2016 Honda Africa Twin Video Review

Tom Roderick
by Tom Roderick

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.

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.

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).

Tom Roderick
Tom Roderick

A former Motorcycle.com staffer who has gone on to greener pastures, Tom Roderick still can't get the motorcycle bug out of his system. And honestly, we still miss having him around. Tom is now a regular freelance writer and tester for Motorcycle.com when his schedule allows, and his experience, riding ability, writing talent, and quick wit are still a joy to have – even if we don't get to experience it as much as we used to.

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  • Phaedrus Phaedrus on Dec 31, 2015

    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!

    • Montana dave Montana dave on Apr 07, 2016

      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 Montana dave on Apr 07, 2016

    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.