Honda CRF1000L Africa Twin launch
Africa Twin: Day two roundup – Off-road
Following a day of road riding yesterday (scroll down), today saw us taking the new Africa Twin onto the rough stuff to really put its off-road credentials to the test.
For the road test, we rode on Dunlop Trialsmart tyres, which are aimed at those who will predominantly stick to the tarmac, but who also may also occasionally venture onto dirt tracks. But today things were destined to get more serious, so our bikes were euipped with Continental TKC80’s. These would typically be the tyre that you would use for a genuine on and off-road adventure, and equip the true adventure rider with a tyre that will be unfazed by serious dirt and rougher trails.
The test route was a challenging loop that incorporated a mixture of fast trails, soft sand and rocky terrain, with a few tight turns to boot – and we had both manual and DCT bikes available to ride.
The narrow seat and your seated position – which was touched on in yesterday’s report (below) – makes so much sense when riding off-road. It is very roomy, giving lots of space to move about the machine and really get a feel for what’s happening at your feet. The Africa Twin is a very well balanced machine which makes the bike predictable and easy to control.
For off-road riding, the engine is absolutely beautiful and the power delivery is smooth and progressive. The electronics further compliment the delivery, being simple to use and understand.
We rode most of the route today with the traction control off and found I found the Africa Twin to be really manageable, responding well to my inputs. Even when the back wheel starts sliding there is still plenty of control and predictability just relying on throttle control and mechanical grip.
Honda have done an amazing job with the DCT gearbox. Its an incredible addition to the bike and takes a large element of the rider’s workload away, allowing you to focus on finding the best lines without having to worry about the clutch or stalling the bike.
It doesn’t take long at all to realise that this bike is very, very good. It absolutely sings off-road and it is immediately evident that this is its home territory – despite the fact that it performs brilliantly on-road too. Hats off to Honda, the Africa Twin is a genuinely impressive machine.
Check up the upcoming issue of MCN on Wednesday 09 December for the ful report.
Lap two of off-road course on DCT version. I am amazed how good it is! I never dreamed an 'automatic' bike could work so well off road.— MCN Sport (@MCNSport) December 5, 2015
And this is the playground for today.... pic.twitter.com/29whhb8ybK— MCN Sport (@MCNSport) December 5, 2015
First lap of demanding off road course complete. Seriously impressed. Great balance, grip and throttle connection. pic.twitter.com/Bcn1aqdD0y— MCN Sport (@MCNSport) December 5, 2015
No words needed! pic.twitter.com/tiEoGatNKr— MCN Sport (@MCNSport) December 5, 2015
Africa twin launch day 2. Time for off road. It wears the nobblies well... pic.twitter.com/u5loP7KgKg— MCN Sport (@MCNSport) December 5, 2015
Africa Twin: Day one roundup - Road
First up there are some amazing roads here in South Africa! They sweep through canyons and up mountains, with unpredictable road surfaces and an eclectic mix of second gear hairpins through to top gear sweepers and anything in between – making it an enviable place to ride and the perfect back drop to evaluate an adventure bike.
Having started the day on the manual version of the bike, which has adjustable levels of traction control and off-road ABS, this afternoon was spent riding the DCT machine.
The dual clutch system has evolved since Honda introduced it to their range approximately three years ago and its taken another step on the new Africa Twin due to the bikes off-road ability.
Gear changes are seamless to the extent where there is minimal weight transfer from front to rear which is a major bonus should you carry a pillion as it’s likely to negate and clashing of helmets.
Despite losing a large amount of rider input in terms of deciding when to change gear, it remains engaging to ride and back to back on fast, what would be A-roads, there was nothing to split the DCT and the Manual bike for speed and acceleration.
It’s definitely more relaxing to ride, ultimately giving the rider more time to concentrate on other things such as line, hazards (which include some wildlife here in South Africa ranging from baboons to tortoises!) and of course the often incredible view on offer.
Tomorrow is arguably the real test for the Africa Twin. A lot has been made about its off-road capabilities on day two we’re going to get to understand a lot more. As a passionate off-road rider I have to say that from the first contact with the dirt today, Honda’s claims are genuine and well founded. It feels well balanced, easy to ride and a lot less intimidating than anyone of the 1200cc adventure bikes currently on offer.
It’s been a long time coming and we’re already halfway through the first of two days riding the new Honda CRF1000L Africa Twin. Our first impression of the new machine is very positive.
Honda have been keen to promote the bikes off road credentials and so far it hasn’t disappointed although the proper dirt experience will be coming tomorrow when we'll get the chance to really put it through its paces.
Today is predominantly road orientated riding, having so far covered 130km on the bike, with about 30km of fast wide dirt track riding. The bike feels agile thanks in part to its narrow seat, which gives a lot of scope for transferring body weight. The 21-inch front and 18-inch rear wheels help give lots feedback and, on the road the machine handles well, is stable and also comfortable.
It’s a very easy bike to get along with. The electronics work well and are simple to use – a godsend in an age of endless menus and changeable setting on other machines.
On to the motor, which has been one of the biggest unknown factors with this bike after it was developed from the ground up specifically for the Africa Twin. It’s strong, with useable power everywhere in the rev range. The power is very linear and the engine is very smooth. While the Africa Twin isn’t slow, it also isn’t the fastest bike but it isn’t meant to be. You can still make good progress on this machine and so far it is living up to expectations.
We have only ridden the fully manual bike at the moment; this afternoon we will be testing the machine with the DCT fully automatic gearbox. Keep checking back to find updated reports on the machine and a full ride report following the test.
Time to ride the DCT Africa twin. pic.twitter.com/RSjXj7q1Zv— MCN Sport (@MCNSport) December 4, 2015
Getting some testing done on challenging roads in 40 degree heat. A stroll in the park for the Africa twin so far... pic.twitter.com/QL6KW50hqW— MCN Sport (@MCNSport) December 4, 2015
Still early days Capable on road Smooth & stable, linear power. More road focussed riding now. Will know more later. pic.twitter.com/RnegLgylpx— MCN Sport (@MCNSport) December 4, 2015
First taste of road and off road done. Quality, comfortable, easy to use electronics and sweet handling off road. pic.twitter.com/mlZIscOsaC— MCN Sport (@MCNSport) December 4, 2015
The time has come. Africa twin launch... pic.twitter.com/yqDO9m7mII— MCN Sport (@MCNSport) December 4, 2015
At the Presentation for the new Honda Africa Twin in Cape Town. Massive emphasis towards off road capabilities. pic.twitter.com/E6pr4RmyDy— MCN Sport (@MCNSport) December 3, 2015
Well it’s taken, months, years in fact it’s well over a decade, but today is the day we get to ride Honda’s long overdue Africa Twin.
The original bike, which arrived in the market back in 1988 was a popular choice for 15 years before being discontinued in 2003. Now nearly another 15 years has passed, but the new bike is finally here.
We’ve all seen the promotional videos, which got more and more dramatic, culminating in MotoGP man Marc Marquez and Dakar stage winner Joan Barreda thrashing the bikes off-road, so its fair to say expectation for the new bike is high.
In last night presentation by Honda’s engineers, designers and marketing staff the overwhelming message, was not only of new technology – the bike comes with 32 new registered patents, but also to its clear off-road capabilities.
Today’s riding takes place north of Cape Town and includes a 280km loop of mainly tarmac so we’re going to get to find out very shortly how well this talked about off-road capabilities and DNA transfers to the road.
Given that we are testing the bikes over two hours north of Cape Town, comms could be an issue but we’ll be doing our best to bring you an update to give first impressions with more information to follow this evening.