HONDA CRF1100L AFRICA TWIN (2020 - on) Review

Highlights

  • DCT transmission available
  • More agile than the Adventure Sports
  • Increased off-road focus

At a glance

Owners' reliability rating: 5 out of 5 (5/5)
Annual servicing cost: £120
Power: 100 bhp
Seat height: Tall (33.5 in / 850 mm)
Weight: Medium (498 lbs / 226 kg)

Prices

New £13,049
Used £11,000 - £13,100

Overall rating

Next up: Ride & brakes
4 out of 5 (4/5)

The third generation of Honda Africa Twin has finally matured into the bike that so many of its fans hoped it would be from the outset.

Armed with enough of the latest electronic technology and a bit more go in its super-sized motor, it is a serious contender in the adventure bike market. But is Honda’s decision to move the stock bike more towards the off-road side the right one? 

It may be more agile than the 2020 Honda Africa Twin Adventure Sports, but I can’t help but feel UK riders will be swayed by the practicality offered by the Sports over the stock model’s rugged outlook on life and lighter overall weight. It may not be BMW R1250GS topping, but it is certainly a noticeable improvement.

Honda CRF1100L Africa Twin on UK roads

Honda Africa Twin on UK roads

We took the Honda for a spin around the UK's toughest test route, the MCN 250, to see how it handles the lumps and bumps of real-world riding conditions.

When you stand next to it, the Honda seems tall with its 22.5mm higher bars and Dakar-style display giving it a very imposing front-end. However, throw a leg over the saddle and the Africa Twin’s narrow waist, courtesy of its compact parallel-twin motor, makes it easy to get feet flat on the floor.

But there is a downside as the Honda’s pegs are high, crunching up those who are longer in the limb, something that 250 miles of riding certainly highlighted, alongside the Honda’s firmer seat. But what of the taller suspension?

There was a time when long-travel suspension and a 21in front wheel equalled a wobbly ride and slightly unnerving feel from the front-end, but those days are long gone. Would I be happy keeping up with sportsbike-mounted mates? Hell yes, especially with the Africa Twin’s new motor.

Featuring more capacity for 2020, the Twin’s engine now has a much-needed dose of drama about it that the slightly gutless older version lacked. It’s not a night-and-day transformation but it is one that enhances the Twin’s character, making it a genuinely enjoyable bike to let rev out and work.

In making the base-model Africa Twin more off-road focused Honda could have totally ruined it as a road bike, however what they have actually done is make it more accomplished on the tarmac. Yes, the screen is slightly small and the seat a touch firm in direct comparison to Triumph’s Tiger 900, but the Honda’s spirit and fun-factor is now matched by top-rate electronics and even better comfort levels thanks to its higher bars.

If you are the kind of rider who occasionally ventures off-road but spends most time riding on the road, the Africa Twin will suit you right down to the ground.

Ride quality & brakes

Next up: Engine
3 out of 5 (3/5)

A smaller screen and 22.5mm taller bars than the previous generation, not to mention a new detachable 40mm narrower sub-frame, 1.8kg lighter chassis and revised swingarm see the Africa Twin’s off-road focus enhanced, but at the sacrifice of some road comfort levels.

While the higher bars are relaxed, the non-adjustable lower screen means you are exposed to the elements and its long distance ability is certainly compromised as a result. In an off-road environment it has certainly benefitted from these mods, but as a road bike for covering miles the Adventure Sports is a better bet.

Front forks on the Honda CRF1100L Africa Twin

The updated DCT gearbox (which is now linked to the IMU and responds to the bike’s angle when calculating if it should change gear or not) is excellent and now a worthy addition for either on or off-road fans.

All the electronic systems perform excellently on the road and in the two off-road modes the traction control allows you to pull off a cheeky little slide while the ABS ensures you can use the front brake with confidence on gravel when it all gets a bit too wild.

Engine

Next up: Reliability
4 out of 5 (4/5)

The parallel twin has received an increase in capacity from 998cc to 1084cc for 2020 through a 6.4mm longer stroke, boosting peak power and torque by 6.8bhp and 4.4ftlb respectively while also delivering increases throughout the rev range.

While lacking the outright performance and theatre you get from BMW’s ShiftCam boxer, Honda’s parallel twin has certainly benefitted from a very welcome bit of extra pep without losing its overall feeling of refinement.

It’s not going to blow your socks off, but it is a definite improvement and certainty fulfills a touring brief with little vibes and a slick gearbox. In an off-road environment, it has lots of low-down grunt to help it search out grip and a predictable throttle connection.

