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New: Honda Africa Twin
New: Honda Africa Twin
Variations on the theme
Honda Africa Twin. The great success of the reborn Africa Twin makes the Honda managers want more: The otherwise cautious Japanese want to bring more variants of the travel enduro. The first thing on the program is an adventure, already at the end of the year.
If you are a manufacturer of travel enduros, you have an adventure version of your flagship ready: with a larger tank, strong impact protection, real studded tires and other features that should be conducive to off-road excursions. After all, that’s where the travel enduros come from, which is why such a premium version, which also strives for higher prices, fits well. The commercially successful pimping BMW has shown the way with the R 1200 GS Adventure. And more and more other manufacturers are following suit.
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New: Honda Africa Twin
Variations on the theme
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Now Honda too. Because the Japanese will provide a variant of their Africa Twin, which has been on the market since the beginning of 2016 and is getting a lot of popularity, at the end of this year. Honda Germany has already confirmed this, but does not want to explain exactly what kind of motorcycle it is. But all signs point clearly in the direction of adventure.
Especially since Honda already has such an Africa Twin variant and has even shown it publicly: At the first presentation of the Africa Twin at the EICMA trade fair in Milan in November 2015, the Adventure Sports Concept stood next to the standard twin, but rather hidden and light to be overlooked. No wonder, since Honda wanted the general attention to be focused on the great novelty and not on a study. But the Honda bosses from Japan noticed the variant developed in Italy very well at the time and gave it approving comments – which was almost the starting signal for production for the extremely cautious managers. If you add two and two together, you can therefore assume that the machine will be built pretty much exactly as it was shown at the time. This in turn puts MOTORRAD in the unusual position of showing a new motorcycle six months before it comes out, not as a computer retouch or as a Erlkonig that has been alienated beyond recognition, but with real photos. See left.
From these images, in turn, one can conclude: The changes to the Adventure compared to the Africa Twin base (below) should be pleasingly cautious. Pleasing because Honda does without excessive dimensions, which usually prove to be a hindrance in the terrain due to the associated extra weight. It is safe to say that Adventure Sports has a larger tank, with a capacity of up to 24 instead of 19 liters. New bikes with tubeless tires seem just as safe. Tubular tires may be popular with real travelers to Africa because of their worldwide availability, but those who venture into the terrain in Europe often cursed them because, due to the heavy weight of large travel enduros, sharp stones quickly cause holes. So here Honda provides more comfort when riding off-road. More good news: Pirelli / Metzeler should have the first tires ex works.
It should stay with the wheel sizes of 21 inches at the front and 18 inches at the rear, as well as the comparatively light look. So that the real weight is still below that of the larger-volume competition from GS and Co., Honda will probably dispense with a main stand in the Adventure version as well. Other changes affect the engine guard and windshield, both of which are slightly larger. The Adventure would also look good on a more modern display, which should be easier to read than the current one. Some time ago there were rumors of a possible increase in displacement by 50 to 100 cubic meters, but that is rather unlikely.
Visually, the new one will be close to the first Africa Twin from 1988. At least that’s what the colors of the study suggest
near (see interview below left) as well as other details such as the gold-colored wire wheels and the white frame. No information leaked through on the price. You will probably have to add at least around 1000 euros to the list price of 12890 euros (without DCT), which not least depends on whether Honda also uses the beautiful Termignoni exhaust in the series.
As if that weren’t enough, Honda seems to have further plans with the Africa Twin. Developed as a modular model, it could also serve as the basis for a pure street motorcycle. For a version with a 19-inch front wheel, Honda had already registered the name Elsinore in the USA three years ago. But this project seems to have been put on hold, apparently the Japanese are now more likely to pursue the off-road approach. In any case, another off-road version of the Africa Twin was exhibited at the trade fair in Milan last autumn: the Enduro Sports study, which, with its narrow, fast-paced lines and numerous lightweight components, was not only a hit with rally professionals.
It is precisely these professionals who first get a different version, namely the Africa Twin Rally. It was developed in Italy by Dakar driver Paolo Ceci together with Red Moto, the external off-road distributor of Honda Italy. Equipped with many aluminum and carbon parts, it comes with high-quality Excel rims, should weigh seven kilograms less than the production motorcycle and, thanks to the racing exhaust, produce a good five hp more. The proud price of 21,490 euros without and 22,630 euros with DCT transmission is then due for this. Thanks to the DB-Killer in the Termignoni exhaust, the rally is eligible and, according to Red Moto, should not only be suitable for rally use, but also for long tours.
Perhaps, but in comparison to the in-house Honda study Enduro Sports, the expensive rally seems rather sedate, which is why most Honda branches in Europe do not even import it.
The new Africa Twin Adventure, on the other hand, which will go on sale at the end of the year, is of course taken by everyone. Because just like the previous Africa Twin, it has what it takes to be a box-office hit. This is shown by the experiences of the competition with their respective adventure variants. Because for nothing – so say the marketing departments – customers pay more or more than for the image of the real adventurer in the man.
Interview “Very close to the original 650”
The Adventure Sports study was already at the Milan Salon in 2015, right next to the then brand-new Africa Twin. How did the study come about??
Parallel to the Africa Twin, so to speak to the basic model that was just presented at this fair. As a designer, you’re never really satisfied, and logically we always have to make compromises, be it because of the technology or the costs. But the engineers are not doing any better … Of course, there were also compromises in the development of the Africa Twin. Personally, I wanted a motorcycle very close to the very first Africa Twin, the 650 from 1988. That’s why, in addition to the basic version, I have just developed the Adventure Sports study, with very strong echoes of the ancestor.
Where exactly are the differences??
The most striking thing is of course the look. For Adventure Sports, I kept to the traditional colors of the 650s from 1988, i.e. red, white and blue. In addition to the white frame, there are gold-colored wheels, as they were common back then, and studded tires. The rear of the Adventure Sports is narrower, and the whole structure is more encapsulated, for example with larger side covers. Because if you drive a lot in the dirt, you don’t want to spend hours cleaning afterwards. The seat is flat, just like the original 650, the engine guard is larger, and if you look closely, you can see a small compartment for tools under the seat. The old Africa Twin had that too.
The Adventure Sports Concept is aimed at off-road use. Is it higher than the Africa Twin?
Yes, but only about 20 millimeters, which is due to the slightly different chassis. The handlebars are also higher up because of the raised risers.
What about the tank? Is it bigger? This cannot be clearly seen.
Yes, it holds significantly more gasoline, namely 24 instead of 19 liters.
And the Termignoni exhaust? It looks pretty hot.
I was working with the company on another project at the time, and Paolo Termignoni then made the exhaust system available to me for the study. I like it very much too.
Honda is actually building the announced Africa Twin variant like the Adventure Sports study?
(laughs) Hey, I can only talk to you about the study as it was at the exhibition in Milan! I am not allowed to reveal whether the motorcycle will come this way or not.
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