New Dirt Focused Honda Adventure Bike for 2015?
Honda's Africa Twin successor is coming and it may be on its way to the US!
Popular German motorcycle magazine Motorrad (circulation of 135,000) is reporting in their April cover story that Honda plans to build a new Africa Twin that could revolutionize the Adventure Touring market. This new model isn’t another bloated 1200cc GS wannabe or adventure styled street bike, but a proper Adventure Bike with a real dirt focus.
Vito Cicchetti, General Manager of Honda Italy confirmed last year a new Africa Twin has been in the works and is coming soon. Now Motorrad is providing some details about potential specifications and where the new Africa Twin might fit in the market.
Motorrad reports that Honda would like to fill a hole in the market between the large 1200cc touring focused Adventure Bikes and dirt focused 650cc Dual Sport bikes. Currently, this segment has a real lack of variety made even worse with the discontinuation of the KTM 990 Adventure and Honda Transalp 700 in recent years. Honda’s Crossrunner 800, NC700X and CB500X are little more than budget street bikes dressed up in adventure clothing, with no intentions for off-road use. Clearly, Honda is in need of a proper Adventure Bike and entering the less-competitive middle-weight market would be a smart place to start.
Motorrad’s reported specs for this new Africa Twin (model code CRF1000) describe an Adventure Bike inspired by Honda’s 450cc Dakar Rally Production Racer. Styling and technology from the Rally bike would form the basis for the new Africa Twin. After Honda’s return to the Dakar Rally in 2013 from a 23 year absence (winning 5 titles during the 1980’s), it would make sense that they would want to capitalize on their new racing heritage.
It’s a story with a familiar ring. The original XRV750 Africa Twin from the late eighties was based on the NXR-750 Paris-Dakar Rally bike. It was a big Adventure Bike (a bit on the heavy side) that you could actually take off-road. It offered smooth V-Twin power and the dependability of a Honda for long-distance travel. The legendary Africa Twin was discontinued in 2003, but remains a popular choice for Adventure Riders. Unfortunately, they never imported the Africa Twin to the US or Canada.
Potential specs reported by Motorrad describe a new Africa Twin with a 1000cc Parallel-Twin instead of a V-Twin (apparently for cost saving purposes). The engine output would be around 100 hp with a dry weight of 397 lb (180 kg) and price tag of roughly $13,800 US. The bike would ride on a 21″ front wheel and 18″ rear, with 9.1 inches (230 mm) of suspension travel.
The design is described as more off-road focused than the KTM 1190 R, BMW F800GS or XTZ660 Tenere, but not quite as dirt oriented as the KTM 690 Enduro R. It’s expected to use a special off-road ABS like the one found on the Dakar Rally production racer as well.
Competitors at a Glance
|Adventure Bike Models||Dry Weight|
|Fr./Rr. Susp. Travel|
|2003 Honda Africa Twin XRV750||456||6.1||8.7/8.4||61||N/A|
|2013 KTM 990 Adventure R||438||5.3||9.7/9.7||113||$14,999|
|2014 BMW F800GS||421||4.2||9.1/8.5||85||$12,100|
|2015 Honda Africa Twin CRF1000L||397||5.3||9.1/8.7||100||$13,800|
|2014 BMW Sertão G650GS||391||4.7||8.3/8.3||50||$8,650|
It appears that Honda’s formula for success is to build a reliable, fairly light-weight, low-maintenance, attractive Adventure Bike with serious off-road intentions and good comfort on the highway. It’s the holy grail of Adventure Bikes that has never quite been attained by any manufacturer. While some bikes have come close, there always seems to be something missing, something not quite there, some flaw that keeps the bike from achieving the complete package. With this new Africa Twin, it seems possible that Honda could draw significant market share from its competitors and become a runaway sales success.
These claims of liter-bike power with the weight of a 650cc Adventure Bike all sound a bit too good to be true though. But who better to revolutionize a market than Honda? They’ve done it before with the 1992 CBR900RR. After years of careful planning, they produced a sport bike with the weight of a 600cc and liter-class power. Could they do the same thing again with Adventure Bikes?
There is no way to know for sure if this is the bike Honda will produce. But we do know that a new Africa Twin will be released soon and that Honda has registered the “Africa Twin” trademark with the US Trademark Office, evidence that it could be coming to US shores this time around. Motorrad expects to see the new Africa Twin debut at either the INTERMOT or EICMA show later this year, and a launch as a 2015 model.
Let’s keep our fingers crossed and hope that this new Honda turns out to be anything close to these incredible specs. Most Adventure Riders would be happy with a 700-800cc engine and a sub-400 pound dry weight. If they are able to achieve their weight target with a 1000cc, even better.