What I LikeThe thing that stands out the most on the Africa Twin is that it has off-road chops. My best ride took place without a photographer, in the woods on my favorite tough ADV trails (I can send pics of my girlfriend in Canada, too, she’s super-hot, I swear). There’s an OHV area called John’s Peak that is not terribly difficult but I always get weird looks from the dirtbike riders when we cross paths out in the woods.
The DCT may have made it easier because it’s impossible to stall on the steep, long, rutted and rocky climbs (this is in dal-sport terms, not dirt bike terms), but it has the power to pull just about any grade hill with the tires being the limiting factor. It managed these slow speed trails as if it was a much smaller bike and that won me over, just as I hoped it would. Every time I took it in the dirt, it just felt like it belonged there and that’s sweet for such a big bike.
What I Don’t LikeAs much as I want to love the DCT it just detracts from my personal reasons for riding a motorcycle. Don’t get me wrong, I can imagine 100 ways that this function is great for some riders. First of all, it makes two-up riding very pleasant for the passenger. There’s very little disruption in stability when the bike shifts and both my passengers noted it. It’s also very good for low-speed riding and worry-free starts. The bike will not stall so it’s great when you start on a hill or if you’re navigating difficult terrain off-road. But it dumbs down the riding experience for me, so: thanks, but I’ll take a pass.
Also the footpegs seem so tiny. I kept hitting my boot on the engine cases when I was trying to locate the rear brake pedal. It’s in a slightly funky position that made it so my foot barely grabbed the edge of it sometimes. And again, the pegs are small, so when I was standing up during off road riding, my foot would slip off every once in a while, or I couldn’t find it on the first try. I know that’s a weird complaint but it happened enough that it became annoying.
ConclusionIt was a good first date. The Africa Twin was very good looking and it was a joy to ride. Sure, there are a few things I would change if we had to take this relationship to the next level but overall I’ve got to give the Honda my stamp of approval. Even the DCT was pretty good. It may not be my preferred way to shift gears but it works. I feel this bike has massive potential as an all-around ADV machine and for my personal preference, it ticks nearly all the right boxes. It is fast but not overly powerful, it looks good and handles good, too, plus it is a relative bargain compared to the other motorcycles in the ADV class.
I’d like mine with a full suite of crash bars, skid plates and some legitimate knobby tires. I would probably keep the exhaust stock, definitely dial in the suspension a wee bit, and call it a day. I can visualize a long ride through Baja on this baby with a pocketful full of twenties and a backpack full of Zantac to ease me through the steady diet of dust, street tacos and Coronas. Hopefully, Honda will give me the opportunity to do some real off-road adventure riding with the next test bike because, in the end, that’s what this bike is made to do.