We’re out in Sardinia for the launch of Honda’s three new Africa Twins. Today we’ve been riding the top of the range Adventure Sports with Showa semi-active suspension.
Straight off the bike here are our first impressions of Honda’s new flagship adventure machine from our man on the ground.
Touted as a sports tourer rather than an off road weapon, It’s a big step forward for Honda – and brings the Africa Twin much closer to the big boys in the adventure motorcycle market. I’m thinking BMW’s R1250GS, Ducati’s Multistrada 1260 and KTM’s 1290 Adventure.
As such the price has stepped up significantly to suit. The top of the range (DCT) bike will set you back a fraction less than £17,500 – so with some luggage and Honda’s aftermarket quickshifter you’re knocking on the door of 20 grand. That’s a lot of cash. But after spending the day in the saddle, I’m convinced it’s well worth it.
We’ve spent the day pushing the bike hard on tight twisties, fast sweepers and wide, undulating gravel trails. It’s incredibly capable. Agile, lightweight and more planted than it deserves to be. The new Showa semi-active is brilliant. It’s lighter, more powerful, slimmer and easier to get on with. What more could you ask for?
The headline news for 2020 is the bike’s new engine. It’s now a 1084cc unit. It’s (a little bit) more powerful right at the top than the old bike – but the power is much more freely available right through the rev range. It pulls extremely well from low down. Figures are 100.5bhp and 77.5 lb-ft of torque.
The brakes are pretty much the only thing that’s unchanged from the previous generation bikes. While they’re nothing hugely revolutionary – they’re more than up to the job; smooth and progressive but with enough bite to halt you in a hurry.
Honda’s listened closely to customer feedback too. So there’s a couple of key changes including the addition of cruise control and a significantly lower seat height – so credit to them for that. My only real gripe is the manually adjustable screen. When you’re paying top whack – you’d maybe hope for an electric one, or at the very least one that’s adjustable with one hand.
In addition to riding the manual bike this morning, I also got a chance to see how well the DCT system performs. The new DCT set up is linked into the bikes modes – so as you change between Tour, Urban, Gravel, Off Road and User 1 and User 2 the DCT adjusts the gear ratios. Clever stuff.
Now I’ve never really been a fan of the DCT on the Africa Twin…and being brutally honest, it still doesn’t really do much for me. I can understand the advantages (and I loved it on the Goldwing and VFR1200X) – but for me there’s nothing quite like razzing up and down a gearbox and making full use of the engine braking on offer. Sorry Honda. Equally, Honda are now selling 40 per cent of its Africa Twins as DCT – so who am I to knock it.
Overall I’m seriously impressed with the new Africa Twin Adventure Sports with Showa semi-active suspension. Yes, the price is a big step up from the previous models – but there’s some serious work and serious technology involved in making the bike a top quality bit of kit. If you like the ‘old’ Africa Twin – you’ll love the new one.
Tomorrow we’re going to get the chance to ride the standard Africa Twin and Africa Twin Adventure Sports before flying back to the UK in the afternoon. I’ll try and check in with you at some point during the day – but it looks like we’re heading off the beaten track, so internet connection will undoubtedly be a bit sketchy. Worst case scenario – I’ll post some first impressions as soon as I get to the airport.
The full launch report of all three bikes will be published in the December issue of Motorcycle Sport and Leisure magazine. For more information on how to get your hands on a copy once it’s out, click HERE. And for more information from Honda about how to get your hands on one of the new Africa Twins, click HERE.
Also on Honda’s new Africa Twins…
Watch the FULL first riding impressions of Honda’s Africa Twin Adventure Sports with Showa semi-active suspension after an eventful day in the saddle.
On Wednesday we spent the day out on the tricked out, top-spec electronically assisted Adventure Sports – and we are bringing you our first impressions of the bike as soon as we get off it.
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