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Blazing a solo Crossrunner trail

2011-10-13 18:16

TAKE THE KITCHEN SINK: Loaded to the gunnels for a super-long run on Honda’s new Crossrunner.

Vehicle Specs
Manufacturer Honda
Engine V4, 782cc, liquid-cooled
Power 75kW@ 10 000rpm
Torque 73Nm @ 9500rpm
Transmission Five-speed
Zero To Hundred Five sec (est.)
Top Speed 210km/h (est.)
Fuel Tank 21.5 litres
Fuel Consumption 5.23 litres/100km (real life)
Weight 240kg
Airbags No
Tyres Front 120/70-ZR17M/C, Rear 17 x MT6.00 on 12-spoke cast aluminium rims
Front Suspension Telescopic inverted fork with an inner tube diameter of 43 mm, and a Big Piston Front Fork with preload, compression and rebound adjustment, 120mm str
Rear Suspension Balance-free rear cushion with preload, compression and rebound adjustment, 62mm stroke
Service Intervals 12 000km
Warranty Two years, unlimited km
Price R109 990 (+panniers/centre-stand R114 900)
Rivals Triumph Tiger 800, Ducati Multistrada, BMW F800
Long-distance test

Honda’s latest bike offering is called the Crossrunner, a dual-purpose motorcycle though probably not for dirt riding but rather a machine that offers superb on-road performance coupled with genuine touring ability.

If you think about it there’s only a handful of bikes on the South African market capable of rewarding the sports rider while coping perfectly with touring trips (and, of course, day-to-day commuting) so a chance to ride the versatile Crossrunner to Cape Town from Gauteng over a weekend seemed an opportunity too good to miss.


Two days spent trekking around the Johannesburg International Motor Show (JIMS) on the Thursday and Friday had taken its toll. My feet were still aching and my back was taking on hunchback proportions due to lugging around all the hefty media kits and related paraphernalia at the Nasrec showground.

I was glad Saturday morning had come around the 1500km bike road trip and I was eagerly looking forward to it - if only to take the weight of my feet. Distributing all my gear as evenly as possible into two panniers and a top box found me cursing why car and truck companies don’t all provide computer memory sticks instead of reams of paper, cardboard packaging and wasteful wrapping.

Within about 10 minutes I found myself alongside the GM headquarters on the N1 and noted their banners proclaiming: 100 Years of Chevrolet, hey, they were feeling their age, too!


The Highveld spring weather was inviting, the 782cc, quad-cam VFR motor even more so. Didn’t the bike know it was loaded to the gunnels with gear? The sit-up riding position of the Crossrunner with its wide, touring-style bars sorted out back and body pains before I had even reached Henley-on-Klip and the Midvaal Raceway to see the historic bike guys* doing a few laps on their Triumph, BSA and Norton bikes – as well as some other classics from yesteryear.

With a full tank (21.5 litres), it was also the ideal opportunity to work out some real-life fuel consumption figures on the ride home to Cape Town. The quickish cross-country ride to re-connect with the N1 about 200km from Bloemfontein revealed the best fuel consumption of the weekend at 4.65 litres/100km (the worst was 6.18 on a boring stretch across the Camdeboo Plains).

CHANGES AT MIDVAAL:The Midvaal Raceway near Vereeniging has a new owner! There are lots of enthusiasts to be found there most weekends, among them a keen bunch from the Historic Motorcycle Museum at Deneysville.

Creature comforts on the Crossrunner are remarkably good. Up front there’s an informative instrument binnacle that includes a digital diode speedometer, a rev counter, coolant temperature gauge, two trip meters, oil temperature indicator and a clock.

On the options list is a 12V power socket – something I would want if I were buying. Wouldn’t you?

The bike’s suspension provides a uniquely versatile range of damping control. Up front, 43mm cartridge forks provide supreme front-wheel control and excellent feedback. With lots of weight spread around the bike the Pro-link rising-rate linkage system and gas-charged HMAS damper still managed to cope superbly well – to be expected from a thoroughbred tourer.

At times the road south-west can be boring. With at least a dozen stop-and-go roadworks operations encountered I decided to leave the N1 at Hanover and favour the more bike-friendly N9 via Middelburg, Graaff-Reinet, Aberdeen and Willowmore.


Straight as an arrow, very little traffic on the Sunday afternoon… it was time to play! Did you know that every kilometre there are 80 bits of broken dotted lines? I met only four vehicles over 110km so it was time to see how well I could weave between the cat’s eyes… I managed 97km/h without clipping them before calling in at the quaint village of Aberdeen (pop. 1050) for a stretch.

The place was closed. Oh well, what the hell...?

The Honda Crossrunner is such an easy bike to ride that my mind started to wander and I started considering important things: why didn’t the couple of tortoises I’d seen near Willowmore use the zebra crossing rather than run the risk of getting pancaked; why do you never see a kombi taxi for sale; why do you never see a baby hadedahs?

LONELY RIDER: What better way can there be of seeing South Africa first-hand than by motorcycle? This is the Nieu-Bethesda turnoff on the N9 in the Karoo heartland.

Cruising down the Outeniqua Pass I was aware of what I thought was a glorious aroma. I presumed it was from the pine forests but when I stopped for a break I discovered that two fruit-juice cartons (the very same one gets on domestic airline flights) had leaked their contents into the top box.

Everything was soaked and I made a mental note to suggest to Honda Motors South Africa that perhaps a small drain hole might be a darn good idea… if you have a top box, perhaps drill one at its lowest point yourself.

To sum up my weekend, total distance travelled in 48 hours was 1915km, included about 10 fuel stops and the average fuel consumption was 5.23 litres/100 km.

Total fuel cost: R1301.63.

I suppose you might well be able to complete the journey quicker by plane or car but then how much fun would that be?   

*My intended diversion that weekend was to visit the Deneysville Motorcycle Museum… more about this “blast from the past” moment in a future Wheels24 column.


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