Giant plans for mini adventurer: middleweight Honda Africa Twin model incoming

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Honda are working on a small-capacity Africa Twin to muscle in on a lucrative segment of the adventure bike market. The new twin will be one of three models based on a modular platform, MCN sources say.

The news is exciting for adventure riders because there’s a large gap in Honda’s range between the 250/450cc off-road focused CRFs and the much bigger 1100cc Africa Twin.

The Honda Africa Twin is a well-balanced adventure bike that’s perfect for two-up travelling and the new Adventure Sports model has opened it up to even more hardcore endeavours.

It does have its drawbacks, however: it’s big, it’s heavy, it’s too powerful for riders with A2 licences and it’s also expensive. All of this is off-putting for younger riders and Honda know this, which is why they’re looking at something new.

The basis for the new bikes will be an evolution of the NC series, which includes the NC750S and adventure styled NC750X. But there will be key changes that split the range and make them more ‘bikey’.

The engine will be enlarged to 790cc, which should provide a boost in power and torque, as well as offsetting any Euro5 losses. Like the 1100, the mini-twin will have the option of a DCT gearbox as already exists on the current NC models.

Kenji Morita with 2018 Honda Africa Twin

Kenji Morita, project leader for the 1100cc Africa Twin admitted Honda have a gap in their range they’d like to fill. “When we speak about pure adventure, we don’t have a wide line-up. So, we are thinking of a half-way model to attract younger people.”

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We expect it to be built to a price with a non-adjustable screen, a simple dash and non-adjustable suspension.

A new 790cc adventure bike would put Honda right in the middle of the increasingly competitive middleweight adventure bike segment that includes the BMW F850GS, the new Triumph Tiger 900s and the Yamaha Ténéré 700 as well as the KTM 790 Adventure.

Although the smaller Africa Twin will likely be down on power compared to the other four, it will be easier to ride and better suited to people new to the sport.

This could be a shrewd move for Honda, as they’ll be keen to move the big bike out of the firing line of the new KTM 790 Adventure, with the CEO of KTM having expressly targeted the Africa Twin.

Two new NC models are also in the pipeline. A naked roadster and a ‘classic’ are most likely. Honda remain tight lipped about these models, however we’d expect them to be unveiled at the Eicma motorcycle show in November.

Since the Yamaha Ténéré 700 is the newest, it’s Honda’s most obvious competitor. We’d expect the mini-Africa Twin to cost around £8500.