ADV Pulse

NEWSLETTER
Get ADV Pulse delivered by email
Sign up for ADV Pulse Weekly

Newsletter

Get ADV Pulse delivered by email
Sign up for ADV Pulse Weekly

Connect With Us

Follow On Facebook:

First Ride: 10 Things to Know About the New Africa Twin

Key takeaways after testing the new Honda CRF1000L Africa Twin.

Published on 05.17.2016

5. It Can Make You a Better Off-Road Rider

Marc Marquez and Joan Barreda new Africa Twin test

The new Africa Twin is packed with features that will make off-road riders feel more confident on the trail. It all starts with a low seat height that doesn’t sacrifice suspension travel or ground clearance, and a low center of gravity that makes the bike easier to manage in technical terrain. There’s even a slipper clutch that helps avoid dangerous rear wheel lockup when downshifting too aggressively on slick surfaces.

While some adventure riders might snub their nose at any type of electronic aids that could potentially fail or add more weight to the bike, there’s no denying they can make you a better and safer rider. It takes years to master shifting and clutch control off-road, especially in a standing position. DCT removes any worries about stalling on a rough hill climb caused by improper gear selection or not slipping the clutch enough. It takes all of the extra mental processing off your plate so you can just concentrate on selecting the best line and maintaining proper balance.


ADVERTISEMENT

Unless you’ve been riding off-road for years, it’s hard to anticipate how much grip different types of surfaces provide. The Africa Twin’s traction control and ABS systems are always aware of how much grip is available and can help protect you from making mistakes in judgement. Plus traction control setting 1 lets you do controlled powerslides and carry more speed through turns, so you can up your pace off-road with confidence.

All of these different technologies can help riders of all skill levels get to more remote places and ride more technical terrain. While the Africa Twin is still a big bike, you might be surprised where it can take you.

6. It’s a Beautifully Balanced Street Bike

honda-africa-twin-test-street
The Africa Twin is enjoyable to ride at a sport bike pace in the twisties.

You can easily set a sport bike pace on the new Africa Twin. Its agile handling carries over to the street allowing it to initiate turns effortlessly. The stock Dunlop Trailmax tires are grippy on pavement and there is plenty of lean angle available before pegs begin touching down.

During our street testing, we encountered rain in the morning that gave us the perfect opportunity to test out the Africa Twin’s traction control. With traction control in level 3 (most intrusive) and DCT in standard D-Mode, the Africa Twin traveled confidently over wet pavement. The bike maintained good traction, even transitioning over wet tar snakes on the throttle in turns.

The bike’s excellent off-road suspension made big pot holes barely noticeable. Yet the long-travel suspension doesn’t pogo excessively under hard braking and acceleration.

The AT is just as comfortable being ridden at a more casual pace. Its Parallel Twin makes a soothing sound on the highway and there is more than enough power on tap for quick passes. Vibration in the bars is minimal thanks to rubber mounted risers, counter weights and bar inserts that kill off much of the vibration. Thankfully, Honda gave the Africa Twin spacious ergonomics and a good seat that ought to provide hours of comfortable highway riding.

Hours in the wind tunnel have also produced an efficient windscreen design that keeps the wind off head and chest for riders up to about 6 feet tall. However, taller riders may want to opt for Honda’s touring windscreen.

7. It’s Simpler Than You Think

Testing the rear abs off button on the new Africa Twin
Instead of developing a complicated off-road ABS system, Honda just offers a simple rear ABS off button.

While the Africa Twin is packed with clever engineering and advanced technology, in some ways Honda kept things simple. The electronics are fairly basic when compared to other big-bore adventure bikes from the top European manufacturers. There’s no ride-by-wire, no fuel maps or off-road-specific traction control. No off-road ABS either. If you don’t like the Africa Twin’s ABS, then you can only turn off the rear.

Other examples of its simple design (for the category) are the use of inner tubes instead of tubeless wire-spoke rims. There’s no fancy electronic hill hold control system either to keep the bike from rolling backward on steep inclines. Instead, DCT models have a mechanical hand brake.

