Africa Twin spied on the road

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Honda’s new CRF1000F Africa Twin has been spied testing on the roads near the German Research and Design centre in Frankfurt, Germany, where bikes are tested for European regulations and to carry out final endurance and emissions testing ahead of the official launch.

It appears this is a more touring-orientated version of the bike that, according to MCN sources, will sit alongside a more off-road ‘adventure’ styled version aimed at proper off-road adventurers.

This is the first time the new 1000cc parallel-twin bike has been seen in full and on the road, and the pictures clearly reveal that this is the Dual Clutch Transmission (DCT) version, as it has no clutch lever and the bar-mounted gearchange paddles are also visible.

Honda are yet to reveal the Africa Twin in full, releasing just two partially obscured teaser shots (MCN May 13), after which MCN uncovered undisguised patent photographs of the full bike a week later (May 20 issue). The only other official clue to the overall bike was the mud-covered True Adventure concept shown at Milan last year, which presented the new bike a serious off-roader.

This test bike spotted has the full complement of Honda hard panniers and topbox along with what looks like a much taller windscreen for increased rider comfort.

Honda say the new Africa Twin will be in dealers before the end of 2015, which means the firm is likely to officially launch the bike in the very near future.


What can we see?

DCT gearbox There’s no clutch lever on this bike and we can clearly see the gearchange paddles mounted on the handlebars. Honda sources say the firm has gone to great lengths to make sure the semi-automatic DCT system works off road too, delivering traction where less experienced riders would struggle to find it for themselves. DCT will be offered as an option but if the popularity of the option on other bikes continues to the Africa Twin it will mean around 50% of buyers specifying DCT.

1000cc parallel-twin engine Honda loves parallel-twin motors and have been busy developing their range from 500cc upwards. While purists might yearn for a V-twin like the old XRV750 Africa Twin there are distinct advantages to the parallel-twin layout in terms of the packaging. Because the engine is canted forwards in the frame it leaves a large amount of space above for the placement of the electronics and the fuel tank, which keeps the mass more centralised. It also keeps all of the delicate stuff out of the way of rocks and debris while off-roading.

Dashboard This is the first time we have seen any glimpse of the Africa Twin’s bespoke dashboard, which appears to be a vertically stacked full LCD dash, split into separate sections. At the right side of the cockpit fairing appear to be buttons for accessories of other functions, possibly for features like auxiliary lighting or heated grips.

Brakes ABS-assisted Nissin radially-mounted brakes work with the wavy twin front discs. We understand the ABS has been developed with off-road use in mind but can also be turned off in extreme conditions.

Luggage Hard luggage is a necessity for any rider aiming to travel long distances because of the extra protection it gives to both their contents, and to the bike itself. Ignore the soft tailpack mounted on the pillion seat; this is simply full of datalogging equipment as the bike carries out final testing to ensure it meets European regulations.

Fork-mounted reflectors There was a time when ugly side reflectors were indicative of American-market only models but not any longer. Thanks to Euro4 regulations all bikes will have to have them fitted from new.

Wheels Honda wants this bike to be an off-road contender, and the choice of wheel sizes lends credibility to their claims. The front rim appears to be 21in, while the rears looks to be 18in. Tyres on these types of bikes are usually 110/80-19 and 150/70-17, while BMW’s R1200GS runs 120/70-19 and 170/60-17. The front tyre on this pic doesn’t look like a 110 or 120 to us, but more like a 100/80, or 90/90 – again hinting at it’s off-road prowess. The tyre is not a tread we’ve seen before, suggesting that they are all new, and developed specifically for the Africa Twin.



Pictures by BMH Images 


Andy Downes

By Andy Downes

Former MCN Senior Reporter