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

17 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 4.2 out of 5
Ride Quality & Brakes 4.2 out of 5
Engine 4.6 out of 5
Build Quality & Reliability 4.4 out of 5
Value & Running Costs 4.6 out of 5
Equipment 4.5 out of 5
5 out of 5

Africa Twin Adventure Sports

04 June 2018 by Scottie

New Adventure Sports Model and I can't fault it. All the niggles from my 2016 Africa Twin have been addressed and this top of the range model is the perfect ride and my first 7 hour running-in route was completed in total comfort on less than a tank... Read more of fuel. Only one problem now.....I'll be disappointed with every other bike I own and ride.

Ride Quality & Brakes
5 out of 5
Outstanding brakes and suspension is sublime with every adjustment you could want or need, only trouble is I wouldn't know how to set it up, still the rear pre-load was wound up 4 clicks and it is perfectly balanced.
Engine
5 out of 5
65 mpg during running-in so I expect the same or better in the future.
Build Quality & Reliability
5 out of 5
It is a new Honda!
Value & Running Costs
5 out of 5
8000 mile service intervals, probably £250 for second service.
Equipment
4 out of 5
Has everything you are realistically ever going to need except a center stand and fenda extenda, which Suttons Homnda fitted for me. I purchased the lower seat as well as the standard one but the standard one does the job perfectly well on the higher or lower setting (I'm 5 ft 10in).
Buying experience

Suttons Honda! Can't be beaten for customer service.

5 out of 5

Great all rounder, best bike i've ridden for a long while

16 May 2018 by Regsy

Awesome all rounder, commuter, 2 up tourer and OK for a bit of fun. I've had a goodly selection over the years, GS1100, CBR1000F, GSX1100G, ZZR1100, CB1300X4, Deauville, BMW 1100RT, Aprilia Shiver, ST1100 Pan. This isn't a hard bike to get to know,... Read more it's comfy, all works as it should but won't terrorise you, it's surprisingly light and easy to handle, the riding position is superb, but good for a chortle playing in 2nd 3rd and 4th. Typical Honda, its a little bland but so very competent, lovely noise with aftermarket end can :)

Ride Quality & Brakes
5 out of 5
Simply the most comfortable bike I have owned, even more so than a Pan European or 1100 BMW, braking is immediate and has great feedback, even in hard braking I haven't triggered the ABS yet.
Engine
4 out of 5
It could have a little more grunt, but it's a joy from low rev toddling or dragging around some twisty A roads, not the beefiest out there but certainly adequate.
Build Quality & Reliability
5 out of 5
No issues, bought used with 1000 miles on the clock with a load of extras.
Value & Running Costs
5 out of 5
Easy to cruise at 80mpg or better, not a thirsty bike unless you are riding flat out everywhere.
Equipment
5 out of 5
Bought mine with loads of extras already aboard, heated grips, full luggage, scott oiler, crash bar, spot lights, basically the full kit. Its all good quality and works as it should, the top box closing mechanism feels a little weird but it is sturdy and works well.
Buying experience

Bought used in an hour from a local dealer, no issues or hassle.

5 out of 5

Great fun, big adventure bike

15 March 2018 by alwyn autodidact

Great fun big bike. Playful nature, fast enough, well made aside from spokes. Good dealer service. I fitted the lowered seat, not because of reach to the ground, but to feel more 'in' the bike rather than perched on it, which I found helped. The... Read more seat is rock hard, for touring I use an airhawk which transforms it. One major PITA is the tubed tyres. Yes, they're better for hardcore off road, but most people don't do that. I converted mine to tubeless which was remarkably easy. I made a video - search 'africa twin tubeless conversion' if interested. 5k miles later and no air loss.

Ride Quality & Brakes
5 out of 5
It's a softly sprung, comfortable bike. I share none of the complaints from some people about the rear shock etc. If you wind up the preload and damping a bit then it becomes a lot more taught and stable at 100mph+ speed, but then you lose the lovely soft ride. Simple, really. For luggage, I put a couple of extra clicks on the rear shock and it's fine.
Engine
5 out of 5
A lovely exhaust note (especially with REMUS can) and is really lively at the top end. On the open road, roll-on acceleration against an R1200 LC is remarkably close from 30-120mph. Surprisingly little in it. It's plenty for road use but of course doesn't thrill like a 150bhp bike. The upside is good economy. Sometimes needs two presses of the button to start it - quite sensitive to battery condition.
Build Quality & Reliability
4 out of 5
Generally very good. As is well documented, the spokes corrode too easily. I don't understand why Honda don't just use stainless spokes. Charge another £50 if you have to! To be fair, DOBLES replaced the entire wheels front and rear under warranty and the new ones do seem better, although they are still plated, not stainless. Also, the left hand switch gear failed quickly due to a sticky button. Again sorted under warranty and the new unit has been fine.
Value & Running Costs
4 out of 5
Around £12k for this bike is good, I think, especially compared to BMW and KTMs at £18k. It was the usual dealer rip off for an oil change at service time, around £180. I'm not fooled by the 'we check everything' BS. But they're all the same. Fuel economy very good at 58mpg if you go steady. Down to 45mpg if you cane it, which is good fun of course.
Equipment
4 out of 5
The torque control works well, DCT works well, engine strong enough, nice soft ride. I love the bike's playful nature for a big adventure bike. Feels 'up for it'. Factory heated grips are POOR. Come on Honda, they only get medium warm. My £40 OXFORD ones on my other bikes are much better. I don't get on with the standard screen, so I fitted an MRA lip which then makes it perfect.
Buying experience

I bought it from BRIDGE Honda in Exeter. Cr#p. Would never go back. I felt like I was on a production line, was served by a distracted sales person, and made to sit in the Kawasaki section! Most underwhelming. I went there because they had a tricolour DCT which I was after. Once bitten...

4 out of 5

Scottie

03 March 2018 by Scottie

Outstanding economy and touring ability but initially let down by a few new-model niggles Read more

Ride Quality & Brakes
5 out of 5
Very powerful brakes with very good ABS system, saved my bacon an a damp road covered with a diesel spill! Ride superb once you crank up the pre-load a few clicks on the rear suspension, then a few more clicks if you put liggage on the back. At high speed over the rough mountain passes of Italy and France my AT glided over seriously broken-up roads - really astonishing suspension.
Engine
5 out of 5
The best part of the bike the engine, powerful, flexible and frugal. I changed the oil every 4000 miles not 8000 like Honda recommend and this seemed to pay dividends in terms of economy averaging 70 mpg over the last 1000 miles.
Build Quality & Reliability
5 out of 5
Outstanding build quality save the mode switch on the LHS which stuck from the first few hundred miles. Honda ran out of spares so it took months to get the warranty part, other than that its a Honda with outstanding reliability which is why I purchased it rather than a BMW.
Value & Running Costs
5 out of 5
I averaged 70 mpg from the South of France back to the UK - excellent, really pleased!
Equipment
3 out of 5
I was put out by having to spend several hundred pound for a centre stand and 12v socket and the 12v socket did not hold my GPS cable in meaning I had to push it back in every 15 minutes - irratating. At £11k Honda should factory fit the 12v socket.
Buying experience

Honda dealer was fantastic. Shrewsbury Honda Centre allowed me to watch the 600 mile service so I could change the oil myself while on tour. Really good service from these people.

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!!!!!!!

Read all 17 owners' reviews in full

Facts & Figures

Model info
Year introduced 2015
Year discontinued -
New price £10,499
Used price £8,300 to £13,600
Warranty term 2 years unlimited mileage
Running costs
Insurance group -
Annual road tax £88
Annual service cost £220
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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