SERIOUS FUN: Wheels24 bike expert, Dries van der Walt, says the the new Honda CRF1000L AfricaTwin is a worthy successor to the iconic original adventure bike. Image: Wheels24/ Dries van der Walt
Cape Town - It is always risky to launch a replacement of an iconic bike, and more so if the icon has been out of production for years – people tend to recall it nostalgically, which almost invariably leads to the reality of the new version not living up to fond memories of the old.
Honda took this chance when they began developing a replacement of the venerable Africa Twin of the late Eighties – a bike with a well-deserved reputation of being a go-anywhere, do-anything machine.
The challenge was to make the new version good enough to blow away the cobwebs of nostalgia and force riders to assess the bike on its own merit.
Riding in Cape Winelands
Honda’s main aim with the new iteration was to make it equally at home on and off the road, or as the automaker puts it, able to "keep going when the road ends". This meant that they had to pay attention to both long-distance comfort and off-road capability, as well as making it pleasant enough to commute or run errands with.
To judge how successful they were, Honda invited the world’s media to the Cape Winelands for the bike’s launch.
The event was split into two days – one for on-road and one for off-road rising, allowing us sufficient time in the saddle to come to grips with the new Africa Twin.
Headed for SA
According Honda South Africa the new bike will be available "end of March/beginning of April 2016. Please take note that pricing has NOT been confirmed as yet and it is subject to Rate of Exchange".
Honda's suggested retail prices are:
Manual entry-level (non ABS Traction Control): R 155 000
Manual full specification: R168 000
DCT full specification: R 182 000
'Effortless to ride'
Riding the bike I noticed two things straight away: its surprising nimbleness (considering that it is a 1 000 cm³ machine) and its remarkable stability. Both on and off the road the bike is effortless to ride. The one thing that wasn’t immediately obvious was how comfortable it was. It was only when we discussed the ride at the end of the first day that I realised that after 280 km of hard riding, I didn’t feel tired at all.
How capable is it off-road?
Day One’s riding proved that Honda had the long-distance thing down pat – Day Two would give me the chance to assess it off the road. Without being overly technical, Honda’s chosen off-road route did a good job of showing the bike’s capabilities. From thick sand to hard surfaces to loose pebbles to even the occasional small jump, it was all there to test the bike’s (and my own) mettle.
I am by no means and experienced off-road rider, but I was able to make the Twin do things I would never have dreamt of on a litre-class adventure bike. Riding it in anger on a dirt track, you soon forget that this is not a mid-sized bike – the Africa Twin is is one of those rare bikes that makes an average rider look good and a good rider look brilliant.
The Twin comes in two versions: manual and DCT (Dual Clutch Transmission, Honda’s automatic transmission that also does duty on bikes like the VFR 1200 and the NC750X). I had a marginal preference for the DCT version off-road (it lightens your workload and allows you to to fully concentrate on the road – or lack thereof), but I preferred the manual for sporty riding on-road. I think either version is perfectly up to the task, and which one you’ll settle for will ultimately be determined by personal preference.
So, has Honda succeeded in creating a worthy successor to the original Africa Twin? I believe they have – the new Twin is everything its older sibling was, and then some. Whether you are a seasoned rider or a novice, the Africa Twin will happily meet all your demands.
Type: Liquid-cooled 4-stroke 4 valve-per-cylinder parallel twin with 270° crank and
Displacement: 998 cm³
Bore & Stroke: 92.0 x 75.1mm
Max. Power Output: 70 kW @ 7 500rpm
Max. Torque: 98 Nm @ 6,000rpm
Fuel Capacity 18.8 litres
Fuel consumption (calimed): 21.7 km/l (manual), 21.8 km/l DCT
Clutch, manual transmission: Wet, multiplate with coil springs, Aluminium Cam Assist and Slipper clutch
Clutch, DCT: 2 Wet multiple clutches with coil springs
Gearbox: Constant mesh 6-speed
Final Drive: O-ring sealed chain
Honda Selectable Torque Control System (HSTC)
* HSTC 3-levels + Switch Off (*ABS & DCT models only, not on STD model)
Steel semi-double cradle type with steel rear subframe
Dimensions (L x W x H): 2335 x 875 x 1475mm (STD), 2 335 x 930 x 1 475mm (ABS/DCT)
Seat Height (STD position / Low position): 870/850mm
Ground Clearance: 250mm
Kerb Weight: 228kg (STD), 232 kg (ABS), 242kg (DCT)
Front: Show 45mm cartridge-type inverted telescopic fork with dial-style preload adjuster and DF adjustment, 230mm stroke.
Rear: Monoblock cast aluminium swing arm with Pro-Link with gas-charged damper, hydraulic dial-style pre-load adjuster and rebound damping adjustment, 220mm rear wheel travel.
Wheels Front: Wire spoke with aluminium rim, 21 x 2.15
Wheels Rear Wire spoke with aluminium rim, 18 x 4.00
Tyre, Front: 90/90-21 tube type
Tyre, Rear: 150/70-18 tube typePress information CRF1000L 2015
ABS* 2-Channel with rear ABS off switch (* ABS & DCT models only, not on STD
Front: 310mm dual wave floating disc with aluminium hub and radial fit 4-piston calipers and sintered metal pads
Rear: 256mm wave disc with 1-piston caliper and sintered metal pads. Also Lever-Lock Type Parking Brake, DCT: 1-piston caliper