The windscreen has no electronically controlled adjustment nor is there even a manual one. And the lack of ride-by-wire means that cruise control may not be an option we’ll see in the near future. Some may feel the Africa Twin lacks sophistication, but for many, a more simple approach will be a breath of fresh air.

8. There Are Few Nits to Pick

Honda CRF1000L Africa Twin Centerstand
A centerstand is not standard equipment on the Africa Twin and is only available as a factory option.

The new Africa Twin is an incredible achievement for Honda but it’s not without a few items to nit pick about. Truth be told, it took some digging to find any flaws and they didn’t reveal themselves easily. Which is even more incredible when you consider this is the first year of the model.

One of the minor annoyances about the bike is that anytime you turn the bike off, all of the electronic settings get reset. With so many electronic settings for DCT, G-Mode and HSTC, it can be a pain to reconfigure everything when you stop for a quick conversation. One trick we did learn during the test is that if you kill the engine by putting the kickstand down (activating the kickstand kill switch), it retains all your settings once you put the kickstand back up.

Off-road the bike’s handling was impressive, but it did exhibit one undesirable trait — a heavy front end feel. Honda claims the Africa Twin has a 49.1% front / 50.9% rear weight distribution but getting the front wheel to pop up over obstacles takes a little extra effort, even with traction control off.

Another minor gripe is with the windscreen. If you are a taller rider, it can easily get in your face when riding aggressively off-road. It also doesn’t block wind very well if you are taller than 6 feet. An adjustable windscreen that could be lowered for off-road riding and raised for the highway would be a great aftermarket upgrade.

While DCT is an amazing system, it’s not for everyone. The DCT bike felt slightly heavier than the standard model and a bit less nimble off-road. It didn’t impact handling in a major way but it was noticeable. The DCT model also didn’t seem to have the same direct connection to the road as the standard model. DCT also isn’t quite as smooth as an experienced clutch hand during slow-speed maneuvers.

Honda decided not to include a centerstand on the Africa Twin, which we’d say was an oversight. Whether this helped save weight on the spec sheet or keep costs down, we’re not sure. But a centerstand should come standard on any adventure bike over 500 pounds. Try heaving a big adventure bike over a fallen tree or balancing it on a rock next time you get a flat tire, and you’ll know why.

9. They’ll Be a Bit Hard to Get

New Africa Twin Test Review

While Europe has already started receiving the new Africa Twin since the beginning of this year, US shipments will start trickling in around June (although we’ve seen a few earlier arrivals). According to Honda, everything is on schedule for a June delivery but a few dealers will be delayed until August. Each dealer that put in an order is getting at least one Africa Twin, so if you were the first to pre-order at your dealer, your bike should be on its way.

The bad news is that two large earthquakes shook Japan last month knocking out the Kumamoto factory where the Africa Twin is produced. The plant isn’t expected to get back to full capacity again until August. At this time, Honda isn’t sure how this will affect orders but they expect it could delay replenishing showroom inventory later in the year.

10. It’s a Game Changer

honda africa twin review test

With the huge hype surrounding the new Africa Twin for these last two years, it was easy to become skeptical. But after our Africa Twin test, it was hard not to be left impressed. It’s an Adventure Bike that does pretty much anything you ask of it well. It can be your daily commuter, your sport bike, a two-up tourer or a dual sport. Best of all, you get this versatility and Honda’s top-notch quality all for a reasonable price.

All this should come as no surprise though. History has shown that when Honda brings its full resources to bear on a project, they are able to accomplish some pretty amazing things. And while it was a long time coming, you can tell Honda wanted to make sure every single detail was perfect before releasing the product. It’s been well worth the wait and with a base price of $12,999 for the ABS model and $13,699 for ABS/DCT trim, the new Africa Twin is going be hard to beat. Consider the game changed!

