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.
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).