Carole Nash
Content Writer
Published: 17th January 2020

Big adventure style motorcycles have been hugely popular in recent years and 2020 looks to be no different with a number of new and updated models hitting the road. We took a look at best coming our way…

Honda CRF1100L Africa Twin 

The Honda Africa Twin has been a big sales success for the Japanese giant since the famous motorcycle name was brought back from retirement in 2016, and it’s now grown from the CRF1000L to be the CRF1100L.

There have been some tweaks along the way but the 2020 model has been given a significant technical and technological makeover, as well as being made Euro5 compliant.

Honda has shifted more than 87,000 Africa Twin models since 2016 and the firm is banking on the updates for 2020 to build on this success, as sales in the adventure bike class just keep growing.

Key changes for 2020 include improved off-road performance, a chassis that’s lighter by 5kg, increased engine capacity which boosts both power and torque, a new six-axis inertial measurement unit (IMU) which adds cornering ABS, wheelie control and rear lift control. Cruise control is now standard too.

The new models also gain a completely new 6.5” Thin Film Transistor (TFT) touchscreen dashboard which incorporates Apple CarPlay and has Bluetooth connectivity.

The engine capacity rise sees the engine increase from 998cc to 1084cc with the result that peak power increases from 70kW to 75Kw (95bhp to 100bhp) which is still some way under some other much more powerful rivals, but Honda is confident this is adequate for most owners. Peak torque has also been pushed up from 99Nm to 105Nm and this torque is available low down the rev range.

The increased engine capacity comes from an increase to the stroke of the engine from 75.1mm to 81.5mm. Honda has worked to shave 2.5kg off the overall weight of the manual transmission engine and 2.2kg off the twin-clutch DCT automatic version.

Chassis changes include the fitment of a bolt-on aluminium subframe, an aluminium swingarm directly linked to that seen on the Honda CRF450 motocross model and overall the chassis has been modified, made thinner in some areas and reinforced in others for a 1.8kg weight saving.

The Showa suspension has been revised and the addition of the very latest technology thanks to the fitment of the IMU is an important step forward for Honda, which has been on the back foot for a few years against rivals from KTM and BMW.

Honda Africa Twin

All-new 2020 Triumph Tiger 900 range 

Triumph has replaced the big-selling Tiger 800 range with a new 900 for 2020, which maintains the split between road and more off-road focussed models.

The range is made up of a standard Tiger 900 along with Tiger 900 GT and Tiger 900 Rally models. The stock Tiger 900 offering a road-focussed design with each of the other two models available as standard GT or Rally models but also as extra high specification levels called ‘Pro’.

The entire range has been given a significant overhaul with a larger-capacity three-cylinder engine with a revised firing order, more power across the entire rev range and 10% more torque along with Euro5 compliance.

The styling and bodywork have all been comprehensively changed as well and sitting alongside the engine updates is new technology and improvements to rider and pillion comfort.

In a significant change, the engine firing order has been modified to now work from cylinder one, three and then two which, Triumph says, gives a more engine character and a distinctive engine sound. This firing order should also give a power delivery that will help low-rev pulling power.

The capacity has been upped to 888cc thanks to a bore and stroke of 78mm x 61.9mm with peak power now 95PS at 8750rpm. Torque is claimed to be 87Nm at 7250rpm. 

Triumph has given the rest of the bike a good engineering makeover too. There’s a new lightweight steel trellis frame with a bolt-on rear subframe and pillion hangers which can be removed when riding off-road and the subframe replaced if damaged. This was an issue with the old model, where the whole lot was welded together as a single unit.

There are two specific suspension set-ups tailored around making each model more suited to on or off-road riding terrain. The GT models featuring 19” front wheels and Marzocchi suspension and the Rally models getting 21” front wheels and Showa suspension.

Tiger 900

Suzuki channels the spirit of DR Big with two new V-Strom 1050 models

Suzuki will introduce two new V-Strom 1050 models for the 2020 year and both the 1050XT and standard 1050 models have received a large number of cosmetic and mechanical updates.

