If you’re serious about off-roading your Honda Africa Twin, you’ll want to consider replacing the stock mirrors with folding mirrors. Folding mirrors avoid breakage during impacts, can be easily adjusted when transitioning from the seated to standing position, and can be folded away when the trails get narrow. My HondaAfrica Twin has been outfitted with Touratech Adjustable Folding Mirrors since Day One and this certainly adds to the Africa Twin’s adventure capabilities. The oval-shaped mirrors are built around a rugged stalk with 180° of adjustability and positive clicks for each position.
The viewable area is on the smaller side but provides a clear view of the road or trail behind you. The view remains very clear up to 65 mph but due to vibration becomes a little fuzzy above that speed.
Installation is straightforward. Remove the stock mirrors, thread the new mirrors into place, position and lock them by tightening the lock nuts. Make sure to order the correct thread pitch for your motorcycle. The Touratech Adjustable Folding Mirrors are sold individually in M10 x 1.25 and M10 x 1.5 thread types (the AfricaTwin thread type is M10 x 1.25).
I like how easily the mirrors can be adjusted quickly with one hand and how they can be folded all the way into the handlebars on the fly. When wearing gloves, you will appreciate the convenience of the adjustability, which doesn't require loosening knobs. The mirrors can be folded tight enough into the top of the handlebars that they do not block the gauge cluster. The folding mechanism is also durable; I fold these mirrors in and out all the time, they’ve never come loose, and the adjustment clicks remain positive. When it comes to surviving crashes and other impacts, their design will certainly minimize the chance of breaking the mirrors or the mounts.
Overall, these mirrors have been very useful, durable and convenient. MSRP: $44.95 each Touratech-USA.com
▲ Ease of adjustability
▼ Slight vibration blur above 65 mph
▲ The mirrors have never loosened over time
Click to enlarge image touratech-adjustable-folding-mirrors-review-1.jpg
Written by Carl Parker | Photos by Pirelli/Metzeler. Posted in Gear
As the world of adventure/dual-sport bikes continues to expand, so does the selection of tires, and with them the availability of cross-purpose style tires. While street-oriented ADV tires have been available for some time, the 70/30- or 50/50-use tires have a very promising new contender, the new Metzeler Karoo Streets.
Visually, the Street’s tread pattern harkens back to the several-year old Metzeler Karoo 3, one of our favorite 50/50 tires. The tractor lug-like pattern of the Karoo 3 made our project Super Ténéré a literal blast to ride off road, never letting us down on dirt, mud or sand.
Facing stiff competition with Continental’s popular and long running TKC 80, the Karoo 3 was perhaps even more off-road oriented but had a noticeable buzz on pavement above 50 mph. The only other ADV offering from Metzeler is the Tourance series, which is decidedly more street-biased. With an obvious gap in their product line, the Metzeler tire gnomes went to work over the last three years to bring what may be one of the best 60/40 tires around, the new Karoo Streets.
Karoo Streets are designed to have friendlier asphalt surfing characteristics without sacrificing too much on dirt or gravel. On-road manners feel much like any sport-touring tire with neutral turn-in up front and very little knob noise even at speed. During our whirlwind testing in Sicily, Italy, we got to test the Karoo Streets on several bike platforms ranging from the BMW R1200GS and KTM 1290 Super Adventure, to Triumph’s new Tiger 800. Even approaching 100 mph, the test KTM 1090 handled well on highway with barely notable buzz in the bar.
Better still, the tire’s rolling tread pattern has been optimized for a constant contact patch in both center and edge blocks, which means cornering is once again a peg scraping affair as I found out on a new Triumph Tiger 800 XCa. By the end of the rather aggressive street test, everyone’s chicken strips were gone, and no one had low sided, proving there’s traction all the way out to the edges. Moreover, the new tread pattern heavily reduces pressure hot spots on the lugs which should greatly enhance the Karoo Street’s mileage.
To put icing on the asphalt cupcake, Metzeler uses a high-silica compound rubber which grips well when dry or wet. The engineering brief explained how they paid particular attention to wet surface traction from not only the compound, but also the tread pattern, which does an amazing job channeling water away from the contact patches when on pavement or dirt.
There’s no better way to test the water evacuation than riding river beds. To prove the Karoo Street’s off-road worthiness, we took turns running up and down a relatively dry riverbed and some broken muddy roads. Wet sand, mud, and large pools of water didn’t faze the tires at almost any speed, and we were impressed with how well the tread pattern hooked up on dirt, while still being able to push the bikes hard on paved corners.
