Honda is mulling over developing a smaller Africa Twin which is more accessible to newer riders looking to get a taste of adventure riding.
The Honda Africa Twin is a name revered by aficionados of the adventure motorcycling segment. Starting with the XRV650 Africa Twin, Honda has steadily developed and updated the hardcore adventure motorcycle into the present liter-class iteration.
However, the 2017 Africa Twin plays in a segment that is out of reach of younger or newer riders looking to dip their hands in the adventure motorcycle pool. For one, the power output makes it inaccessible to riders holding an A2 category license. On the other hand, you can buy from Honda’s long list of dirt-friendly motorcycles like the CRF250L and Rally, CB500X, NC700X and NC800X, but none of them come even a little closer to what the Africa Twin is capable of.
Honda is aware of this gap in the product lineup, and intends to plug it with a midsize adventure bike. Visually, the bike could heavily resemble the bigger Africa Twin. “When we speak about pure adventure, we don’t have such a wide line up”, says Kenji Morita, Large Project Large for the Africa Twin. “And yes, we are thinking of putting a half-way model in to attract younger people. We will develop this bike, but it’s not something we are working on right now.”
The most suitable power mill for the midsize ADV could very well be the DCT-paired 750cc unit from the NC750X which is now also available on the X-ADV. Alternatively, Honda could also go for a new 650cc engine that harks back to the XRV650 Africa Twin. Big Red will have to come up with something truly unique though, as the midsize ADV segment is already populated with a diverse variety of offerings. There’s Triumph’s extensive and recently updated range of Tiger 800s to contend with. BMW Motorrad is fielding its own F750GS and F850GS. Two years down the line, KTM 790 Adventure and Yamaha 700 Tenere will also enter the ADV space. KTM is especially after Honda’s share, with CEO Stefan Pierer not known to mince words when he expressed he wanted to go after the big Twin.
Amidst all this frenzy of new motorcycles, what would happen of the current CRF1000L? Perhaps it would get a major bump in displacement that would enable to go up against the ADV heavyweights like BMW R1200GSA, Ducati Multistrada, Triumph Explorer, and KTM 1290 Super Adventure. However, Honda thinks otherwise. “In terms of pure horsepower, then yes some of our competitors have more, but for us this is not what we have in mind,” says Morita. “Our intention is to have the right amount of horsepower that customers actually use when in real riding situations. If we just want to increase horsepower it’s easy but when you do that, you lose something – the bike gets heavier, it vibrates more, it’s hotter and you lose the balance we are looking for. We experimented with power delivery at different rpm ranges and the best happened to be 100hp.”
Honda could very well revise and update the Africa Twin to offer TFT display, connectivity, and other convenience features it currently lacks. The next Tokyo Motor Show, where Japanese manufacturers display their important products, is in 2019. Perhaps we could get good news then, Honda?