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Offline Zanie

Honda demo weekend
« on: November 07, 2017, 08:39:11 pm »
Lance, Ilse, Gerhard and I headed out to Honda's demo weekend on 4-5 November. Some of the 50 or so bikers (the RSVP limit) started arriving from Friday night, but we rode through on Saturday morning.

I think there were roughly 10 bikes available for a test-ride, of varying models, from the miniature to the monolith. People were sent out in batches. First we were taken on a gravel road loop with one optional sandy tweespoor track. Later in the day, those that wanted to were taken on a technical single-track route.

Honda is on to a really good thing here: allowing you to ride their bikes on terrain where they are meant to be ridden. How many other dealers will put you on their bikes and send you to Van Zyl's Pass, the Old Postal route and, in this case, a mountain bike trail? These are the types of trails that interest me. I want to test a bike out for the type of riding I want to do. Tarmac just doesn't do it for me.

All in all, I tried out the Africa Twin (manual and DCT), the Rally and their "plaasbike" (XR190). Lance rode the Africa Twin (also manual and DCT), the Rally and the 250L.

On the first gravel loop, I was on the Rally (the reason I RSVPd to this event) and Lance was on the 250L (mainly because the other models he wanted to try were taken). Before I give feedback, I must clarify my reference point: I own a BMW 650GS and a Honda CRF230F.

Well, I switched on the Rally and for a moment I wondered if the thing was actually on. I'm used to a 650 that very literally used to rattle off mirrors (this happened a couple of times before I changed the front fork springs). The 230 is also a little ball of vibes (of the good sort though). The Rally, in comparison, was smooth as silk. It was taller than my other bikes, but my legs were long enough to manage. I was shown how to switch off the ABS - something I don't need to worry about with my ancient (2001) GS and the little 230.

Testing. Testing.

Then we were off! I know some say the Rally suspension is too soft. Lance managed to bottom out the back suspension when he had a go on it later. But for my 62 kg it was perfect! I have never felt such nice, cushy suspension. Bumps/rocks that would have me tense and waiting for the big whack on my 650 were a non-event on the Rally.

The bike rode so easily, which was incredibly confidence-inspiring. I instantly gelled with the bike and was zooming around happily. I had to remind myself that I should take it easy, as I still don't like corners thanks to my one bad fall. Yet I managed some corners far faster than I would normally ride.

Another gripe some have with the Rally is power. I don't own power-house bikes, but I did feel the difference when rolling on the throttle after a corner. The power isn't really there. But that's never been my main driver in life. As long as a bike can do 120km/h on tar and go on fun routes, that's my boxes checked. I did take the bike up to 110 km/h before running out of straight road (again: don't like taking corners fast) and it felt like it could do more.

Mid-way pit-stop:

The only bike issue as far as I know for the day: a flat front tyre:

Towards the end of the loop, I decided to try the optional sandy tweespoor. Wow! I can ride such a track on my 230, but would only manage some of it on my 650 before the almost invariable "buying of a plot". The Rally felt incredibly planted. It didn't have the head-shake I'd get on my 650. On the next loop, on the 190 (also ridden due to lack of other bike options), I experienced some head-shake even on gravel marbles; probably due to the lightness of the bike. The Rally, in comparison, just seemed very stable.

Sand track ahead:

Someone on an Africa Twin went down:

Renette on a Twin:

Back at the camp:

On the next loop, I was on the 190, Ilse and Lance on Rallys, and Gerhard on an Africa Twin.

Ilse styling it on the Rally:

Ilse likes speed and a bit more power, so she had to learn to ride at higher revs before she started appreciating the Rally.

Me on the “plaasbike” and Lance on the Rally:

Tyre puncture fix still in progress:

Gerhard having fun on the Twin in the sand track:

We had lunch of boerie rolls close to a river. Most tromped there in 4kg of boots (I shed mine during lunch), but were averse to doing the return route. We were offered a lift in a half-tonne bakkie and probably more than half a tonne of people scrambled into the back. The poor front-wheel-drive-only bakkie could not make it up the hill. We bailed ship to allow the bakkie to reach the top of the hill - so we still got some exercise!

During lunch, I'd heard rumours of test-rides on a more technical route. I made sure that Charl du Plessis (one of the ride leaders) knew I was very keen to try a more technical ride on the Rally. Hence, after lunch Lance, Gehard and I got to try out a mountain bike trail along with a bunch of others. Lance did one lap on the DCT Africa Twin and then joined me on the next lap where both of us were on Rallys.

Gerhard on a Twin at the start of the trail; still having fun with sand:

Here is where the Rally shines. I had barrels of fun. The Rally was still a confidence-inspiring bike, despite the rough terrain. It made rock steps feels like nothing. I couldn't believe where the bike could go.

The Rally was like a heavier dirt bike. Yet I didn't feel the weight. Until I had to pick up the bike... I had one off. Perhaps it was the tricky angle, the lack of a nice grab-handle seat strap (such as on my 230), or my spaghetti-like arms, but I could not pick up the bike on my own. I've picked up my little 230 five times in quick succession, but it seems that 20-odd kg makes all the difference.

