After months of teaser pics and video snippets, Honda has lifted the dirty covers from its all-new CRF1000L – better known as the 2016 Africa Twin. The design brief needed ‘off-road, touring and everyday agility’ boxes ticking, along with the discernible nod to nostalgia and the iconic XRV750.
It certainly looks more Dakar than Dallas of its more Tarmac-biased rivals, with aggressive yet simplistic rally-raid styling and a modest spec list. There’s nothing to shout about in the chassis’ store: no complex electronic suspension, just Showa (what else?) units and a seat height that ranges from 850mm to 870mm. Likewise, with respect, the motor is fairly rudimentary. Powered by a 998cc parallel twin, the CRF utilises a 270° phased crankshaft and kept vibe-free via biaxial balance shafts. Honda claim 94bhp and 98Nm of torque, so a margin short of the Multistradas and GSs. The Big H reckons the 18.8L tank should manage 400km.
But it’s the Africa Twin’s electronics suite that makes the headlines, consisting of Honda’s Selectable Torque Control (HSTC), giving three levels of ‘control’. Given the 1000L’s niche and considering off-road riding’s prerequisites, it’s a little surprising that Honda’s DCT (Dual Clutch Transmission) is also available, which doesn’t add any extra girth to the CRF, but does add 10kg to the 208kg dry weight.
Once again, there are three offerings: a manual mode, which allows the rider to shift using the trigger on the handlebar, and two automatic modes (S and D) for usage depending on the rider’s needs – fuel economy, performance, etc. There’s a ‘G’ switch specially tailored for off-road sorties, where clutch clip is reduced during shifting. The hocus-pocus doesn’t end there. Oh no. There’s also an incline detection system that modifies the gearshift pattern depending on the grade of incline.
We’ve only tested the leverless technology on a DN-01, and genuinely loved it (the DCT, not the DN-01), lending an involving tiptronic-type riding experience, and it’ll be interesting to grasp the gadgetry in a completely different environment.
A large majority of the Africa Twin’s obvious ‘adventure’ rivals are jacks of many trades, masters of none. And let’s be honest: when was the last time Multistrada owners nipped off the beaten track for a quick greenlane session? Are we finally going to be graced with an actual adventure steed?
Judging by the leaked video, it seems as though the Honda (avec knobblies) is pretty handy off-road, buried in sand dunes, railing berms and surviving some fairly hefty landings from great heights. It may not be bedroom wall material but Honda are bound to sell a ton, especially when you consider the price – very reasonable at a starting price of €12,000, and there’ll be a number of varying specs on offer. It’s also a massive deal for Honda, given the Africa Twin heritage. And any bike with a ‘G’ button and trigger commands respect.