Biker Boy: Modern adventurer
Honda's sleek update of the Africa Twin builds on its rugged history
LOOKS & DESIGN
When Honda put forward a nameless, mud-splattered adventure motorbike at Milan motorcycle show Eicma 2014,everybody was left guessing.
By the end of 2015, the Japanese bike company had lifted the veil of secrecy.
Today, bikers are familiar with the silhouette of the new Honda Africa Twin CRF1000L, which is equipped with a 998cc parallel-twin engine.
Like its V-twin predecessor - the Africa Twin XRV 750, which won four Paris-Dakar Rally championships in the 1980s - the new bike has presence.
Visually, this 2016 update is less bulky and curvy and is a modern interpretation of an iconic dual-purpose motorcycle.
The bike has a commanding view, thanks to its seat height - 10mm taller than its 1990s predecessor which had a seat height of 860mm.
Riders less than 1.8m-tall may find themselves balancing on their toes at traffic stops. Also, squeezing in between stalled traffic should be done gingerly given the bike's wide handlebars.
Yet, when gripping the machine's 18.8-litre fuel tank with your knees, it feels slimmer compared to its predecessor's bulbous 23-litre fuel tank.
POWER & HANDLING
We tested a six-speed manual transmission version.
While most big, adventure bikes boast horsepower figures above 100hp, the Honda's maximum 94hp at 7,500rpm isn't earth-shattering.
But its acceleration is one of the smoothest, making it easy and comfortable to ride in the city or on expressways.
Cornering, while not as sharp as sportier motorcycles, is effortless thanks in part to its comparatively "light" 232kg fully-fuelled weight.
The road-biased tyres on its 21-inch front and 18-inch rear wheels give decent grip on dry surfaces.
While some magazines have reported the Africa Twin reaching speeds over 200kmh, we stuck to the speed limit on Singapore roads. Even at high speeds, its high windscreen provides sufficient buffer against the elements.
Off road, without the use of chunkier off-road tyres, the Africa Twin loses some front-end grip. Thankfully, its longer suspension travel dampens the punishing blows to your body from dips and bumps.
On open, logging-type roads, the Africa Twin is a pleasure to ride when the adjustable suspension - fore and aft - are left in their stock settings.
Honda has centralised the Africa Twin's digital dashboard, allowing the rider to glance at the gauges without losing focus on the road.
Clutter is removed at the controls - the kill switch is also the ignition button. Button-activated traction control and anti-lock brakes simplify the riding experience.
Press the traction control button on the left side of the handlebar to disarm it, and you'll be sliding like a pro.
The Honda isn't like other modern motorcycles which come with a handful of custom ride functions and modes. Personally, I like it this way.
I found the average fuel consumption gauge helpful. In sixth gear, while cruising at about 80kmh with 3,000rpm showing on the rev counter, the bike's fuel consumption is a respectable 3.3 litres for 100km. The figure dips to 2.9 litre/100km when you ride downhill.
If you desire a two-wheel Honda legend and would occasionally like to take it for a long ride, then the fuel-efficient Africa Twin is a good choice.
MAKE & MODEL Honda Africa Twin CRF1000L
ENGINE Water-cooled, parallel-twin cylinder
TRANSMISSION 6-speed manual or dual-clutch transmission
MACHINE PRICE Starts from $21,000.
Don't miss this promotion: Honda is giving a 24-month, or 30,000km, extended warranty - whichever comes first - when you buy an Africa Twin in 2016.
For more information, call Boon Siew Singapore at 6339-9002.