Honda Loads Africa Twin With Tech for Major Update

Wealth of appealing technowhizzbangery added to Africa Twin and Africa Twin Adventure Sports models

Cruise control as standard. That, to me, is the most exciting aspect of the updated Honda Africa Twin and Africa Twin Adventure Sports models announced Monday. Most other moto-blogs and magazines will talk about the boost in capacity and corresponding increases in horsepower and torque. Others will get excited by chassis changes that help make Honda’s adventure-bike flagship lighter, more durable and more manageable. Others still will get excited by high-level technowhizzbangery like Bluetooth connectivity, TFT screens, and electronic suspension.

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I like all that stuff, but I’ll admit that, by and large, it isn’t terribly necessary; those new features won’t really alter the Africa Twin experience from what it already is. I mean, yeah, they make the Africa Twin feel more modern, more ‘in the now,’ and more on a level playing field with European competitors. Before it was a great bike; now it’s a great bike with lots of fancy shit. But Honda hasn’t exactly reinvented the wheel with this model update.

Still, though, the cruise control. Offering cruise control – and especially offering it as a standard feature – delivers the thing I’ve wanted from the CRF1000L since it first arrived amid much hoopla back in 2016. And if you throw down the extra dough for the Africa Twin Adventure Sports you even get tubeless tires (finally) and an adjustable screen (finally).

But before we get to the Africa Twin AS, let’s start with the base model Africa Twin and take a look at those changes that other folks care about. The Africa Twin’s parallel twin powerplant goes from 998 cc to 1084 cc. Honda’s promotions wing likes to round those numbers up in its videos, saying the bike has gone from 1000 cc to 1100 cc. However you look at it, the extra capacity makes room for an additional seven ponies, bringing the bike’s claimed power output to 102 horsepower, or 75 kilowatts, at 7500 rpm. Torque jumps from 99 Newton meters to 105 Nm, or 77.5 pound-feet.

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The engine maintains a 270-degree firing order, which theoretically means it will (vaguely) resemble the feel of a V-twin in character. That’s not my memory from the time I rode an Africa Twin back in 2016, but that test ride was so long ago that I suspect I would no longer agree with the conclusions I made in my review. Indeed, this recent set of changes mark the second update the model’s seen since I last rode it. Clearly, I will need to get myself on this bike when it eventually hits dealerships.

I won’t be the only person hoping to do so. According to Honda, more than 87,000 Africa Twin motorcycles have sold since 2016. That’s more than 60 Africa Twins sold every single day! Wow.

One wonders if this latest update will be enough to make current Africa Twin owners trade up. Hard to guess; but it is at least enough to make me seriously consider becoming an Africa Twin owner. Especially with the addition of fancy tech like a six-axis Inertial Measurement Unit (IMU) that controls a seven-setting traction control system, cornering ABS, and so-called “Rear Lift Control” (I have no idea what that is. A slipper clutch?). Meanwhile, a fourth riding mode has been added, so the bike can now be ridden in Urban, Tour, Gravel or Off-Road modes.

For guys like me who will probably never use the latter of those modes, the Africa Twin comes with a super-mega spiffy 6.5-inch TFT touchscreen dash that offers Apple CarPlay and Bluetooth connectivity.

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Styling of the bike has changed slightly to mirror the bike’s even lighter overall weight. Honda says the Africa Twin has shed 5kg with this update – roughly the weight of a six-banded armadillo, according to the internet. Wet weight is reportedly 226 kg, or about the weight of a Transcaspian wild ass. Although I generally like the more svelte look, I’m not a fan of the fact that the Africa Twin’s screen is now even shorter and remains non-adjustable.

To get something a little better suited to on-road adventure it seems one needs to look toward the new Africa Twin AS. 

2020 Honda Africa Twin

Africa Twin Adventure Sports

Carrying all the changes of the Africa Twin, the new Africa Twin AS runs a little heavier (~238 kg, or the weight of a Mindoro dwarf buffalo) but rewards owners with all the bells and all the whistles. Here’s a link to Honda’s press release if you want every single detail, but standout features for me include a five-level adjustable screen, a ginormous 24.8-liter tank that Honda says will carry you in excess of 300 miles, the aforementioned tubeless tires, and heated grips as standard. That means cruise control and heated grips as standard. We are living in the utopian future, y’all.

In addition to the LED lights found on the base Africa Twin, the Africa Twin AS has three-stage cornering lights and a fascinating “Emergency Stop Signal” function that automatically triggers the hazard lights when braking hard. I guess that’s useful. It certainly means you’ll fit in on German motorways.

The real standout feature, though, is the Africa Twin AS’s optional electronic suspension.

“Showa Electronically Equipped Ride Adjustment adjusts damping force relative to riding mode selected and aims to deliver high-quality suspension reaction in diverse and opposite conditions – riding comfort at slower speeds and stability at higher speeds,” explains Honda’s verbose media release.

Based on various promo videos, it appears Honda will now sell you panniers that don’t suck. Though, it doesn’t matter much because the aftermarket has responded very well to the Africa Twin; that seems likely to continue. As with previous versions, both the Africa Twin and Africa Twin AS will be available with Honda’s ever-evolving DCT system.

Honda has not yet said when the bikes will be coming to dealerships, nor how much they will cost. In the case of the Africa Twin AS, however, I’m betting the answer to the second question is: a lot.

2020 Honda Africa Twin Adventure Sports