Honda has announced further technical details on the new CRF1000L Africa Twin, which will be in Honda showrooms across the United States in early 2016. Like its forerunners, the CRF1000L Africa Twin is equipped for adventure, with a potent engine and dynamic chassis ready to explore continents, on- or off-road.
According to Honda, from the start of the CRF1000L Africa Twin project there was one motorcycle that consistently impressed with its balance of usability, poise and handling, on the road and in the dirt—the seminal XRV750 Africa Twin. It proved a worthwhile benchmark, even when set against today’s myriad choice of adventure motorcycles. The machine that now bears its name shares no common parts with the old model but it inherits the full essence and spirit of what made the XRV750 Africa Twin so good.
The “true adventure” approach starts with the engine, which has to perform in off-road situations as well as on-road long-range touring and all points in between. The CRF1000L Africa Twin’s 998cc parallel-twin power plant draws heavily on Honda’s off-road race experience with the CRF250R/450R competition machines, and uses the same four-valve Unicam head design for compact overall dimensions. A lightweight cast camshaft—using the same materials as that on the CBR1000RR—operates the valve train, and twin spark plugs fire the fuel/air mixture in each combustion chamber.
Strong and linear power and torque deliver instant response anywhere in the rev-range—accompanied by a satisfying, characterful deep growl as rpm rises. A 270° phased crankshaft gives the power delivery a distinct character as well, delivering excellent feel for rear-wheel traction. Biaxial primary balance shafts cancel vibration.
The engine’s short height contributes to the CRF1000L Africa Twin’s excellent ground clearance—another prerequisite for a true adventure machine. It also uses clever packaging of componentry to both dynamic and aesthetic effect. The water pump is housed within the clutch casing, and the water and oil pumps are driven by a shared balancer shaft. Further reducing engine size is the lower crankcase design, which stores the oil and houses the pressure-fed pump.
The lightweight six-speed manual gearbox uses the same shift-cam design as found on the CRF250R/450R to ensure positive changes and is equipped with an assist slipper clutch.
For the CRF1000L Africa Twin’s chassis, three key attributes—highlights of the original XRV750—were targeted: off-road performance, touring comfort and the everyday agility that makes for a great all-rounder or day-to-day commuter.
A steel semi-double cradle frame provides a balance of highway touring capability—even while fully loaded—genuine off-road performance, agility and sheer strength. Mass centralization—with items like the battery packaged at the rear of the cylinder head—contributes to a low center of gravity.
The long-travel Showa inverted fork is fully adjustable and features dual radial-mount Nissin four-piston brake calipers and 310mm “wave” style floating discs. The Showa rear shock has hydraulic spring-preload adjustment. Like the CRF450R Rally, the CRF1000L Africa Twin uses 21- and 18-inch front and rear spoke wheels, wearing 90/90-21 and 150/70-18 tires.
Following its design theme of “unlimited adventure,” the Africa Twin is styled with minimum bodywork in a tough, lightweight form that offers both weather protection for the rider and a slim, agile feel. Dual headlights maintain the original’s signature presence and the seat height adjusts .8 inches to either 34.3 or 33.5 inches. A large 4.96 gallon fuel tank—coupled with the engine’s fuel efficiency—stretches the distances between refueling stops.
To tailor the overall electronics package to capably tackle any conditions on- or off-road, the Honda Selectable Torque Control (HSTC) system offers three levels of control, and it is possible for the rider to turn off the ABS system for the rear wheel. (HSTC and ABS not available on base version; equipped as standard on DCT/ABS version.)
The CRF1000L Africa Twin will be available in two color options: Red/Black/White Dakar Rally and Silver.
Dual Clutch Transmission (DCT)
Honda’s unique Dual Clutch Transmission (DCT) will be available as an option on the CRF1000L Africa Twin, with the use of a common crankcase keeping the width the same as the manual transmission version.
It features the standard manual mode—allowing the rider to operate gear shifts through triggers on the left handlebar—and two automatic modes. D mode offers the best balance of fuel efficiency and comfort cruising. S mode gives extra levels of sport performance, with three different shift patterns to choose from: S1, S2 and S3.
In certain situations on the road, such as during low-speed maneuvers, the DCT partially disengages the clutch to reduce the effect that quick throttle movements have on the chassis. Of course, DCT for the CRF1000L Africa Twin is also fully equipped to operate in an adventure environment. With the G switch on in any riding mode, the connection between the throttle and the rear wheel is more direct, which can be desirable in certain off-road situations.
Further new functionality for the DCT system comes in the form of incline detection. During ascents, upshifts are delayed in order to allow a higher rpm to be held; on descents, downshifts happen earlier to enable better engine braking.