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:

ADV News1989 Honda Africa Twin Fetches $37,000 at Auction. Here’s Why

1989 Honda Africa Twin Fetches $37,000 at Auction. Here’s Why

This XRV650 is a true time capsule.

Published on 04.09.2021

How much would you pay for a pristine, low-mileage, 1989 XRV650 Honda Africa Twin? You’d be lucky to find one, of course, because these original Africa Twins, designated RD-03 models, are the direct descendants of Honda’s Dakar-winning NXR750 that dominated the desert in the late ‘80s, and as such are highly prized by collectors.

How about $37,000? That’s what this RD-03 fetched on the auction site Bring a Trailer. But before you shine up your old Africa Twin in hopes of cashing in big, understand that this particular RD-03 defines the word “pristine.” It has three kilometers (1.9 miles) on the odometer and has never been started. It includes the original owners manual and literature, tool kit, Georgia title and a spare license plate frame.

1989 Honda Africa Twin XRV650 for sale.
1989 Honda Africa Twin XRV650 for sale.
The RD-03 is equipped with a 647cc V-twin. Features include a Pro-Link rear monoshock, an air-adjustable Showa fork, dual round headlights with a mesh guard, skid plate, gold rims, and a 6.4-gallon fuel tank.

All three kilometers on the bike are reportedly from pushing it in and out of climate-controlled storage and display areas. The cylinders were lubricated and the engine turned over by hand in 2019 to make sure it was still factory fresh. It has been stored without gas in it and the brakes and electronics have been confirmed to work as new. There probably isn’t another RD-03 like it in the world.

1989 Honda Africa Twin XRV650 for sale.
All the original manufacturer stickers are still intact on the bike.
1989 Honda Africa Twin XRV650 for sale.

ADVERTISEMENT

The backstory is that the 1989 bike was originally purchased new by a collector in Japan, where it was kept in a private museum for 30 years until it was sold to a Washington State dealer in 2019. It was then acquired to put on display at a small car club and storage facility in Georgia where it was popular with Honda admirers. “It has been a huge hit with my members! It is an amazing motorcycle from every angle and as rare as it gets,” the seller said.

1989 Honda Africa Twin XRV650 for sale.
Instrumentation consists of a 180-km/h speedometer, a tachometer with an 8,800-rpm redline, a coolant temperature gauge, and a mechanical odometer showing 3 km.
1989 Honda Africa Twin XRV650 for sale.
1989 Honda Africa Twin XRV650 for sale.
The bike comes with the original owner’s manual, additional manufacturer’s literature, spare license plate frame, tool kit, period stickers, and records.

All Africa Twins are cool. But the original models are pretty special. They were built at the Honda Racing Corporation (HRC), Honda’s racing-bike arm, instead of on a factory floor like the later models. HRC also made it their mission to stick as closely as possible to the design and philosophy of the race-winning NXR750. The three-valve-per-cylinder, SOHC V-twin came from the Honda Transalp, and was bored to 647cc to make 57-horsepower. A 6.3 gallon (24 liter) saddle-style fuel tank kept weight low and centered, but necessitated the use of a fuel pump as some of the gas capacity was below the level of the carburetor. Saddle-style tanks are common these days (see KTMs 790/890 adventure bikes), but back in the day there was nothing like it on a production bike. In fact, the size and shape of the tanks caused manufacturing problems for HRC, but the extra cost was the price to be paid for mission integrity. 

1989 Honda Africa Twin XRV650 for sale.
True to race-bike fashion, the RD-03 features quick-release fasteners on the body panels.
1989 Honda Africa Twin XRV650 for sale.

True to race-bike fashion, the RD-03 had quick-release fasteners on the body panels and mesh covering over the dual headlights. The front suspension featured 43mm forks with 9.1 inches (230mm) of travel derived from Honda’s motocross bikes. A box-section aluminum swingarm and adjustable monoshock with 8.3 inches (210 mm) of travel handled suspension duties in the rear. The engine was cooled by twin aluminum radiators and also sported a full stainless-steel exhaust system. Each RD-03 also left HRC with a stout bash plate, hand guards, a competition-style dash and HRC’s tri-color racing graphics.

As a large displacement, no-compromise, street-legal replica of Honda’s Dakar-winning bike, the XRV650 was unique, and they tend to get ridden and used as designed. That inevitably means scratches, dents and many, many miles. So maybe this one is worth $37,000. It certainly was to one lucky buyer. 

Author: Bob Whitby

Bob has been riding motorcycles since age 19 and working as a journalist since he was 24, which was a long time ago, let’s put it that way. He quit for the better part of a decade to raise a family, then rediscovered adventure, dual sport and enduro riding in the early 2000s. He lives in Arkansas, America’s best-kept secret when it comes to riding destinations, and travels far and wide in search of dirt roads and trails.

Author: Bob Whitby
ADVERTISEMENT

Related Stories

Related Stories

Comments
 9

Leave a Reply

9 thoughts on “1989 Honda Africa Twin Fetches $37,000 at Auction. Here’s Why

  1. Pingback: 1989 Honda Africa Twin With Less Than Two Miles Sells for $37,000 - ADVENTURE & OVERLAND MOTORCYCLE TRAVEL

  2. It is worth exactly what someone is willing to pay. Evidently, today the number is $37K. I can’t see it, but then I buy ’em to ride.

    • Ah ah ah. I have restored my 1988 RD03 5 years ago and it now sits in my garage, in Montreal, while I ride hard my 1996 RD07a. 😉

  3. On the same site, Bring a Trailier, a 95′ BMW R100 GS Paris-Dakar edition, similar condition as the AT in the article just sold for $43K. Could it be the factories buying them to put into their vaults? Good for the collectors who bought them years ago and kept them in showroom condition all these years. Their time and dedication paid off.

  4. Imagine you were born and spent your life in the showroom waiting to move to another showroom.
    Fak this life.
    This bike should run and exploring… and not waiting for the World end.

  5. Hey! Look at that! There was once a time when Honda knew the proper placement of the turn signal and the horn.

ADVERTISEMENT

Pol Tarres and His Tenere 700 Take On 1000cc UTV In New Short Film

Trials legend and elite Hard Enduro rider Pol Tarres and his thrill-seeking c...

Get On! ADV Fest: Exploring The Gems of South Dakota's Black Hills

Imagine taking a small community with less than 7,000 residents, and dropping o...

Yamaha Tenere 700 ‘Special BDR Edition’ Up For Grabs!

Adventure motorcycling non profit, Backcountry Discovery Routes (BDR) is br...