In addition to the standard bike, two further versions are available: the first with switchable rear ABS and multiple mode Honda Selectable Torque Control (HSTC), and the second equipped with Honda’s unique Dual Clutch Transmission (featuring new off-road functionality), switchable rear ABS and HSTC.
The essential features of an adventure motorcycle are a strong engine, tough chassis with long travel suspension, upright riding position and wide handlebars – all of which ensure its usability whatever the terrain. This practicality has been key to the popularity of these machines: they are easy to ride, comfortable and adaptable, at home on the road whether touring mountain passes and highways, or filtering through jammed city streets.
Throughout the development of the CRF1000L Africa Twin, the search for the optimal blend of off-road performance, touring comfort and agility was a constant theme. One motorcycle consistently impressed with its usability, poise and handling both on road and in the dirt: the original XRV750L Africa Twin. It proved a worthwhile benchmark when set against today’s myriad choice of adventure bikes.
The new machine that now bears its name may share no common part with the old model but – on road or off-road but it inherits to the full the essence and spirit of what made the XRV750L Africa Twin so popular. It all starts with the engine, which has to perform in off-road situations as well as on-road long-range touring, and all points in between.
The CRF1000L Africa Twin’s 998cc parallel twin power plant draws heavily on Honda’s CRF250R/450R competition machines, using the same four-valve Unicam head design for compact overall dimensions. Strong and linear power and torque deliver instant response anywhere in the rev-range – accompanied by a satisfying, characterful deep growl as rpm rises. A 270° phased crankshaft gives the power delivery a distinct character as well delivering excellent feel for rear wheel traction. Biaxial primary balance shafts cancel vibration.
The semi-dry sump engine’s short height contributes to the CRF1000L Africa Twin’s 250mm ground clearance. The lightweight six-speed manual gearbox uses the same shift-cam design as found on the CRF250R/450R to ensure positive changes and is equipped with an aluminium assist slipper clutch. The CRF1000L Africa Twin’s parallel twin-cylinder engine makes 70Kw peak power @ 7,500rpm, and 98Nm torque @ 6,000rpm. It features Unicam 4 valve-per-cylinder head and dry sump plus common crankcases for both DCT and manual 6-speed gearbox versions.
The CRF1000L Africa Twin’s engine has been engineered with a special focus on two key areas – tractable and usable all-day touring performance and a power and torque delivery that offers genuine feel for rear wheel traction. The natural by-product of these abilities is that the machine is also a great all-rounder – as happy on the urban commute as anywhere else.
Good ground clearance, crucial to off-road performance – starts with a compact, short engine. The crankcases are split vertically with a built-in oil tank (the first Honda to feature such a design). The water pump is housed within the clutch casing (a first for a motorcycle engine) with a thermostat integrated into the cylinder head. This allows a shorter hose length and frees up scope for appealing exterior design (also eliminating the external mounting bolts) while saving weight. The water and oil pumps are driven by the engine’s balancer shafts; Manual and DCT versions of the engine share common crankcases with only minor external differences.
Its six-speed gearbox is a brand new design – with ‘pierced’ shape dogs for 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th gear – the clutch itself is physically smaller, saving 500g compared to conventional units. Oil gathering ribs have been added to the main journal side of the primary gear, ensuring consistent lubrication for the gear, damper spring and primary sub-gear.
Fully adjustable inverted Showa front forks are matched to a tough double cradle frame, with rigidity levels tuned for optimum handling. Wheels are 21/18-inch with 310mm ‘wave’ style floating front discs and radially mounted four-piston Nissin calipers. Dunlop 90/90-21 and 150/70-18 tyres provide all-round performance.
The CRF1000L Africa Twin will be available in four colour options: two standard and two Special Edition colours: CRF Rally (SE), Africa Twin Tricolor (SE), Digital Silver Metallic and Matte Ballistic Black Metallic.
Racing is in Honda’s DNA and the CRF Rally, with its Extreme Red and Victory Red stripes, plus three-tone seat echoes HRC’s CRF450R Rally machine. The Tricolour option pays its dues to the heritage of the original XRV750L Africa Twin, with unmistakable lines and paint to celebrate the machine’s return.
Honda has a full range of genuine accessories available for the Africa Twin including top box, panniers, smoke screen, high screen, upper and lower wind deflectors, rubber pillion step, DCT foot shifter, heated grips, 12V socket, fog lamp including cowl bar, wheel stripes and alarm system.
Text and images: Philip