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 £10,000 - £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.

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

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.


Honda CRF1100L Africa Twin gets Android Auto for 2021

Honda Africa Twin models receive 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 WingCB1000R, Forza 750, X-ADV and Forza 350.

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 £96
Annual service cost £120
New price £13,049
Used price £10,000 - £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)

5 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.

Review your HONDA CRF1100L AFRICA TWIN (2020 - on)

Summary of owners' reviews

Overall rating: 4.8 out of 5 (4.8/5)
Ride quality & brakes: 4.8 out of 5 (4.8/5)
Engine: 4.8 out of 5 (4.8/5)
Reliability & build quality: 5 out of 5 (5/5)
Value vs rivals: 4.8 out of 5 (4.8/5)
Equipment: 4.8 out of 5 (4.8/5)
Annual servicing cost: £120
4 out of 5 Brilliant Africa Twin.
07 June 2021 by Didge

Version: Africa Twin adventure sports

Year: 2020

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 .

Ride quality & brakes 5 out of 5

I alway stop after about 50 ish miles.

Engine 5 out of 5

Plenty of power . I’ve had no problems passing others .

Reliability & build quality 5 out of 5
Value vs rivals 5 out of 5

Not had a service yet. But about 150 ish so I’m told

Equipment 5 out of 5

Haven’t added anything other than my top box.

Buying experience: Dealer got a great deal.

5 out of 5 Honda africa twin CRF1100L
04 May 2021 by Sean's twin

Version: DCT version

Year: 2020

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.

Ride quality & brakes 5 out of 5

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

Engine 5 out of 5

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.

Reliability & build quality 5 out of 5

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.

Value vs rivals 4 out of 5

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

Equipment 5 out of 5

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. 👍🏻

5 out of 5 Honda Africa Twin fulfils your dreams..
01 April 2021 by Pirate

Version: DCT Adventure

Year: 2021

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..

Ride quality & brakes 5 out of 5

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.

Engine 5 out of 5

Pulls and pulls and pulls....

Reliability & build quality 5 out of 5
Value vs rivals 5 out of 5

Have done the first thousand klm's so first service due soon. Cost TBA..

Equipment 4 out of 5

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..

5 out of 5 Fantastic machine, go try one!
06 December 2020 by Neo

Version: L

Year: 2020

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.

Ride quality & brakes 4 out of 5

It the strongest but adequate

Engine 4 out of 5

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

Reliability & build quality 5 out of 5

Nothing failed nothing broken usual Honda reliability although early days

Value vs rivals 5 out of 5

First 600 miler

Equipment 5 out of 5

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

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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