THE BIKE THAT NEVER WAS
Much of Honda’s promotional material refers
to a bike that never existed, at least not here in
America. The original Africa Twin was a V-twin
back in the ’80s and early ’90s that was never
imported to the U.S., so don’t feel left out when
you read about this being a comeback. Let’s just
say it’s a new bike and leave it at that.
Now the Africa Twin is a parallel twin with more
emphasis than ever on dirt. By that we mean
dirt roads, sand, rocks and everything just short
of true singletrack. Honda has the advantage of
arriving on the scene after the Yamaha Super
Tenere, the BMW R1200GS Adventure and the
KTM 1190, which have raised the bar over the
last three years. So, the Africa Twin is lighter
and narrower than any of those, and it has the
most sophisticated traction control yet. The one
area where Honda is alone is in its automatic
shift technology. The Africa Twin offers the DCT
(Dual-Clutch Transmission) as an option. This has
already been seen on Honda ATVs and UTVs and
on some street bikes, but its application to the
off-road world is new. This
takes away the clutch lever
and shift lever, leaving you
with computer-controlled shifting
through the six-speed gearbox.
In any given gear, one clutch is
engaged while the secondary clutch
has the next anticipated gear ready.
When the computer decides the time is
right, the two clutches transfer the power
from one set of gears to the other almost
seamlessly. There are a total of four
“modes” that can be pre-selected to tell the
computer how high you want to rev out before
each shift, or you can use triggers on the left
grip to paddle-shift on your own.
At first we didn’t think we would like having
a computer babysit us. It turned out to be
awesome. Low speeds are always challenging
on big adventure bikes, and not having to worry
about the clutch makes life much, much easier.
A bonus feature is that the tall first gear that
plagues all adventure bikes simply isn’t an issue
ADVENTURE: HONDA AFRICA TWIN
On the street the Africa Twin is smooth, comfortable and
reasonably fast. It’s no Hayabusa, but it’s no slouch, either.