Johannesburg - Honda’s much-anticipated new CRF1000L Africa Twin has reached South African showrooms and prices have been confirmed, ranging from 160 to 190 grand.
Honda’s big adventure bike has been brought back to life after a 13-year hiatus to again give the Japanese firm a direct rival to dual-purpose machines from the likes of BMW, KTM and Triumph.
The previous Africa Twin was a rugged adventure bike with long-travel suspension that forged its reputation on the Dakar Rally. The original XRV650 Africa Twin, which debuted in 1988 based on the NXR-750 which won the Paris-Dakar Rally four times in the late eighties, was a go-anywhere machine that took no prisoners off-road. Its successor, the more powerful XRV750, continued that legacy until it was discontinued in 2003 and later replaced by the more road-based Honda XL700V Transalp.
The 2016 Africa Twin remains true to all the attributes and abilities of its predecessors, while adding the benefits of everything Honda has learnt on and off-road over the past decade, including the manufacturer’s return to the Dakar Rally in 2013.
In a first for the category, the Africa Twin offers the option of an automatic dual-clutch transmission for clutch-free gearshifts. The system’s already employed in Honda road bikes such as the VFR1200 and NC750, but is specifically adapted for off-road use in the Africa Twin.
Honda’s aim with its adventure bike was to offer an optimal blend of off-road performance, touring comfort and agility. The Africa Twin’s dirt-duelling ability is ensured by long-travel suspension and a generous 250mm ground clearance, thanks to a large 21 inch front wheel and dry sump lubrication (which makes for a shorter engine).
The rear wheel is an 18 incher and both wheels are spoked to suit rugged offroad riding.
The 45mm Showa inverted forks are fully adjustable and feature dual radial-mount Nissin four-piston brake calipers on 310mm ‘wave’ style floating discs. The Showa rear shock has hydraulic spring preload adjustment.
The 998cc parallel-twin engine has outputs of 70kW and 98Nm, which isn’t among the most powerful in class but Honda says it’s been designed to deliver a linear power curve with accessible bottom and mid-range drive.
Even though the engine is 25 percent larger in capacity and produces around 50 percent more power than the previous Africa Twin, the new bike is marginally lighter, with the standard model weighing in at 228kg wet.
The South African model line-up starts with a basic derivative selling for R159 990, but spending ten grand more gets you ABS brakes and Honda Selectable Torque Control, which is Honda-speak for traction control. This offers four rider-selectable levels that allow increasing amounts of rear-wheel spin. The rear ABS can also be switched off, giving riders the freedom to fully lock up the back wheel in dirt riding.
The DCT version has a manual mode that allows the rider to operate gear shifts through triggers on the left handlebar, and two automatic modes. D mode offers the best balance of fuel economy and comfort cruising whilst S mode has been revised to give extra levels of sports performance, with three different shift patterns to choose from.
The six-speed manual version has a slipper clutch to mitigate the effects of engine braking under hard deceleration.
A full range of Honda accessories will be available for the Africa Twin including top box, panniers, screens, wind deflectors, heated grips, 12V socket, fog lamp including cowl bar, and an alarm system, among others.
The seat height is adjustable from the standard 870mm down to 850mm, and fuel capacity is 18.8 litres, which should give a range of more than 400km.
Minimal bodywork provides protection for the rider without bulk, and lighting is full LED.
The dashboard consists of an LCD meter which is vertically stacked like a rally-race bike, allowing information to be rapidly assessed with little eye movement left or right. The instrumentation includes a clock, gear position indicator, ambient temperature gauge, and fuel gauge.
Africa Twin base model (no traction control or ABS) - R159 990
Africa Twin with traction control and ABS - R169 990
Africa Twin DCT with traction control and ABS - R189 990
Prices include a two-year unlimited mileage warranty and one-year roadside assistance.
Honda CRF1000L Africa Twin
Engine: 998cc liquid-cooled four-stroke parallel twin.
Bore x stroke: 92 x 675.1mm
Valvegear: Unicam SOHC with four overhead valves per cylinder.
Power: 70kW at 7500rpm.
Torque: 98Nm at 6000rpm.
Induction: PGM-FI digital electronic fuel-injection throttle body.
Ignition: Digital electronic with dual spark plugs.
Clutch: Cable-operated multiplate wet clutch.
Transmission: Six-speed constant-mesh gearbox with final drive by chain.
Front Suspension: Showa inverted cartridge forks adjustable for preload, compression and rebound damping.
Rear Suspension: Showa monoshock adjustable for preload, compression and rebound damping.
Front brakes: Dual 310mm petal discs with Nissin four-piston radial-mount monobloc callipers and two-channel Bosch ABS.
Rear brake: 265mm petal disc with Nissin twin-pot opposed-piston calliper and two-channel Bosch ABS.
Front tyre: 90/90 - 21 tube type.
Rear tyre: 150/70 - 18 tube type.
Seat height: 850/870mm.
Kerb weight: 232kg.
Fuel tank: 18.8 litres.