HONDA CRF1000L AFRICA TWIN (2015-on) Review

Published: 22 February 2016

The adventure bike the world has been waiting for

HONDA CRF1000L AFRICA TWIN  (2015-on)

The adventure bike the world has been waiting for

Overall Rating 5 out of 5

The Africa Twin inspires confidence on the dirt immediately, regardless of your ability or off-road experience. Its physical size makes it a breath of fresh air in the current 1200+cc dominated adventure bike class; the parallel-twin motor making it both low and narrow. This, combined with the fuel tank ergonomics, means that when standing up the rider is able to get their weight forward over the front wheel while putting pressure through the footpegs to aid steering and grip – a vital asset when covering rough terrain. 

The new Africa Twin boasts true globe-trotting credentials both on and off-road. It feels lightweight and is seriously frugal. This is one of the most impressive true adventure bikes you can buy, and a stunning return for the prestigious Africa Twin name.

Ride Quality & Brakes 4 out of 5

The impeccable fuelling and throttle connection makes for assured rapid progress, but the 94bhp motor fails to truly inspire. It lacks the bottom and mid range engagement of the 125bhp BMW GS boxer twin, and doesn’t have anything close to the top end rush from KTM’s ballistic 150bhp 1190 Adventure. But that is not to say it’s a slow bike. It has a decent torque figure of 68.6ftlb, and through the confidence-inspiring throttle-to-rear tyre connection it means that it’s easy to access every bit of the power on offer. It just doesn’t deliver it in an overly exciting way.

On the road the bike is seriously comfortable, the seat is spacious as is the relation to the foot pegs, meaning that there is plenty of room for 6ft plus riders. Yet the bike itself has an impressively low seat height meaning that at 5ft 10in tall I can put both feet flat on the ground at a standstill – a first for me on a big-capacity adventure bike. This was part of Honda’s design brief to make the bike as manageable as possible and has been achieved through integrating the oil tank and pump within the bottom of the crank case, which in turn reduces the overall height of the engine and resulting seat height. The seat itself is also particularly narrow where it meets the fuel tank, which means as a rider your legs aren’t splayed wide like they are on a BMW GS, which is significant for shorter riders. But move back on the seat and it gets wider, which is key to the high levels of rider comfort on the move. The handlebar position feels neutral yet purposeful and immediately gives great leverage, control and inspires a high level of confidence.

The standard screen is relatively small, but produces significantly better wind protection than its appearance suggests. High-speed cruising provokes limited buffeting and an acceptable amount of wind noise, even when wearing a peaked adventure helmet.

Engine 4 out of 5

While its smooth, linear power doesn’t necessarily excite on-road, off-road it’s close to perfect. The brilliant fuelling gifts you predictable throttle control, immediately generating the confidence to switch off the impressive three-stage traction control (Honda Selectable Torque Control). Using level one the bike spins up and it will hold a slide, but will ultimately intervene to keep the rear wheel in check so that you don’t have to. Level two is more intrusive, while level three constantly interrupts the power in loose conditions, but still finds any available grip and keeps you moving. I experimented by stopping on a loose, rocky incline then restarting with the TC in level three and, while progress wasn’t fast, it reached the top of the hill with minimal fuss.

Honda have worked hard on mass centralisation and a low centre of gravity through their engine architecture and positioning of heavy components. This in turn gives the bike impressive balance, especially at low speed where full-lock turns on or off the dirt were easily achieved – feet up.

Build Quality & Reliability 5 out of 5

It's well put together, with rugged simplicity being the key focus of the design brief.

Insurance, running costs & value 4 out of 5

Equipment 5 out of 5

The 3-stage traction control is not only effective, but it’s simple to use. The Africa Twin has a dedicated toggle lever just above the passing light on the left-hand bar that changes the setting. Off-road-specific ABS, which allows the rear to lock, is also activated by a simple push button on the dash.

The all-digital dash displays speed and revs clearly in the top section with a lower section showing gear position, traction control, temperature, fuel gauge, trip meters and mpg. On either side of the dash are warning lights to indicate if the traction control has been activated.

Load of accessories are available  including luggage, crash protection, heated grips, taller screen, fog lights, 12v socket and centrestand. There’s also a complete range of dedicated Africa Twin clothing which includes an Arai helmet, Spidi jacket, trousers and gloves plus Alpinestars boots.

Owners' Reviews

13 owners have reviewed their HONDA CRF1000L AFRICA TWIN (2015-on) and rated it in a number of areas. Read what they have to say and what they like and dislike about the bike below.

