There is certainly something to be said for giving the public what they want.
For years Honda fans were screaming for a new Africa Twin and in 2016 Honda gave it to them. They voted with their wallets and, 51,000 sales later (25,000 of which were in Europe), the new Africa Twin has certainly made its presence in the rapidly-expanding adventure market felt.
But it wasn’t perfect, and now for 2018 Honda have responded to owner’s comments and alongside the launch of the new Adventure Sports model, the stock bike has been given a bit of a refresh.
Like the Sports version, the stock bike now has a ride-by-wire throttle that brings with it three riding modes (Tour, Urban and Gravel) plus one user-defined mode while the Honda Selectable Torque Control (HSTC) now has seven levels of traction control where before it only had three.
A lithium-ion battery has helped it shed 2kg in weight, its suspension has been slightly tweaked and like the Sports, chunky Continental TKC 80 Twinduro tyres are an approved fitment if you want to go off-road. Within the parallel twin motor the balancer shaft is lighter and the exhaust and airbox are modified for not only better noise, but also performance gains.
Overall it’s more a case of subtle refinement rather than full-on revision, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing for such a popular bike.
On a fairly limited on and off-road ride, I struggled to really notice the differences between the 2017 and 2018 Africa Twins aside from the obvious electronic and styling changes. The good news is that the ride-by-wire is snatch-free and while the motor is a little keener to pick up its revs, it’s not a million miles from the old unit in terms of feel or performance. Although it has to be said, it does sound a lot better thanks to the changes to the exhaust end can! On the go the suspension is still a little soft, but as it is adjustable the majority of this can probably be dialled out given a bit of time and a set of tools.
After speaking to Honda, I feel this is a bike that passionate Africa Twin owners will look at and go ‘oh look, they have sorted the pillion peg hangers and made the pegs wider,’ which is exactly what Honda have done. Will those new to the Africa Twin spot these revisions? Nope, but it’s nice to know the small grumbles have been ironed out and we should thank the owners who fed these issues back to Honda as they have helped improve an already excellent machine!
To be honest, if you own the original Africa Twin the updates aren’t really enough to justify rushing out to chop in your old bike. It’s basically the same, just a bit more refined. However if you have a PCP plan that is nearing its end, love the old Twin and you would like a new bike, you will appreciate the upgrades and if that’s all the excuse you need – go for it. But just consider the Adventure Sports model before you hand over your cash. As well as feeling more butch thanks to its wider tank, the Sports’ riding position is much better for taller riders and the increased seat height isn’t too dramatic for those shorter in the leg. For my money, it’s worth spending the £1000 extra to get the Sports, it’s a better overall bike for those who are serious about covering miles – on or off-road.
Price: £11,575 (£12,549 DCT)
Engine: Four-stroke, parallel twin, 8v, l/c, 998cc
Power: 92.4bhp @ 7500rpm
Torque: 73ftlb @ 6000rpm
Wet weight: 230 kg (240kg DCT)
Seat height: 850/870mm
Price: From £12,400
Engine: 4-stroke, boxer twin, 8v, l/c, 1170cc
Power: 125bhp @ 7750rpm
Torque: 92.2ftlb @ 6500rpm
Wet weight: 244kg
Seat height: 850/870mm
Triumph Tiger 1200 XCx
Engine: 4-stroke, triple, 12v, l/c, 1215cc
Power: 139bhp @ 9350rpm
Torque: 90ftlb @ 7600rpm
Wet weight: 268 kg (est)
Seat height: 835/855mm
KTM 1090 Adventure R
Engine: 4-stroke, V-twin, 8v, l/c, 1050cc
Power: 125bhp @ 8500rpm
Torque: 80.4ftlb @ 6500rpm
Wet weight: 228 kg (est)
Seat height: 850mm
Ducati Multistrada 950
Price: From £11,395
Engine: 4-stroke, desmo V-twin, 8v, l/c, 973cc
Power: 111bhp @ 9000rpm
Torque: 71ftlb @ 7750rpm
Wet weight: 229 kg (est)
Seat height: 840mm