Africa Twin: Day two roundup – Off-road
Following a day of road riding yesterday (scroll down), today saw us taking the new Africa Twin onto the rough stuff to really put its off-road credentials to the test.
For the road test, we rode on Dunlop Trialsmart tyres, which are aimed at those who will predominantly stick to the tarmac, but who also may also occasionally venture onto dirt tracks. But today things were destined to get more serious, so our bikes were euipped with Continental TKC80’s. These would typically be the tyre that you would use for a genuine on and off-road adventure, and equip the true adventure rider with a tyre that will be unfazed by serious dirt and rougher trails.
The test route was a challenging loop that incorporated a mixture of fast trails, soft sand and rocky terrain, with a few tight turns to boot – and we had both manual and DCT bikes available to ride.
The narrow seat and your seated position – which was touched on in yesterday’s report (below) – makes so much sense when riding off-road. It is very roomy, giving lots of space to move about the machine and really get a feel for what’s happening at your feet. The Africa Twin is a very well balanced machine which makes the bike predictable and easy to control.
For off-road riding, the engine is absolutely beautiful and the power delivery is smooth and progressive. The electronics further compliment the delivery, being simple to use and understand.
We rode most of the route today with the traction control off and I found the Africa Twin to be really manageable, responding well to my inputs. Even when the back wheel starts sliding there is still plenty of control and predictability just relying on throttle control and mechanical grip.
Honda have done an amazing job with the DCT gearbox. Its an incredible addition to the bike and takes a large element of the rider’s workload away, allowing you to focus on finding the best lines without having to worry about the clutch or stalling the bike.
It doesn’t take long at all to realise that this bike is very, very good. It absolutely sings off-road and it is immediately evident that this is its home territory – despite the fact that it performs brilliantly on-road too. Hats off to Honda, the Africa Twin is a genuinely impressive machine.
Africa Twin: Day one roundup - Road
First up there are some amazing roads here in South Africa! They sweep through canyons and up mountains, with unpredictable road surfaces and an eclectic mix of second gear hairpins through to top gear sweepers and anything in between – making it an enviable place to ride and the perfect back drop to evaluate an adventure bike.
Having started the day on the manual version of the bike, which has adjustable levels of traction control and off-road ABS, this afternoon was spent riding the DCT machine.
The dual clutch system has evolved since Honda introduced it to their range approximately three years ago and its taken another step on the new Africa Twin due to the bikes off-road ability.
Gear changes are seamless to the extent where there is minimal weight transfer from front to rear which is a major bonus should you carry a pillion as it’s likely to negate and clashing of helmets.
Despite losing a large amount of rider input in terms of deciding when to change gear, it remains engaging to ride and back to back on fast, what would be A-roads, there was nothing to split the DCT and the Manual bike for speed and acceleration.
It’s definitely more relaxing to ride, ultimately giving the rider more time to concentrate on other things such as line, hazards (which include some wildlife here in South Africa ranging from baboons to tortoises!) and of course the often incredible view on offer.
Tomorrow is arguably the real test for the Africa Twin. A lot has been made about its off-road capabilities on day two we’re going to get to understand a lot more. As a passionate off-road rider I have to say that from the first contact with the dirt today, Honda’s claims are genuine and well founded. It feels well balanced, easy to ride and a lot less intimidating than anyone of the 1200cc adventure bikes currently on offer.