It’s been 30 years since the legendary Honda XRV650 Africa Twin first rolled into Europe and while the motorcycle that now bears its name – launched in 2016 as the CRF1000L Africa Twin – shares no common part with the forerunner it inherits the essence and spirit of what made the original so good.
The balance between power and weight is the Africa Twin’s secret, then and now. The renewed machine has proved itself a modern-day all-rounder, popular with casual tourers and off-road adventurers alike (plus all riders in between) because it offers enjoyable and usable engine performance in a chassis that works as well on-road as it does off.
For 2018 Honda is building on the Africa Twin’s strengths, and its success. The base model CRF1000L Africa Twin receives a host of detail upgrades to both manual transmission and Dual Clutch Transmission (DCT) options that enhance the riding and owning experience, while the new CRF1000L Africa Twin Adventure Sports version extends the platform even further into long-range off-road ready territory.
Side-by-side with its sibling, the CRF1000L Africa Twin Adventure Sports is obviously taller, with a flatter seat profile and more upright riding position. The fairing and screen offer more wind protection and a large sump guard and side pipe fully protect the machine. An extra 5.4L fuel capacity extends range beyond 500km, while heated grips and an AC charging socket add comfort and convenience.
The Africa Twin Adventure Sports’ comprehensive abilities start with its engine, which has to perform in off-road situations as well as on-road, over long-range tours, short commutes and all points in between. As such, it provides an optimum balance between power, torque, mass and physical dimension.
The four-valve 998cc parallel twin Unicam unit’s tractable and usable all-day performance belies its extremely compact dimensions. They are the result of clever packaging touches such as housing the water pump within the clutch casing, and using the engine’s balancer shafts to also drive water and oil pumps. As a result, longitudinally, it is the same length as Honda’s popular 500cc engine, and its short height contributes to the Africa Twin Adventure Sport’s 270mm of ground clearance.
For 2018, a modified airbox improves the power unit’s mid-range response, as does a lighter balancer shaft weight. A revised exhaust serves up an even more evocative howl as revs rise and also contributes to the improved performance.
A significant addition to the Africa Twin platform for 2018 is its new Throttle By Wire (TBW) system, which brings with it 3 riding modes to adjust engine character and output to suit riding conditions. Also new is an extended range of Honda Selectable Torque Control (HSTC) input.
The unique DCT (Dual Clutch Transmission) version features the standard manual mode – allowing the rider to operate gearshifts 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 gives three different, sportier shift patterns to choose from. The 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 semi-double cradle steel frame provides the ideal balance of high-speed stability matched to genuine off-road ability by combining sheer strength with flexibility. The engine is mounted on 6 engine hangers, which keeps vibration to a minimum, avoiding the need for steering dampers. The new lithium-ion battery saves 2.3kg on the 2017 Africa Twin’s lead unit, and the Adventure Sports version shares several detail changes made to improve the platform’s off-road ability and durability.
Fully adjustable 45mm Showa inverted forks, fully-adjustable rear shock, dual radial-mount Nissin four-piston brake calipers and 310mm ‘wave’ style floating discs are unchanged for 2018. The 21-inch front and 18-inch rear spoked wheels are constructed from stainless steel. In addition to the standard dual-purpose 90 front/150 rear rubber, block tyres are also approved for fitment.
Dual LED headlights maintain the original Africa Twin’s presence and the seat height adjusts 20mm from the 900mm to 920mm (both respectively 50mm higher than the standard model). The 24.2L fuel tank – and the engine’s fuel efficiency of 21.8km/l (WMTC in DCT mode) – provides a range of over 500km.