HONDA CRF1100L AFRICA TWIN (2020 - on) Review
- DCT transmission available
- More agile than the Adventure Sports
- Increased off-road focus
At a glance
|Owners' reliability rating:|
|Annual servicing cost:||£140|
Overall ratingNext up: Ride & brakes
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?
- Latest news: Honda NT1100 is Africa Twin's touring sibling
- Latest news: 2022 Honda Africa Twin unveiled
- Related: Honda CRF1100L Africa Twin Adventure Sports review
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.
From the 2021 model year, the standard Africa Twin will be available in the HRC-inspired paintjob previously reserved for the top-of-the-range Adventure Sports model.
Honda CRF1100L 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.
- Related: Best adventure motorbikes
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.
- Related: How to ride a motorbike off-road
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 & brakesNext up: Engine
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.
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.
EngineNext up: Reliability
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.
Reliability & build qualityNext up: Value
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.
Value vs rivalsNext up: Equipment
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.
How does the BMW R1250GS stack up? Watch the video review below:
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.
Honda CRF1100L Africa Twin gets Android Auto for 2021
Honda have added integration for Android Auto to the CRF1100L Africa Twin range for 2021. Owners of Android smartphones will be able to plug into their bikes, revealing extra apps such as Google Maps or Spotify. The same applies to the Gold Wing, CB1000R, Forza 750, X-ADV and Forza 350.
|Engine type||Liquid-cooled, 8v, parallel-twin|
|Frame type||Steel semi-double cradle with aluminium sub-frame and swingarm|
|Fuel capacity||18.8 litres|
|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||£101|
|Annual service cost||£140|
|Used price||£10,000 - £13,100|
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How much to insure?
Top speed & performance
|Max power||100 bhp|
|Max torque||78 ft-lb|
|1/4 mile acceleration||-|
|Tank range||230 miles|
Model history & versions
- 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.
- 2018: Honda CRF1000L Africa Twin Adventure Sport arrives with a bigger fuel tank, longer travel suspension and new seven-stage traction control. It was the more off-road-focused bike.
Watch MCN's 2018 Honda Africa Twin Adventure Sports video review:
Owners' reviews for the HONDA CRF1100L AFRICA TWIN (2020 - on)
9 owners have 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.
Summary of owners' reviews
|Ride quality & brakes:|
|Reliability & build quality:|
|Value vs rivals:|
|Annual servicing cost:||£140|
I’m really struggling to think of bad things to bring up? No.1 - Screen is not great, came with a really small screen and have replaced this with a taller (what I call my ‘winter screen’). Not adjustable and I still have not got the exact one, or two - summer/winter!? No. 2 - Tyres with tubes! I’m just not sure!!
It’s good at most and better than that at most! It’s not a Fireblade or a R1, it’s also not a BMW GT1600 but it more than works for me! I’ve found that the M25 is not a Brands Hatch or is it a muddy mountain with a desert on the other side and the way our roads are the pot holes and speed bumps need the large ground clearance with a gravelly entrance and exit!!
This engine and management system is really very good!!
It’s a Honda!
Im not sure because I got 3 services with the deal!? Along with that I’m not a massive mileage person, it’s annually or 8000 miles per service. I’m going to be, until the world stops trying to end, on or around depending on weather and lots of other things that will only come with all of the above and of course my wife!!
I’m a fan, moans and groans are around about this doesn’t work and the amount of buttons etc. I don’t have a problem, it’s good!
Buying experience: I purchased new from an excellent dealership in the SE! It was more than £7,000 less than a BMW GS1250 and I have always driven a BMW car!!
Version: Base model
Annual servicing cost: £100
DCT is touchy especially in city driving. Drive by wire throttle control has no slack so you may launch yourself unexpectedly, there are accounts of this actually happening. Seat is painful for touring. Apple CarPlay will connect once each time it's set up, but that doesn't matter, using a QuadLock induction charging mount the map / music app won't turn off while it's getting power and you don't have to choose between your tach/fuel and map displays. At 12k miles I've had no problems just regular service like oil and tires. Stay out of "D", use S2 or 3. Manual shifting works wonderfully.
It's tall. It's heavy. A shorter bike would be less capable off road and a lighter one would be a nightmare on the highway. What can you do? The seat is uncomfortable after 50 miles or so, keep the tank topped up.
Everyone pans it for having less horsepower than the KTM or BMW, but at 6'3" and 240 lbs. with full luggage and a trailer I've never noticed it slow or struggle with a hill.
No corrosion (though I live in a desert) and never had anything fail. This is why I got a Honda in the first place.
