5 - Overall Rating
4 - Ride Quality & Brakes
4 - Engine
5 - Build Quality & Reliability
4 - Insurance, running costs & value
5 - Equipment
The Africa Twin inspires confidence on the dirt immediately, regardless of your ability or off-road experience. Its physical size makes it a breath of fresh air in the current 1200+cc dominated adventure bike class; the parallel-twin motor making it both low and narrow. This, combined with the fuel tank ergonomics, means that when standing up the rider is able to get their weight forward over the front wheel while putting pressure through the footpegs to aid steering and grip – a vital asset when covering rough terrain.
The new Africa Twin boasts true globe-trotting credentials both on and off-road. It feels lightweight and is seriously frugal. This is one of the most impressive true adventure bikes you can buy, and a stunning return for the prestigious Africa Twin name.
Ride Quality & Brakes
The impeccable fuelling and throttle connection makes for assured rapid progress, but the 94bhp motor fails to truly inspire. It lacks the bottom and mid range engagement of the 125bhp BMW GS boxer twin, and doesn’t have anything close to the top end rush from KTM’s ballistic 150bhp 1190 Adventure. But that is not to say it’s a slow bike. It has a decent torque figure of 68.6ftlb, and through the confidence-inspiring throttle-to-rear tyre connection it means that it’s easy to access every bit of the power on offer. It just doesn’t deliver it in an overly exciting way.
On the road the bike is seriously comfortable, the seat is spacious as is the relation to the foot pegs, meaning that there is plenty of room for 6ft plus riders. Yet the bike itself has an impressively low seat height meaning that at 5ft 10in tall I can put both feet flat on the ground at a standstill – a first for me on a big-capacity adventure bike. This was part of Honda’s design brief to make the bike as manageable as possible and has been achieved through integrating the oil tank and pump within the bottom of the crank case, which in turn reduces the overall height of the engine and resulting seat height. The seat itself is also particularly narrow where it meets the fuel tank, which means as a rider your legs aren’t splayed wide like they are on a BMW GS, which is significant for shorter riders. But move back on the seat and it gets wider, which is key to the high levels of rider comfort on the move. The handlebar position feels neutral yet purposeful and immediately gives great leverage, control and inspires a high level of confidence.
The standard screen is relatively small, but produces significantly better wind protection than its appearance suggests. High-speed cruising provokes limited buffeting and an acceptable amount of wind noise, even when wearing a peaked adventure helmet.
While its smooth, linear power doesn’t necessarily excite on-road, off-road it’s close to perfect. The brilliant fuelling gifts you predictable throttle control, immediately generating the confidence to switch off the impressive three-stage traction control (Honda Selectable Torque Control). Using level one the bike spins up and it will hold a slide, but will ultimately intervene to keep the rear wheel in check so that you don’t have to. Level two is more intrusive, while level three constantly interrupts the power in loose conditions, but still finds any available grip and keeps you moving. I experimented by stopping on a loose, rocky incline then restarting with the TC in level three and, while progress wasn’t fast, it reached the top of the hill with minimal fuss.
Honda have worked hard on mass centralisation and a low centre of gravity through their engine architecture and positioning of heavy components. This in turn gives the bike impressive balance, especially at low speed where full-lock turns on or off the dirt were easily achieved – feet up.
Build Quality & Reliability
It's well put together, with rugged simplicity being the key focus of the design brief.
Insurance, running costs & value
The 3-stage traction control is not only effective, but it’s simple to use. The Africa Twin has a dedicated toggle lever just above the passing light on the left-hand bar that changes the setting. Off-road-specific ABS, which allows the rear to lock, is also activated by a simple push button on the dash.
The all-digital dash displays speed and revs clearly in the top section with a lower section showing gear position, traction control, temperature, fuel gauge, trip meters and mpg. On either side of the dash are warning lights to indicate if the traction control has been activated.
Load of accessories are available including luggage, crash protection, heated grips, taller screen, fog lights, 12v socket and centrestand. There’s also a complete range of dedicated Africa Twin clothing which includes an Arai helmet, Spidi jacket, trousers and gloves plus Alpinestars boots.