Large adventure bikes can ride off-road, but that doesn’t make it a strong suit. Lugging a 500-pound motorcycle through the dirt for riders can be challenging to downright frightening for riders of all skill levels. From lifting a quarter-ton machine out of the gravel to the prospect of pinched tubes, all that poundage weighs on a rider physically and mentally.
The suspension is one area that can vastly improve the characteristics of a big off-road machine. Whether you’re packing down extra luggage or blazing through loose sand, better support and feel can only improve the ride. To help the new Africa Twin 1100 through the tough bits, Umbria Kinetics developed a new AirTender system for the adventurer’s rear suspension.
Based in Foligno, Italy, Umbria Kinetics previously collaborated with Honda Motor Europe Ltd. to produce an AirTender system for the 2016-2019 Africa Twin 1000. For the CRF1100L, the Italian company offers a rear suspension overhaul complete with an Ohlins shock absorber, or an adapter for the stock Showa unit.
Regardless of what you pick, the AirTender System replaces the standard spring with a shorter and stiffer coil. With more rigidity and no mechanical preload, the coil spring supports the static vehicle and rider weight, handles maneuvering, and absorbs micro dips and weight transfers. On the other hand, the hydraulic system activates beyond a certain load threshold, softening the ride through rugged terrain.
The separate functions of the AirTender system allow the suspension to soak up the hardest bumps without sacrificing ride comfort with harsh impact resistance. Of course, riders can adjust the suspension settings with a turn of a screw in the outboard hydraulic controller. The gas compression within the shock even offers precise tuning for heavier loads or improved damping.
For the full kit with the Ohlins shock, the AirTender system will cost €1,790 ($2,007 USD). If you want to keep the factory Showa unit, Umbria Kinetics will reduce the price to €1,200 ($1,345 USD). Also, the company adapts older AirTender systems meant for the CRF1000L to the new Africa Twin 1100 at the reasonable cost of €120 ($134 USD). Lucky European customers can have the AirTender system installed at an exclusive Honda dealer network.