I think an oil change is about $30 total. You're not supposed to run full synthetic oil, I found the type specified at WalMart. If I didn't have to oil the chain it'd be 5/5.
DCT lacks finesse and in my opinion is borderline dangerous.* It took me a while to work out that the Honda stock touring (tall) windshield was not tall enough and bobbled the top of my helmet, fatiguing me on long rides. On the upside the cruise control paired with DCT and a strong engine works great. It's silly I know but the auto turn signals are awesome. Wish the ones on my car worked so well. *If you bump the throttle the bike will GO. There is no slop in the drive-by-wire throttle. So what do you do to stop a bike? Grab the front brake hard, right? Now you've got the throttle locked in its accidentally (slightly) open position because you're using it to pull on the brake lever. Your runaway bike may end up hitting the tube bumper of the truck in front of you at 3mph or so. Don't ask me how I know this.
Buying experience: Bought from a dealer. $17,000 after taxes and fees. Salespeople had no idea how anything on the bike worked so them walking me through the features was equal parts funny and awkward.
Version: CFR1100L Icelandic Edition
I’m not a seasoned rider, I’m fairly new to riding, I’ve come from a VStrom 650XT to this. It’s a bigger bike, more cumbersome to move around the drive and garage but once on the bike, it rides so nicely, it’s economical and has the power and torque on tap.. Apple CarPlay is excellent too once all up and running.
The bike for me is really comfy on short and long rides, the longest run I’ve done is 330 miles, no issues. Brakes, powerful and certainly up to the job given the bulk of the bike.
Power and Torque on tap. Love the standard sound to it too
So far so good, I’ve had Honda cars and wouldn’t anything less than reliable and so far it has been.
I got 3 years Honda Servicing thrown into the deal along with 3 years warranty and breakdown.
I’ve got all those modes to play with, I’ll get there. The Apple car play is excellent. Heated grips. And I had extra driving lights fitted by Honda too, their all integrated into the bikes standard switch gear. Being an Icelandic model, it comes with boxes, tank bag, radiator covers and heated grips etc. So a great package all round and it’s a limited edition too.
Buying experience: I bought from a local Edinburgh dealer after just wanting a demo, to falling for it and trading my VStrom and Katana for it. It’s a cracker and love going out on it.
Version: Adventure Sport DCT ES
Annual servicing cost: £200
Great bike but seems to be cursed with all sorts of technical faults
Nice ride and brakes work. They can require some persuasion to get the bike to stop.
Rated 1 because of the DCT engine braking issues and stalls. When the bike works it is great with a brilliant engine sound. Shame Honda seem to be using customers to experiment the tech rather than get it right first.
DCT Stalls, engine braking and TFT faults. Bluetooth and Android auto constantly disconnecting.
For the price the technical faults make the bike very poor value.
Most equipment is extra. The tech that comes with the bike i.e. TFT screen is unreliable at best, especially when combined with Android Auto. Honda panniers are great as are the stock tyres.
Buying experience: The dealership & Honda don't want to know about electrical issues or problems as they cannot always replicate or seem to worry. Happy to supply video of malfunction whilst operating. Honda didn't see it as a problem!
Version: Africa Twin adventure sports
Screen could be wider and adjust with one hand not a deal breaker though. I’ve had a lot of bmw all of which had problems. Honda zilch as you would expect. Comfort tech and long distance hard to beat and the best looking adventure bike on the road .
I alway stop after about 50 ish miles.
Plenty of power . I’ve had no problems passing others .
Not had a service yet. But about 150 ish so I’m told
Haven’t added anything other than my top box.
Buying experience: Dealer got a great deal.
Version: DCT version
I have always liked a upright riding position, had numerous bikes then bought a new 2016 versys 1000 After 2 trips to Spain in 2 years, I fancied something different, so I traded in for a 2016 kawasaki GTR1400. Again it went abroad twice, then covid hit last year & cancelled the trips. This year wasn't sure if I could go again ? As GTR is a big touring bike, I found it heavy for using to work & Sunday trips out. I started using brothers Honda CrossTourer 1200. It was light agile compared to GTR so I decided time for a change. I had always fancied a go on a DCT bike. The dealer had a demo 6 months old, Honda Africa Twin CRF1100L. I had hour test ride & when came back, I arranged there & then to trade GTR in for it.
Bike at best when u just hit downshift button & open it up (up to legal speed limit of course) No changing gear, very easy to ride. Ride by wire throttle (not cables) is very lively & takes little while to get used to. Bum aches after 2 hours, seat not as comfy as GTR. Take 12yr old grand daughter on back, she was nervous at 1st, because I had no topbox on & seat is lot higher than GTR, but she loves it now. Brakes are excellent, ABS front & rear
Put it in tour S3 mode & it holds revs longer before changing gears, it just pulls away & because your not changing gear or have anything to to, you don't realise how fast your going, so you have to keep an eye on speedo. Have found in some settings, the engine braking is a bit severe when changing down. I have not mastered all settings yet.