Not me, but shows the obstacle where I had my off:

This one is me:

I think I raised it by a couple of inches:

To note: If this was my 650, I’d now be missing a mirror. The Rally’s mirrors are on flexi-stalks and the left-hand-side one simply folded away in the fall.

Incidentally, Lance also rode the mountain bike trail with the DCT Africa Twin. He said that if asked to buy a new bike and choose among the KTM 1090, the 800GSA and the Africa Twin (manual), he would be happy with a random pick. He didn't feel strongly either way. The Africa Twin (manual) felt like a better bike than his 800GSA (suspension and where it carried its weight), but not enough to motivate a change. The DCT, on the other hand, in his mind, is in another league. It apparently handled rough technical sections like a dream. You only needed to focus on the terrain. The bike effortlessly chose the correct gear for you and "tractored" up/down a tricky section. If you're in for a new bike, he reckons, save for this one. Gerhard was also incredibly taken with the DCT.

One of the Twins on the trail:

The most interesting obstacle of the day:

I don’t know how the big bikes managed!

Rock step:

What it looks like from below:

An Africa Twin on its way down:

Back to camp, the direct route!

Towards the end of the day, both Ilse and I got to try out the Africa Twin (manual and DCT: we swapped halfway). Along with Alex (another lady attendee), we formed probably the last and most relaxed group to take a trundle around the gravel (not the technical) lap.

Ilse was possibly the only one completely at home on her chosen steed. She was in raptures, especially with the DCT. Picture the emoji with little hearts in its eyes and that was her. The Africa Twin is just too much bike for me. I'll not enjoy technical twisties with it. Even gravel highway felt a bit intimidating and our poor ride leader had to deal with 55km/h until I started getting the hang of it. Meanwhile, Alex (on the Rally) was ok as long as she was riding. Stopping and getting on/off the bike was an issue, due to short legs.

I could definitely appreciate the Twin and DCT's plus points. I now know why I sit and ride on my 650: it doesn't "meerkat" comfortably at all - either your weight is heavily on the handlebars or you're hanging from the bars like Superman. The Twin felt built according to my specs and I could stand easily and, in the case of the DCT, not have to worry about the gears at all. I gave a couple of bounces and the suspension felt nice.

Ilse with her new love:

Me with the Twin:

But... My bike of choice would have to be the little go-anywhere-with-confidence bike: the Rally. But... I already have 2 bikes. But...maybe I need more.

I can't/won't sell my 650, because it's my "first child" and is a handicapped/special-needs one at that, with acid-eaten internals, various bits (including a fairing) held together by cable-ties and various other bits that don't belong to its brand, model or year. I guess we will have to look into a third garage... Too many "children" between Lance and me. He has 3 and I have 2.

We were asked for feedback that evening:

Tents were supplied, so the only thing left to do was braai by full moon:

The next morning, after a brekkie of coffee and rusks, some of us headed back via Craig Marshall Pass / Droëlandskloof Pass.

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Offline Heimer

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Re: Honda demo weekend
« Reply #1 on: November 07, 2017, 09:06:28 pm »
To what binnekring does a person have to belong to also share in this happiness...

Matriek getuigskrif 1979: ........... is 'n vriendelike seun met volop selfvertroue. Hy tree soms vreemd op. Die skool se beste wense vergesel hom.
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Offline Zanie

Re: Honda demo weekend
« Reply #2 on: November 07, 2017, 09:09:27 pm »

Offline Heimer

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Re: Honda demo weekend
« Reply #3 on: November 07, 2017, 09:30:06 pm »

Us moderators have no time to troll the forum.

Matriek getuigskrif 1979: ........... is 'n vriendelike seun met volop selfvertroue. Hy tree soms vreemd op. Die skool se beste wense vergesel hom.

Offline Edgar

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Re: Honda demo weekend
« Reply #4 on: November 08, 2017, 11:30:16 am »
The more I see and read about the CRF 250 Rally the more I want one. Just have to justify to myself that it is worth 85k new......
Perhaps I am lucky and find a nice demo or 2nd hand one at a good price  ;D

Offline Ride Alot

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Re: Honda demo weekend
« Reply #5 on: November 14, 2017, 12:46:06 pm »
This  is a nice road
The next morning, after a brekkie of coffee and rusks, some of us headed back via Craig Marshall Pass / Droëlandskloof Pass.
Did it in Feb this year with the 1200

Offline 0012

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Re: Honda demo weekend
« Reply #6 on: November 14, 2017, 02:45:45 pm »
lyk na n lekker naweek, dankie vir die deel en mooi pics  :thumleft:
->    TransAlp 650 - sold
:(    Yamaha XT1200Z - written off - R.I.P.

Offline Stephenoraw

Re: Honda demo weekend
« Reply #7 on: November 15, 2017, 05:08:23 pm »
Excellent report, thanks for sharing!