Honda Africa Twin XRV750 RD07a - the beginning

Submitted by Jo on Wed, 09/21/2022 - 14:21

As mentioned in my previous article, I always dreamed about owning and modifying a Honda Africa Twin.
So when I saw this example pop-up on the second hand market I contacted the seller quicker then you could blink and arranged a meet up to inspect his for sale Honda XRV 750 Africa Twin RD07a.

On the telephone the seller already indicated that this bike was a non runner - it didn't want to start up.
So first business was to check if the engine wasn't seized up and I was lucky. On closer inspection the bike was really battered and let a hard life.
Mud everywhere - and I mean everywhere, the standard cluster and front fenders were non existing due to a crash into a ditch.

But the seller was helpful and answered all my questions regarding the state truthfully. At the time we settled on the price the sellers phone had been ringing non stop from other potential buyer, so I know if I would not be able to save the bike I could always resell it.
So handed over my hard earned cash and rolled the Africa Twin onto the trailer and towed it home. As a surplus a few boxes with bike-parts included into this sale, more on that later.

First order of business was to order all the fluids and parts to perform an extensive maintenance. Spark plugs, fresh engine oil, coolant, brake pads, air filter, new lightweight lithium battery, the lot.
Next thing was to install all of it and try to figure out why the bike was not running. After some testing and wire chasing I found the corporate - burned wiring on the starter soloniod.
Didn't order that but was able to "hot" wire it together and check if this was the only cause why the bike was fully death. To my otter join the bike coughed when pressing the starter button -  Eureka  !

I was so happy and relieved I felt invincible and pulled the trigger on the first modification, one which should be on our top priority list as a RD07 owner, an electronic fuel pump.
Removing the air box and tank went well, although the process of draining the tank took ages. I bought the bike fully fuel, and I mean brimmed to the max. And with fuel pricing rising this only soften the blow on the bank account.
Out came the old mechanical fuel pump and in goes the new electronic one, one failure item on the list already ticked off.

Next I installed the new spark plugs, had a general look into the engine bay and cleaned as much of the mud off I could.
As the bike was very hard to move around the garage I took a general look a the brakes, and what do you know, the front brakes were binding.
Uninstalled them and drained the brake fluid, of better said, the thick brown coffee like slime. To get them in tip-top condition I ordered all brand new seals and a kit to overhaul the front brake calipers.

A few days later Koen contacted me that a guy in Holland was selling a full front fork assembly of a KTM 990 Adventure.
First didn't think much of it, as this ment stepping away from the original intend to first build up and test the bike before throwing modifications onto it.
But the longer I though about it, the more it made sense, for sure as with the bike their came a box with some goodies, including a rear shock of Hyperpro.
After messaging the seller I sealed the deal and collected the KTM parts, that mend being in the car for 7 hours to collect the parts...

The day after collecting the KTM goods I ordered the steering stem especially made for this kind of conversions from the website Rugged-Roads.
Delivery was fast and that mend disassembling the hole front of the bike could begin. Out came the original, 22 year old forks including front brakes and lines.
After press-pitting the new steering stem into the KTM part it was assembly time, meaning the Africa Twin upgraded towards 10 years younger and better springs matched with braking compounds from Brembo.

Working sometimes late into the nights to get the bike into working order, during my sleep I was dreaming up my perfect bike.
A bike with upgraded suspension, front AND back, so the Hyperpro rear suspension was send into service at the Hyperpro Service center in Holland.
I also wanted to upgrade the tired front look of the bike, the rear looks modern in my personal opinion, so out came the 90ies front light bulbs and in go the ultra bride LED lights with indicators.

But after all of those modifications, the bike didn't fully started yet. That was my next priority, wire all the fuel lines, check all cables, install the new spark plugs and air filter.
Now the moment of truth was upon us, all was done, checked and triple-checked, let's press the starter button.
After the new fuel lines were filled with new petrol by the new electrical pump the bike fired into live. Idling was high, a bit of smoke, some filth flying out of the tail pipe, but it was alive.
That day nothing could wear down the smile I had on my face, I was the proud owner of a working and running Africa Twin!

Before test riding the bike I still needed to purge the front brake system and wire the front lights correctly.
The first ride I was filled with nerves, "what is that noise?", "is that normal", "what if I forgot to tighter this?, "or that?".
Big red performed well for the first 100 meter runs in my street, next challenge was to go a bit further.

If I wasn't sweating enough already due to my nerves, the sun was burning down on me and I need to suite up for the first big ride.
I did plan a small route in the surroundings of my house, if something went wrong, I could potentially push the bike home, I was drenched in sweat due to nerves anyhow.
The bike wanted a second shot at live as it was performing good, sometimes the engine would still idle very high, but that could be down to the carbs which I swiftly cleaned instead of fully rebuilding them.

All went smooth, and then out of no where the engine stuttered, not long, just 1-2 seconds. Did I just dreamed that or was their something wrong with the engine?
A few 100 meters passed and again, the bike coughed, almost died. Kept on driving, and then, just went I wanted to merged onto a busier street the bike died on me.
Nothing was working anymore apart from the lights. Pushing the starter button didn't do anything, so I jumped off and pushed the bike onto the curb.

Oh man, I was not far from home, but their was a steep bright between me and my destination. Ok, let's calm down for a second and have a look.
With a small audience gathering I was checking the battery - all seemed well, their is still fuel into the tank, good, the new electric pump was not buzzing, OK let's check that.

After looking over the bike for 10 minutes and removing the seat I found the issue, the same issue that was haunting the previous owner, the burned connectors at the starter soloniod.
I re-seated the bad connected and was able to drive home, parked the bike and jumped onto the internet to order new cables.

After a few more rides after fixing the cables I can tell you that all is working good, off course, nothing is perfect from the beginning.
Like the dashboard is all fancy and stuff, but no readings for oil or water temps. The high idle after longer periods of constant throttle, but all due considered I'm very happy.
The suspension is way better then I expected, the bike stands tall, the new fuel pump gives me ease of mind all is ok in that department and the LED lights are shining bright.

In the meantime I have ordered some crash bars from Heavy Duties  in the front and re-used the ones in the back. I also ordered some nubby tires from Midas and reworked the hole front electrical system.
Now my Garmin GPS can be mounted above the dashboard, and I have mounted a fuse box on top to connect all aux power hungry stuff.

Is the bike finished at is stands? For sure not. Future plans include installing the normal Africa Twin front fairing, some bigger/grippier footrests, some off road mirrors, ...
An extensive list of things and parts to fit, so look out of part two!