Although classifying tires is a somewhat contentious task, we would say the Karoo Streets are 70/30 or 60/40. In this arena a few newer competitors like Avon’s Trek Rider, Michelin’s Anakee Wild, Pirelli’s Scorpion Rally STR and Continental’s Escape could give the Streets a run for the money. Without having directly tested all these tire models, we’re not going to declare a “winner,” but it’s fairly clear that the Karoo Streets are just what the doctor ordered to bring back the fun cornering while still managing well off road.
Many bikes are shod with overly dirt-oriented tires. Sometimes it’s for the “ruggedly cool” optics of a dirt tread design, but at a very real sacrifice of street safety and fun. With the Karoo Streets you can essentially have both for nearly any bike you ride in this category. Rear sizes are available down to 130/80-17 and up front to 90/90-21, so they’re great options for almost any size ADV/DS bike on the market. Even better, the Karoo Streets will soon be available in 18- and 17-inch front sizes for scrambler and street bikes!
To sum up the Karoo Street’s performance during the test, I would say its street gains outweigh what’s lost off road when compared to the Karoo 3. That makes this a great option for nearly anyone who rides and tours mostly on the road, but doesn’t want to be deterred by lack of traction on packed dirt, gravel or water crossings. Like any tire in this category, its Achilles heel will be in sticky clay or deep mud where all but the most aggressive off-road tires will fail in those circumstances, anyway.
Every tire has limitations, but we expect a lot of adventure/dual-sport riders fall in the Karoo Street’s targeted capabilities and feature set. The availability of high-performance cross-purpose tires has never been better and the Karoo Streets are set to be a leader in the category. If you do mostly street riding or touring with a real hankering for getting off the beaten path without getting crazy technical, then the new Karoo Streets are worth a closer look. MSRP: TBA (estimate $100–$180 per tire) Metzeler.com
▲ High silica compound is extra sticky in wet or dry condtions
▼ Street-oriented sport touring casing may be more susceptible to off-road hazards
▲ Highly versatile in on- or off-road conditions
▲ Good traction all the way to the edges
▲ Wide range of sizes available with more to come
▲ Aggressive off-road looks in a very friendly daily use tire
Click to enlarge image Metzeler-Karoo-Street-0.jpg
Pulling onto a hilltop, the desert view opens for miles north and east of us, where a midday haze hangs behind layers of rolling hills reaching for the sky next to their saguaro cactus cohabitants. We’re nine miles into a 110-mile loop of central Arizona bliss. We couldn’t have found a more beautiful location to patch the burnt and leaking coolant hose on a Beta 430RR. Fortunately, the necessary fixes came from my Wolfman Enduro Daytripper Saddlebags also loaded with tire change equipment, first aid kit, toolkit and snacks. Meanwhile, I had my cell phone and auxiliary battery in the Enduro Pocket to keep them out of the dust but ready when needed.
On previous day rides, I’d strap a toolkit to the tail of my HondaXR650L, and sometimes my camera box sat back there too. In my backpack I usually only brought water and a first aid kit. However, in the Arizona desert, with rockier terrain and fewer resources than the sandy Michigan forests, I needed a better way to carry equipment.
I can’t stand tank bags on off-road bikes. That’s why I was drawn to the Enduro Pocket. It looked small enough to stay out of my way and perfect for a cell phone, wallet and more snacks. Immediately, my assumption was reassured. The zippers never hang, the opening provides easy access, it’s shockingly dust-resistant, and I never noticed it while standing.
A non-slip, anti-scratch backing material keep it in place wherever you strap it down. This little bag deserves a place on every dual-sport or enduro bike I ever own—it’s like a having a center console in a car except it’s not hard plastic and you’re not in a car, which makes it all even better.
Toolkit, front tube, tire levers, pump, patch kit, first aid kit and bonus snacks all found a comfortable home in the Daytripper bags with room to spare. My camera box on the rear, Enduro Pocket on the tank, and a light hydration backpack completed the load. Surprisingly, we ended up using every single piece of my setup during the five-day desert ride. Between half-inch holes in TUbliss tires under a chilly full moon, to a burnt radiator hose, to enjoyable bonus snacks, the added weight strapped to my XR went largely unnoticed. I attribute this weight-handling ability to the zig-zagging compression strap that keeps each bag as tight and compact as possible.
The Daytripper bags snug down securely with straps to the lower frame/footpeg area, meet with two beefy straps across the saddle, and are tied back with rubberized metal hooks to the rear fender. Any light- or midweight dual-sport or enduro should easily handle these bags. I keep mine pretty far forward to reduce the effective weight on the bikes rear end. For capacity, the range of adjustment for the compression straps makes it easy to run these bags almost empty or stuffed to the brim. If you’re picky about scuffing plastics you might want a protective layer between the bags and bike. The anti-slip anti-scuff coating on the bags won’t scratch anything, but if dirt gets between the surfaces there might be abrasion.
