Ever since launching the new Africa Twin last year, Honda has unleashed a worldwide promotional offensive, designed to distinguish the touring and off-road attributes that its new adventure bike professes. Its latest endeavour included climbing the world's highest volcano to a record-setting altitude.
The ice pockets of Ojos del Salado at the Atacama Region, on the Argentina-Chile border, must be witnessing unusual traffic recently. The world's tallest active volcano has often offered the grounds of choice to contenders for driving various vehicles to Guinness World Record heights – in part owing to the publicity gained from the successful relocation of the Dakar Rally from Africa to South America.
Only in the past five years, the world record for riding a motorcycle at the highest altitude has been broken twice on this volcano's demanding slopes, while KTM returned here last year to authenticate the equivalent world record for electric motorcycles. The same mountain set the stage for the altitude records of cars and trucks in 2007 and 2014 respectively, and has also hosted some bizarre attempts, like the highest scuba dive record that was ratified in a permanent lake at 6,382 m (20,938 ft).
Honda's latest attempt involved an enduro champion from Chile, Fabio Mossini, and a supporting team of five Africa Twin motorcycles, helping him reach as high up as 5,965 m (19,570 ft), before a 2 m (6.6 ft) wall of snow signalled the end of the ascend.
This altitude does not constitute an outright motorcycle record, since it didn't surpass the 6,471 m (21,230 ft) milestone that Gianfranco Bianchi managed in 2015 aboard a Suzuki RM-Z450. It still qualifies as a world record for twin-cylinder motorcycles though, given that all previous records were set with single-cylinder enduro bikes – like the current record-holding Suzuki, and the Husaberg FE 570 before it.
Actually, far more important that the record itself is the fact that Mossini's Africa Twin was more or less standard. Honda makes no mention of any changes in fuelling, which obviously means that the stock injection system managed to handle the oxygen deprivation of these high altitudes.
The motorcycle was equipped with a Termignoni exhaust, off-road Metzeler MC360 tires, shorter final transmission, and some parts straight from Honda's aftermarket catalog, like the protective bars. These are simple modifications with off-the-shelf accessories that anyone can easily make on a standard Africa Twin, offering proof that Honda's latest adventure bike is more than capable of holding its own off the paved roads.