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Road tests are personal things

Seems I’ve upset the Africa Twin owners – again!

What must have been seven or eight years ago [turns out it was longer – see below!], a friend lent me his nearly new 750 Africa Twin for a couple of days, which was jolly decent of him. Having put several hundred miles on the bike in a variety of situations which included riding it up the motorway, through town centres and along country lanes, I added a road test to my old website based on my experiences. As it happens, the pages are still up on the server, though no longer linked from the new site, pending a major overhaul because a lot of the tests now refer to bikes and products long unavailable.

Anyway, my friend (and the owner of the bike in question) pointed out the a thread on the Africa Twin site discussing my review of the bike, presumably resulting from someone doing a google. I’m not going to bother to post up the link, I’m sure you can find it if you really want to.

There’s something about these slightly out-of-the-mainstream bikes (the V-Strom review too resulted in a lot of abuse) that means that some owners take any dissenting opinion personally. I know it’s a big, dangerous interweb out there, but even so, what I do find surprising is the level of personal abuse that the criticism of my riding impressions often sinks to, just because I don’t say what they want to hear.

I’ve got no problem with people disagreeing with my impressions – after all, that’s exactly what they are – PERSONAL impressions. I could even honestly point out that in this case some of the comments are fairly obviously a bit tongue in cheek.

Even where I have identified problems that affected me, clearly a long term owner will find a work-around (like the sprocket changes mentioned), won’t find the same problem (I mentioned screen buffeting – if you are a different height or have a different helmet then it might not happen) or they might just learn to live with the issues.

In this particular case, some of the respondents got it; one guy said: “Possibly a little harsh, but I think most AT owners love their bikes despite their so-called faults. And since when has “love” been rational?”

Another said:

“All the points seem valid, they apply to the Transalp as well.”

But then went on to say

“They still don’t get these bikes, they are fun, they have a purpose which seems to get missed – they go anywhere.” Which kind of ignores the fact I’d said in the test:

“Unlike most bikes which excel at one particular role and cope with the rest, the big v-twin traillie excels at none – it’s Jack of all Trades”, though I did go on to qualify that by saying “and not particularly good at any of them.” That however, is a comment that can be aimed at most “Jack of all Trades” type vehicles, including my Hornet 600 and my Nissan Serena.

Further, I even say in the review that the Africa Twin would be a good purchase for “someone who just wants something that is different and a bit of fun – for all its faults the XVR Africa Twin is a lot of fun to ride“.

The owner of the bike I have ridden himself said: “Funnily enough, I know the person who wrote the review (an advanced instructor who runs “Survivalskills”), as he borrowed for a couple of days my nearly new RD07 back in 1998. I still have the bike today and told him laughingly at the time that I would never lend him the bike again after he slagged it off on the internet. Objectively, most of what he says is true, except the cruising speed if you have 16 tooth front, 43 tooth rear sprockets.”

Anyway, they were the nicer comments. Others were:

“Was he an overweight 20 year old wannabe?” Well, the overweight bit is at least marginally correct, and these two make me chuckle:

“i think he’s talking out of his ar*e or he’s never ridden one”. Or: “Think he wrote the review from a chair.”

But this kind of comment makes me laugh outright:

“Jackass. Just goes to show the complete democracy of the internet – any fool with a little html skill and a chunk of webspace can post any old tripe. Shame he hasn’t got a “Comments” section on his site, although I have mailed him to put him right on a few issues.” I’m still waiting for that email, as it happens. I’ve popped emails up on the site in the past from people who didn’t agree with me, so the democracy which is the freedom to publish on the net goes both ways with me.

But I’ll save the best till last. “to bad that he is an instructor though lieing to would be riders. ahh bug*er him”

So, just to put the record straight once again:

the Africa Twin would be a good purchase for “someone who just wants something that is different and a bit of fun – for all its faults the XVR Africa Twin is a lot of fun to ride“.

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