Honda Africa Twin Review
The Africa Twin is a litre class go-anywhere motorcycle from Honda that landed on Indian shores two months ago. It has come at a time when there has been a good growth in the adventure bike segment which is currently being ruled by the Triumph Tigers. This tall, handsome, red Japanese motorcycle is available only in DCT (Dual Clutch Transmission) version because Honda felt that the USP of automatic gearbox will provide a great marketing advantage. Inspired from the legendary Paris Dakar Rally and its predecessors, this Africa Twin promises to change the adventure biking segment in India and for good.
What is it?
Why would I buy the Honda Africa Twin?
The Africa Twin does the job of three bikes - commuting, touring and off-roading. Plus it is easy to live with, thanks to the adjustable seat height and balanced weight distribution. DCT is icing on the cake.
Why would I avoid the Honda Africa Twin?
No ride-by-wire system and no cruise control. Plus, limited service reach.
The Honda Africa Twin is a litre class go-anywhere motorcycle from Honda that landed on Indian shores two months ago. It has come at a time when there has been a good growth in the adventure bike segment which is currently being ruled by the Triumph Tigers. This tall, handsome, red Japanese motorcycle is available only in DCT (Dual Clutch Transmission) version because Honda felt that the USP of automatic gearbox will provide a great marketing advantage. Inspired from the legendary Paris Dakar Rally and its predecessors, this Africa Twin promises to change the adventure biking segment in India and for good.
How is it to ride?
Don't let the tall boy structure of the Africa Twin intimidate you. Because once you get on the motorcycle, chances are you wouldn't want to get off. The narrow waist line, upright and easy-to-reach handlebar and the ergonomically placed front foot pegs (that gets removable rubber inserts) will make you feel at home. The seat height (which is adjustable) makes it easy to place the feet on the ground and that is important on a full size ADV. Even with narrow seats, there’s enough place to move around. Plus, the cushioning is just right for long hauls.
The 998cc parallel twin motor on the Africa Twin is super refined and responsive. It churns out 87bhp and 98Nm of peak torque in a linear fashion. Twist that throttle and this 245kg ADV is quick to move off its feet. Most of the torque is produced as soon as the revs reach 2000rpm. The mid-range performance is excellent and the precise fueling takes things to a whole new level. All these aspects make this motor a tractable one. And this wouldn't have been possible without the DCT gearbox. It is incredible to see how this six-speed gearbox works. The shifts are very smooth especially the up-shifts in the D mode. Here, the gearbox shifts to a higher gear as early as possible for maximising fuel economy. This is a brilliant mode to be in for the city commuting.
There's also an S mode which has three levels - S1, S2, S3. The higher the level you climb, the power delivery gets sharper and aggressive. The gearbox also stays in the higher revs as much as it can before shifting to the next gear. The rider has the option of overriding to manual mode by pressing the shifter on the left switchgear. The interesting bit about this DCT is that even after the manual override, the gearbox activates the automatic mode when it is time to go to next gear. There's the option of going full manual too, and that is recommended during off-road conditions for better control.
In the case of its riding abilities, this compact and tall ADV easily changes directions without much fuss. Due to a light front-end, it is quite easy to steer the Africa Twin on the tarmac. The credit for it also goes to the excellent weight distribution. Mid-corners correction is a piece of cake for this bike. But off-road is where the Africa Twin puts other big ADVs to shame. Firstly, it doesn't have that big bulky body to deal with. And secondly, the narrow and the accessible seat height makes things really easy for the rider. Standing up and riding is possible even for a 6.2ft rider. The fully adjustable suspension in the stock factory setup is to the softer side and offers a plush ride all the time. The bike gobbles up all the potholes and ruts without any sweat.
But the fun begins as you go down on the three-level traction control system. We had the most amount of fun with the TCS off, as that is where the rear slides the most. The Africa Twin with all its electronics gives enough freedom for the rider to be a little careless on the trails. The bike easily corrects itself whenever the rider faces an 'Oh shucks' moment. There's also the G mode that slips the clutch depending on the off-road situation. The brakes are powerful and predictable. However, the front could have gone with a little more feel on the lever.
Anything else I should know?
Honda has taken a no-frills approach in developing this bike. So there's no ride-by-wire system, no cruise control and no rider modes. Honda has placed the ABS and G mode buttons on the dashboard instead of making it a part of instrumentation. So one hand is off the bar each time you operate those functions. This is bound to happen a lot because all the saved settings are reset every time you turn on the ignition. The weird placement of the horn and indicator switch means you have to look down to operate the right one.
The digital instrumentation is well laid out and is easy to read. It shows a lot of information necessary for the ride and some of it can be reset using the switchgear. There are other features like parking brake system, LED dual headlamps and adjustable seats.
The windscreen isn´t adjustable, but it provides adequate protection from the windblast. The fuel tank can hold 18.5 litres and Honda claims a fuel efficiency of 21.5kmpl for the DCT model, so that is approximately 400kms of riding range which is very impressive for a full-size touring-cum adventure motorcycle. The 250mm ground clearance is more than enough to get a little careless on the dirt and if things get a little out of hand, there´s a long and wide skid plate to take the beating. There are placements for the panniers and also for the top box. However, these need to be bought as aftermarket accessories.
Should I buy one?
The Honda Africa Twin doesn´t get all the bells and whistles that its European counterparts do. And this simplistic approach is what makes the Africa Twin so special. Be it on the road or off the road, the Africa Twin is easy to manage. It has the right set of usable tech to take care of you on the journey. This is why the Africa Twin should be in top of the list if you are in the market for a practical, full-sized adventure bike. To top it all, the DCT is a gem and will definitely ease your stress and offer you more time to plan in the dirt.
Where does it fit in?
The Africa Twin retails for Rs 13.06 lakhs. However, this is an introductory price for the first 50 motorcycles. The price might go up for the next batch of Africa Twins. Its nearest rival, the Triumph Tiger 800 XCx is priced at Rs 13.28 lakhs. There is also the Ducati Multistrada 950 at Rs 12.82 lakhs. All prices are ex-showroom Delhi.
Photography by Kapil Angane
1 : SOL SX-1 helmet : A stylish entry-level premium dirt bike helmet. Offers very good visibility, comfort and is DOT approved. Gets D-ring chin strap for maximum safety . Price : Rs 5590
2: SCOTT Moto Jersey 350 Dirt : The lightweight material feels excellent. Provides good ventilation . Price : Rs 2990
3: SCOTT Pursuit 350 Jacket Protector : The built quality is fantastic. Shoulder and lumbar plates can be adjusted. Price - Rs 13,990
4: Ixon RS Circuit HP Gloves : Good fit, usability and practicality makes this gloves my first choice. Overall quality is good for the price. Price – Rs 8000
5: SCOTT Moto Pant 350 Dirt : Overall fit and finish is top notch. The built in padding adds to the safety. Price - Rs 8990
6: SIDI B2 boots: A nice all-round boots for track and road riding. Offers ample protection but lack ventilation. Price - Rs 17,000
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