Trail – Africa Twin 2016 test: Honda takes over the desert – Road test: obvious and pleasant on asphalt

Africa Twin 2016 test: Honda takes over from the desert

Trail - 2016 Africa Twin test: Honda takes over the desert - Road test: obvious and pleasant on asphalt

Basically, a trail is a motorcycle that is easy to handle and comfortable on all terrains. Honda revives its famous Africa Twin to reconnect with this concept abandoned by (over) powerful and bulky road maxi-trails. 2016 CRF1000L Review.

Test drive: obvious and pleasant on asphalt

In good self-respecting trail, the Africa Twin 2016 reserves a comfortable welcome: the hands rest naturally on the wide handlebars, the feet are placed directly on the trunk and the bust remains perfectly straight. This relaxing ergonomics reinforces the feeling of "dominating the road" common to motorcycles in this category..

The saddle – under which a specific U is held – turns out to be significantly more pleasant than its flat shape and visually reduced thickness would suggest. In reality, this height-adjustable seat – without tools, but with a certain helping hand to place the wedges and bindings in the right place – offers quality support, the perfect balance between softness and firmness.

Reinforced by the significant dead travel of the suspensions, this saddle comfort is a real good surprise: at no time did MNC feel any discomfort during the first road stage of our test in South Africa, yet 250 km long and comprising several portions of bumpy bitumen.

Pleasantly, the new Honda doesn’t stand out from the rest of the production at this point. But it comes quickly! The first characteristic element concerns the height of the handlebars, slightly higher than the average in order to facilitate its grip in a standing position. And then the remarkable finesse of its tank impresses: one would swear to have a lower displacement between the legs !

What a pleasure to place your knees in the very well designed recesses, almost without having to move them apart! This compactness greatly favors accessibility: even with the saddle in position – very – high (870 mm), a 1.75 m rider places a boot flat on one side and a point on the other. A great tour de force given the suspense deflections and the ground clearance !

On the other hand, no miracle takes place concerning the effort required to move the motorbike with the engine off: the 232 kg of the manual transmission version are irreparably felt, and the phenomenon is accentuated with the additional 10 kg brought by the optional DCT double clutch (+1000 €). Certainly the Africa Twin is not a sumo, but it is not a ballerina either….

A few pounds less would not have displeased us, even though the distribution of the masses is really bluffing. The balance of the bike is indeed perfect, to make a tightrope walker blush! Favored by the excellent turning radius (less than 5 m measured to make a U-turn) and the surgical precision of the accelerator, very low speed maneuvers are of rare evidence.

All of Honda’s mastery – even genius – in this area is there, also palpable through the delicate compromise between smoothness and efficiency of each of the controls. Playing with the attachment point of the clutch requires no effort, the selection combines precision and smoothness and the brakes respond present with progressiveness and efficiency. At worst, the more athletic will regret a certain lack of bite at the front..

Intuitive, the CRF1000L immediately puts you at ease and gives off a feeling of astonishing ease and security, as if no bad surprises were possible on its handlebars. Rather agile considering its displacement and size (the bike is tall and long), the Africa Twin tilts with ease and without resistance, despite the inertia generated by its 21-inch front wheel..

Setting the angle is a formality from the first km / h, the (over) weight disappearing as if by magic. The narrowness of the Dunlop chamber tires plays an important role here: by opting for 90 mm at the front and 150 mm, Honda is effectively abandoning extra-wide tires which boost the look but penalize agility … and wallet !

Thanks to the pronounced length of the swing arm (very aesthetic, moreover), traction does not suffer from this rather fine rise. The power maintained at a reasonable 95 hp also explains this ability to safely transmit all the engine’s energy to the bitumen. On condition, however, to heat the original Dunlop Trailmax, moreover not the most communicative when they drop out….

Another reason for satisfaction: the imperial stability of the Africa Twin, as riveted to the ground in all circumstances on its narrow tires. Agile and stable: the Honda trail combines qualities! In addition to the excellent rigor of the steel frame, it is on the Showa suspensions that this formidable efficiency is largely based..

Very flexible at the start of the race – especially at the front – the damping initially gives rise to fears of a "rocking horse" type behavior in the winding, with locking of the steering gear to the key when braking. But this flexibility emerges quickly gives way to a particularly well calibrated maintenance via a management of hydraulic flows with "small onions"…

The more you go into the travel, the more resistance increases proportionately, eliminating all forms of excessive front plunging and rear axle compression. By insisting heavily, some movements of the suspensions end up appearing on the strongest constraints, recalling that the Africa Twin does not have the rigidity of a (hyper) sporty trail like the or others .

However, these movements due to the strong travel are always controlled and never amplify. Especially since the comfort offered on the bumps is well worth this small concession to the arsenic: the Africa Twin absorbs the holes and the bumps with an ease and a staggering progressiveness..

Top protection, even without adjustment !

Like the saddle, the bubble of the Africa Twin hides its game well: while we thought the absence of detrimental adjustable, it is not. The protection is amazing, providing enough deflection to house the helmet and bust of a 1.75m rider. Some turbulence just tickle the outside of the shoulders and the top of the helmet.

Due to a lack of deflectors and a sufficient width of fairings, the legs and a large part of the knees are however exposed to the elements, such as dust and mud during off-road excursions! Here again, this is a voluntary compromise, chosen to contain the general clutter. And then it will always mean less plastics to replace after an off-road bowl…

Despite its height, the windshield does not generate any air depression phenomenon in the back, including at high speed. The explanation comes largely from the openings made in its lower part in order to lower the air flow: a rectangular in the middle and long slits on each side. An efficient and inexpensive method: pragmatic, like the rest of the bike !

Its air resistance does not relieve the front axle at full load either: the stability of the Africa Twin is never compromised, even at high speed. Carried by his professional conscience, MNC has nevertheless pushed the parallel twin to its limits, going to tease the 220 km / h just before the sudden entry into action of the breaker in 5th above 8000 rpm.

The tachometer and the counter – very readable, unlike other information written in small characters, such as trips – continue to rise slightly when passing the last gear. The 999 cc block has resources! And not to spoil anything, its sound is very pleasant, far from the dry clicks often released by this type of engine..

Past 4000 rpm, its low rumbling increases even more after having resonated in the airbox, while some cracklings are even heard during downshifts a little dry. In short, the Africa Twin has trunk and tone and it’s pleasant, as Honda motorcycles often err on the side of discretion. !

Despite its "only" 95 hp and 98 Nm, this twin-cylinder with a single camshaft (see Technical section) presents a nice roundness of operation, coupled with an appreciable elasticity. Able to pick up at 1,500 rpm all the way through third without a hiccup, it delivers a smooth and cleverly filled torque curve.

However, due to the less favorable weight / power ratio than on some "maxi" – admittedly heavier, but driven by much more horsepower – acceleration up to 3000 rpm (90 km / h in 6th gear) does not shine. not by their tone. You have to wait 4000 rpm (about 130 km / h in 6th gear) before feeling a vigorous thrust, sufficient for example to overtake in duo with weapons and luggage.

The Honda unit becomes much more lively from this speed, then changes face again at 6000 rpm: during the following 2000 rpm, it shows a cheerful, almost sporty pep. His behavior becomes frankly playful and his respondent becomes more responsive. Clearly, the Africa Twin has its own little character and doesn’t hesitate to express it! And that too, it feels good on a Honda !

For once, we gladly forgive him the very slight tremors felt in the footrests from 6000 rpm, despite the two balance shafts responsible for countering the mechanical vibrations. !

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