By Greg Drevenstedt (RiderMagazine.com)
Since its introduction for 2016, Honda’s CRF1000L Africa Twin has been a runaway success. It has been a best seller in the red-hot adventure-touring segment, and it has proven itself to be a solid platform in road tests and comparisons. Powered by a torquey, compact, liquid-cooled 998cc parallel twin and available with either a 6-speed manual transmission or a 6-speed automatic Dual Clutch Transmission (DCT), the Africa Twin rolls on off-road-ready 21-inch front and 18-inch rear wheels, has switchable ABS and traction control, and a solid chassis with long-travel suspension.
At the EICMA show in Milan, Italy, Honda unveiled an updated version of the Africa Twin as well as a new version, the CRF1000L2 Africa Twin Adventure Sports.
To ready it for long-haul adventure touring, the Africa Twin Adventure Sports has a larger fairing, a 3.15-inch taller windscreen and heated grips and a 12V power socket as standard equipment. It also has a larger fuel tank (6.37 gallons compared to 4.97 gallons on the standard model), a bigger skid plate, crash bars, brushed-aluminum cowling panels, a rear mudguard, an easily removable steel luggage rack and a storage pocket on the right rear of the bike. The Adventure Sports gets updated, longer-travel Showa suspension, raising ground clearance from 9.8 inches to 10.6 inches. It also has a flatter seat that’s 1.2 inches taller than the standard model—its two-position seat can be set at 35.4 or 36.2 inches (compared to 33.5 or 34.3 inches)—and its handlebar is 1.3 inches higher and 0.2 inch closer to the rider than the standard version’s.
Many updates to the engine, electronics and rider interface are common to both models. The parallel twin gets a new airbox with a longer funnel length and redesigned exhaust internals that significantly improve midrange response and sound quality, and the engine’s balancer-shaft weights have been lightened by 10.6 ounces to liven up power delivery. A new lithium-ion battery is 5.1 pounds lighter than the previous lead-acid unit. New throttle-by-wire enables four riding modes and an expanded Honda Selectable Torque Control (HSTC, or traction control) system with seven levels (up from three). HSTC can also be completely switched off, and three levels of power and engine braking are available. Throttle-by-wire can also enable electronic cruise control, but Honda hasn’t yet added this feature, which will be a deal-breaker for some riders.
Both CRF1000L Africa Twins now have auto-canceling turn signals, wider rider footpegs mounted to stronger steel plates, redesigned passenger footpeg hangers that allow more room for stand-up riding. Furthermore, the instrument panel is positioned at a shallower angle to allow the rider to see it more easily from a standing position.