Review your HONDA CRF1000L AFRICA TWIN (2015-on)
Summary of Owners' Reviews
Overall Rating 4.1 out of 5
Ride Quality & Brakes 4 out of 5
Engine 4.5 out of 5
Build Quality & Reliability 4.2 out of 5
Value & Running Costs 4.5 out of 5
Equipment 4.6 out of 5
3 out of 5

Good for many, bad for others

25 August 2017 by Craig

Many great qualities for those in the outback, desert and big country type of places. Once the hopeless rear shock is sorted its fine. If you are a solo rider you will get away with it but not if you want a pillion and luggage. Not really suited as a... Read more tourer on fast European roads but in fairness that was not its design brief.I own this bike but would not recommend it to anyone who mainly rides on the road, it is too compromised as a road bike. If it is just for a blast out on a day OK too as the engine is a hoot. Many will find it underpowered though which adds to its poor touring performance. Spokes rotting nicely though, my 7 year old £350 pushbike has aluminium spokes, seen more rain than the Africa Twin and they are spotless, that is a really poor show. Gearbox like a tractor, clunky from new, that seems to be real hit and miss with owners, some are reported as being like butter.

Ride Quality & Brakes
3 out of 5
2 for suspension, 5 for brakes so I give it a 3.
Engine
5 out of 5
It is a hoot, I give it 5 for that. Underpowered as a fast tarmac tourer though it can't be knocked for that, it is nolt sold as a road tourer.
Build Quality & Reliability
3 out of 5
Gets 3 as is has never left me stranded. Spokes rotting, starting can occasionally be problematic.
Value & Running Costs
4 out of 5
12 months Service (no valve adjustment or air filter). MPG reasonable, I expect the running costs to be reasonably low.
Equipment
4 out of 5
My 2016 has no ABS, Traction, Cruise or much else but I bought it like that in the full knowledge of the spec so I can't knock that. Not putting a single 12v socket on was a bit miserable though and it is labour intensive for a dealer or yourself to fit. That is Honda trying to ingratiate themselves with dealers for lucrative "vale-add" services.
Buying experience

Dealer - fine

4 out of 5

Almost the 'perfect bike', for me.

20 November 2016 by jonathan smith

Brilliant solo bike on or off road let down by switches spokes and undersprung springs, particularly the rear shock absorber. Read more

Ride Quality & Brakes
5 out of 5
Excellent ride in all conditions. The things that let this bike down are cost cutting issues which are a false economy and ruin the experience slightly. They don't alter the riding experience which is brilliant.
Engine
5 out of 5
Tractable, frugal engine with plenty of power on tap when riding solo. Not fair to judge on two up, fully loaded touring as it's not really built to excel in that department as standard.
Build Quality & Reliability
4 out of 5
'Set' button on left switch stuck after 200 miles, replaced under warranty. Shiny spokes turned black after 500 miles, waited 6 months for a Honda fix but replaced last month with like for like. Despite been treated with ACF50 new spokes appear to be turning too. Starting problem due to kill/start switch but fixed by a strip down and clean but I'm sure soon the switch will need replacing.
Value & Running Costs
5 out of 5
-
Equipment
5 out of 5
OEM tyres are terrible. Replaced with Continental TrailAttack which transform the road handling.
Buying experience

Hunts in Manchester supplied the bike and have been excellent in dealing with all issues. Honda UK not so good, unfortunately!

4 out of 5

Happy with my AT

18 November 2016 by CharlieW

I've put over 10,000 miles on it in 6 months. A trip to NE Canada, doing the Trans-Labrador highway, accounted for 6,500 of these. On that trip I went with three friends; one on a BMW R1200GS, one on a BMW F800GS, and one on a Suzuki V-Strom 1000. I... Read more have to say that the AT good on-road, but hands down the best bike on of the four off-road. I gave it a 4 because I agree that the rear suspension could be better and the availability of after market farkles is still weak. Other than that, the bike's comfort, reliability, value, power, and ease of use were all top notch. I have not had a minutes worth of problems with the bike and no rusty spokes.