Full technical specs on the 2016 Africa Twin

Gear We Used

• Helmet: Touratech Aventuro Carbon – Companero
• Jacket: Alpinestars Durban Gore-Tex
• Pants: Alpinestars Durban Gore-Tex
• Gloves: Alpinestars Megawatt – Black
• Boots: Alpinestars Toucan Gore-Tex Boots

Photos by Kevin Wing and Ray Gauger

Author: Rob Dabney

Rob Dabney started a lifelong obsession with motorcycles at the age of 15 when he purchased his first bike – a 1982 Honda MB5. Through his 20’s and 30’s he competed in off-road desert races, including the Baja 250, 500 and 1000. Eventually, his proclivity for exploration led him to dual sport and adventure riding. Rob’s never-ending quest to discover what’s around the next bend has taken him on Adventures in Latin America, Africa, Europe, Asia, and throughout the American West. As a moto journalist, he enjoys inspiring others to seek adventure across horizons both near and far.

<< Prev Page     1 2    

Author: Rob Dabney
ADVERTISEMENT

Related Stories

Related Stories

Notify me of new posts via email

Subscribe
Notify of
guest

43 Comments
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
justinope
justinope
May 17, 2016 11:23 am

I have $15,000 in cash sitting on my desk and the keys always in my pocket waiting for the phone call that its there. The bike is amazing by all accounts but still means nothing until it actually makes it here unfortunately. I’m running insanely low on patience now.

jacob Dent
jacob Dent
July 25, 2016 11:57 am
Reply to  justinope

I have one here in my show room floor in Joliet, il.

botsaska
botsaska
May 17, 2016 11:50 am

Yes, the new AT is very compact, I own a XT660Z Tenere here in Central EU and I was suprised with ATs dimensions side by side. Seems very refined, well detailed and hardly could anyone tell it is an almost 1000 ccm ADV bike. It does 2008 vs. 2015. Personally still prefer the simplicity of a XT .)

Guy
Guy
May 17, 2016 3:39 pm

Wow I rode one and got a completely different opinion. But then I don’t have advertisers to please.

I only rode the DCT version which I found to be clunky and when in auto mode didn’t know what gear it wanted to be in.

The manual version would be better.

Also found the power delivery dull. Felt similar to my Vstrom 1000 but nowhere near as exciting as my 1190 Adventure.

But your right about the comfort and compactness. Great for shorter riders to get their feet on the ground.

Rob Dabney
Rob Dabney
May 17, 2016 5:23 pm
Reply to  Guy

Hi Guy. We have no problem pointing out flaws in this or any other bike we review, and we did dedicate a section in this article to the bike’s faults (including issues with DCT) in point #8. Like we said, DCT is not for everyone. But most testers preferred DCT or at least gave it high marks. There are several settings for DCT (S1, S2, S3, D, G) that determine shift points and smoothness. Possibly, what you experienced had to do with settings selection. As far as power, Yes the 1190 ADV has immense power and if that’s what you are used to, the Africa Twin might feel a bit dull. We love big horsepower too, but from a practical standpoint it’s more than adequate.

Paulo
Paulo
May 17, 2016 5:58 pm
Reply to  Guy

Ohhh…….now you’ve done it!!! Your really asking for it……calling it a “game changer”!! Let the hate mail begin! LOL

Well, to those of us over the establishment and not happy where the markets been going, more of everything (gadgets, weight, hp, $$$), this IS the bike we’ve been waiting for…..simple, capable, reliable and low cost of ownership. It’s almost like bridging the gap between a KLR and a GS. Fantastic job Honda, wY to go!

Garrett
Garrett
July 27, 2016 9:38 am
Reply to  Guy

I just did a 1000 mile trip on my 15 Vstom 650. Top speed 114 (on speedo) with dirt tires. Looking to get a bit closer to 130mph to stay up with my buddys on their BMW R1200GS, Ducati Multi, and KTM 1190 R. This doesn’t look like it will even come close. Anyone had this AT manual WOT?

gollom
gollom
September 26, 2016 1:17 am
Reply to  Garrett

vstrom are crap on dirt where you doing 130mph ? why not get a turbo beemer and stay on the sealed roads zzzzz bagga

Advrider
Advrider
May 17, 2016 4:40 pm

Great write up! I tested this bike and you nailed every single point. I’ve had a KTM 1190 for a while now but after riding the AT I was left so impressed I’m thinking about switching. Hopefully I can still get one this year!

