There are two versions available: one with a six-speed gearbox
and another with Honda’s DCT, which shifts automatically.
Honda’s Africa Twin is the company’s most serious
offering in the adventure bike world.
when you don’t have to work a clutch manually.
Traction control can be tailored with another trigger on the
left. In the default position, the bike stumbles and stammers
any time the rear wheel breaks loose. That’s only useful on
the street. Once you go off-road, you can change to any of
three settings or just turn the system off, all on the fly. On
flat dirt roads, setting three is workable, but you still can’t
use power to slide around a turn. Setting two lets you get
away with a little flat-track action, but if you get into sand,
you’ll still get stuck. Setting one is the most practical. You
can back it into turns, and the computer only intrudes when
the wheel is spinning wildly. Sometimes that’s fun, too, and
that’s why Honda gives you the option of turning the whole
system off. Same is true with the ABS system; a push of a
button and it goes away, at least on the rear wheel.
The only electronic feature that’s missing in action is
suspension control. The shock and fork have normal
damping and preload adjusters but nothing you can alter on
Electronic stuff aside, what we like most about the
bike is the layout. It’s narrow, so you feel perfectly at
home in the dirt. Standing is natural. The footpegs are
in the right place, and after a short stint in the saddle,
you’ll swear it’s light. It’s not really light, of course; it’s
still a 998cc parallel twin that weighs over 500 pounds.
But, if you’re used to another liter-sized adventure bike,
the Honda is very compact.
With DOT knobbies like the Conti TKC80s, the Africa
Twin is so capable that it invites you to get more and
more daring. First you’ll pop the occasional wheelie off a
water bar. Then you’ll navigate rock sections with a little
more speed. Pretty soon you’ll be crossing rain ruts and
ditches without letting off, and that’s where it’s apparent
that if you could adjust the suspension from the saddle,
you would. It’s great on smooth stuff, but the fork will
respond with a hard clunk on hard impacts. If you want
to stop and add a few clicks of compression damping,
you can, but there’s no electronic solution as on the
top-of-the-line KTMs, Yamahas and BMWs.