The 2016 Africa Twin is the first model to feature Honda’s next-gen Dual Clutch Transmission, and the only ADV bike in the world equipped with such technology. This is a significant achievement not for the sake of new technology, but because the technology works pretty well, which is why my initial review – and this video – focuses on the DCT’s use and performance. However, the story was a little light when it comes to other areas of the bike’s performance. So, I wanted to take this opportunity to address a few omissions.

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The 21-inch front wheel speaks volumes about the Africa Twin’s off-road intentions. This choice of wheel size has the Africa Twin in the company of other OEM’s most off-roady off-road bikes: BMW F800GS Adventure, KTM 1190 Adventure R, Triumph Tiger 800XCx. With a claimed curb weight of 503 pounds, the Africa Twin is also in the same claimed wet weight range of these bikes, making a future shootout already enticing.

122215-2016-Honda-CRF1000L-Africa-Twin-YM16-D2367

Braking performance from the twin 310mm discs and 4-piston calipers is substantial in either off- or on-road applications.

During our press intro the Honda proved to be a very capable off-roader whether aboard the standard transmission model or the DCT version. The 21-inch front kept the bike stable when plowing through deep sand, and pointing in a forward direction when pounding up a rocky incline. Steering transitions were, of course, slower than if it were outfitted with a 19-inch front wheel, and there’s not as much rubber on the road (90/90-21), but those are concessions an ADV rider with real off-road convictions is willing to make.

The DCT model weighs a claimed 22 pounds more than the standard transmission model, and the weight difference can be felt to some extent – more so when off-road than when on-road. For riders who hold the benefits of DCT in higher regard than the minor performance advantage of an inconsequential amount of weight, there’s really not much to consider. In other words, anyone concerned about an additional 22 pounds on a 500+ pound, 1000cc ADV bike is shopping in the wrong aisle.

The new parallel-Twin powering the Africa Twin is amazingly smooth, lacking enough handlebar vibes to not be an issue over long distances on paved two-laners. What it also lacks is impressive horsepower. With only a claimed crank output of 94 hp at 7300 rpm and 72 lb-ft at 6000 rpm, the motor produces enough linear power to keep things exciting in the dirt but can only be considered sufficient for pavement riding – especially if you’re wanting to pile on hard saddlebags with clothing and a significant other. If that’s the case, maybe a BMW R1200GS, KTM Super Adventure or Honda’s new-for-the-US VFR1200X would be more appropriate considerations – if you’re willing to step up in price: $16,495, and $20,499 for the Beemer and KTM, respectively (VFR1200X still TBD).

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  • frankfan42

    Much better information in this review, especially the video review.

  • Benjamin Hasselgren

    Very interesting bike – I think Honda is spot on here with this bike. The only thing I am missing is shaft drive (I know, uncommon, especially on off-road bikes, but R1200GSA…). Anyhow – very nice bike. I tried the DCT (gen 1 I guess) on NC700SD and it works flawless. Very impressive.

  • Sayyed Bashir

    A very carefully worded re-review of the Africa Twin (American Honda must have complained). The only positive: 21″ front wheel. DCT adds 22 lbs to the weight and $700 to the price. DCT performance in dirt: ho-hum; not useful for real off-road riding. (Tom: “minor performance advantage” should be “minor performance disadvantage”). Bike performance on highway: mediocre. Not enough power for riding with loaded panniers or passenger. Ride modes: none. It is hard to write an enthusiastic review of the Africa Twin (especially after the raised expectations from the pre-announcement hoopla) when there are so many worthy competitors out there. It could have worked as a beginner ADV bike, but is too expensive, tall and heavy for beginners.

    • Ian Parkes

      I get the right to free speech but unless you can confirm you have ridden the bike it’s really irritating me that you spent time writing this and that I’ve just wasted several seconds reading it.

      • Sayyed Bashir

        It is a summary of Tom Roderick’s review, except the advertising revenue double-speak has been taken out. I have not ridden the bike, neither have you, nor anyone else here. There is nothing positive about the bike mentioned in the article, except that it has a 21″ front wheel. Everything else is a negative. Don’t waste your time reading this rebuttal, or at least don’t whine about it.

  • Alexander Pityuk

    Tom, you probably should’ve put a disclaimer in the initial article, that a lot of missing info was coming soon in the video review. But it’s a lesson for us, readers, too.

  • Luke

    I feel like Honda is always putting out bikes with an obvious missing feature, then fixes it a year or two later. Maybe cruise control is the thing here? (on the CB1000 it was 6th gear, etc…)

  • DickRuble

    Would be interested to know how the Africa Twin compares to the KTM Adventure 990. Seems to me that a lightly used Adventure is still a better option.

    • http://www.themotorcycleobsession.com/ Chris Cope

      Could compare it, also, against the 1050 Adventure, which has similar specs.

      • DickRuble

        1050 not available in the US. It’s just a castrated 1190 to satisfy A2 permit requirements in the EU. I’d rather consider the 990.

