It all starts with the engine, which has to perform in off-road situations as well as on-road long-range touring, and all points in between. The CRF1000L Africa Twin's 998cc parallel twin power plant draws heavily on Honda's CRF250R/450R competition machines, using the same four-valve Unicam head design for compact overall dimensions.
Strong and linear power and torque deliver instant response anywhere in the rev-range - accompanied by a satisfying, characterful deep growl as rpm rises. A 270° phased crankshaft gives the power delivery a distinct character as well delivering excellent feel for rear wheel traction. Biaxial primary balance shafts cancel vibration.
The semi-dry sump engine's short height contributes to the CRF1000L Africa Twin's 250mm ground clearance. It also uses clever packaging of componentry to both dynamic and aesthetic effect. The water pump is housed within the clutch casing, and both water and oil pumps are driven by the engine's balancer shafts.
The lightweight six-speed manual gearbox uses the same shift-cam design as found on the CRF250R/450R to ensure positive changes and is equipped with an aluminium assist slipper clutch.
In addition to the standard model, two further versions are available: the first with ABS and multiple mode Honda Selectable Torque Control (HSTC), and the second equipped with Honda's unique Dual Clutch Transmission (featuring new off-road functionality), ABS and HSTC. On ABS-equipped models, it is possible for the rider to turn off the ABS system for the rear brake, allowing the rider to lock the rear wheel when riding off-road. There are four levels of control to choose from the Honda Selectable Torque Control: Level 1, 2, 3 and Off. The degree of intervention decreases as the levels rise, allowing increasing amounts of rear wheel spin.
The unique DCT (Dual Clutch Transmission) version features the standard manual mode - allowing the rider to operate gear shifts through triggers on the left handlebar - and two automatic modes. D mode offers the best balance of fuel economy and comfort cruising whilst S mode has been revised to give extra levels of sports performance, with three different shift patterns to choose from.
Of course, for the CRF1000L Africa Twin, DCT is also fully equipped to operate in an off-road environment and off-road functionality is enhanced by the G button. Pushing the G button in any riding mode modifies the control of the clutch system to give a more direct drive.
The CRF1000L Africa Twin's semi-double cradle steel frame provides the perfect balance of high-speed stability - while fully loaded - matched to genuine off-road ability by combining sheer strength with flexibility. Mass centralization - with items like the battery packaged at the rear of the cylinder head - contributes to a low centre of gravity and aids agility.
The 45mm Showa inverted forks are fully adjustable and feature dual radial-mount Nissin four-piston brake calipers and 310mm ‘wave' style floating discs. The Showa rear shock has hydraulic spring preload adjustment. Like the CRF450R Rally, the CRF1000L Africa Twin uses 21-inch front and 18 inch rear spoked wheels. This enables a wide range of off-road tyres to be fitted in addition to the standard dual purpose 90 front / 150 rear tyres.
Following its design theme of "unlimited adventure", the Africa Twin is styled with minimum bodywork in a tough, lightweight form that offers both weather protection for the rider and a slim, agile feel. Dual LED headlights maintain the original's presence and the seat height adjusts 20mm from the standard 870mm down to 850mm. A large 18.8-litre fuel tank - and the engine's fuel efficiency of 21.8km/l (WMTC in DCT mode) - provides a range of over 400km.