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Honda Africa Twin - Hype or the New Standard?


There's been a lot of buzz about the 2016 Honda Africa Twin. Most major publications have already provided favorable reviews. The one I was most waiting for was from Jimmy Lewis with Dirt Bike Test. Jimmy's review was positive with the biggest criticism being the small foot pegs.

Since the Honda Africa Twin has been released, Great Southwest Moto Adventures has acquired four of the much anticipated dual sport bikes with one more on the way. Here is my report after riding thousands of off-road miles and a few hundred on-road miles.

Our first outing on the Honda Africa Twin

Our first outing was a 600 mile scouting trip in north-central Nevada. Riding 600 miles of new terrain is a major turn on for any hard core adventure rider. Because we were expecting the unexpected we brought a trusted steed; a KLR650. This trip was perfect for shaking down our first Africa Twin in some new and unknown territory.

We outfitted the Honda with:

  • Kickstand foot by Touratech

  • Pannier Racks by Hebco-Baker

  • Skid Plate by SW Motech

  • Panniers by Mosko Moto

  • GPS by Magellan

  • Knobby Tires by Kenda Big Blocks

The top crash bars were ordered from Touratech; however, they were not yet available by the time of our trip.

Jeff and I traded by jumping from the KLR to the Africa Twin and found the only necessary adjustment was to swing the handlebars into a more upright position that seemed to work well for my 6' frame.

General Impressions

Overall, we found the Africa Twin to be the best Adventure motorcycle we have ever ridden off-road. After a short time, Jeff and I thought we were riding a powerful dirt bike but coming in and out of the turns you were reminded of it's weight at just over 500 pounds. Thanks to the outstanding braking, handling, and traction control, recovery was possible even though there were a few pucker moments. We rode with a full load and were very surprised at how little the extra weight compromised the bikes manners.

On the pavement the Africa Twin is exceptionally smooth and does not wander. There is very little vibration and the engine seems to be happy running anywhere around the 70 to 80 MPH mark. The power is very linear and controllable with brisk response and delivery.

The sound of the bike alone is awesome.

Detailed Impressions

Off-road the Africa Twin is amazing. Lofting the front wheel, turning with the rear wheel (sliding), jumping whoops and getting your ya-ya's out is what this adventure bike is all about. If you want a dirt bike then get one. If you want an adventure bike this is the one!

The suspension is awesome compared to the BMW GS series and allows for much more aggressive riding in the advanced sections. As we rode a section of the Pony Express Trail we encountered very steep washouts, off camber turns, loose baby-head rocks, and very slow and technical terrain. Being a 1200GS rider I am used to tractoring through this kind of riding. You know how it is, "slow as you can go but fast as you need". The Honda required a few more rev's but the clutch, quick handling and strong suspension allowed me to jump across the baby-heads and not once did I find the skid plate. A shocking surprise!

We encountered and conquered the mud, streams, fire roads, long sand washes and very dim overgrown trails with a total feeling of confidence. The Honda did not require the muscling of other big Adventure motorcycles. It took a little getting used to since, at first, the tendency was to over-ride the handling with more forceful body language. A slight adjustment, tweet, or a little finesse and all was good with the Honda.

Conclusion

After swapping back and forth from the KLR to the Africa Twin we decided the experience was one for the books. We love the simple KLR that always makes it back to camp and, now, we have our new favorite, the Honda Africa Twin.

The Africa Twin allowed us to ride just about any terrain with a very high degree of confidence. At the cellular level Honda has managed to develop an excellent handling motorcycle that, in our humble opinion, sets the new standard for Adventure motorcycling. Although, it does not have 130 or 150 horsepower it has just the right amount since hooking up over 100 HP in the dirt is a waste since you can't find the traction.

The price point of Honda's new motorcycle will allow the common man the opportunity to enter the growing and ever popular Adventure market without taking out a second mortgage. This is healthy for the sport and great for riders that have always wanted to enter the adventure market segment but could never afford to.

Honda really hit the mark by setting a new ADV motorcycle standard. I have been a 1200GS guy for years. We are putting five of the new Africa Twins in our fleet. That should tell you how impressed we are with this new product from Honda! Don't believe us? Check it out for yourself and rent one from us!