Motorcycle Review of the 2016 Honda Africa Twin

roadtest

Dave Hatch | Host 

david-hatch-whistle

 

2016 Honda Africa Twin Motorcycle Review

The CRF1000L Africa Twin’s 998 cc parallel-twin fuel-injected engine draws heavily from Honda’s winning off-road racing bikes, including the CRF250R and CRF450R.” – Honda

For the past decade here in Canada, the adventure category has been exploding and while motorcycles like BMW’s GS and Yamaha’s Tenere have been selling like hot cakes, fans of Big Red have been scratching their helmets wondering why Honda hasn’t jumped into the fray well folks, scratch no longer. Behold the Honda Africa Twin, a highly advanced “go anywhere” machine. Powered by an all new nine hundred and ninety-eight CC engine. A surprisingly smooth block thanks to it’s four valve uni cam head and two internal balancer shafts that also run the oil and water pumps. Up close, the saddle’s narrow waste is a testimony to the engine’s narrow design. Standing back from the Africa Twin you notice the generous ground clearance and the dirt friendly 21 inch front, 18 inch rear wheel layout. And the other big news is that this Honda is available with and old school manual transmission or you can get a dual clutch automatic transmission that comes with four selectable drive modes. After attending the official Canadian press launch on Vancouver island recently, I can confirm that this is definitely the Swiss army knife of adventure motorcycles. But you don’t have to take my work for it, here’s what Traction e-Rag publisher Dallas Shannon had to say after a day of flogging the Africa Twin.

 

Dave

So Dallas, I’m guessing it’d be safe to say that this is, in the off-road riding community this is one of the most highly anticipated motorcycles to come down the pike in a long time.

 

Dallas

Absolutely. I think the off ride….off road riding community have been waiting for this motorcycle and this rendition of the motorcycle for a long, long time.

 

Dave

So, what was your first impression when you saw the bike this morning, waiting for you to ride it, what was your first impression when you looked at it.

 

Dallas

The bike itself is incredibly sexy – I mean, it’s obviously a throw back to the Africa Twin of old. The motorcycle itself, what impresses me, is the twenty-one inch front wheel, it’s an eighteen inch rear wheel and for an off road guy that means something, it means they literally have thought about this as an off-road riding machine from the ground up.

 

Dave

So let’s break down some of the elements. The engine itself, one thousand CC parallel twin, the first thing that impressed me was just how much power was there what did you think?

 

Dallas

I agree. I was intimidated by a thousand CCs because I’m coming from a world where four hundred and fifty CCs and five hundred CCs is the norm…

 

Dave

Right.

 

Dallas

But once I got adjusted to the weight of the bike and the amount of power delivery, I feel like it’s quite linear it gave me lots of confidence, using a one thousand CC bike with lots of power with the traction control backup.

 

Dave

Yeah…. I guess the question everyone is going to be asking is DCT versus no DCT. DCT versus clutch and shifter. And I think the jury for me is still out because I’ve got try the DCT later today but you’ve had a chance to jump on both…

 

Dallas

It was a true mental learning curve for me. It was very difficult, after riding a manual transmission for your entire life and off road using clutch control and throttle control to just, suddenly there’s no lever on the clutch side and there’s no lever on my left foot and I found myself constantly reaching to downshift, constantly looking for the clutch. Yeah and it was a bit complicated so once again, it would need a period of adjustment. So I felt the DCT was a bit of a lag but I don’t know if I was riding it right because there’s so many electronic inputs that I could have applied that because I just haven’t enough time that I have haven’t made peace with it.

 

Dave

Right, right…

 

Dallas

So it was very interesting ride and a lot of situations when I’m coming to the stop and I’m typically downshifting, banging it down and then looking for first to pull away… all that was taken away. It was actually quite refreshing to not to have to do that.

 

Dave

Right.

 

Dallas

So there’s definitely some pluses there in the first impression.

 

Dave

Did you like the brakes?

 

Dallas

I did enjoy the brakes. I was interested to find out that the front brake is always under ABS. I though that it would be a situation where you turn off all the time. But throughout the day I turned off ABS and I was locking the rear brake up for fun because it power slides but it was still nice to have the front wheel controlled by ABS because it really does prevent a washout situation and it protects me, once again, from myself in really rough conditions. Now we haven’t ridden this bike truly off road yet, which we’ll do tomorrow but so far so good and I’m very impressed.

 

Dave

Last impression, as you think about heading back to the hotel and maybe writing a few words about this experience today, what’s your lasting impression? What’s the one think you’re going to want to tell your readers about?

Dallas

I think that I mentioned it early in the interview; twenty-one inch front tire and 18 inch rear tire really says it all for my mind. They’re not too loose, they contain tubes and if you’re riding in an off road environment and you don’t want to get trapped, you need a twenty-one and an eighteen tubes because you’ll never get out of the bush with that. So if that’s the foundation of this motorcycle I think that everything above that they probably though of as well so it gives me a lot of hope as far as the engineer spotted it and I think it’s going to go a long way.

 

Dave

Wonderful. Thank-you very much for helping us out today. You did a great job.

 

Dallas

Thank-you.

 

Dave

Thank-you.

PROUD SUPPORTER OF

The mission of the TELUS Ride For Dad is to raise funds to save men’s lives by supporting prostate cancer research and raising public awareness of the disease. Our goal is for men to continue to be there for their families and friends for years to come. The parade of vehicles grabs the attention of the masses and the media on ride day, the research helps find hope for the future and the awareness has the potential of saving men’s lives today.

Share This

Join Our Riders Club


Join our Riders Club and we'll send you our weekly newsletter including all the excellent tips and reviews you've come to expect from Motorcycle Experience. We'll have web-exclusive Road Tests as well as web series like the brand new Tech Tips. It's also a great way to stay up to date on our TSN schedule and special events. We promise not to send you spam or sell your address - your contact info is safe with us.

You have Successfully Subscribed!