Avid bike and car enthusiast Harry Metcalfe has an enviable collection of machines, and luckily, he’s extremely keen to share them with us via his YouTube channel, Harry’s Garage. Not long ago, he acquainted us with the riding experience of an extremely rare BMW R80 G / S Paris-Dakar. Since most of us probably won’t get to ride one, videos like this are what YouTube is for, aren’t they?
This time around, Harry’s back with another drool-worthy rally machine: the Honda Africa Twin RD03. Rather, he’s back with not one, not two, but three of them—and one of them is an extremely limited Marathon edition. Over the course of the video, he takes two of them out to ride around his farm and talk us through the off-road riding experience. The third one, he actually sold to a friend so he could buy the Marathon, and he leaves that one parked and waiting for his friend to come pick it up.
While the regular RD03 is a fairly well-known quantity, the Marathon variant was purpose-built by Honda France for privateers to go out and win rallies. It still has that massive sump guard found on the regular RD03, except it’s even beefier. It has a special holster for a water supply up front, as well as a toolbox and an extra stand to help you prop up your bike and get the rear wheel up so you can do a tire change.
The Marathon’s regular fuel tank is massive, and there’s an additional carbon fiber fuel tank that forms most of the tail section, under the saddle. There’s also a little compartment located in the rear of the saddle, where rally entrants could stick their rescue beacons to keep them secure while they railed across the desert. One other desert-rally-specific extra is the extremely bright light located on the left rear side, meant to shine through all the sand and dust you’ll be kicking up as you speed along.
What are either of these RD03s like to ride, though? The regular RD03 that Harry rode belongs to his son, who does go out and rally it. As a result, it’s set up for the next event that the pair will be going to, with full off-road knobbies, mousse in the front tire, and a suspension that’s seen better days. It’s nimble and easy to stand up on the pegs on, though. The Marathon, on the other hand, feels a bit more massive just because of its oversized fuel tank. However, thanks to its recent suspension refresh, it’s also a lot more responsive on jumps.
Which would you rather have if you could? Ah, who am I kidding, it’d be great fun to have a rip around on either one.