An Italian-built Africa Twin Rally special-edition caused a stir last week when a corporate video seemed to show Honda’s new version of the popular adventure bike.
The truth is slightly more convoluted. The Rally offerings seen in a new Spidi promotional video – and another by an Italian magazine which tested the bike in both manual and DCT forms – was built by Red Moto, Honda’s official importer in Italy, aiming to capture a slice of Dakar-cool for the mid-market adventurer. The expensive, numbered limited-editions wear high-end parts, modified bodywork, a one-piece seat, and borrows heavily at the front-end from the firm’s 450 Dakar replica. It’s a thorough job, and if you think Honda aren’t in on the ruse, then think again.
MCN spoke to Honda UK, and was told: “The Africa Twin Rally has been created in partnership with Honda’s Italian off-road distributor (Red Moto) for sale in Italy only in limited numbers.” The key phrase here is “in partnership”, suggesting a level of collaboration unlikely to have existed unless Honda were interested in the results, and public interest, of the transformation.
New Adventure model later this year
More interesting still, is that our European Honda sources suggest that we will see a new ‘Adventure’ model launched at this year’s Milan show in November. While it won’t be as radical as the Rally version built by Red Moto, we do expect it to have more rally-focused suspension spec, a larger fuel tank, and a Touratech aluminium pannier system, as well as styling tweaks. With the model deep into its second year on the market, Honda need to reinvigorate sales, and the addition of a new model in the line-up will do that. Our European source also suggests that there could be another version in the pipeline – resulting in a three-bike Africa Twin family, all sharing the same 1000cc parallel-twin engine.
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