It’s not very often that you get your hands
on a motorcycle that comes without a gear shift lever and a clutch. So when the
Honda CRF 1000L Africa Twin came our way, we were simply too eager to mount it
and take it for a long spin to find out its automatic way of doing things.
Liquid cooled, 4
–stroke, SI engine, twin cylinder 999.11cc
Transmission (6 speed)
Hydraulic disc 256mm
150/70R 18M/C 70H
This half faired motorcycle comes with twin
LED headlamps, an aggressively poised handle bar, knuckle guards and spoked
wheels along with an artistically painted fuel tank and seats. The rear mud
guard and tail light give the bike a sporty character. In place of the clutch
lever you have the parking brake which can be pressed and engaged. The small
windscreen and the cowl are well designed for the perfect aerodynamic look. The
smart looking two in one exhaust with two tiny outlets add to the good looks of
the bike. A closer look at the bottom exhaust outlet you will notice that it
has been welded shut, perhaps to meet some of those stringent emission and
noise norms in the country.
Honda is also offering a lot of additional
accessories for this bike. These include a front side pipe, a DCT pedal shift for
someone who wants a gear shift lever at the left foot area, fog lamps, top box,
a high wind screen, a main stand, a U lock and others. Obviously it is going to
cost you more.
This bike is 2334 mm in length, has a 932
mm width, a height of 1478mm. The seat height is around 820 to 840mm which is
adjustable. It also has a high ground clearance of around 250mm and a kerb
weight of 245kg. The bike has a fuel tank capacity of 18.8 litres which can
ensure you a travel of around 400km. Fuel efficiency hovers around 21.5 km per
The CRF 1000L Africa Twin is powered by a
parallel twin cylinder OHC engine that produces around 87hp at 7500 rpm and a
peak torque of 91.9Nm at 6000rpm. The bike can reach a top speed of 190kmph.
The engine also has a lightweight camshaft made from the same material of the
proven Fireblade cousin. And with a 270 deg crankshaft with irregular firing
intervals and the fact that the engine has two spark plugs per cylinder, the
bike has its own characteristic when it comes to its performance.
But before we get into the performance of
the vehicle, let us explain the electronic dynamics of this two-wheeler. For
the regular and hard core motorcyclist, this new Africa Twin will take him or
her by surprise. Without a gear shift lever near your left foot, and a clutch
lever to help you shift gears and also control all your throttle inputs to some
extent, this bike has none of that. You will wonder how to deal with this, but
the moment you sit atop the bike, you are given a whole range of controls on
the handle bar that you need to simply get used to while riding.
The new Africa Twin is a motorcycle that
owes its life to the electronics embedded in it. The moment you tweak the
ignition and press the start button on the right of your handlebar, the engine
comes to life with a great sound that is not jarring or irksome. Another button
on your right helps you to put the bike into D or drive mode, just like in the
cars. The bike has a Dual Clutch Transmission or DCT which acts like an
automatic transmission with paddle shifters on the left side of the handlebars.
The thumb switch on the right allows you to select D or S riding modes. There
is also a button for you to select MT or manual transmission which means you
can play manually with the paddle shifters to shift up or down the six gears.
The D mode is ideal for city riding where you want to achieve good fuel
efficiency. The Sport mode again allows you three levels of sporty ride. S1, S2
and S3 all engaged with long pressing the button.
The Africa Twin also has a rally style LCD
display which digitally informs you about the speed, rpm levels, fuel position,
gear position, odometer details, trip functions, ambient temperature and clock.
It also displays all your drive settings and whether your traction control is engaged or disengaged and most important
the Honda Selectable Torque Control (HSTC) and ABS.
The parallel twin layout of the engine has
allowed the makers of the Africa Twin to position its heavy components like
battery and ABS unit to rear for a better balance, thus keeping the centre of
gravity point of the vehicle very low. This means the proportions around leg
area are slim, making it easy for the rider to get his or her legs in the right
position for riding. Even the fuel tank is sculpted in a way that it does not interfere
with the rider when he or she crouches for those fast rides.
The 43 deg steering angle of the motorcycle
enables a turning radius of 2.6 metres which is good for a mammoth motorcycle
of this size.
Coming to riding the Africa Twin, you need
to master the electronic functions first. That may take a while. The Honda
Selectable Torque Control and ABS work in unison but they can be independently
set to give the rider 80 different possible combinations. Thus depending on
your skill and your track or terrain, this setting can be done. As you ride,
the human and computer generated algorithms come into play to programme gear
changes. This ensures optimum automatic gear changes. Both the power and torque
delivery are very strong and linear.
As I rode into some off road terrains, I
changed my settings to Sport mode, pressed the G switch. The G function is like
when you half press the clutch and it responds directly to your throttle inputs.
Going over rough terrains or even bumps and pot holes is a breeze with the
Africa Twin. The vehicle sits on 21 inches 90/90 54H front tyre and 18 inches
150/70R rear tyre. The tyres are not tubeless which is a tad disturbing because
tubeless does have its own advantages over ones with tubes inside.
I found the suspension of the Africa Twin
perfectly tuned to absorb all the undulations and ensure a comfortable ride.
With telescopic front suspension and a pro-link suspension at the rear and a
semi double cradle frame to boot, this bike is rock solid on almost every
terrain. Incidentally, the front 45mm front forks with a 230mm stroke are fully
adjustable while the rear shock with a 220mm travel are also full adjustable.
The Africa Twin has a 310mm wave style twin
floating front discs with 4pot radial calipers and at the rear we have a 256 mm
wave style with a 1 pot caliper. A 90 km ride through Rajasthan’s unruly and
chaotic traffic in Udaipur and also and on some very rough patches of land,
proved beyond doubt that this machine is the right one for a true adventure
seeker. There is no stopping the rider atop the new Africa Twin.
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