Friday, February 5, 2016

The CRF1000l. Honda's new Africa Twin

I've been reading about Honda's new incarnation of the Africa Twin for a while. There has been loads of speculation about what it will and wont be by loads of different riders. On my part I thought it would have a similar build to an XT660 but with the bigger 1000cc engine. Well a couple of weeks back I heard that Two Wheels, my local Honda dealer had one in, so Faithir and I went up for a look. The bike was out on test when we arrived but we did bump into Smillie. he'd came up to see the Africa Twin too.
After a while the bike pulled up and I went out to see it. I was surprised. It looked much better than I had thought it would. The brakes and suspension looked good quality and even in the low light and covered in road grime the bike looked well finished. I had a seat on it as Faithir and Smillie wandered out for a look. picking it up the bike felt light in comparison to my GS. Really light. The riding position felt good and we experimented by taking each other pillion. Again the bike felt good with plenty room. Ok. I'll arrange a test ride.

smillie at
Smillie enjoys his seat on the new Honda.

My test ride was for a week or so after we'd first seen the bike. I spent the week reading other people opinions on the bike, especially those who compared it to the GS. There was a fair few folk saying how the bike is underpowered, it may feel light but it's no feather weight. Full of fluids the bike weighs in at about 230 kilos. With "only" 94bhp folk were concerned. 
I rode up on my GS so I could compare them back to back. Starting up the Africa Twin there s a wee bark, the bike sounds OK but not amazing. I pull away from the shop noticing the low down grunt, the bike pulls from fuck all and that light weight drops even lower when the bikes moving. Carving through Edinburgh's traffic and road works was a piece of piss. I headed off down the coast. First thing to test was the bikes motorway abilities. Here's where the surprises start coming again. Fist up, the bike has plenty grunt. It pulls to illegal speeds easily and will happily cruise there. The wind protection is better than the GS Adventure I'd ridden up there. Now the Africa Twin I was riding was fitted with the optional high screen, but still, better protection than a BMW GS Adventure? You better believe it. 
New Africa Twin.

Next was the twisty bit. Here I though the suspension would easily be pushed into a wallowy mess but no, how wrong I was. The bike feels really chuckable and lively. Get your weight over the front a bit and you can have great fun. With my bulk on board the bike did dive a fair bit under hard breaking but everything remained composed and you can dial your own settings into the fully adjustable Showa suspension. Another surprise was the Dunlop TR91 tyres that the bike comes with. I've never been the biggest Dunlop fan but these thing are great, giving plenty feedback the more confident I got on the bike.
Wow, so this underpowered, boring Honda has plenty grunt, handles well and is great fun to ride...
I didn't see that coming. i though it was going to be OK, but just OK. Could I chop my GS in for one?

New Africa Twin.

New Africa Twin.
People admire the Africa Twin, its a much bonnier bike than the GS, even in red.

New Africa Twin. 

I weighed this up as I rode back to Two Wheels. The GS will be a better bike two up. Saying that I only really ride with a pillion a few times a year, and it felt ok when we were mucking about in the car park a few days before. Apart from the pillion issue I couldn't see any downside to the Africa Twin sure its got a chain drive and no where near the amount of gadgets that were on the GS but I was seeing this as more of a positive than a negative. More and more I've been having this impeding sense of doom about the GS's reliability and build quality. I'm hearing of more and more people who are left with huge bills after their final drive has gone, or an oil seal has blown and contaminated the clutch, or there's catastrophic engine failure, or that daft exhaust flap has gone.... the list goes on. BMW have an absolutely amazing warranty and dealer back up, the worrying part is how many people can share their good experiences. How many folk have told you about their Honda breaking down? Sure, I'd have to lube and adjust the chain but that's not rocket science. I'd no longer have the luxury of setting my preload or damping on the suspension with a push of a button. Hardly a hardship, and considering how much cheaper the Africa Twin is than the current GS I'm sure it's something anyone could learn to live with.
Riding home the BMW felt slightly dead after the Honda. Don't get me wrong, the BMW GS is a great bike but does come at a large price. 
I've been on a GS for over ten years, could I live without the farkles of BMW and ride an Africa Twin?
Well I fucking hope so, I've traded the GSA in. I'll get my Honda in a few weeks!!

at tw



30 comments:

  1. Go for it, always go back to BMW in a couple of years.

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    1. Exactly John. Life's to short not to try new things.

