First Ride

Honda Long-term hello: Honda Africa Twin Adventure Sports

Honda CRF1000L Africa Twin Adventure Sports

My first impressions of Honda’s 30th anniversary Africa Twin after the first 300 miles

Details
Manufacturer:
Honda
Category:
Adventure
Price:
£ 10499
Overall
Not rated

ICONS don’t come much bigger than the Africa Twin. And the 30th-anniversary Adventure Sports version of Honda's already large Africa Twin puts an emphasis on the big. With 270mm ground clearance and a screen that finishes in line with the top of my head, the big ‘Twin is an intimidating bike to look at. Thankfully though, it’s an absolute pussycat to ride.

Jumping, no - climbing on the Africa Twin Adventure Sports (or ATAS), I’m reminded by how well the designers at Honda lay everything out - Switchgear, controls, pegs. All perfectly positioned. And it’s a tough job to design something that works for a full-sized human and someone as vertically challenged as I am.

Once I’m on the move it becomes instantly clear that the bike's apparent bulk evaporates away as soon as it turns a wheel. The ride back from Honda’s PR depot in Corby was a perfect reintroduction to bikes after a month or so out of the saddle.

So far, I’ve had ridden 350 miles with the bike, covering motorways, B-roads and some light trails. With that in mind I thought it was a good time to share my first impressions with you.

So, the good bits:

Honda CRF1000L Africa Twin Adventure Sports

Riding position:

Even with the lowered seat there’s no pressure on my knees or lower-back and the reach to the bars keeps my arms in a relaxed position. Standing up on the pegs to navigate speedhumps, the bars sit just above my waist, although the gear lever and back brake are an awkward angle and require shifting my body-weight to operate them. Not a massive problem in deepest, darkest Islington, more of an issue on the trails though.

Honda CRF1000L Africa Twin Adventure Sports

Engine:

What at first felt a tad underpowered, is actually just a well fuelled and solid unit. It’s got a broad spread of torque that still feels like it’s pulling until about 4500rpm. Admittedly, motorway overtakes require a bit of forward planning (and a couple of downshifts) but this is an adventure bike, it’s not at its happiest on the slog up the M1. The fly-by-wire throttle is a peach, with none of that fluffy-ness you sometimes get in the first couple of degrees of use. It also sounds so much better than a parallel twin should thanks to a revised intake and exhaust sysyem over its shorter sibling and the engines 270° crank. Power and toque are the same as the standard Africa Twin, 93bhp and 99Nm of torque, but it has a more distinctive bark to it. Great for warning pedestrians of your progress through the traffic.

Honda CRF1000L Africa Twin Adventure Sports

Details and finish:

It’s a Honda so yes, we’d expect the details to look good and they do. I’d go as far as saying I think the Tri-colour version I have is a thing of beauty. From the perfectly applied decals on the new, larger, front fairing. To those lovely, gold anodised rims that look like they’ve been lifted straight off a Dakar racer. Stood outside our London office the other morning, I spent a full 15 minutes just walking around the bike gawping at it.

Honda CRF1000L Africa Twin Adventure Sports

Ride quality and handling:

For a bike with 250mm of fork travel and a 21” front wheel, the ATAS hits an apex with impressive accuracy. It’s never going to be a trackday favourite – although I’d like to try – but it is composed enough in a bend to allow you to chuck it on its ear without any of that bum clenching nervousness you get from a lot of adventure bikes.

It’s also extremely composed on bumpy, potholed roads. I’m going to have a play with the fork settings a bit as the fork-dive gives the sensation that the front brake isn’t biting enough. Hopefully an afternoon on some back-roads should let me dial that out a little.

Check out page two for some things I’m going to try and address…