The bike is a 750cc Honda Africa Twin which we bought new in 2002 from our local Honda dealer, Kent Motorcycles.  Earlier this year we had a Russian Ural sidecar fitted by sidecar specialist Watsonian who are based in The Cotswolds.  The Ural, being of all-steel construction, is known for being robust.

This is the bike, before the sidecar had even been thought about:046

It’s covered 53,000 miles so far and has already been abroad a few times, including France, Belgium, Spain and Ireland.  However, it’s mostly been used off-and-on for my commute to Canterbury over the last 15 years.

The Africa Twin is an iconic motorbike being styled and (very loosely) based on the bikes which won the Paris-Dakar Rally for Honda in the 1980’s.  It ceased production in 2003 albeit Honda resurrected the name on a new 1000cc bike last year.

To fit the sidecar, a few modifications have been carried out, the main one being fitting of a smaller (19″) and wider front wheel to give greater stability.  The centre- and side-stands have of course disappeared, and a steel sub-frame has been made and fitted to the left side of the bike onto which the sidecar fittings are attached.  The big alloy bash plate which hides much of the engine has been reduced on the left side to allow fitting of the sub-frame, with the centre and right-hand parts remaining as original.

We’ve bought various spare parts for the trip – possibly too many, but if we need any we’ll be glad we’ve brought too many rather than too few.  In brief, these include – front and rear brake pads, calliper seals & master cylinder repair kits; 2 oil filters & sump plug washers; air and fuel filters; fuel pump; length of fuel hose; clutch plates; ECU unit; ignition coil & spark plug leads/caps; 4 spark plugs; stator; front fork oil seals & progressive springs; several inner tubes and puncture repair kit; final drive sprocket and several chain links; bulbs and fuses.  A few things we’d planned to take we now can’t as they’re banned from air travel, such as a spare battery, WD40 and the rubber paste which comes with the puncture repair kit….they’re classed as hazardous materials and we’ll just have to get them when we’re there.   Aside from the spares, we’ve packed various tools and other bits & pieces such as nuts, bolts, washers, multi-meter, and the ubiquitous duct tape and cables ties.  Hopefully none will be needed, but best be prepared.