These bags are meant for day rides out of a base camp or hopping from hotel to hotel, where you won’t be carrying a bulky sleep system on the bike. The Enduro Pocket provides a safe spot for small items and the Daytripper bags keep chunky tools off your body, making our already versatile machines even more practical.
If you own a KTM 1190 Adventure or R model, you’ve probably heard somebody in your riding group mention air box issues that allow dust getting past the filter on the earlier 1190s. Although I’ve seen various articles discussing it over the last few years, it didn’t prevent me from purchasing my dream bike. I currently ride a 2015 1190R, the model year during which KTM updated the air box with a wedge-shaped insert that holds the K&N-style filter tightly against the air box opening. This fix has cured the problem for most riders, but serious off-roaders need to check the air box after dusty rides or install the pre-filters that KTM offers for the front air channels.
Just like the doohickey thing on KLRs, there is always somebody ready to come up with a fix. And for this problem, Rottweiler is its name. I didn’t want to take any chances since I ride in varying conditions, so the Rottweiler solution was the obvious choice for me. They’ve stepped it up a notch by redesigning the entire air box, offering the intake system kit in five different stages for the 1050–1290KTMs. Stage 1 provides the basics—filter and airbox—and Stage 5 comes with every feature available, including the Power Commander* and dual channel auto-tune to maximize horsepower gains.
Why would somebody re-invent the wheel? To create, of course, a better wheel. Chris Parker of Rottweiler wanted more protection, smaller design, and bigger performance. The first thing you’ll notice when you pull the stock air box is how much smaller the new unit is. Stage 2 and beyond also comes with a tuned billet velocity stack to direct more air into the throttle bodies. On the protection side of things, Rottweiler uses a rally series filter element with a plastic dirt bike-style filter cage that fits snugly against the base plate and uses two Zeus fasteners to keep a tight seal. If you want the ultimate protection you can also run the pre-filter that’s included.
Stage 4 Goodies
When we decided to investigate all the hype about the Rottweiler set-up, Chris Parker suggested we go to at least the Stage 4 with the optional SAS (SecondaryAir System) removal kit to reap the full performance and ride-ability gains. Stage 4 comes with the tuned billet velocity stack, fuel dongles, and a PowerCommander V. With the Power Commander V we had Chris load a power map and a stock map. The maps change the air/fuel ratios to either power or economy modes. The two maps are selectable via a handlebar-mounted switch that’s easily toggled.
After the fairly simple installation of all the Rottweiler goodies, it was time to see what all the bark was about. The first thing you’ll notice is that at low speeds the big V-twin is much smoother and not as jerky. After clicking into the power map, I fastened my seat belt because I wasn’t sure what was going to happen. As I slowly rolled away from the shop, I grabbed a handful of throttle (traction control on), and the bike kicked out into a Moto GP-style wheelie. It would have been priceless had there been a camera showing my facial expression. The kit totally changed the power characteristics of the engine. Not only is it more powerful, the bike is noticeably smoother at lower speeds, which is great for off-road riding.
Rottweiler also offers a Stage 5 kit that comes with the Dynojet Auto Tune. The Auto Tune does just that, using a wide band O2 sensor that monitors the air/fuel ratio while you’re riding. It sends the info to the Power Commander V, which automatically corrects the data before sending it back out.
All in all, the Rottweiler air box upgrade did everything the folks at Rottweiler promised it would, and that is surely evident from the “perma-grin” that appears on my face every time I ride. The other bonus of working with the crew at Rottweiler Performance is that everybody there is willing to help when you have questions.
*The Power Commander is a fuel injection adjustment unit that plugs “inline” with the bike’s stock ECU (electronic control unit). It uses original equipment style connectors, so no splicing or cutting of the harness is required.
Bridgestone have launched two brand new tires adding some excellent options for the mostly tarmac travelling adventure rider. The joint launch of the Sport Touring BATTLAX T31 and the Adventure BATTLAX A41 took place in the spectacular area of Ouarzazate, Morocco. Located at the base of the High Atlas Mountains and the edge of the Sahara Desert, Ouarzazate was an exceptional environment to test the two new exciting products from Bridgestone’s Japanese motorcycle plant. Over two days we were treated to an extensive variety of road conditions, challenging routes and stunning scenery. However unfortunately due to the Moroccan climate we were unable to test in wet conditions.
