The Africa Twin nameplate dates back to the late 1980s, and originally belonged to Honda’s Dakar winning XRV650 rally racer. The XRV650 was replaced by the XRV750 in 1990, which went on to become a legend over its 13-year production run. Now, Honda has given the world a brand new Africa Twin, the CRF1000L. That bike is now available in India, so time to find out what it’s like to ride.
The Africa Twin takes design cues from Honda’s current Dakar competition bike, the CRF 450 Rally. The result is a minimal, yet elegant machine where form follows function. Its sleek, twin-LED headlamps lend the face a striking look, while the relatively small 18.8-litre tank and the long two-piece seat further contributes to the Africa Twin’s lean form. The rear passenger gets a large, flat perch and a chunky grab rail which can also support an accessory top-box. The rider seat uses a clever height adjustment feature that allows the rider to easily switch the saddle-height between 820mm and 840mm.
Unlike some big adventure touring bikes, the Africa Twin isn’t intimidating from the saddle. The sleek look manifests itself in a slimmer feel and the wide bars provide a relaxed riding position. Combine that with the friendly seat height and you have a very approachable tourer. Behind the windscreen lies a tall and legible instrument screen, akin to Dakar bikes. Switchgear on the left side allows control of the various modes in the screen as well as the three-stage traction control. There’s also a pair of paddle shifters on the left and a rocker switch on the right side marked ‘N, D and S’. And therein lays the uniqueness of this motorcycle.
Two points about the Africa stand out the most. One, the bike is locally assembled and, two, it is available in India only with Honda’s dual-clutch automatic transmission or DCT. This gearbox can change gears automatically in D mode or the rider can manually shift by using the paddle shifters on the left side. A three-stage Sport mode offers varying levels of gear shift patterns too.
The new and rather compact 999.11cc parallel-twin engine has been developed for this bike. Its tight dimensions have allowed for the low seat height as well as an impressive ground clearance of 250mm.
It makes 87hp and 91.9Nm of torque, or pulling power, and is enjoyably smooth. Power delivery is thoroughly linear and performance is strong, but not quite breathtaking due to the bike’s hefty weight.