Welcome to 2021. While admittedly this post is a little late, I like that this is avoiding the huge crush of “new year” style posts that round out the beginning of any year. I admit to having written those types of post in the past, so perhaps I’m just trying to justify my own procrastination. Either way, this is a new post to start 2021. It’s got some thoughts and ramblings about the year that was, and what is coming in 2021. Only good things will be coming in 2021, as far as I can tell.
I don’t think that there is anyone that will say that 2020 wasn’t a weird year. It was, in fact, crazy. By July, many of the folks I was interacting with regularly (because you can’t say “meeting” anymore without it feeling weird) were starting to sound like Eyore, stuck in “Groundhog Day”. Many people lost jobs and businesses. My wife and I were, fortunately, not among those, and neither were most of our friends and families. By the end of the year, I was trying to help people remain positive – reminding them that we had made it this far, to the end of the year, and we were starting to see the approach of vaccination. I tried to help lift some spirits and help people be more positive.
The truth is that I had a pretty remarkable year. My partner officially became Mrs. Insuriosity in September in a much changed celebration than what had been planned; we purchased a new house to help care for her elderly parents; I finished my Advanced Chartered Insurance Professional designation (and finished in the top of the class in Canada); I turned 50 at the end of the year; and, to top it off, I took on a new role at work at the start of 2021. 2020 for me was a fantastic year, despite the pandemic and all the changes that it brought to our lives. The whole time, Mrs. Insuriosity and I tried to just manage the changes and course-correct as needed.
We miss seeing our friends. We miss seeing my family that lives out of province. We miss some of the things from the past, like going to movies, dining out regularly, or visiting with friends. Heck, we broke down and went shopping at a mall recently, out of necessity, and it felt like a date night. I miss a Friday after-work beer with my friends. For a while, I missed seeing my kids. Like everyone, we miss a whole lot of things, but we haven’t let it consume us like it has so many.
Something to celebrate
So, to cap off a damned good year, and to celebrate my 50th and my other accomplishments this year, I started to look at purchasing a new bike. I loved my V-Strom, it was a great bike, but it was time to consider something with a larger engine, a better suspension, and more up-to-date electronics. I was looking very hard at a couple of models, and it really came down to two bikes: the Yamaha Super Tenere 1200ES, and the Honda Africa Twin Adventure Sport. On balance, though, the choice ended up being easy.
Yamaha Super Tenere 1200ES
I had the pleasure of a test ride on the Yamaha Super Tenere 1200ES (or S10, as it’s called) in the early spring of 2019, when GA Checkpoint Yamaha hosted a grand opening of their new showroom with a demo day. The bike everyone wanted to try out that day was the Niken 3-wheeled oddity, and the S10 had been out for a while, so it was no issue reserving one in advance online. I met a few fellow riders for an early brunch, and then off we went to the shop. Oddly, en route, there was a bit of hail – and more of that in a minute.
It was sunny when we arrived, and walked around. By the time the bikes returned from the previous test ride, it was clouding over. The rain started 5 minutes into my test ride – which was ok, I popped on the factory grip heaters, and I was in a full-face helmet with a full riding suit. When the hail hit us, I was still ok. The guys in jeans, a flannel shirt, and an open faced helmet, riding the big Star Eluder – not so much. So, I tested the bike in less than ideal conditions, and really liked it and it’s 3-setting electronic suspension (hence the “ES” designation). I also like that it came with the aluminum side cases.
I went through boughts of really wanting to change to that bike over the last couple of years, especially after RyanF9 did this video (and this is definitely Cancon that is worth watching until the end:
I really did like the bike, and this is where my search was heading. Especially if I could find one in that spectacular blue colour from 2018. That’s a sharp looking motorcycle. So this is where my search began, and I started to do some other jumping off from there.
Honda Africa Twin Adventure Sport
I had actually done a test ride on a Honda Africa Twin in the summer of 2018. I was at the annual Touratech Rally, my first time there, and Honda had brought a trailerload of the bikes up. I was interested, as they had only been out for a couple of years by that point. I set my tent up on the grass on the first afternoon, and as I was having a beer, a couple pulled up on an Africa Twin. They were very experienced off-road riders, and he had changed to a Dual Clutch Transmission (DCT). The DCT was a relatively new offering from Honda over the past few years, available on the Gold Wing and the NC750, and now on the Africa Twin. I was no officially intrigued, as he loved the bike.
I signed up for a test ride on a manual Africa Twin, and really enjoyed the bike on road. Off road, I was timid, thinking “it’s someone else’s bike, it’s someone else’s bike…” the whole time, but I remember that I liked it enough that I told the future Mrs. Insuriosity that it was potentially dangerous to my wallet. However, after riding the Yamaha, I put it out of my mind, as there was something about that S10 – mostly, I think the size, and the way you sat in the bike, and it surrounded you a bit.
Then I started to do my research. The S10 hadn’t been updated at all since I rode it in 2019, and in fact, the big update was all the way back in 2014 when the electronic suspension, cruise control, and other bits and bobs were added. Since the Africa Twin was launched in 2016, they launched the Adventure Sport in 2018, which added a larger fuel tank and tubeless tires, and the 2nd generation Africa Twin (Standard) and Africa Twin Adventure Sport in 2020. The new ATs came with hugely upgraded electronics, various rider modes, a ton of user selectable options, and user-demanded upgrades (like remembering rider modes between on/off power cycles of the motorcycle). Suffice to say that for a very small price difference, the choice was clear.
I ended up chosing the top-of-the-line model, the Africa Twin Adventure Sport (or “ATAS”) with the DCT. The research I had done – and really, there is so much out there that all I have to do is refer you to Youtube – lead me to believe that getting the DCT was the right choice. Plus, that was the only way to get the amazing white with red and blue trim colour scheme, which I think is a beauty. Here’s one good review from the UK:
This bike has everything my nerdy heart could ask for. Safety wise, a 6-axis IMU along with the ABS, traction control, and wheelie control make it quite confidence inspiring. The bike has some default settings: off-road, gravel, urban and touring, plus allows you to set up two modes with your various preferences. The DCT is amazing, and also has several “modes” to let you select the aggression of the up and downshifts, plus a manual mode operated by switches on the left bar. The cruise control just works, the heated grips are great, and connecting to your phone and headset is easy. Plug your iPhone into the USB port, and your screen flips to Apple Carplay. It’s all pretty trick.
I’ve now put 500 km on the bike as of January 31, and really do enjoy it, although I’m still taking it easy and breaking it in over the first 1000km. It will take me a while to get used to all the gizmos, and I’m really looking forward to my first gravel / off-road bomb to get more of that under my belt. As a little bit of a “what a year” treat to end 2020, I think this bike is pretty damned perfect.