June 1, 2018
Hello to ya’ll and welcome to this June 1st edition of our biweekly Moto Intel Report. This weekend temperatures in Mexico City will hit 29°C (84°F) and surely all motorcycle fanatics will get their bikes out. One of the dangers here in Mexico is dogs that come chasing after you, which usually ends well but can have terrible consequences as you will read later on.
Tom has tested some gadgets and motorcycle outfits and as always, he is going to give us his remarkably candid opinion. This week he will discuss induction jackets and he picked a gadget of the week: The Bike Master Multi Tool with sockets!
Guido will enlighten us with a comparison of 4 very versatile Hondas: the VFR800X (Crossrunner), the VFR1200X (Crosstourer) and from the adventure/dual-sport category: the CRF1000L (Africa Twin) and the CRF1000L2 (Africa Twin Adventure Sport).
Now, without further ado, let’s get rolling…
Honda’s VFR800X, VFR1200X, CRF1000L and CRF1000L2
My 20 year old Yamaha still works, but I’ve decided that finally it’s time for an upgrade. Time for a new bike! I’ve narrowed down my choices quite a bit already: it needs to be an Adventure (styled) bike with a bit of offroad capability to take an occasional dirt road, but provide comfort for a couple of days of touring, including highway speeds. Furthermore I like long lasting reliability and cheap maintenance. That rules out the GS’s and the KTM’s and basically takes me to the Japanese bikes. From those, the Honda styling appeals most to me.
So, I’ve been extensively investigating these 4 bikes: The VFR 800 X (Crossrunner), the VFR 1200 X (Crosstourer), the CRF1000L (Africa Twin) and the CRF1000L2 (Africa Twin Adventure Sport).
Bear in mind that I’ve not ridden any of these bikes yet, so my opinion might change, but here’s what I’ve learned so far, based on a lot, and I mean A LOT of reading, googling and watching review videos on YouTube.
First, let’s split these bikes up in two categories. Both VFR’s are, what Honda calls, Crossovers. They are adventure styled bikes. Sure, you can take the occasional dirt road with it, but not much more than that. Then you have the Africa Twins, which are the real deal when it comes to adventure. Honda places them in the dual-sport category, which puts them right next to Honda’s smaller dirt bikes.
From the two VFR’s I like the smaller one the best. It has the old, reliable and continuously improved VTEC engine. VTEC (Variable Valve Timing & Lift Electronic Control) is a system developed by Honda quite some time ago. It gives its engines higher performance at high RPM, and lower fuel consumption at low RPM. Meaning, you get two valves per cilinder below 6500 RPM and 4 valves above 6500 RPM. Kinda like turbo boost (for those of you that remember Knight Rider). It brought a smile on all reviewers’ faces that I’ve seen. Next to that all reviewers seem to agree that it’s the ultimate commutor bike. Very easy to ride, comfortable, plenty of power with its 106 horses, heavy although it doesn’t feel like it. It’s often compared side by side with the yamaha tracer, which is a bit more sporty.
The big VFR. The 1200x I did not like that much. It seems to be a bit tall for my size (179cm / 5’’10.5) and it’s heavy. Really heavy, which obviously can be a real problem in traffic and trying to pick it up. You’ll feel like a king on his throne though and the V4 is rock solid, delivering 120 somewhat horses and tractor-like torque thoughout the entire RPM range. What I initially did not like, but came to appreciate as I watched more reviews, is the DCT version. DCT for Dual Clutch Transmision. Basically an automatic for your motorcycle. Every reviewer that did not try it did not like it, but every reviewer that tried it, liked it almost instantly. So, I want to give this a try too. It’s a shame the smaller 800x doesn’t come in a DCT version, but luckily, the Africa Twin does!
So, the Africa Twin. An iconic bike, resurrected in 2016, from the 1990’s legendary, Paris-Dakar winning Africa Twin which was discontinued in 2003. All the reviews I’ve seen praze the bike for it’s offroad capabilities. It out-performs the GS’s and KTM’s almost every time. On the road however the GS seems to take the upperhand. About 50% of reviewers comment on the soft suspension of the Africa Twin which makes it a bit squishy in the sharp twisties. About 25% of reviewers mention the lower power (94 horses compared the the 120 something of the BMW and KTM) which is only noticeable when riding 2-up. In general the reviews are extremetly positive. Some even claiming it’s the best bike they have ever ridden and the most fun they’ve had on a bike. I guess there’s only one way to find out!
In 2018 Honda also released the Africa Twin Adventure Sport. Compared to the regular Africa Twin it’s a bit taller, has a bigger fuel tank, crash bars, higher ground clearance, different/wider foot pegs, a higher windscreen and some more smaller changes.
So, right now, going by all these reviews, my preference would be the regular Africa Twin with a close second the smaller VFR. In a next edition, I’ll tell you about the test rides I will hopefully be doing soon!
It’s not going to replace your tool box, but it’s darn handy to have around. The Bike Master Multi tool isn’t going to break the bank and fits under the saddle or in your tank bag.
