Honda CRF1100L Africa Twin Adventure Sports | Carole nash

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Honda’s Africa Twin range has seen many updates over the years. But are they enough to keep him at the top of the adventure segment?

In a booming industry over the past 10+ years, Honda’s Africa Twin range has been a very popular choice, being an impressive all-rounder since the last generation was released in 2016 – although it has had a few upgrades. up to date since, including a more technological load and a larger engine.

Now equipped with a 1084cc parallel twin engine, the Honda does not have the maximum power of the biggest motorcycles in the category. Unlike many of its rivals, which exceed the 130 hp mark, the Africa Twin puts out 100 hp and 78 ft / lb of torque, which, while that doesn’t sound like much, is still a considerable amount, especially when the AT is off-road. As we tested the Adventure Sports model, it comes equipped with all the gadgets and gadgets you would expect from a top level adventure bike, with everything from a large TFT dashboard and ride modes and features. driving aids, such as cruise control and electronics. damped suspension. Unlike some of its rivals, it doesn’t come with a quickshifter. But then again, this isn’t always a necessity on big adventure bikes. So how does the Africa Twin hold up, both on and off the road?

At first glance, it’s fair to say that Adventure Sports is an impressive mount. Unlike many bloated adventure bikes on the market, the sleek Africa Twin has a tall but narrow stance reminiscent of the machines you would see lining up to take on the Dakar rally. But don’t worry, it’s not an incredibly hardcore weapon as Honda has made their line of adventure bikes as user-friendly as it gets, which is evident from round one. It’s nice to have a conventional key and ignition barrel to change, rather than a keyless system, and everything about the Africa Twin feels like it was designed for comfort, from the large spacious seat. to the high bars alongside the low ankles. Although the Africa Twin is quite narrow in terms of chassis and engine, the standard seat height seems quite high – but don’t let that put you off, as a low seat height option is also available.

While everything on the bars is exactly where it needs to be, I have to say that I wasn’t the biggest fan of the dashboard setup. The TFT unit looks smart enough, but I found it to be not the easiest system for navigating and changing settings, while there is a bit older and unnecessary underneath, which reminds me of those old Casio watches. A bit unnecessary, in my eyes.

Having said that, it’s when you start up that the Honda really makes sense and comes into its own. With AT in Urban mode, this silky twin engine is truly effortless to operate, with magnificent power delivery throughout the rev range. At full power, it has a fair amount of range, but it doesn’t quite have the same power advantage as its rivals, making it a smoother ride at higher speeds. but does not offer any crazy excitement when accelerating. . It just happily goes about its business, with a smooth gearbox that makes shifting a pleasure too. A quickshifter would have been a nice addition if I’m being honest as is the very popular DCT system, especially if you were looking for something slightly different, and in many ways easier to ride. Honda sells a large percentage of Africa Twins with the dual clutch DCT system and although we have tested the manual version we know firsthand how good the “automatic” system is.

The same goes for the handling aspects of the ‘Twin, as it looks more like a small capacity CRF (Honda’s hardcore enduro and MX range) than a road CB roadster. Even with the suspension set to its firmest level, there is a lot of weight transition to both acceleration and braking, although the power delivered and stopping power isn’t exactly revolutionary, but rather a breakthrough. pretty sweet and sweet affair. Sure, a little more power under braking and acceleration would be nice, but the Africa Twin was never created to break lap records, it was designed and built to be a comfortable adventure bike. and efficient, and it does it very well.

Especially when taken off-road; Thanks to its tall, slim stance and CRF DNA, the Africa Twin has performed incredibly well when it comes to greenways. With electronic suspension and active ride modes, it’s not only smoother and more flexible than ever. We’ve driven the Africa Twin alongside some of its competition, including the new Harley-Davidson Pan America and BMW’s ubiquitous R1250GS, but I’d go so far as to say it’s probably one of the bikes. The easiest to get dirty with large capacity adventure games. – and this is no small task. Of course, it doesn’t have the brutal aggressiveness or serious capabilities of this sector’s really off-road gear (cough, KTM), but it does make navigating the great outdoors very easy indeed.

Conclusion

When it (re) launched in 2016, the Africa Twin sided perfectly between the middleweights like the BMW F850GS and the Triumph Tiger 900 series, and the established big boys led by the ubiquitous R1200GS. However, it has grown rapidly in recent years and, now priced at £ 15,000, the latest Adventure Sports version is firmly on the upper end of the adventure bike market.

Although I have to admit that I was not completely sold at first, after driving a few miles I could see why the Africa Twin range is still sold by the bucket; it’s just damn good to go about your business with very little stress. Of course, it’s not the most fascinating or thrilling race in the adventure segment, nor the most beautiful in my humble opinion, but it delivers an incredibly well-rounded package, at a reasonable price as well. We can’t wait to get our hands on the 2022 model, which promises more subtle evolutions …

Words: Carl Stevens

Photos: Honda


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