Ride Quality & Brakes
4 out of 5
The ride is comfortable enough. I need to add engine bars and highway pegs to for long trips. The front dives a bit under hard braking, but it really stops well.
Engine
5 out of 5
I traded bikes for half a day with my buddy with the BMW1200. He couldn't get over the power of my little Honda. Go figure. The power band is long, steady, and strong. I'm really impressed with the motor.
Build Quality & Reliability
5 out of 5
Starts every time
Value & Running Costs
5 out of 5
It's around $200 every 4,000 miles for dealer service
Equipment
5 out of 5
The bike is comfortable to ride. Narrow at the waist and easy to stand up. I got the 12V accessory jack, the centre stand, the top box (with mounting bracket), and the tall windshield from Honda. I've also added side racks, Adventure Spec soft bags, bark busters, a throttle lock, and a Airhawk seat cushion. It works for me.
Buying experience

Good experience. Although I ended up purchasing a couple of towns over from where I live.

3 out of 5

big disappointment

29 September 2016 by Andrew

5 stars for build quality??? You gotta be kidding....rusty spokes, weak paint, falling apart panniers, sticky buttons, cold start problems, clutch cable popping out, soft suspension, stalling etc etc Read more

Ride Quality & Brakes
3 out of 5
-
Engine
3 out of 5
-
Build Quality & Reliability
2 out of 5
-
Value & Running Costs
3 out of 5
-
Equipment
3 out of 5
-
4 out of 5

Poor range lets the bike down - otherwise its a winner

02 September 2016 by Gary Smith

Poor range and some corrosion issues let this bike down. Read more

Ride Quality & Brakes
5 out of 5
-
Engine
5 out of 5
-
Build Quality & Reliability
4 out of 5
Reliability is excellent - its is a Honda!. Poor finish on some components (wheels, engine bars and bolts and clips all replaced under warrantee)
Value & Running Costs
5 out of 5
£160 for 8000 mile service on the DCT (2 oil filters)
Equipment
5 out of 5
After markets panniers and frame protectors are better value than the OEM Honda equipment
Buying experience

+ve - Thunder Road in South Wales

2 out of 5

avoid this motorcycle

20 August 2016 by unhappy owner

People who recommend this bike are nuts its rubbish. I have had handling problems from day one, I toured Spain it was rubbish loaded it cant quite do it fuel eco is ok though, overall don't get this bike if you intend to tour, it won't do it ! Read more

Ride Quality & Brakes
1 out of 5
Don't put luggage on the thing! Don't carry a pillion it will be ok ish, otherwise the handling goes to pot and a 5 bar gate with a hinge in the middle would be a better ride
Engine
1 out of 5
very under powered for a 1000cc twin its more like a 650 v strom
Build Quality & Reliability
3 out of 5
it cuts out and stalls a lot Honda says there is nothing wrong!
Value & Running Costs
3 out of 5
-
Equipment
4 out of 5
if you can work out how to read the dash info its ok, Honda panniers look good but leak water when it rains but very expensive rubbish
Buying experience

Bought from Lings Honda if you are in Suffolk or Norfolk you know how rubbish they are!!!!!!!

4 out of 5

Brilliant Africa Twin with slightly flawed suspension

16 August 2016 by Terry

Superb all rounder, bags of character, great value for money with flawed rear suspension. Read more

Ride Quality & Brakes
2 out of 5
Brakes five star, rear suspension 2 star, massively undersprung if you loads this bike up pillion and gear. Average weight solo rider no problem, heavy load adventure touring or pillion useless. My one and only real gripe with this bike. This bikes handling does not inspire confidence scratching around twisty b-roads. You have to know that and drive accordingly, slow into corner, power out.
Engine
5 out of 5
just magic, enough power, had bikes with 60 more BHP than this and didn't enjoy them as much, "less is more".
Build Quality & Reliability
5 out of 5
Everything seems high quality and well put together. Many owners complaining of spokes tarnishing, mine are fine. I expect reliability to be superb given the lack of electronic gizmos etc.
Value & Running Costs
5 out of 5
A lot of bike for the price, cant fault that. Buy it now, Brexit will add another £1500 to the asking price, just watch!
Equipment
5 out of 5
I have the base model so there is pretty much no equipment, e.g. no USB chargers, power sockets etc. I still give it 5 stars though because of the price, it reflects that. I can add those myself. I am 6ft, regular front screen is perfect at speed. I also have the Honda panniers, I like them a lot, simple fitting and use the ignition key to lock.
Buying experience

Dealer purchased, no issues, got £350 store credit for clothing.

4 out of 5

This has got to bike of the year!!!!!!

15 August 2016 by LRB

Only done 1000 miles but i love it, very rider friendy,smooth, standard screen is perfect for me been 5.7 tall 2 height seat postion is great but a bit hard to firgure out. Down side Mr HONDA no centre stand and charging point as... Read more standard.........

