Bikers often stop and look at Ginko, most think she’s a BMW but often they look at the graphic on the side and exclaim ‘oooh… an African Twin, how’d you like it?’
The problem with motorbikes is you can’t really drink a latte whilst driving with your knees and texting with the other hand. This general problem is exacerbated by the issue of navigation. It’s all very well sticking your phone in some cheap cradle and jabbing at it between glances up at the irritating cyclist chicane in a car but on a motorcycle you have gloves on and, of course, that $10 mount that keeps falling off the windscreen would be fatal to your device on a motorbike.
Of course Touratech make an amazing solution. Think of a motorbike problem and the inventive Germans have already come up with a shining (stainless steel) doodad that does the job perfectly. Fine for the empty nesters with a savings plan and a house load of cash but I’m not really prepared to spend the same amount of cash on a bracket as the actual magic compass.
In steps my great mate Adam. The man who can make art of marshmallow sticks and hew a very convincing Dread Pirate Roberts sword from some scrap aluminium. In the usual ‘men standing around motorcycle drinking beer’ moment Adam figures a solution and the next day a custom Honda Africa Twin Garmin 695LM bracket is on Ginko, after a little light hacksawing of screws. I just
hope that sword isn’t a couple of inches shy of some aluminium! The great thing about the solution is the GPS is pretty much on the same plane as the bike instruments, not jutting out like some giant technological carbuncle or, as Garmin would have, attached to my non-existent clutch lever hovering in the air on a RAM mount.
The other great problem was the bloody massive nest of cables that is on the back of the Garmin mount. I reckon the target market must be those massive Harleys with the HUUUUGE fairings because there was literally two meters of wire and connectors for speakers, microphone, power and a USB connection for the XM radio receiver that I intended to keep. All that was neatly entombed in a rubbery casket at the end of this massive cable. Out came the scalpel and hacking away at the block I went, eventually separating all the tiny hand soldered joints contained within. That was quite some job, but I wasn’t in the humour to re-join all those cables and I wanted to keep the USB length because I planned on putting the XM antenna on the back of Ginko, away from the GPS, so really needed that extra cable length. All the other cables I beheaded because I don’t plan on blasting Purple Rain from my Harley’s external speakers for the world to enjoy. Why do they do that?
I wanted to wire the GPS and the USB socket up to the original accessories socket behind the front fairing. This meant buying a special connector from the excellently named Eastern Beaver in Japan and disrobing Ginko of her front plastics. After which I jammed everything in there and hope like hell that none of the fuses blow because getting the fairing back on is some kind of Japanese logic puzzle that I don’t really want to have a go at in the middle of the desert!
It all seems to work well, but in retrospect I wouldn’t get the Oxford USB socket for the Africa Twin because the cap is a pain in the ass to remove and it really is not at all waterproof when the cap is off. In fact it will probably fill up with water and short out the whole proceedings, leaving me to fend off banjo wielding pig fetishists.
You know when you’re just into your work on a Monday morning? You’ve looked at all the crappy email and stupid Facebook posts then work tasks and juuuust started past the procrastination? Yeah, I was there and my phone rings. Well.. last week my friend Pierre pranked me on the phone by trying to make out he was the dealership and the bike was here. But this time it was the dealer.
The work I needed to do seemed to take a solar cycle, then I got hold of my boots, jacket and helmet and headed to the bank for the giant cheque; walking down the street like a vagrant in flip-flops trying to hold a really awkward, heavy leather jacket over one arm and a backpack, boots in a crappy plastic bag and a helmet in the other.
The bank queue was… … have you seen the situation in Zimbabwe with lines for US Dollars going from the town to the bush? Then I stumble out the bank clutching all this crap and try to hail a cab. I hate taxis. Nearly as much as waiting to pay at restaurants. For some reason the whole interaction really irritates me. Uber is so much of a better service.
I get to Excel Moto was shown the giant box, introduced to the charming, professional, charismatic and incredibly tolerant of idiot customers who want their toys, Franklyn, the chief wrench. Why do they call them ‘techs’ in the ‘States? They aren’t ‘technicians’ they are mechanics. I have to apologise to poor Frank because I asked him about himself then got totally distracted when we approached the box and started ignoring him!
The video serves the story, but the TL:DR is:
Opened box, removed frame, forklifted bike to workshop, lifted bike with winch on ceiling, fitted front fender and wheel, fitted screen, laughed about ridiculously small tool set, fitted stupidly difficult to install battery, filled with fuel and started. With glee.
I handed the cheque over, did the paperwork and Ali l asked me if there was anything I didn’t know about the bike as that was normally the point where he would brief customers about the bike. The man knew by then what a total nerd he was dealing with. A nerd who had already read a scanned version of the manual online. I slung my gear on, pushed Ginko out, fired her up and wobbled off whilst trying to work out what the computer was doing with the clutch.
Quebec has really shit roads. Worse could be had when we went to visit my Dad on base in Mom’s MG-B, but that’s because every time we saw a pot-hole we thought we were literally going to die. Landmines do that to you. Rhodesian Army had a vehicle called a Pookie, which was a great testament to our engineering brilliance, but I digress. Quebec has worse roads than most third world countries I have been in. So why would you ride anything other than an off road bike?
There has always been something in me that needs a motorbike and because of the these reasons I chose the Africa Twin: Continue reading Africa Twin
When we moved to Thailand I was itching to buy a CRF250L but despite selling a load of our stuff, including ‘Akane’ the VFR800 and ‘Cosworth’ the CG125 we were pretty poor. It seems that deciding on the spur of the moment that leaving the country just after renting a house and filling it with furniture is, financially, a really bad move.
So… Super Cub!