
    Oddometer:
    96
    Location:
    Fort Campbell, KY

    You’re not wrong, it’s a pretty big bike to be figuring it all out on. I’m not a brand new rider, but I’m definitely inexperienced. I’m reading all I can on technique, and trying to ride within my skill level. I’m just excited to get some more miles under my belt.

    I have an XD-4 helmet and Carlsbad pants+jacket on the way.

    As far as no expensive luggage, do they not help when you drop the bike? I know they get dinged up, but correct me if I’m wrong, aren’t they made to take a beating?
    #5
  6. JimRidesThis

    JimRidesThis Local celebrity

    Joined:
    Jan 2, 2012
    Oddometer:
    967
    Location:
    Cumbria, UK
    In a stationary or very, very low speed off they might take some of the impact, but it depends on the solidity of the racks and rear subframe as much as the pannier itself. On a high speed off, depending on the make, they’ll probably just crumble.

    Probably the most important issue to bear in mind is that you’re going off-road (and that’s great!) but you’re likely to want to dab or put a foot down as the bike starts to fall. That’s when an aluminium pannier is potentially going to break your leg, ankle or foot.

    Have a look at MotoTrek on YouTube. He might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but you can learn a lot from Bret Tkacs.

    Enjoy your riding! :thumb
    #6
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  7. bobw

    bobw Harden the phuck up

    Joined:
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    The Africa Twin is a great motorcycle and there are plenty of great ride reports owners have shared here from local stuff to AK and back, etc. Maybe after you're sorted with soft or hard bags and other bits you may want to ride her back for a visit in AK. That insurance quote is beyond obscene for the MT10, phuck them and the horse they rode in on. Tires are cheap :rofl, wear quickly and come in every flavor possible so you can try more off road, on road, 90-10-80-20, 50-50 latest and greatest offerings to come up with what's best for you. Just be smooth off road just as you learned at track days, more changes in braking strategies and body english for the transition from pavement to dirt and the AT is still a Big Girl pretending to be a dirt bike so keep laws of physics in mind.

    Great choice, safe riding!
    :beer:beer:beer
    #7
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  8. DaCaton

    DaCaton Reckless

    Joined:
    Mar 22, 2014
    Oddometer:
    96
    Location:
    Fort Campbell, KY
    Ahhhh, I hadn’t even thought of that. Luckily, I have a couple months until I can save enough for the panniers, so I’ll have a little more experience.


    Also, on the way back from Huntsville, I was adjusting my mirror when it came loose. I stopped at an Autozone to borrow a couple tools and couldn’t figure it out for about 20mins. I went ahead and left it out of place and rode 50 miles north. I stopped to fuel up and asked an old leathery Harley rider if he could help. I couldn’t understand much of what he said, but he seemed VERY knowledgeable. Years of experience. He fixed my mirror in 2mins and made me look like a fool, lol.

    But that’s what I missed most about riding. Everyone is so helpful.
    #8
    bobw likes this.
  9. Jedi5150

    Jedi5150 Road Warrior

    Joined:
    Jul 9, 2007
    Oddometer:
    826
    Location:
    Central California
    Congrats on the Africa Twin! You’re a braver man than I am. I don’t mind goofing of on a big bike, but I also don’t rely on it as my only means of transportation. If my bike was my sole vehicle, I’d be staying off the rough stuff.
    #9
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  10. jconli1

    jconli1 from the land of pleasant living... Supporter

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    North Bend, WA
    Not as much as you might think. They look the part, carry a lot, and are useful for touring... but even the most robust ones aren't designed for protection. If you really plan on getting way out there and have a habit of putting it down, they can quickly become a liability. Been on enough rides where someone snaps a pannier bracket 50 miles from anywhere and is forced to improvise some shoddy way to carry the bag back... or just abandon it temporarily.
    #10
  11. 75bronco

    75bronco Been here awhile

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    991
    Location:
    East TN
    Where r u located?
    #11
  12. DaCaton

    DaCaton Reckless

    Joined:
    Mar 22, 2014
    Oddometer:
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    Location:
    Fort Campbell, KY
    So quick question for you guys. I have the Klim Carlsbad jacket and pants in the mail on the way to me. I’m excited and did a lot of research and decided that it would offer what I needed at a decent price, but now I’ve been offered a killer deal with some other Klim products. Basically, it would allow me to get the Badlands Pro for the same price that I paid for the Carlsbad, and I can get the Adventure Rally set for a (relatively) decent price too.