It includes 6 hex wrenches (sizes 2, 2.5, 3, 4, 5, and 6mm), a combo 8 – 10 – 15mm open end wrench, three sockets (8, 10 and 15mm) and a socket driver.
Not a bad deal for $12!
Dogs attacking motorcycles
I live in a small town just outside Mexico City and street dogs are a common sight down here. Most of them are actually overweight and are happy to just lie in the sun or under a tree waiting for people to throw taco leftovers at them. They live in harmony with the people (why bite the hand that feeds you, right?) but occasionally one starts chasing a bike and then usually the rest follows. Furious they seem! I experienced it on a few occasions and never really knew what to do except for hitting the gas and getting out of there as fast as I could. But what if that is not possible? What then?
This reddit offers some advice: MaxxForce advices to
wait for them to commit to an intercept path and then hit the brakes. Slow long enough for the dog to alter course and then accelerate to put the dog behind the curve and unable to keep up. If they jump out at you blind, keep your legs in, do not kick and do not put your head down to look at them. Accelerate and focus on maintaining your stability. The only thing kicking will do is to unbalance you on the bike and remove a point of contact and control (shifter or rear brake). It also give the dog something to grab onto if they are truly interested in bringing your ass down.
DantesDame says something similar
If I see the dog ahead of me, I cruise along at an easy pace. The dog sets his trajectory and just as he’s committed to it, I speed up and he is left behind me
Personally that is what I do, and as a dog lover I just pray nothing hits the poor fellow and it doesn’t become roadkill like so many of them.
It’s June 1st and temperatures are rising fast here in Mexico. The last week has been very sunny and temperatures seem to be consistently over 85F/30C… We’re all tempted to jump on the bike wearing just a t-shirt and some shorts, but for safety’s sake, it’s time to take the induction jacket out of the mothballs. In this week’s clothing report, we’ll test two great mesh jackets
The Klim Induction Jacket
Introduced in 2014 and recently updated, this jacket was introduced with a waterproof liner, but Klim decided to ditch this for the 2017 version and lowered the price. Klim claims that the carbonite mesh it uses is about 750% stronger than you average nylon/polyester mesh. The carbonite mesh not only provides a lot of ventilation on the chest, but is also highly abrasion resistant.
For its design, Klim opted for a ‘hip cut’ which gives it a bit of a tailored fit. In the updated model, Klim has made minor tweaks in the elbows and replaced the carbonite mesh with a lightweight stretch material – great when you’re wearing a t-shirt underneath.
Impact points such as shoulders and elbows have inserts for D30 ‘EVO’ armor and the back insert fits a CE level 1 D30 protector. The jacket costs around $350 and that includes the armor.
Bonus story: adventure rider Cyndy Kelso inadvertently tested the Induction jacket in conditions well beyond its original design parameters.
REV’IT Airwave 2 Jacket
REV’IT’s Airwave II is the improved version of the old airwave jacket (lasted me many miles) and is a typical 2/3 season jacket. The powershell mesh on the front works great and has superb airflow. In Acapulco, the jacket kept me reasonably cool at around 100F/40C, and back in Holland, wearing a sweater underneath, it would keep me warm enough at 45F/7C.
Compared to the Klim induction jacket, the REV’IT airwave II has a bit of a shorter cut in the front, but comes down a bit further in the back which makes it suitable for sportier driving too.
At 5’’11 (180cm), I ordered size M and bought the optional REV’IT rear protection. While the jacket comes with CE EN1621-1 Knox brand protectors for the shoulders and elbows, I do recommend inserting the back protector.
The jacket has a bit of an aggressive shoulder line and offers more than enough space in the arms/elbows. The fit could be a bit small if you have a bigger torso, but the waist space has plenty of room for adjustability and while I have a very narrow waist, the jacket is perfectly adjustable and fits different body types.
Coming in at $230, the REV’IT airwave 2 offers a lot of bang for your buck, but I think that REV’IT should’ve added some back pads for this money.
ROUTES / RIDE REPORTS
Trollstigen (Trolls’ Path), Norway
Norway, especially along the west coast, is one of the best places in the world to own a motorcycle. Just take one or two turns and you’ll find yourselve on the most beautifull mountain roads or twisty paths along a fjord. Stunning views and beautifull waterfalls almost around every corner. At the start you’ll want to stop for a picture every 5 minutes, but you’ll soon find out, it all looks that beautifull, all the time, everywhere!
I’ve had the privilage to ride in Norway quite a few times and in September 2014 I did Trollstigen. As a relatively new rider back then, mixed with bad weather conditions (rain and fog) we had to take it easy, but I didn’t mind at all. It’s quite intimidating, especially for me back then and even now still.
Trollstigen is 55km long and has a steep incline of 9 percent with 11 hairpin bends. Its highest point, Stigrøra, lies at an elevation of 858 meters above sea level. The road twists and turns through the mountainous terrain. The occasional rock falls, narrow lanes, steep inclines and unpredictable weather make it a daunting stretch of road, but defitely worth it. If you are ever closebye, I defintely recommend it!