Well built, looks great. Ridden daily & no issues with rust yet. Nothing has failed. Light, agile very easy to ride, falls into corners. Excellent riding position.
Had 1st service before I bought it. Next service due in 10 months Been told at Honda dealer its between £120 - £150 for next service
As the base model its OK. I would have liked luggage rack or passenger grab rails as standard. Tyres have plenty of grip. Could also done with heated grips as it's been freezing lately & with thick winter gloves on it makes controls a bit fiddlely.
Buying experience: Bought from dealer. Said I'd never buy a demo, as there thrashed & ridden like there stolen. But got great deal on trade in & wrangled a discount off listed price. 👍🏻
Version: DCT Adventure
Spectacular in all respects, the DCT is brilliant, with the manual flappy paddle option when off road gives you all the control, I have lower leg/ankle problems with conventional gear change, so this is a boon! Build quailty, is all Honda superbly finished, and durable. I live in portugal and spend much of my time on unmetaled roads, so the ease of swapping from road to gravel, to off road is a dream. On tarmac is nimble and you can really push on or coversly engage cruise control and sit back and watch the world go by.. All day comfy. Seems to sip fuel. And it sounds superb with the stock exhaust, I opted for the full honda protection pack, it's, robust, and does the job, the switch gear and electronic wizardry are brilliant, the traction control etc. Just does it's job, and isn't noticeably intrusive. The ride is sublime, fast becoming my favourite of the many bikes I've owned..
Progressive and reassuring, braking, seamless acceleration and gear change, road for four hours in one stint, no problem easy all day riding, very comfy good leg position sitting or standing. On the soft surfaces, suspension just soaks up the bumps.
Pulls and pulls and pulls....
Have done the first thousand klm's so first service due soon. Cost TBA..
Does take a little getting used to, you definately need to read the instructions..
Buying experience: Purchased from Honda dealership in Portemão, Angel Honda, great people and sourced 2021 bike for me even with all the current Pandemic restrictions..
Annual servicing cost: £120
Superbly balanced , feels quicker than the numbers suggest, everyone likes an underdog in that respect, you really need to ride it not just be a passenger so it’s really rewarding in that respect , mine is the manual with a quick shifter and it is not the smoothest but works ok, the bike sounds really good with the stock exhaust , it feels really premium and so far no rust anywhere (unlike my other well known German equivalent I had..) I have acf’d it. The steering lock is amazing, the bike does 230 miles to a tank, the lights are great, the gearbox smooth , neutral is easy to find, the technology is amazing , apple don’t believe the hype over the “overcomplicated switchgear” once you are used to it it’s amazing connectivity is amazing , apple maps , google maps, Waze , Spotify , bbc sounds it’s all there , phone, message I can’t speak highly enough it has been faultless , simply pair your headset plug in your phone job done ... heated grips are thermonuclear... in my opinion apple CarPlay is the cherry on the top it is simply sublime , once you switch your intercom on (you need this to be able to work Siri) the rest is all done via the switchgear , so you can use Waze to navigate, change song, and a just the volume all at once .. no menus no fuss all separate buttons, same with making a call , you can leave in a hurry speak to Siri ask it to message the wife “leaving now be about 15 mins” job done message sent .. it opens up a whole world whilst riding.. if and hopefully when android allow Honda to apply their version of CarPlay it may come with an update?? It will be even better as I think google assistant is way better than Siri. One thing worth mentioning .. yes the screen is touchscreen but it only works when stationary (for safety reasons). With the technology catering for so many options by the means of what application you use to navigate for example it must appeal to so many out there ... no more syncing this ,Pairing that , this does not talk to that , it’s just so frustrating.. the phone needs to be connected to the bike by cable and I zip mine in a handlebar bag. The bike handles all communication not the phone to the intercom.
It the strongest but adequate
By the seat of the pants it makes more than the figures suggest , it’s no 1290 but for the road it’s enough to dispatch cars and make you smile as you work the motor
Nothing failed nothing broken usual Honda reliability although early days
First 600 miler
Purely based on the standard electronics, the quick shifter was extra but worth it
Buying experience: I bought mine from doble , usual amazing service , polite efficient and keen to do business with healthy part exchange values no other main dealer like it if you ask me
Annual servicing cost: £120
Escolha acertada das Big Trail
motor superior aos Bmw
mais qualidade que qualquer gs Bmw