As Honda rightfully puts it, some people can’t help but dream big, plotting the most epic rides to all four corners of the earth. And the all-new Africa Twin is the bike that will let you live those dreams. With a name made famous from Paris to Dakar and beyond, it has renowned reliability, the latest technology, and unsurpassed capability, allowing you to wander as far as your imagination allows.
No one in the adventure riding community can dispute the legend that is the Honda Africa Twin. However, it is the name and the long discontinued previous version. The original XRV750 Africa Twin was a 742cc dual-sport based on the Honda NXR-750, which won the Paris-Dakar rally four times in the late 1980s. The production version of the Africa Twin adorned Honda showrooms across most countries from 1990 to 2003 and went on to sell in tens of thousands.
However, the motorcycle in contention is the all-new re-launched 2016 Honda Africa Twin. It was teased in early 2015 and since then, most of us adventure riders have been patiently waiting to get our hands on one for a test drive.
Al-Futtaim Honda in Dubai was kind enough to let us try one out as an Africa Twin should be tried, out there where roads don’t exist. This was one ride where most of the riders in our group showed up for a ride in the middle of this scorching Arabian summer. No one wanted to let go of the chance of trying the Africa Twin, even at 40 degree Celsius heat at 8AM in the morning.
Most of us are BMW R1200GS riders, a machine that’s an adventure riding legend in it’s own right. It goes without saying that the Africa Twin wound be compared nut and bolt with the BMW. We all tried the Africa Twin on road, and off and I’ll have to admit, we were struggling to find faults in this machine. I’ve seen a sharp increase in the number of adventure motorcycles on the local classifieds site; maybe this is the reason why…
The Africa Twin doesn’t disappoint, period. It isn’t the most powerful or the most advanced adventure motorcycle on sale today. You need to look at the KTM 1190 and the 1290 Adventure for that or the Ducati Multistrada. The Africa Twin doesn’t come laden with all the techno-farkles like a BMW R1200GS either. No electronic this and no adaptive that. However, it does come with three-stage traction control and ABS on-off toggle, all that you will ever need off-road. The suspension on both ends is it fully manually adjustable as well.
Knowing a bit about Japanese manufacturers, I know that they have taken all this consideration and delivered a product that they think is the right fit for the segment. Having ridden a R1200GS regularly for around five years now, I didn’t miss anything on the Africa Twin. Within minutes of riding it, I felt a level of comfort and confidence that allowed me to throw the rear out and blip at every bump to get some airtime.
Some might argue that the Africa Twin isn’t suitable for long highway cruises, I disagree. As narrow as it might be compared to other motorcycles in the segment, the Africa Twin felt well planted and stable at speeds that were far in excess of any cruising speeds and handling on the road is beautiful, if I can use that as a verb to describe it. It is agile, nimble and has enough power to help you keep up with the sports bikes on a nice, twisty road.
Priced at AED 55,000, the Africa Twin is one bargain you can’t overlook if you’re in the market for an adventure-touring machine that lets you enjoy the road and a good long off-road ride. Being a Honda machine, I’m expecting the reliability and maintenance cost to be bulletproof.
*The motorcycle we rode wasn’t the DCT version.