Ride Quality & Brakes
5 out of 5
Ride is surperb, happy filtering in traffic or on gravel roads. nice postive feel to brakes and rear abs can be turned off great for off road.
Engine
5 out of 5
Smooth loads of torque, pulls well 2 up which surpised me as its less than 95 BHP
Build Quality & Reliability
4 out of 5
Usual Honda quality, well thought out, only a 1000 miles but reliability is excellent....
Value & Running Costs
4 out of 5
Quite a big job to remove panels which will add to service costs i would imagine...
Equipment
5 out of 5
LED lights are a real bonus,
Buying experience

Brought from local dealer, service excellent , they really didnt want to take DL1000 al4 in px,but having said that they offered me a fair price. but in the end i sold it private...

5 out of 5

Roll on the next ride

13 June 2016 by Les

Cracking bike on the road shortly be doing the adventure off road bit does all what you want with confidence, friends have ordered might have to wait a while as stocks sold out. Read more

Ride Quality & Brakes
5 out of 5
Great bike so far on the road very comfy 200 mile trip so far, pillion advised it was very comfy.
Engine
5 out of 5
Just right for its purpose plenty of grunt when required and to have fun.
Build Quality & Reliability
5 out of 5
Honda as usual fantastic build quality and reliability no question.
Value & Running Costs
5 out of 5
First service with top box fitted
Equipment
5 out of 5
For the money it is well equipped, top box added so far will have other items added when required seen lots of the accessories good quality as always.
Buying experience

Dealer Belle Vue Honda Southend, great service from them on purchase and first service would recommend.

5 out of 5

Honda Africa Twin 2016 - The perfect adventure bike...?

01 June 2016 by Billybobs03

Outstanding - Honda's new Africa Twin is the new benchmark adventure bike in my opinion. The bike has loads of power (despite the nay-sayers). I chose it over a BMW GSA 1200 because Honda build quality is second to none, I also chose it because I... Read more found it to be a much more capable all-rounder and way more agile when you're tackling a twisty trail or just filtering traffic. Having tested almost every other large adventure bike out there - I'd go so far as to say that the Africa Twin is destined to become an all-time classic for the game-change it has brought to the adventure class. It has raised loads of questions which other manufacturers will be forced to answer - and alongside the KTM 1190 R, is one of the few big adventure bikes which can really cut it off road. I've owned BMW GS bikes for the last six years and didn't think I'd stray far because I still rate them very highly, but Honda have completely re-thought the approach to this class and it shows. Instead of going for tons of electronics to control virtually everything, they have gone back to good design to make a more conventional bike which does everything well. It is comfortable for long distances, handles brilliantly on fast, twisty b-roads, commutes like a dream and can leave everything else in its wake when it comes to tackling tough trails or genuine exploration, with impeccable balance. If you want to ride vast distances on tarmac for weeks on end, buy a BMW GS. If you want to tackle highly technical enduro circuits, buy a smaller KTM. If you want a real all-rounder - the Africa Twin is as good as it's going to get.

