2016 Honda Africa Twin - QUICK TAKE REVIEW

A few notes from Day One in South Africa riding the new Honda adventure bike on road and smooth dirt.

2016 Honda CRF1000L Africa Twin on-road action

Among my adventure touring friends, the most highly anticipated model to be released in a few years is the 2016 Honda Africa Twin. So when these hardcore riders learned I was going to the press introduction, my phone started to ring off the hook, people asking for the "real scoop," as if there was some other version I would share!

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The 2016 Africa Twin is Honda’s return to the adventure-class bike segment, and it's making a strong statement.

I was very curious myself—the bike looks great on the spec sheet, striking a balance between practicality and fun on the street, and capability and adventure on the dirt. What I wondered was if the spirit of a Dakar-racing pedigree would be squeezed out and the attractive spec sheet (18/21-inch wheels, good ground clearance, nicely spec’d suspension) would be sanitized to a fault.

After a day on the bike, 80 percent pavement and 20 percent smooth dirt, I am happy to report the bike has its soul intact. It is competent, and it is also fun. The motor is linear and enjoyable, the suspension is well-balanced out of the box, and I can immediately imagine going places on this bike, feeling like I had an excellent companion.

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Rainclouds in the Karoo desert and an Africa twin in its native habitat.

There are still some questions to be answered—I haven't ridden it in technical dirt yet, and to live up to the billing it will need to have some chops there. Furthermore, it represents a different philosophy to the adventure market than any existing model, with less motor than the other big twins but similar weight, and that raises the question of whether more is necessarily better. At one point, my answer would have been yes, but now that we have adventure bikes with more horsepower than won Daytona a few short years ago, is it possible we have hit a natural boundary and gone beyond? Maybe less is the new more?

In any event, the AT has the right ingredients to make the discussion interesting, and the excellent ergonomics, refined controls, and good list of features put it solidly on the map. I’m looking forward to putting more miles in the saddle tomorrow in real off-road conditions to evaluate that part of its character.

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2016 Honda Africa Twin action.Honda Photo

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2016 Honda Africa Twin static.Honda Photo

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2016 Honda Africa Twin studio.Honda Photo

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2016 Honda Africa Twin details.Honda Photo

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2016 Honda Africa Twin details.Honda Photo