Touratech Explore HP Rear Shock for the Honda Africa Twin
The stock Honda Africa Twin Showa suspension has been praised for how well it works off road as well as its decent handling on the road. But once you start loading down the bike with equipment for a true adventure, the limits of the stock shock become apparent. The rear spring lacks enough tension to maintain proper sag under loaded conditions. To achieve 65mm sag I used three-quarters of the available spring preload. With a passenger or a full load (250+ lbs.), sag is 85mm or more with spring preload at max setting. This affects handling by increasing turn-in effort and creating an uneasy wallowing feeling while cornering. The wallowing can be reduced, but not eliminated, by adjusting the damping adjusters. The stock shock will also bottom out when carrying speed off road when the conditions get rough.
Touratech provides two options to broaden the Africa Twin’s touring ability, with the Explore HP and Extreme rear shocks. I had the opportunity to install and test the Touratech Explore HP rear shock with position-dependent damping system (PDS) technology. Installation is straightforward as long as you have the proper tools and follow the directions provided. A torque wrench is critical when reassembling suspension components. Once installed, I set the sag at 40mm, which is the most I could get with just my 180 lbs. on the bike, and left the rebound as set by Touratech.
I began by riding as much varying terrain as I could with the bike unloaded. This included singletrack with rocks, log crossings, whooped-out areas, small jumps, gravel roads, fire roads and asphalt twisties. The shock was very well composed on all types of terrain. The action is plush and the rear of the Africa Twin tracked straight when crossing logs and rocks. Steering with the rear on gravel roads is very predictable now, compared with the stock Honda shock. The shock never bottomed out even while jumping. The Touratech shock remained plush through potholes yet controlled the rear of the Africa Twin when the pace heated up in the twisties, with no mushy feel.
Satisfied with the Touratech Explore HP shock’s performance with an unloaded bike, it was time to load up the bike and see if it lived up to its claims. With the bike loaded, adjusting the spring preload to the desired sag is easily accomplished with the external spring preload adjuster. With an additional 120 lbs., 65mm of sag was easily achieved. Once on the pavement, the bike maintained a controlled feel through corners as well as a smooth ride. With the ability to maintain the proper sag, handling through corners is much improved over stock. Off road, I was impressed with the Touratech Explore HP shock’s ability to keep the rear of the Africa Twin in check through high speed rollers as well as the shock’s ability to absorb small bumps. The final test was a ride down a pothole-stricken gravel road with a passenger on board to see if our backs would survive the punishment. We were both pleased that there were really no punishing impacts.
Bottom line, this is a great shock. It looks trick, it is engineered to withstand true adventure motorcycling and the damping is tuned the way it should be. My only gripe is the rebound adjuster is a little difficult to get to even with the supplied tool. It was hard to feel the clicks as I turned the adjuster. The Touratech shock is also serviceable. MSRP: Explorer HP $1,195 | Extreme $1,795 Touratech-USA.com
|▲ Built with high quality materials—will withstand many miles of loaded adventure touring and abuse||▼ The rebound adjuster is difficult to reach and this makes feeling each click less definite|
|▲ Excellent damping with a loaded Africa Twin||▼ There’s no compression adjuster. Did I feel the compression damping needed adjustment? No, but I like to have the option to fine tune for different terrain. The Extreme rear shock provides full adjustability.
|▲ Great bottoming resistance|
|▲ Several spring rates available|