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ADV BikesRumors of Smaller 850cc Honda Africa Twin Spring Out of Japan

Rumors of Smaller 850cc Honda Africa Twin Spring Out of Japan

 Is a Honda CRF850L Africa Twin On The Way?

Published on 06.05.2019

Honda 850cc Africa Twin CRF850L Rumored

For the last four model years, Honda’s CRF1000L Africa Twin has held an interesting position in the burgeoning adventure bike marketplace. Just enough bike to play in the high-buck, large displacement game yet, approachable enough to be an option for those looking for more of a middleweight mount – something along the lines of BMW’s F850GS, Triumph’s Tiger 800. Although, it’s not light and nimble enough to compete with the new breed of middle-weight players like KTM’s 790 Adventure R and the so-close-yet-so-far-from-the-U.S.-market Yamaha Ténéré 700.

Speculation regarding upcoming Africa Twin offerings has so far been trained on a probable bump in displacement, rendering a presumably modest increase in performance (and cost), most likely an effort to compensate for stringent emissions requirements on the horizon for the EU. Yes, pretty boring stuff, especially when we care even more that an upgraded Africa Twin comes with seemingly obvious e-goodies like cruise control and real-world adventure options like tubeless spoked rims than a few extra digits on the dyno.


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But then over the weekend tongues around the globe set to wagging over a story that broke on the Japanese Motorcycle Magazine Autoby featuring renderings of an all-new 850cc Africa Twin. The smaller machine is proclaimed to be in the pipeline for release as a 2021 model and expected to stick to a parallel twin engine. Yes, yes, yes! Wouldn’t we all like to see an all-new edition — and especially a true ADV middleweight option — from Honda?

2021 Honda 850cc Africa Twin CRF850L

Because by now we all know displacement does not make the adventure. While some riders want more power, zero riders crave a heavier bike. What’s always more important than output is how we feel on the bike, especially as we explore new skills and venture further from the main roads. However, with bikes like KTM’s new 790 Adventure R entering the middleweight arena boasting comparable engine output and better off-road performance than the current Africa Twin, and for just about the same dough, Honda has its work cut out.

Autoby has a reputation for getting these Honda predictions right, so in the spirit of more choices are better, let’s all light a mental candle that this 850cc Africa Twin rendering materializes into a real bike in the next year or two. Better yet, that it’s in the same mold as the new-gen middleweights and comes to the market with the reliability we know Honda is capable of, and the affordable pricing that made the company one of the world’s most highly-regarded brands.

Author: Jamie Elvidge

Jamie has been a motorcycle journalist for more than 30 years, testing the entire range of bikes for the major print magazines and specializing in adventure-travel related stories. To date she’s written and supplied photography for articles describing what it’s like to ride in all 50 states and 43 foreign countries, receiving two Lowell Thomas Society of American Travel Writer’s Awards along the way. Her most-challenging adventure yet has been riding in the 2018 GS Trophy in Mongolia as Team AusAmerica’s embedded journalist.

Author: Jamie Elvidge
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10 thoughts on “Rumors of Smaller 850cc Honda Africa Twin Spring Out of Japan

  1. Don’t get me wrong here Jamie – love your writeup flow but three words grabbed my atttention at the beginning and end. First one being “ Burgeoning”, which I had to use Google Dictionaries just to see at what extend you were going with that statement and the last words being “affordable pricing”.
    That said, it all depends on where Honda knows where your hanging your helmet and how much money you stuff into your next bike purchase mattress – one where the misses can’t find it lol !
    Last fall I was in Melbourne, during the National Football Final, I happen to stroll into one of the main stream bike shops and do some tire kicking. Both models of the AT kicked the ars feathers off a $20K bill less tax, freight, etc. At the time the Aussie $$$ was a few cents less than par with the Canadian Loonie. That said, the same two units in Canada, or BC to be more precise, where going out the door at 4K less. Granted the Melbourne area economy with a population of 5Mil plus is not too shabby.
    Overall, Honda may build a model to what riders want but at the end of the day it’s all about show me the money and what where who the market will bear.
    Similar with Yamaha and their teasing method on marketing the 700 Tenere !

    • Tap me anytime for your word of the day! And fingers crossed Japanese manufacturers like Honda can deliver future ADV bikes with pricing low enough to offset some of the challenge riders face re: currency and geography. I live between Canada and California so can totally relate to your observations regarding disparity.

      • Re: Disparity – “There is a crack in everything – that’s how the light gets in” Leonard Cohen
        Yep will do ! Enjoy the benefit of fresh Cali Avocado while I mourn over a soft squashy $1.99 ea. one up here lol

  2. I’m more interested in weight than I am displacement. 250 dualsports have lousy seats for long pavement travel and are too tall for some people, and are a bit too slow for superslab especially with all the gear one would carry for extended travel. If the KTM 390 Adventure shows up with a spoked-wheel option in the US it might just be enough – if they keep the weight down to what a DR650 weighs or lower. Something 650 or less with decent seat heights and designs, under 400 pounds, six speeds, and good fuel economy – that’s what I want. There’s already too many bloatocycles and their only slightly lighter cousins in the mareketplace!

    • Looks like one of my inevitable typos made it into that post above ; }

      Anyway, I have to laugh about the “entry level” and “beginner bike” descriptions that marketing departments, journos and macho forumites alike will cue up in the wake of any new adventure machine that isn’t at least as powerful and fuel-devouring as the recent over-gadgetized, expensive entries to the field. It seems like my WR250R has turned my head around on what is can be practical and pleasurable.

  3. Honda should give serious thought to a modern redux of the XR60R; maybe a 600-650 twin with XR style combustion chambers & bumpy cams, FI, & a 6 speed. Stuff it into a chassis similar to the XR-R; shorten it enough to get the seat height under 34-35 inches but still high enough to chew up high speed off road chunk. Call it the Baja Twin, & make it for that crowd with 60-65hp, 4-5 gallons of fuel & a dry weight of 350-365#. Honda, if anyone can pull that off. KTM leaned heavily upon Quinn Cody & Chris Birch for input on the 790, so why not call on Johnny Campbell & company to develop a new XR-R? Are you listening, Big Red?

  4. For choice alone, yes make it. However, to me the “Africa Twin” is a stand alone bike. Making another one seems silly……three different variants…..noooooo! Sure,I can see the standard 1000L model and a blingie ATAS with all the bells and whistles but this new 850 or whatever it will be……don’t call it an AT……the Dominator or some other new name but AT…….nope…..no way…..unlessss…….it’s going to replace the 1000L model and be a new badass ADV machine to bridge the gap?! That might be better.

    As for bridging the gap with the 790 or T7…….those bikes aren’t burning any new gaps, they’re still way too heavy to make someone who really does this stuff say…..yeah, I’m going to take this thing on that single track 450cc dirt bike trail (when they have no real Chris Birch skills). You might do it once and hopefully not scare yourself so bad you stop riding off road all together. These big bikes, KLR all the way up to the KTM 1290R/BMW1250GSA are all the same. The average guy can’t do or tell much of the difference aside from creature comforts and jabber on what the spec sheet reads.

    • Honda will miss the Mark if they launch this mid size at the 850cc capacity. It shouldn’t be bigger than the old 750. I own a CRF1000LD with DCT, but I would also love a mid size AT750 for everyday