        • john mature puss

          agreed Dick. Give me a 990 with totally sorted fueling issues.

      • john mature puss

        not really. Those 1050s are already being price reduced here in Australia because they aren’t moving. They are a cheap 1190 – similar weight and some of the integral good bits but with all the expensive stuff taken off.
        Non adjustable front suspension, non switchable ABS, alloy wheels.
        Simply a way to legalize big KTMs into the European learner / inexperienced rider market really

    • Sayyed Bashir

      Talking about Honda’s reliability, you have certainly not been keeping up with the recalls of thousands of Honda models in the past few years for serious problems. And talking about riding across continents and KTM’s reliability, have you read about the guy who is riding 150,000 miles across 110 countries in 2 years on a KTM 1190 Adventure R? blog ktm com /the-goodwill-journey.

      • DickRuble

        I don’t care about one guy riding one KTM Adventure.. I have read about riders’ experience in North Africa and many mentioned that most of the adventurers were riding Africa Twins.

        • Sayyed Bashir

          Are you talking about the new 2016 Africa Twin (which is not even available yet) or the original Africa Twin which was a completely different bike, and was built for the Paris-Dakar Rally? Honda is using the original “Africa Twin” name to sell a completely different bike. Honda has not participated in a Dakar Rally in 24 years (until 2013), yet feels privileged to sell a “Dakar” bike. KTM has won the Dakar Rally for 14 years straight. Your comment about “Honda’s reliability” is what irked me, in light of the thousands of serious recalls in the past several years.

  • http://www.themotorcycleobsession.com/ Chris Cope

    It’s been my feeling over the past few years that, with each new bike it releases, Honda needs 2-4 years after a model is released to make tweaks before finally offering the bike it should have made in the first place. That’s my feeling with the Africa Twin. It has a lot of “Why did they do that?” elements for me. I look forward to those being ironed out and an awesome bike hitting some time before 2020.

  • Patriot159

    It’s different enough and should be a nice addition to the ADV category especially for the $$. I’m a ‘light makes right’ kind of guy and wish they could have knocked off about 50 more lbs. though. I’m also guessing that this will pretty much win the off road portion of shootouts against the other big bore ADV bikes.

    • Sayyed Bashir

      What makes you think it is going to win off-road against any other ADV bikes?

  • Tommy Johnson

    Looks narrow, which would be a big benefit to many of us. I suspect they have a hit on their hands here. I look forward to testing one.

  • Phaedrus

    It seems we are living on a motorcycling era where 100 HP is barely enough and 500 lbs “off-road capable” bikes are the norm. Anything underneath is nothing but a beginners bike or the one the poor guy could afford.
    22 extra pounds not worth saving? Remember that at 6pm after 10 hours of riding and the nth time you dropped your steed in the mud…
    94HP not enough? for what? Last time I checked we have 70 mph speed limits, except in some stretches of the lone star state. This bike can easily maintain 100 mph all day long, and probably top 125. Or perhaps we need a 12 sec 1/4 mile with the missus and full camping gear to overtake that 18 wheeler for safety reasons…
    It boils down to “I want a have it” vs we really need it. Nothing wrong with that as this fuels new technology we all benefit with eventually. Why would I opt out from the rush of a 160hp bike, or the necessary electronics to control that extra power. Nothing really, except my old nimble 2004 KTM 950 is now a 1290 expensive leviathan. Evolution? Maybe, maybe not.
    My guess is that the response from Honda to the “barely enough” power and irrelevancy of saving 22lbs comments would be a 1300 Adventure with only 600 lbs, 10 gallon tank and satellite connectivity, with an Arnold type butler to help pick it up in time of distress.
    What could be an alternative? Place the new 690 Duke engine – little vibrations so they say – in an off-road chassis and we would have a 75HP 370 lbs Adventure Bike worth its salt. Given the trend, I’d probably keep my 650 V-Strom a while longer.
    Happy New Year!

    • john mature puss

      all good points. I was so looking forward to this bike when rumours abounded about 200 kgs wet weight 12 months ago. As it is, my Vstrom 1000 is the same weight, slightly more power and (after adding skidplate, raising the rear, putting on Pivotpegz and bar risers) will do a sufficient job off road and be better on the pavement with luggage. If I want to “jump” I’ll take my 370lb DR650. I’ll still give the A/T a look but I’m certainly not expecting as much as I previously did.

    • Montana dave

      Totally agree with you,Phaedrus. Made a big mistake of buying a 1100 BMW GS one time. What a top heavy pig. Try picking it up on a loose gravel road by ones self. 690 Duke in such a lightweight package would be a drop kick success. Would kill anything in it’s class. K.I.S.S.(mart).

  • Montana dave

    I’m also a huge “less is best” fan. Having a 990 Adventure along several other duel purpose bikes of various sizes & brands. Nothing beat the quality and engineering overall. KTM should have kept it also and given a choice when coming out with their heavy,complicated,expensive pig. Remember the days Honda use to be a leader,not a “Johnny come lately.” Honda are usually porky,as well.