The brand new CRF1000L has been officially unveiled by Honda, marking the return of the legendary Africa Twin logo twelve years after the venerable XRV750 went out of production. The clean-slate design of new adventure tourer aims to keep real world off-road capability in mind without compromising touring comfort and everyday agility.
Honda already has the VFR1200X Crosstourer in its lineup, so the new Africa Twin doesn’t really need to be the ultimate do-it-all adventurer, it just has to cater for the off-road enthusiast. Honda puts it this way: "it has to perform in off-road situations as well as on-road long-range touring, and all points in between."
Instead of creating a souped up version of an existing model, Honda opted to invest time and money in designing a brand new motorcycle from the ground up. The name is chosen to make its off-road inclination clear, with CRF referring to Honda's contemporary Enduro and Motocross competition bikes, and of course the nod to the indispensable Africa Twin innuendo.
In the center of the Africa Twin’s steel cradle frame sits a brand new 998 cc two cylinder engine with a Unicam, 4-valve design and a 270-degree crankshaft. Two primary balance shafts provide assurances for smooth action with minimum vibrations. The engine output of 94 hp (70 kW) / 7,500 rpm and 98 Nm (72.3 lb-ft) / 6,000 rpm is applied through a six-speed gearbox, equipped with an assist slipper clutch. Honda claims that this new engine can achieve a range of up to 400 km (248.5 miles) with a full 18.8 lt (5 gal) fuel tank.
Off-road credibility is boosted by the choice of 21-inch front and 18 inch rear wheels with tubed tires – a must if one doesn’t want to worry about deflating tires due to bent rim edges.
Honda has housed the engine’s water pump inside the clutch casing to keep it safe from the occasional mishap. Ground clearance is a sufficient 250 mm (9.8 in) and even the exhaust pipe routing is as discrete as possible to avoid making any parts vulnerable to a fall. On the other hand, the non-detachable subframe seems like something those with a taste for hard adventure riding may have to worry about.
As announced, Honda has also presented a version of the CRF1000L furnished with a new Dual Clutch Transmission (DCT), optimized for off-road riding. Apart from the obvious fully automatic D-mode, there is the option of an S-mode where the rider shifts serially through the gears via two buttons on the left hand side of the handlebars. Honda notes that the Sports (S) mode offers three distinct shift patterns to choose from, yet it does not explain in detail the difference between S1, S2 and S3. Off-road functionality is enhanced by using the G switch, located on the instrument panel, which can be used in any riding mode. Its function is to reduce the amount of clutch slip during gear changes, thus improving the rider's control over the engine.
The bike's wet weight is announced at 228 kg (503 lb) in standard trim, adding another 4 kg (9 lb) for the ABS version, while the DCT version tips the scales at 242 kg (533 lb).
There are still some details that are not disclosed in the press kit, such as the wheel travel allowed by the fully adjustable Showa fork and shock absorber. This would be an important figure with regard to the Africa Twin's capabilities away from the asphalt. Honda only says that its suspension is "long travel."
The CRF1000L will be sold in three variants, the standard model, the ABS and the ABS-DCT version. The latter two will also have as standard the Honda Selectable Torque Control (HSTC) system, effectively a traction control that adjusts to three different levels. The ABS can also be adjusted for off-road riding, in which case the anti-blocking function does not apply to the rear wheel.
Four color options will include the red CRF Rally, the white Tricolour, as well as the Black and Silver. Judging from the pricing policy that Honda follows with the Crosstourer, we should expect lower prices for the single color options.
The new adventure bike is expected to arrive at European dealers towards the end of 2015 at a price starting of €12,100 – although it doesn’t explain which taxes have been dialed in.