Carole Nash
Content Writer
Published: 8th March 2017

It may have been launched in a blaze of glory to the press in Africa, with promises of being able to cross deserts, but the Honda CRF1000L Africa Twin is also most at home in the UK, where it has been a massive sales success for Honda.

 

And no surprises. It’s a fantastic, capable bike that can tackle decent levels of off-road riding, but is a great touring bike, superb commuter, and generally good at everything.

As adventure bikes go, few are better accomplished for the money.

 

UK riders couldn’t get enough of the big Africa Twins in the UK last year, and it would have been even more of a success for the Big H if they could have got hold of any more. Unfortunately, the Japanese firm’s Kumamoto factory, where the Africa Twin is built, was hit by an earthquake, slowing production. It’s all back on track now though, which is great news for us, as the new Africa Twin is a fantastic bike.

 

Honda CRF1000L Africa Twin cornering

 

Leading on from the legendary Africa Twin 650 and 750 of the eighties and early nineties, the reborn bike is all new, only the name is the same.

 

The current Africa Twin gets a new parallel twin motor putting out around 93.8bhp using a 270-degree crank to make it feel more like a V-twin motor. That may not be in the same league of power as say a 125bhp BMW R1200GS, but remember this is 1000cc, not 1200.

 

Honda CRF1000L Africa Twin Dials

 

The chassis uses the same basic design structure as the accomplished Honda CRF450 Rally bike raced in the Dakar, and it’s clear to see the Dakar bloodline styling running through the Africa Twin’s veins. Suspension is a single Showa shock at the rear and a set of 45mm Showa upside down forks at the front. Front and rear are both fully adjustable for preload, rebound and compression damping.

 

A big 21-inch front wheel and an 18-inch rear wheel means it can cope with most off-road scenarios, and feels like you’re in control more than some adventure bikes with a 19-inch front wheel, like the BMW R1200GS.  It carries its weight low and feels narrower than some of its rivals.

 

Like any adventure bike off-road, tyres are of course the limiting factor for getting through mud, but the standard Dunlop Trailmax tyres do a decent job of road riding, with a bit of off-road ability.

 

We’ll focus on the manual 6-speedl gearbox bike here, although a more expensive Dual Clutch Transmission (DCT) version is also available. That bike features a complicated, but brilliant DCT transmission which essentially allows the riders to stick it in drive, and then twist and go.

 

The gearshifts are seamless, or you can shift gears using buttons on the handlebars. Riding modes including Drive, Sport 1 and Sport 2, are also available on the DCT bike to liven it up a little and hang on to gears and revs longer depending on the mode. Both bikes get switchable ABS, and traction-control with four different settings, including off.

 

Interestingly, since Honda launched DCT, they say that 50 per cent of their bikes sold with the option of the clever gearbox are now bought with the system.

 

For now, the standard bike is a simple clutch lever and gear lever down by your foot, just like normal.

 

Honda CRF1000L Africa Twin river

 

The power delivery of the bike is relatively flat but it’s punch enough. It makes power low down, and you could be forgiven for thinking it’s a v-twin, not a parallel twin. Maximum power comes in at 7500rpm, with that big chunk of 72ft-lb of peak torque coming in at 6000rpm.

 

It means easy progress in town or on faster A-roads without ever having to stress the motor or over rev it. It rumbles along just getting on with it, with a decent amount of intake and exhaust noise. There’s never a real step up in power, or a power band so to speak, it just has power where you want it, almost all the time.

 

Honda CRF1000L Africa Twin Pair

 

It’s easy to ride around town with nice fuelling, and light controls, and a massive amount of steering lock, too.

 

Out of the city and the Africa Twin is a capable tourer with decent comfort, good wind protection from that small screen and a high-up commanding riding position. The seat is high as standard at 870mm, can be dropped down to 850mm, and can be fitted with 900mm seat height, or bought with a lower 840mm seat for smaller riders.

 

Honda CRF1000L Africa Twin Sear

 

For pillions, there’s enough room and some decent places to grab hold of when accelerating or braking. It can cope well with a pillion, but it’s here that you may notice it hasn’t got quite as much punch as the bigger 1200s in the Africa Twin’s class, but it never struggles.

 

Honda CRF1000L Africa Twin Engine

 

As an all-round motorcycle that can tackle massive rides, shows most other adventure bikes the way off-road, and comes in at under £11,000, the Honda CRF1000L is one of the best all-round motorcycles money can buy.

 

Honda CRF1000L Africa Twin ABS

£10,848

 

Specifications

ENGINE TYPE

Liquid-cooled 4-stroke 4 valve-per-cylinder parallel twin with 270° crank and uni-cam

DISPLACEMENT

998cc

BORE X STROKE

92 x 75.1mm

MAXIMUM POWER

70kW (98.3bhp) @7500rpm

MAXIMUM TORQUE

98Nm (72.2ft-lb) @ 6500rpm

FRONT SUSPENSION

45mm Showa cartridge type upside down front forks

SEAT HEIGHT

870/850mm

DRY WEIGHT

212kg

FUEL TANK

18.8 litres

INSURANCE

£318.97

 

*Based on our average customer 52 year old, 9 years NCB, garaged, WA14 postcode, no claims/convictions, 4000 miles Comp cover is £318.97 with a £350xs. Get your Honda Motorcycle Insured with Carole Nash