ADV Pulse
ADV Pulse
May 22, 2016 11:45 am
Reply to  Advrider

Thanks Advrider!

slasher5
slasher5
June 27, 2016 2:20 pm
Reply to  ADV Pulse

800cc power, 1200cc weight. Yaaawwnn.

trackback
Anonymous
May 17, 2016 4:41 pm

[…] […]

Latebraking
Latebraking
May 17, 2016 6:49 pm

What about fuel capacity? And what is its fuel mileage / fuel range?

Rob Dabney
Rob Dabney
May 17, 2016 7:13 pm
Reply to  Latebraking

Honda’s fuel efficiency claim is 51 MPG (21.8 km/l) for the DCT model. You might expect something closer to 40 mpg for mixed driving. The tank size is 4.96 gallons (18.8-liters), so that should get you somewhere around 200 miles range.

Mark P.
Mark P.
May 17, 2016 10:21 pm

Very well rounded write up. Sounds like this will be my next bike!

ADV Pulse
ADV Pulse
May 22, 2016 12:03 pm
Reply to  Mark P.

Thanks Mark! Keep us posted!

rsser
rsser
May 20, 2016 3:08 am

Thanks. A useful review.

BTW it’s “bring to bear”.

ADV Pulse
ADV Pulse
May 22, 2016 12:06 pm
Reply to  rsser

Thanks for your feedback rsser!. Glad you found the review helpful!

woollyb
woollyb
May 22, 2016 10:07 pm

A little too fat, and a little too slow…

RobG
RobG
May 25, 2016 9:21 am

The DCT sounds interesting… BUT… for those low-speed situations where you use the clutch more than the throttle to manage momentum, how’s that going to work? Without the clutch, you’re stuck trying to use the throttle, which is going to result in jerky movements no matter how good the EFI is.

Rob Dabney
Rob Dabney
May 28, 2016 4:06 pm
Reply to  RobG

Hi Rob. DCT isn’t as smooth as a steady clutch hand but I’d say it is smooth enough for most slow-speed maneuvering. It’s pretty good.

jeffmartin254
jeffmartin254
November 9, 2016 7:54 pm
Reply to  RobG

Use the rear brake while feathering throttle while slow riding in DCT…actually works for manual tranny too.

zonked32
zonked32
May 29, 2016 9:26 pm

A 37% drop in power from my 1190R. What, no centerstand?

trackback
Top 10 Heaviest Adventure Bikes - ADV Pulse
May 31, 2016 9:07 am

[…] newest offering on this list also happens to be the lightest. Honda’s Africa Twin combines balanced street performance with surprising competence in the dirt, thanks to a low center […]

enduromstr
enduromstr
June 5, 2016 12:58 pm

The girly-man’s adventure bike!

Dan Breitbach
Dan Breitbach
June 17, 2016 11:42 am

I don’t find it surprising that when Yamaha came out with the 270 degree crank, parallel twin, everyone panned it as boring. Now that Honda has come up with this fantastic idea for an engine, it’s brilliant!

LuitheWarrior
LuitheWarrior
June 27, 2016 5:19 pm

I just love my new Africa Twin DCT. Honda did a great job. It might not have the power of the 1190 but to for a long offroad ride and you will feel the difference. Beside, with the AT you balls will stay nice and cold, not as on the 1190… I can say I am an experience enduro rider (ISDE silver medal) and since I got my AT my R1200 GS LC has been parked… A new set of footpegs, crash bars and a skideplate is all it needs…

seventyonesays
seventyonesays
June 28, 2016 10:54 pm
Reply to  LuitheWarrior

On the Honda payroll?

Peter Harris
Peter Harris
October 14, 2016 2:44 pm
Reply to  seventyonesays

KTM paying you?