At the outset of the presentation Bridgestone made very clear their intensions in developing the two new models. Expected improvements would be made in things like contact patch, water drainage and high speed stability but the main focus for the Bridgestone engineers was to improve “rider confidence.” Obviously there are methods to measure and illustrate the technical improvements of a tire, but the only way to measure rider confidence is to ride. Consequently, riding in a variety of conditions on an assortment of bikes was exactly what we did for two full days.
• BATTLAX Sport Touring T31
The BATTLAX T31 is the replacement for the very popular T30 which will remain available in the US but in limited sizes. The BATTLAX T31 is an excellent choice for the adventure rider that enjoys a “spirited pace” when riding twisty roads or burning up miles on high speed curvy routes. Our test ride took us through some of the curviest roads I have ever traveled and one thing that became very obvious to me was the excellent feedback of the front tire. The very predictable turn in and mid corner stability was consistent on all of the bikes I rode.
The variety of bikes included a fully dressed BMW GS 1200, Kawasaki 650 Versys, Honda VFR, Ducati Multistrada 950 and a Triumph Tiger 800. The T31 uses an all new single compound with improved silica dispersion on the front while the rear uses Bridgestone’s 3LC compound with a cap and base structure. Hard braking even on rough surfaces was very impressive thanks to the new thread design with an approximately 7 % increase in contact patch and adjusted groove angles
Speaking of grooves, Bridgestone claim water drainage and friction coefficient on wet surfaces has been significantly improved. Bridgestone also claim all the improvements they have made on the new A31 have come with no sacrifice to mileage. The T31 is available in 8 front sizes from 17”to 19” and 9 different rear wheel sizes for 17” and 18”. MSRP: Front $173.95 - $248.95 | Rear $219 - $278
▲ Confidence-inspiring grip
▼ Unable to test in wet conditions
▲ Excellent under hard braking
▼ Unknown wear life
▲ Consistent handling on all bike sizes
▲ Many sizes available including a few GT spec sizes for heavier bikes
• BATTLAX Adventure A41
The BATTLAX A41 Adventure tire is the replacement for the discontinued A40. Like the A40 it is intended for the adventure rider that will ride 90% on-road and 10% off-road. The first part of the A41 test ride was an off-road route which took us to an unforgettable landscape where the view included palm trees with a backdrop of snow caped mountains. It was as though we were looking at overlapping post cards of two different places, highlighting where the desert and mountains meet. The road surface had a very hard rock base with a consistent layer of gravel and sand. The route had a good variety of corners and elevation. I was pleasantly surprised with the level of grip from the rear tire. With or without traction control I was able to manage the wheel spin and extract a lot more forward drive and acceleration then I was anticipating, even on some of the lager more powerful bikes.
Bridgestone has adopted a Monospiral Belt construction with a revised case which allows for an exceptional contact feel. The front tire instilled confidence in both slick and bumpy conditions. Unfortunately, in this area where Berbers and Nomads once inhabited, there was no mud or wet roads for us to appreciate the improvements Bridgestone has made on the A41 for wet conditions. The A41 uses 3LC compound on both front and rear with the rear having a Cap and Base layout. The second part of the A41 test was on tarmac, although for the most part, the roads were in very poor condition from the harsh windy climate and severe lack of maintenance.
These conditions did however showcase the versatility of the A41. Overall grip is great, but the most impressive attribute for me was the stability when encountering pot holes and washouts mid corner. On bikes both big and small, the front end remained planted and tracked exceptionally well. The bikes I rode with the A41 ranged from a Suzuki V- Strom 650 to a KTM 1290 with my favorite being a Honda Africa Twin. The A41 comes in 9 front sizes 15” – 21” and 11 rear sizes 17”-18”. Expect to see the BATTLAX A41 come stock on common Adventure bikes such as BMW GS1200, GS800 and the Honda Africa Twin.
In conclusion its clear Bridgestone have accomplished their goal. They have produced two tires that instill extreme rider confidence in a variety of conditions. If you’re an adventure bike rider that enjoys a sporty pace and is looking for a high level of grip and good feedback the T31 is a great choice. If your adventure travels are via bumpy or detreated roads with the occasional off-road stretch you will appreciate the stability and traction of the A41. As for the adventure rider who needs a more off-road oriented tire the Bridgestone reps tell us they are working on two new products with as much confidence inspiring technology. No details as to when we can expect a release, but we can’t wait! MSRP: Front $155 - $231 | Rear $$202 - $285 Bridgestone.com
▲ Good grip and handling in moderate off-road conditions
▼ Unable to test in wet conditions
▲ Superb cornering feel and feedback in bumpy corners