    I’m not a hardcore ADV rider (yet) although I do appreciate all the extra protection I can get. I have never broke a bone, and hopefully never will.

    With me living in a warmer climate, should I stick with the lighter Carlsbad, or just go full send and get the Badlands pro or even the Adventure Rally set? I’m hoping to do the TAT next year and then ride from Oregon up to Alaska to visit my folks. I’m also looking forward into the winter months when I’ll have around 3 months of ‘winter’.



    I am just north of Nashville, closer to Hopkinsville, KY.
    #12
  13. Steve_h

    Steve_h Been here awhile

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    "Warmer climate" is in the eye of the beholder. It will still routinely get into the teens and single digits in KY in the winter.
    If I were trying to ride in weather like that, I'd have heated everything and as many layers as I could move in and would probably still be cold.
    Nice bike but remember while getting more miles and practice, it's big, heavy, and has plenty of power to get you into lots of trouble real quick. Take your time and be smooth on or off road. It won't take long to be riding that bike like a pro.
    #13
  14. DaCaton

    DaCaton Reckless

    Joined:
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    That’s true, but right now with me sweating before I even walk from my building to my bike, I’m not thinking about that right now, lol. I understand colder weather better than most though. I’ve ridden through my fair share of Alaska winters on a snow machine. I just can’t figure out how to stay cool.
    #14
  15. Aces 6

    Aces 6 Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, Over

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    I have the Badlands and in the humidity it blows....HARD!
    But....in the Spring and Fall and when out west riding its a great jacket.
    So for summer I use a mesh Joe Rocket jacket (with liner in tank bag for those o so frequent rains) which ran me like $100.
    My vote is for the lighter Carlsbad. Can always wear a heated vest/jacket under it for colder months.
    Moto Mosku (sp?) bags might be a good fit. I have the GL Grand Basin on my AT and am "meh" with it as access is not the greatest. If I could do it again would try the Moto bags.
    Kitting out the AT will run you 3-4k or so (its a disease and I am almost done....honest!). Being a soldier (assuming since you are at Campbell) might want to get a car for that amount ( or more as a car for that amount probably won't pass a weekend safety inspection :lol3 ). Easier to carry your battle rattle in a car and driving into PT at zero dark thirty on a bike blows (not to mention in inclement weather).
    Also with the many PCS moves driving x country in winter (if you are off-cycle) will be challenging (as in chain of command saying "time for a urinealysis and "I'm not signing that risk assessment.") on a bike especially when packing uniforms, PCS orders, ERB etc. Can always move bike with household goods then drive or hook up a trailer for a partial DITY move.

    Have the money from the partial DITY move pay for some of the upgrades.
    Food for thought.

    Lived 3 months on my RT1100 when at a school TDY and it was not easy packing laptop, fatigues, combat boots, Class A uniform, PT uniform, civilian clothes etc. on that bike, travel 5 days to the course, and then sweat my balls off the whole summer in the tidewater region of VA (especially when a classmate rolled up with his bike on a trailer and was enjoying the AC....).

    My two cents
    Great choice in a all around bike.
    #15
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  16. DaCaton

    DaCaton Reckless

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    Mar 22, 2014
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    I guess the Carlsbad it is then. I just don’t think i’ll be needing the hardcore aspect of the badlands yet. I think I just needed somebody to tell me it.

    And yes, while I am a soldier, I have almost a year left of service, and then I’m going to college in Alabama. I’m definitely not planning on re-enlisting. I joined for free college and a deployment. While I sort of got the deployment (just got back from 9 months in Poland - not a real deployment, lol), I’m ready to go to college. The army pays for you to move back to your home of record, so i’m going to fund my Alaska trip with that while i’m on terminal leave, then just go to Alabama for school.