Kevin Wilkinson
Kevin Wilkinson
August 6, 2016 6:50 am

“In auto-mode, there were only a few times when DCT selected a gear that wasn’t to our liking,”

I own a 2014 NC700XD. I’ve learned that if you don’t want the DCT in Auto mode to up-shift just tap the AT/MT switch with your right forefinger to keep it in whatever gear the bike is in at the moment. The NCXD will still downshift in Manual mode. Tap the switch again to return to whatever level of Auto the bike was in. Mid corner auto-shifts won’t upset the bike much. Maximum flexibility at any time while under way. The only thing the DCT won’t do is switch to Neutral while the bike is moving.

faisal
faisal
October 28, 2016 1:54 am

its better than any other adv out there, i dont need big power hp, 90++ is fast enough for me, the most important, the comfort and engine & parts that can withstand years of overland. i cant wait!

trackback
Riding the Time Machine – ADVENTURE RIDE GUIDE
July 3, 2017 6:04 pm

[…] Or see what ADV Pulse says about their test of the CRF1000L. […]

Frosty
Frosty
September 1, 2017 11:14 pm

The price is right and I spend more time off road than on. This is the one for me.

trackback
Is it Possible to get the Front Wheel Off the Ground on a DCT AT? - Honda CRF1000L Africa Twin Forum
May 2, 2018 9:30 pm

[…] (Sorry, I have no idea how to actually do it. I've never done a wheelie in 24 years of riding.) https://www.advpulse.com/adv-bikes/ho…ica-twin-test/ I seek to cure what's deep inside, frightened of this thing that I've become […]

Jarrett
Jarrett
May 4, 2018 4:33 am

I’m curious how you got your front tire off the ground with the DCT? Certain settings?

Rob Dabney
Rob Dabney
May 4, 2018 2:40 pm
Reply to  Jarrett

We do it all the time Jarrett. You need to turn off Traction Control though. It stops it from wheelieing. Put it in sport mode and try rolling about 5 mph, then crack the throttle open with a little bounce and tug on the bars. It will come up high. If you get it high enough, it will shift super smoothly into 2nd gear with the wheel still up in the air.

trackback
5 Reasons Why DCT on the Africa Twin Is An Asset Off-Road - ADV Pulse
June 11, 2018 9:02 am

[…] transmission and DCT. We aren’t going to get into the nitty gritty mechanics of how DCT works (click here if you want to know more) in this story. We are focusing on how the DCT Africa Twin can actually […]

Geoff Cann
Geoff Cann
July 15, 2018 10:14 pm

I am totally impressed with mine 🙂

Al
Al
March 3, 2019 10:17 am

I think center stands are unnecessary and foolish. It’s a silly bitch. And a monopod Jack (such as Eagle Mikes) is all you need for flats.

BigAl
BigAl
April 10, 2019 8:23 am

Very late to the party here, but how the hell did you guys get the DCT to wheelie?
I have a lot of off road experience. dirt bikes and a KLR, and I can wheelie them all, but for the life of me I can’t get the AT’s front end up??

Adventure Junkie
Adventure Junkie
January 21, 2020 10:44 pm
Reply to  BigAl

Sport mode on, traction control off.. what I do is 10mph hit the front break and preload the front end.. and nail it, with a little front end pull up. Love my AT DCT.

trackback
The Honda Africa Twin Helped Me Conquer My Fear Of Tall Bikes – TechKee
August 27, 2019 12:00 pm

[…] seat, that when in the low setting, rises at 33.5 inches, and in the tall setting, sits at 34.3 inches. For comparison, the Triumph Tiger 800 XCx seat comes in at 33.07 inches and 33.85 inches, and the […]

Richard Hadfield
Richard Hadfield
August 16, 2020 12:00 am

Hi just got a new to me dct 2017 and live this thing. So much fun to ride and the dct is so smooth. Can’t wait to deck this thing out some more. I seriously love Honda for building this bike.

ADVERTISEMENT

Watch: 2024 Honda XL750 Transalp Tested

The Transalp returns to the Honda lineup after a three-decades-long absence i...

Ricky Carmichael's Epic Adventure Out West On Triumph Tiger 1200s

Ricky Carmichael might be the winningest motocross racer of all time, but h...

Field Tested: Mosko Moto ‘Nomax’ V3.0 Hydration Tank Bag

When devising a solution to any given problem, there are two common choices; to...