As young Tom Roderick learned at the Africa Twin’s coming-out party last December, Honda’s claim for the new adventure bike is 93.9 crank horsepower at 7500 rpm, and 72.3 lb-ft of torque at 6000 rpm. Naturally, one of the first things we did when we got our hands on a brand-spanking Dakar Rally-liveried AT was strap it to the MotoGP Werks Dynojet 250, and here’s the verdict:
The Dynojet, of course, measures rear wheel horsepower, and the rule of thumb is we expect a chain-driven bike to show about 10% less than the crankshaft hp. The AT, then, is spot on, with 86 hp and 67 lb-ft of torque. It’s no match for almost all the bikes in last year’s Ultimate Sports-Adventure tour-off, but we have to say it’s rarely felt anything like slow or underpowered in the wringer we’ve put it through so far.
“The Honda’s motor feels much livelier than the dyno chart indicates, pulling strongly from down low and revving out with decent gusto up top,” comments EiC Duke. “Props to Honda for letting out a bit more exhaust bark than typical, as the 270-degree motor sounds deep and throaty.”
Maybe it never feels slow because at 525 pounds all gassed up and 545 with bags mounted on the official certified scales, it’s one of the lightest liter-class adventure bikes out there: The Suzuki V-Strom 1000 and Kawasaki Versys 1000 both undercut it by one pound.
On pavement and cruising at 80-ish, the CRF’s excellent seat and plush suspension render it more pleasant than we expected from a bike more dirt-oriented than most of the others in the class; off road, its 21-/18-inch wheel combo give it superior fire-road chops. The downside to that is the AT’s wire-spoke wheels are the old-fashioned kind that require inner tubes. You won’t be jamming in a plug in five minutes and continuing along on your merry way should you get a flat in the outback.
Another worrisome detail would be the fact that its panniers mount to the bike with the same sort of plastic prongs that caused us so much grief on Triumph’s first ADV bikes a few years ago. We hope Honda’s won’t be so easily breakable in the event of a casual tump-over or tree sideswipe.
In any event, it already feels like one of those bikes that may be more than the sum of its very nice parts and not-all-that-impressive specs. Stay tuned as we line up the players for our next Adventure Touring Epic, including the new Ducati Multistrada Enduro and whatnot. Could be good.