Dave Reynolds takes the big DCT Africa Twin on its first green lane ride
It’s 6:30 on a very wet and cold early December morning. The Africa Twin is waiting outside, very wet, to be used for my short commute. The rain puts a downer on any ride to work, and now I have to go through the chore of getting suited and booted in waterproofs for the ride.
As soon as I hit that start button and the slightly rorty exhaust note disturbs my neighbours, it all seems worthwhile. That’s how a bike ride makes you feel, even in poor weather I strangely enjoy it, I could never explain to a non-biker this feeling.
A couple of weeks ago when the weather was much kinder, I took the Africa Twin out for a little bimble into the Cotswolds, a very attractive part of the UK and not too far from my home. A steady ride on some quiet country roads got me started, the tourists had all cleared off back home leaving the area for me to enjoy, and after a stop for a cuppa and a smoke I had this idea for the next direction. I knew of an easy enough green lane nearby.
Is a big adventure bike like the Africa Twin the right tool to attempt this? Probably not, but I’ll rely on my ‘incredible’ riding skills (in my head, maybe not in reality) to get me through. I arrived at the start of the lane, a bit wet and muddy, especially on what are effectively road tyres, still there we were, I couldn’t back out now.
One thing I hadn’t noticed before is the perfect, for my 5’11 frame, standing position. It’s like Honda measured me when designing this bike, apart from the lofty perch. The handlebar to footrest position is perfect, with all controls in an easy reach, except the mirrors, but I’m not too bothered about what’s happening behind me.
This was also my first time riding a DCT-equipped bike on the rougher roads. Don’t let anyone tell you a DCT gearbox is no good for gentle off-roading, it really does work very well and is impossible to stall; there’s a reason a lot of top Enduro riders equip their bikes with Recluse or similar clutches.
I only met one other person on this lane, a friendly lady on a big horse, I quickly killed the engine as she passed and a thank you and a smile was nice.
I got to the end of the lane, stopped for a smoke and surveyed the state of what is a lovely looking bike, only not so lovely looking now it was covered in mud.
Fortunately, it had now decided to rain buckets so by the time I got home it looked OK, that is until it dried off in the garage. It’ll be time to get the cleaning gear out over the break. I can’t leave it in that state.
Specs at a glance:
Manual; £12,599 OTR. DCT; £13,549 OTR
Liquid-cooled 4-stroke 8-valve parallel twin with 270° crank and uni-cam