Ride Quality & Brakes
4 out of 5
The bike is a genuine all-rounder, so there is a natural balance between what makes it good off road and what makes it good on road and therefore, there is a small amount of compromise - as with all of them. The Africa Twin feels better balanced than the big KTMs off road due to the mass centralisation of weight and that compact engine and it handles almost as well as the KTMs on tarmac, tackling twisty b-roads brilliantly and far better than you'd expect. However, I found it to be more comfortable than the KTM 1190 and the 1190 R over distance, with less vibration, a far superior seat and the engine/clutch/power delivery are also more civilised on the Honda, particularly in town. That said, it isn't as plush as a sofa-comfy BMW 1200GS if massive autobahn distances are your thing (not much is) but it is a fine distance bike nonetheless and will be much more manageable when you do get it in the dirt. It is also very slim, so commuting and filtering are a doddle. I haven't taken a pillion any distance on it yet, but it looks perfectly adequate and I've happily ridden 250 solo miles through the Derbyshire and Yorkshire dales before stopping, with no discomfort at all. Brakes are good with plenty of feedback, but you do get a fair bit of fork dive - as with most conventional suspension set-ups.
Engine
5 out of 5
The perfect engine for this type of bike. It is a strong motor and gives all the power you could possibly use on tarmac with an 18/21" wheel combination. I have never felt that I'd wish for more power - it's substantially more lively than an 1150GS and more comparable to a Triumph Tiger 1050 than the 800cc Triumphs people insist on pitting it against. Really, it's in another league. The Africa Twin engine drives the bike extremely well out of corners, has a very smooth, linear acceleration which finds you in illegal speed territory far sooner than your senses tell you and has more character than any other parallel twin I've tried. It's not quite like a v-twin for that lunging power delivery, but Honda has done a great job of making a really compact and well-balanced powerplant which is well settled at speed and only matched by single cylinder bikes in off road applications. 70-80mph cruising only demands about 4,000 revs so it hums away nicely.
Build Quality & Reliability
5 out of 5
Honda. Enough said... Although, for those of you who haven't owned a BMW, I'll say this. Honda provide a top class finish on their bikes and after years of dismay watching my various GS's rusting, shedding paint from the cylinders and generally deteriorating almost before my eyes - it is a delight to go back to a bike that doesn't do this! I've ridden the bike through rivers, mud, salt, rain and all other UK associated challenges and it cleans down easily. Granted, it's a new bike, but having owned Hondas in the past, I'm confident this one will hold up just as well. Another point is that my previous BMWs would cough a bit after a pressure wash which was probably a bit of moisture ingress into the electronics, the AT doesn't skip a beat. Stock exhaust probably weighs a ton (they all do) but it sounds superb. There are also other nice touches such as the colour coded bar-ends, integrated grip-switch for the heated grips, complete absence of engine pipes and cables to get snagged etc which make it a really classy machine. Chain drive isn't much of a bother and you know it's not going to be a massive problem if it goes wrong.
Value & Running Costs
5 out of 5
Servicing costs are reasonable, service intervals at 7500m are fine, but fuel consumption is exceptionally good. Honda accessories also seem competitively priced.
Equipment
5 out of 5
Standard set up is great. The Dunlop TR91 tyres inspire confidence, allowing you to get the best out of the bike on the road and they do a reasonable job on gravel. This is matched by superb, silky suspension with longer travel than any other large adventure bike. I'd recommend the centre stand as a well-needed accessory and you would want to swap to TKC 80's or Karoo 3 tyres if you plan any real mud-plugging. The traction control is dead easy to use, very effective in its different setting modes and can be switched off without fuss, as can the rear wheel ABS.
Buying experience

Bought from Hunts Honda in Manchester. Good bunch of guys and they looked after me.

Read all 13 owners' reviews in full

Facts & Figures

Model info
Year introduced 2015
Year discontinued -
New price £10,499
Used price £7,900 to £12,200
Warranty term 2 years unlimited mileage
Running costs
Insurance group -
Annual road tax £85
Annual service cost £240
Performance
Max power 94 bhp
Max torque 68.6 ft-lb
Top speed -
1/4-mile acceleration -
Average fuel consumption -
Tank range -
Specification
Engine size 998cc
Engine type Parallel-twin
Frame type Steel semi-double cradle with high-tensile strength steel rear subframe
Fuel capacity 18.8 litres
Seat height 870mm
Bike weight 232kg
Front suspension Telescopic fork
Rear suspension Monoshock
Front brake 310mm dual wave floating hydraulic disc with aluminium hub and radial fit 4-piston calipers and sintered metal pads
Rear brake 256mm wave hydraulic disc with 2-piston caliper and sintered metal pads. 2-Channel with rear ABS off switch
Front tyre size 90/90 R21
Rear tyre size 150/70 R18

History & Versions

Model history

None

Other versions

There is also a DCT version available at £11,299.

Photo Gallery

  • HONDA CRF1000L AFRICA TWIN  (2015-on)
  • HONDA CRF1000L AFRICA TWIN  (2015-on)
  • HONDA CRF1000L AFRICA TWIN  (2015-on)
  • HONDA CRF1000L AFRICA TWIN  (2015-on)
  • HONDA CRF1000L AFRICA TWIN  (2015-on)
  • HONDA CRF1000L AFRICA TWIN  (2015-on)
  • HONDA CRF1000L AFRICA TWIN  (2015-on)
  • HONDA CRF1000L AFRICA TWIN  (2015-on)
  • HONDA CRF1000L AFRICA TWIN  (2015-on)
  • HONDA CRF1000L AFRICA TWIN  (2015-on)
  • HONDA CRF1000L AFRICA TWIN  (2015-on)
  • HONDA CRF1000L AFRICA TWIN  (2015-on)
  • HONDA CRF1000L AFRICA TWIN  (2015-on)
  • HONDA CRF1000L AFRICA TWIN  (2015-on)
  • HONDA CRF1000L AFRICA TWIN  (2015-on)
  • HONDA CRF1000L AFRICA TWIN  (2015-on)
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