Honda Africa Twin DCT Review and Test Ride: The Automatic Offroader
I was 15 years old when I first started my journey on two wheels, well, motorized wheels, that is. A family friend had been a Texas State champion in motocross growing up and after weeks of pestering my parents, they agreed to help me purchase my first motorcycle, a 2007 Honda CRF150F (later to be stolen by a scumbag classmate, the night before a 3 week trip to China for a young ambassador program I was in. Yes, I was that kid). Regardless, those first few months, prior to grand theft moto, my heart was owned by this little Honda 150. I was able to explore the world like never before, pushing through single track, motocross, fire roads, and the occasional illegal road stints. Fast forward 13 years and the 2017 Honda Africa Twin DCT stole my heart just the same. The perfect combination of raw power, refined electronics, and hyper-comfortable ergonomics make the Honda Africa Twin revamp a very well-received adventure machine.
Overview of Honda Africa Twin DCT
Like many bikes we’ve seen hit showroom floors in 2019, the Honda Africa Twin is a long-awaited revamp on a classic. The Honda XRV650 first hit the streets in 1988 to be updated with a 750 V-twin not two years later for the 1990 model year. The fuel behind this and many other manufacturers moving into the adventure space during this time was the Paris-Dakar Rally. Similar to the incredible marketing exposure Long Way Round created for the BMW GS Adventure bikes. Within moments of throwing a leg over this adventure beast, you can tell its heritage guides almost all styling throughout the design. Unlike its predecessor, the new Africa Twin comes with a 998cc parallel-twin (we’ll get to this later) and an optional Dual-Clutch “Automatic” transmission, which is identical to the system I reviewed here during my Honda Goldwing test ride and review.
Watch my first ride on the Honda Africa Twin DCT here:
Honda Africa Twin DCT Top Speed, CRF1000L, Bike Engine, and HP
The new Africa Twins 998cc parallel-twin produces 94 horsepower and 72 lb/ft of torque, making this one of the most well-balanced power delivery systems in all of adventure riding. All that power means you’ll find yourself at the 130 mph top speed in no time, although you’ll be far more impressed with how quickly the 72 lb/ft of torque accelerates you to this figure. The power delivery is one of the smoothest I have ever felt on an adventure bike, not even the slightest engine vibration translated to the rider, an impressive feat for a parallel-twin to accomplish.
Known as the CRF1000L, the Africa Twin comes in four flavors with three colorways for the 2019 model year. Keeping with its competitors, Honda offers an “adventure” spec that gets a larger gas tank, more suspension travel, and even comes with wider more off-road focused footpegs.
Honda Africa Twin DCT Price
The 2019 Honda Africa Twin comes in 4 trims:
2019 Honda Africa Twin Base
MSRP of $13,599
2019 Honda Africa Twin DCT
MSRP of $14,399
2019 Honda Africa Twin Adventure Sports
MSRP of $15,099
2019 Honda Africa Twin Adventure Sports DCT
MSRP of $15,899
If you are looking for an older model, like the 2017 featured in my ride and review video above, NADAguides reports that the 2017 Honda Africa Twin retails for approximately $10,935, on average. You can expect the 2018 Honda Africa Twin to sell for approximately $12,370.
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Honda Africa Twin DCT Specs, Transmission, Tech, and Features
The Honda Africa Twin is the swiss army knife of the adventure segment and holds no punches with regards to the laundry list of amazing features packed in. To start, the model I rode was equipped with the Dual-clutch Transmission (DCT) that allowed me to choose from multiple automatic settings as well as a “manual” mode that allows the rider to select gears from toggles located on the left-hand controls, where the clutch would normally be. The DCT actually worked kinda perfectly, if I’m being honest. It shifted intelligently and always kept me right where I needed to be. I only ended up using the manual mode for a brief portion of the ride, as the system was just that good in automatic.
Taking this beast back down to zero mph, the twin, four-piston calipers provide great feedback, and although they felt light in the initial pull, strong braking came through in the mid-to-end of the lever. Now, seeing as this is an adventure bike, I have to talk about suspension. Unfortunately, I was only street-riding this Africa Twin, so I can only attest to the aptitude on asphalt, but the 9.1 inches of travel in the front and 8.7 in the rear kept their composure brilliantly. It’s been a long-standing fact that the more travel in your suspension, the less aggressive and sporty the feel. Honda must not have been listening, as they have produced a motorcycle with incredible off-road capabilities that retains an almost CBR-esque responsiveness.
As if the Africa Twin needed more going for it, and as equally impressive as the power, suspension, braking, the electronics suite integrates almost as wirelessly (get it… seamlessly… but like for millennials… wirelessly. Am I a Dad yet?). You’ll have seven levels of Honda Selectable Torque Control, as well as pre-set rider modes to select from; Tour, Urban, Gravel, and a fourth rider-programmable mode. Each using different levels of available power, throttle response, traction control, and ABS settings to provide the most enjoyable riding experience on a number of different road conditions.
Honda Africa Twin DCT Seat Height, Chassis, Weight, and MPG
More important in the adventure segment than most, the ergonomics and dimensions of the 2017 Africa Twin lend themselves to riders of all sizes. At 5’9” and a 30” inseam, even the 34.3 inch standard seat height was manageable. The seat can be lowered to 33.5 inches for shorter riders who don’t want to modify suspension (the kiss of death to most “adventure” bikes). Arguably more important than planting your feet firmly, is what you’ll be picking up on the side of the trail when you go down. The Africa Twin comes in at 506 pounds fully loaded, which puts it at a big advantage when compared to the 1200cc competitors coming in closer to 600 lbs. With a 5-gallon gas tank in the standard and a 6.4-gallon tank in the adventure model, you’ll be riding well into the 200 mile range with enough change to find the next gas station.
You know I’m torn here. The Honda Africa Twin represents a major shift in how us riders interact with motorcycles. The introduction of the DCT transmission into this type of motorcycle is a clear test by Honda to see how this inevitable technological advancement will be perceived. In 10 years, I wouldn’t be surprised if all major motorcycle manufacturers have optional automatic transmissions for their class-leading bikes (dependent on the class). To that, I say, meh. As little as the auto industry’s push to automatic transmissions scares me, the motorcycles industry’s choice to follow down the same path is lost on me. The Honda Africa Twin is a great motorcycle, DCT or standard, and I don’t care who knows it. I’d be more than happy to open up the garage to this beauty every morning and embark on my next adventure.
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About the Duke of DC
You know, my father tells me that one of my first words was “carburetor” and after my 8th car and 5th motorcycle in my relatively short time on this earth, I’m starting to believe him. I’ve been riding motorcycles since I was 15 years old, and when I started DukeOfDC it was during a really difficult time in my life. I’m just an average Joe that loves anything on two wheels and wants to share that passion with the world. Check out my YouTube channel and follow me on Twitter.