The styling clearly harks back to the successful Suzuki DR-Z desert racer and the iconic DR Big model of the 1980s, with the headlight and distinctive front beak-shaped front mudguard.

The biggest news, aside from the restyle, is a new 1037cc Euro5 compliant V-twin engine which produces 107hp which is a decent 7% increase over the outgoing model. The increased power comes as a result of reprofiled intake and exhaust cams, with increased lift duration and less overlap. 

Twin-spark plug cylinderheads are still used, along with lightweight three-ring-type forged pistons. A new radiator increases cooling capacity by 15%, and there is a revised oil cooler with increased capacity. 

While unmistakably a V-Strom, the new design is a very modern take on the styling of the original DR-Z desert racing bike and the DR Big production machine that followed. The beak – now synonymous with adventure bikes – was first seen on the DR-Z. The shape of the fuel tank, too, apes the design of the DR-Z.

The colour options of the V-Strom 1050XT in particular pay further homage to the DR-Z and highlight Suzuki’s off-road racing and adventure heritage. It comes in a similar orange and white to the original DR Big, while a yellow version links to Suzuki’s motocross and off-road pedigree.

The handguards, now standard, have been re-worked with a more angular and rugged design, with a new mirror design too. 

For the first time on the V-Strom, Suzuki has integrated a six-axis Inertial Measurement Unit (IMU) which works to link all of the electronic rider aids together. These rider aids include lean-angle sensitive ABS, traction control, cruise control, hill hold control; all of which works within three engine modes and three-mode traction control system.

The V-Strom 1050XT uses the new Suzuki Intelligent Ride System (SIRS), which is aimed at enhancing everything from rider comfort to performance and practicality.

The standard 1050 model removes some of the top-spec extras in order to keep the costs lower. Spoked wheels are replaced with cast aluminium versions, it keeps the three-mode traction control system and three selectable engine power modes, but the standard V-Strom 1050 doesn’t get the Suzuki Intelligent Ride System, cruise control or Motion Track Brake System, hill hold control, slope and load control or switchable ABS.

Suzuki Vstrom

BMW F900XR and S1000XR

BMW is still way ahead of the opposition when it comes to selling adventure bikes, with the R1250GS and R1250GS Adventure models, and it has now introduced the F900XR and updated the S1000XR for the more road-biased end of the adventure class.

The F900XR isn’t really replacing anything directly, but instead acting as an additional offering in the middleweight category, as a smaller capacity offering in the adventure sport class. It joins the larger, much more powerful new S1000XR which has been given a comprehensive engineering and styling makeover for 2020.

The F900XR has an 895cc parallel-twin engine that was first introduced (in a smaller 853cc capacity) to the F850GS and F850GS Adventure models in 2018. The increased capacity means power has been pushed up to 105hp from 95hp in the GS models.

The F900XR gets LED lights, connectivity using a linked smartphone app, adaptive cornering lights, keyless ride, electronic adjustment suspension, riding modes, quickshifter, emergency calling system, cornering ABS, electronic engine braking adjustment, traction control, emergency brake assist and wheelie control too.

The new 2020 BMW S1000XR has been given a complete overhaul which includes a new, lighter and more powerful engine, new suspension, new technology and a styling makeover too.

The BMW S1000XR was introduced in 2015 and quickly established itself as a big seller as a bike ideally placed to stagger the gap between sportsbikes and adventure bikes. 

The engine is a derivative of the all-new motor first seen in the new BMW S1000RR superbike; albeit in a detuned state. The ShiftCam variable valve timing (VVT) system has not been carried over as there is less need for the power-boosting effects of VVT in this engine as it produces 165bhp, significantly lower than the 215bhp produced in the superbike.

The chassis is also completely new for 2020 with the frame and swingarm all-new as well. The new frame and swingarm contribute a 2.1kg weight saving of the total 10kg claimed by BMW when combined with a lighter engine.

As standard, the S1000XR has four riding modes; Rain, Road, Dynamic and Dynamic Pro with the latter being configurable by the rider. There are also new LED lights have been added for the first time and this includes front and rear lights as well as indicators. An optional Headlight Pro features cornering lights for better vision when cornering.

BMW F900XR and S1000XR