Riding the Africa Twin on a light trail

Reliability & build quality

Next up: Value
4 out of 5 (4/5)

Early Africa Twins suffered badly from rusty spokes, however a new design of tubed wheel alongside stainless steel spokes should banish this concern. It feels and appears very solidly built, so we don’t expect any issues. Interestingly, the Adventure Sports has a tubeless wheel to cater for its more on-road focus.

Honda CRF1100L Africa Twin switchgear

Value vs rivals

Next up: Equipment
3 out of 5 (3/5)

At its launch, the third generation of Africa Twin saw its price jump up from £11,575 to £13,049 - a rise of nearly £1500. That said, it does gain a lot of new technology and that doesn’t come cheap.

Yamaha’s Ténéré 700 is far cheaper at £8399, but lacks the tech. At the time, a stock BMW R1250GS set you back £13,550 and the KTM 1290 Adventure S was £14,699.


How does the BMW R1250GS stack up? Watch the video review below:

Equipment

4 out of 5 (4/5)

Most of the Africa Twin’s weaknesses in terms of tech have been rectified for 2020. The headline act is the all-new 6.5-inch touch screen TFT dash, which comes as standard. Incorporating Apple CarPlay, it is Bluetooth ready, can display navigation apps, has a USB charging point and can be accessed with a gloved hand. However, the touch screen is only available when the bike is stationary and Apple CarPlay requires a Bluetooth headset to be linked to function, which is annoying.

Also new is a six-axis IMU, bringing with it cornering ABS and traction control (seven levels) alongside cruise control (at last!), four power modes, three braking levels, three levels of wheelie control and four set riding modes plus two user modes. The ABS can also be turned off to the rear caliper for off-road use.

There is a DCT version, whose performance has been significantly upgraded through it being linked to the IMU, making it gradient and corner responsive in its gear selection. While the Adventure Sports has the option of semi-active suspension, this isn’t available on the stock model.

Specs

Engine size 1084cc
Engine type Liquid-cooled, 8v, parallel-twin
Frame type Steel semi-double cradle with aluminium sub-frame and swingarm
Fuel capacity 18.8 litres
Seat height 850mm
Bike weight 226kg
Front suspension Showa 45mm USD fork, fully adjustable
Rear suspension Showa monoshock, fully adjustable
Front brake Two 310mm wave discs with four-piston radial calipers. Cornering ABS
Rear brake 256mm single disc with single-piston caliper. Switchable ABS
Front tyre size 90/90 x 21
Rear tyre size 150/70 x 18

Mpg, costs & insurance

Average fuel consumption 57 mpg
Annual road tax £93
Annual service cost £120
New price £13,049
Used price £11,000 - £13,100
Insurance group 17 of 17
How much to insure?
Warranty term 2

Top speed & performance

Max power 100 bhp
Max torque 78 ft-lb
Top speed -
1/4 mile acceleration -
Tank range 230 miles

Model history & versions

Model history

  • 2016: Honda CRF1000L Africa Twin is launched with a 1000cc motor and at a competitive price. It was the more road-focused bike at the time.


Watch MCN's 2018 Honda Africa Twin Adventure Sports video review:

Other versions

At it's launch, the Africa Twin stock model with DCT was priced at £13,949. The Adventure Sports is the 'big tank' version and as well as a larger fairing, it comes with a 24.8-litre tank, heated grips and cornering lights as standard, a five-way adjustable screen and the option of semi-active suspension.
The Africa Twin Adventure Sport ES comes with electronic suspension as an extra and was yours for £16,049 at its launch.

Owners' reviews for the HONDA CRF1100L AFRICA TWIN (2020 - on)

1 owner has reviewed their HONDA CRF1100L AFRICA TWIN (2020 - 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 CRF1100L AFRICA TWIN (2020 - on)

Summary of owners' reviews

Overall rating: 5 out of 5 (5/5)
Ride quality & brakes: 5 out of 5 (5/5)
Engine: 5 out of 5 (5/5)
Reliability & build quality: 5 out of 5 (5/5)
Value vs rivals: 5 out of 5 (5/5)
Equipment: 5 out of 5 (5/5)
Annual servicing cost: £120
5 out of 5 Best Big Trail 2020
25 August 2020 by Cattmobile Alexandre Figueiredo

Version: Adventure

Year: 2020

Annual servicing cost: £120

Escolha acertada das Big Trail

Ride quality & brakes 5 out of 5
Engine 5 out of 5

motor superior aos Bmw

Reliability & build quality 5 out of 5

mais qualidade que qualquer gs Bmw

Value vs rivals 5 out of 5
Equipment 5 out of 5
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