Long-Term Honda Africa Twin: Frustrating Parts

How many accessories are too many? Zack finds out!

Honda Africa
Honda AfricaJulia LaPalme

In the words of Shakespeare, "To know adventurous joy we yearn for function and for sparkle; alas, to farkle is to frustrate." He was a man ahead of his time. I've been drizzling little aftermarket pieces over the Africa Twin and having pretty good luck overall—case in point, the top-box, windshield, and most recently the DoubleTake mirrors, which were all satisfying plug-and-play options.

Where I got into trouble was with the seat and the luggage rack. First, I dropped the Touratech Comfort Seat on, which was exactly as easy as you're imagining. Then I thought I'd try a beefier luggage rack. The ambitious people at ATO Engineering in Ohio built a stainless-steel rack for the AT that is stronger—a few pounds heavier too—and has nifty features like removable passenger grab handles in order to accept throw-over luggage more smoothly.

Installation requires a minor disassembly of the rear of the bike, but the rack slid on just fine without altering anything and even accepted the mounts for the SHAD top case with no problem. But then the seat didn’t lock in place. I started by wiggling and jiggling it to get it to fit, and it escalated all the way to beads of sweat on my forehead and the eventual use of an angle-grinder. In the end the seat fit into place (with a ground-down locating flange that fits into the front of the luggage rack) and I rode happily to Laguna Seca and back. The saddle is much more comfortable, by the way—stiff instead of soft like the stocker, and my backside was in much better shape after 1,000 miles.

But, herein lies the Shakespearean quandary: How much trouble is it worth to try to make your bike better? It depends on the rider. If you’re a hardcore Africa Twin rider, you would likely appreciate the ATO Rack’s more compact design and options. The seat, like I said, was much better—but I’m still going to research other cheaper options.

Aside from me messing with it, the bike’s been flawless. And a staff favorite. More mods might make it better but, as I found out, that’s no guarantee. Onward through the aftermarket!