    I just dropped most of what I had saved on the gear, and in a couple months i’m planning on doing the crash bars, hand guards, and I really want to do hard panniers and exhaust, but i’m going to listen and probably just tie down a duffel bag on the back and see how I do on a little 3 day off road adventure in the east TN mountains, then if I feel confident, i’ll swap the exhaust and get the panniers.

    What other useful farkles can I do? I’m going for full upper/lower crash bars, and I really want to get some super bright auxiliary lighting to accompany it.
    #16
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  17. Aces 6

    Aces 6 Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, Over

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    Good plan! GI BILL is phenomenal.
    ROTC (in another branch if Army didn't do it) or OCS could be in your future.......

    Crash bars:
    I went with Outback Mototeck (sp?) crash bars. Went down on pavement at about 15mph and they took the brunt (along with passenger pegs) and spared the body plastic.
    Can also remove panel to access air filters without removing crash bars.
    8.3 Crash at Harper's Ferry bruised ribs right side.jpg

    Handguards:
    Went with Highway Dirt Bikes. Very robust. Pricey but good piece of kit. Don't think they made them for DCT when I purchased in 2016/2017 but might have them now.

    Lights:
    Denali D4 lights and Denali Light bar.
    I have a Camel ADV high fender kit so the light bar had to be modded but if you keep fender stock should have no issue.

    Exhaust - kept mine stock. Sure you can save 13 lbs or so and gain a couple of hp but for the 1,000 or so investment?
    Don't know if the ROI is there....I just lost 13 lbs and its better for my heart.....
    Besides if you roll soft luggage the heat shield on the OEM exhaust works great to shield/protect bags.
    Instead of exhaust a 12v outlet, PC8, and handgrips might serve you better.

    Mid Atlantic Backcountry Discovery Route (MABDR) would be a good shake down for you if you have about 8 days leave available. Nothing to challenging but you will get to know your bike. Can navigate using gala app on iPhone if don't have a GPS.
    #17
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  18. Amphib

    Amphib A mind is like a parachute....

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    I would definitely get your crash protection first. Luggage is a personal thing and will evolve. I was completely clueless as to what direction I wanted to go, and considering how expensive it is, I wanted to be sure. For the last 7 months since buying the bike I've been using drybag duffles strapped. I've gone on several multi day camping trips and it's worked ok. It's doable. It's just a pain in the ass if you need to dig something out. Last bigger trip I took, I bolted on a home depot rigid toolbox and used a duffle... It worked great and was cheap. I've decided to get panniers, mostly to get the weight lower off road and to be able lock it.

    I went with sw motech crash bars, b and b bash plate, barkbuster storm handguards. It's also worked great and survived a couple drops. Some guys rave about the heed bars as they're a great value.

    Grats on the bike! I love mine... 2017 manual.
    #18
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  19. Aces 6

    Aces 6 Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, Over

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    When I did Alaska in 1995 on my $500 KLR (when I ETS'd from the Army the first time....slow learner), I used a bungee net and two bungee cords to strap down a "mountain" ruck/large rucksack. That and a tank bag was it. Fit stove, tent, sleeping pad, sleeping bag and some clothes.
    As Amphib said "Luggage is a personal thing and will evolve." Hard panniers not a must for your trip nor is the exhaust.
    Depending on your GI Bill BAH, I'm sure you can harvest some of that money over time for an exhaust and have Uncle Sugar pay for it......
    #19
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  20. DaCaton

    DaCaton Reckless

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    Mar 22, 2014
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    Fort Campbell, KY

    I don’t think I want ROTC, but we’ll see what my job prospects are once I get out. You never know.

    I’m not sure what i’m doing for handguards right now, but I’ll keep those in mind.

    I eventually would like to do the high fender kit, I think it really improves the look of the bike.

    As for lights, i’ve been looking at Baja Designs 10” light bar....is that overkill?

    I want a new exhaust mainly for looks and sound. I gotta make sure everyone knows i’ve arrived when I roll up to the motor pool :lol3 I would just be getting a slip on.

    As far as the MABDR, I would love to try and tackle that. I definitely will want to wait until I get crash bars and new tires for sure. Also maybe wait until the fall for the weather to be cooler. I’d rather ride frozen than sweating.
    #20
    Aces 6 likes this.