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    2. The twin has been coming for what seems like a lifetime! Thanks for the initial review.
      I'm liking what I see and maybe this is the dually that I need. ;)

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    3. I forgot to ask, manual or DCT?

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    4. have you tried the DCT? If not you should. Initially I had several prejudices on that but after I tried it, I had to admit they were rather groundless

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    5. Arx. I've not tried the DCT although I've heard a lot of good things about it. Instead of DCT I bought some panniers and stuff from Touratech.

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    6. Arx. I've not tried the DCT although I've heard a lot of good things about it. Instead of DCT I bought some panniers and stuff from Touratech.

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  2. I've been looking at changing my Strom thou and hadn't really given the AT a thought and was looking at Super Ten, Explorer or GS but the more I'm reading about the AT the more I'm liking it. Enjoy!

    Ade

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  3. My GSA engine failed me in Northern Alaska. BMW eventually replaced the motor...after three months! Then they decided they wouldn't ship my bike back to me. They suggested I fly up and ride it back, in late November. The dealer in AK didn't center my rear axle and it are through a chain and sprocket after 170 miles. And they didn't install my air box correctly, so I got water in my valve train and it are through my cam shaft. Fortunately I have a dealer in California that rap aired everything and I have 70,000 miles on my bike in two years without any issues. I'll be selling for an AT. BMW can fuck off.

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  4. Shit happens with any bike but when a bike lets you down when you need it most you remember it. 4 years ago I was in the Kalahari desert and a rental GS1200 had a transmission failure. The lack of shade and the heat made me very anxious. Long story short I ended up on an older africa twin and have never looked back. new one on order.

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  5. I've had mu explorer xc for 3 years now and loved it......never owned a Honda but after all the hype decided to give the AT DCT a go.......well fair play Honda I'm impressed very impressed.......
    2 test rides done and I've got one on order...... this bike is light agile less heavy than my explorer which is ideal as I want to hone my off road skills some what......I was dubious about the DCT but after 38 years of riding with a clutch I thought it was time for a change......
    Tbh I had a deposit on the new triumph 1200 xca but found out the price tag of £16,000 or thereabouts !!!!! Sorry that was not an option as the AT is £11,299.......well over a £4,000 saving....that's going to take me on some great adventures.........
    Roll on March :)

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  6. We saw these at the motorcycle show in British Columbia a few weeks ago, but they haven't hit the showrooms in the USA yet.

    You posted up a great review with awesome pictures. I am sure you'll be very happy with it.

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    1. I'll keep you all up to date on here about the pros and cons of the Africa Twin.

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    2. I'll keep you all up to date on here about the pros and cons of the Africa Twin.

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  7. Best report I've read yet on the new Africa Twin. Much appreciated.

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  8. I am waiting for me AT due for delivery in March, was getting nervous about the decision and was think ing about cancelling and taking the easy option to a BMW had an old GS1100 long time ago which i loved, just finished rebuilding a 2001 XRV750 as awakes wanted one your article settled it for me new AT it is many thanks cant wait 3 weeks to go

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    1. Wow, glad you enjoyed my post so much. Enjoy your new bike!

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  9. Have you got your Africa Twin yet Mike?
    My Tri-colour ABS goes on for its first service tomorrow. Brilliant bike. Just loving it.
    Greetings from Australia

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    1. Hi Stewy.
      Aye, I got my tri colour a couple of days ago. Booked my service for a couple of weeks time.

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  10. Brand new GS Adventure on 2012, full extra and paid 22K cash. After 3 weeks had an ABS failure(sensor).I did not have a bike for another 2 weeks.At 14000 Km had to change front part of suspension,and try to convince the dealer to cover it.They did,another 20 days without a bike. 18.000 KM had a small switch problem.A week after, had to replace my final drive.After all this, I had to sell the bike, since I could not stand it anymore. I lost a lot of money with the trade, and bought a cheap but very honest Suzuki VStrom 650.No issues.I gave it as a present to a good friend of mine last week(did not want to ask for money for a bike with 167.000 km) and ordered HONDA AT. Sorry BMW, you will not see my money anymore..
    Great Review Mike,thank you!

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    1. Glad you liked my review. Enjoy your new bike!

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    2. Glad you liked my review. Enjoy your new bike!

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    3. I have Suzuki VStrom 650 too, very good choice.

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  11. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  13. Hey everyone my name is Alex and I work at a Motorcycle dealership in Redlands California. We just picked up the Africa Twin and have it on our show room floor, If you would like to come and check it out. If you have any questions please give me a call at 9097932833. Thank you

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