Honda Brings Back the Africa Twin

Details emerge on the all-new 2016 Honda CRF1000L Africa Twin

2016 Honda CRF1000L Africa Twin
The 2016 Honda CRF1000L Africa Twin. Photo © Honda

Update: Pricing has been officially announced for the 2016 Honda CRF1000L Africa Twin. The standard bike's price will be $12,999, and the dual-clutch equipped DCT model will be priced at $13,699.

The Honda Africa Twin is legendary in the offroad adventure world. The model, which sold through 2003, is nowadays considered a throwback that paid tribute to the mean, rugged motorcycles that ran the famously brutal Paris-Dakar Rally.

With origins dating back to the late 1980s, Honda's original Africa Twins were powered by big displacement v-twin engines that gave them a go anywhere, do anything personality that carried the model line until its discontinuation.  

Honda recently announced that the Africa Twin is coming back, packaged in familiar livery but boasting an all-new design and powertrain. First off, the new Africa Twin gets its motivation from a 998cc parallel-twin engine that drew inspiration from Honda's CRF250R and CRF450R mills. The big twin inherits the same four valve Unicam setup for space savings. The new engine also gets a lightweight cast camshaft that's made from the same material as the CBR1000RR superbike, while twin sparks per cylinder are responsible for ignition. A 270 degree phased crankshaft promises enhanced feel for rear tire traction, while Honda says the engine produces "a satisfying, characterful deep growl as rpm rises." 

The Africa Twin comes equipped with ABS and traction control standard, while a dual-clutch 6-speed automatic gearbox can also be ordered and includes a hill hold function. As with other DCT-based bikes like the Honda NC700X and CTX700, the gearbox can be set to shift automatically or semi-manually via a trigger on the left grip.

The DCT transmission adds a new incline detection system that sense grade and adjusts shift patterns accordingly, holder gears for longer when riding uphill and downshifting early on descents to help with engine braking.

All is held together by a steel semi-double cradle frame, while long travel Showa suspension components and a big 4.96-gallon fuel tank make it philosophically similar to Dakar-based motorcycles of yore, which were built to withstand long distance rides through extreme conditions.

The 2016 Honda CRF1000L Africa Twin joins a field that includes by road-biased adventure machines like the Yamaha Super Tenere and Suzuki V-Strom 1000 ABS, as well as more versatile premium big bore contenders like the venerable BMW R1200GS and KTM 1290 Super Adventure. The interesting thing about its return is what distinguishes it from its competition: heritage. Back in the day, the Africa Twin was a model that stood for more than just a genre, it represented a lifestyle that made the adventure genre bigger than any one single bike. Through the prism of history, it stands as a testimony to bikes that transcend their status as a mechanical objects and become associated with the idea of escape, in much the same way the BMW brand did with their GS adventure bikes.

The new Honda Africa Twin will hit showrooms in early 2016. Standby for a full review of this all-new adventure bike as soon as we can swing a leg over.