2021 Honda Africa Twin – Overview
This week’s tester is the 2021 Honda Africa Twin Sports Adventure, it is one of the most iconic adventure bikes in the world. For the brief history, please see our review here. We’ll focus more towards how it differentiates itself from the base trim that we reviewed last year, as well as how it is targeted differently, even though they are essentially the same bike.
Like the base trim, it has the same 1084cc engine that produces 101 horsepower and 78 lb-ft of torque. Though it may not break any record in terms of power figures, it is a pretty punchy engine that doesn’t like to rev too much, it redlines around 8000 rpm. Despite having stock exhaust, it sounds great, thanks to the 270 degree firing order.
For this year, we were able to review the Dual Clutch transmission with the Africa Twin, unlike the base trim which had the manual transmission. If you are looking for an automatic transmission, it is the only bike in this segment that comes with it. Shifting points are too fuel economy focused in Drive (D) mode, it keeps the rpms very low and this engine is not a fan of staying at low RPMs, so as a result you get annoying vibration.
Things get better quite a bit when you switch to Sport (S) mode, as it upshifts at higher RPM, and keeps it at lower gear which feels more neutral if you are used to manual transmission. You can always manually upshift or downshift, and shifting speed is very fast. If you leave it at Auto mode, it is mostly smooth but sometimes can be jerky especially when it downshifts by itself.
Overall 1084cc parallel twin engine along with the 6 speed Dual Clutch transmission is a good match if you are planning to take long trips, there is no compromises in terms of overall performance but it makes the whole riding experience less engaging. No matter if you like it or not, it is a pretty smart system that learns shifting patterns as you ride more.
Aside from the engine and transmission, you get the same riding position, same brakes, similar type of seat, passenger accommodation and most importantly the screen. In our previous review, we mentioned how good the new screen is and it is same here. You not only get different riding modes with tons of customization, but you also get Apple CarPlay that you rarely find in motorcycling world.
When you have so many features available in one screen, you need several buttons to navigate through and that’s quite confusing with the Africa Twin. Although Honda did their best simplifying it, you still need to take your time to get used to overall button layout especially on the left side. By having dual clutch transmission, it makes things even more confusing as you have 2 more buttons for shifting.
Another feature that is criticized by most journalists is the second screen placed under the main screen and I don’t understand the reason. First of all, it allows you to see the speed and gear while you stand up for off-road riding, and even when you sit, that’s the screen you rely on to see your speed if you are using the CarPlay. There is a room for improvement in terms of infotainment menus, it can be annoying especially when you change the riding modes.
Base Africa Twin vs Adventure Sports
So the “Adventure Sports” badge may sound like it is more off-road oriented, but that’s not the case. Adventure Sports trim offers more features for longer trips, so the base trim is definitely the right choice if off-roading is your priority. Though it still carries fundamental Africa Twin features, having extra features make the bike feel heavier and bulkier.
Another reason why it feels heavy is the fuel tank capacity. With the base trim, you get 5 gallon (19 lt) of fuel capacity whereas Adventure Sports trim comes with 6.5 gallon (24.6 lt) which is a great addition for long trips. During our tests, we were able to put more than 500 kilometers in one tank if you ride normally.
Additional weight we have mentioned means two things. It doesn’t want to turn as fast as the base trim, and it doesn’t stop as quickly. Braking performance was not spectacular even with the base trim and the additional weight of the Adventure Sports trim and DCT doesn’t help overall braking performance. Due to the front forks that have huge travel distance, you have to be patient and pull the lever really hard to get decent amount of stopping power.
Speaking of the front forks, Adventure Sports trim comes with electronically adjustable suspension in the front and back. Even in the firmest setting, it really doesn’t feel that harsh thanks to the overall height and travel distance of the forks and shocks. In off road mode, it gets really soft for bumpy terrain, definitely worth the difference if you like to change your suspension settings frequently.
As Adventure Sports trim is focused more towards long rides and touring more than adventure, though the name has adventure word in it, Dual Clutch transmission is a better fit for long trips. It is also good for light-duty off-roading, but if you are willing to take it to technical trails, maybe you should go with the base trim and manual transmission combination to get the most out of it.
Feature wise, it is not just electronic suspension. Adventure Sports trim offers heated grips three-stage cornering lights, wider front fairing for more wind protection, tubeless spoke wheels, adjustable taller windscreen, rear luggage rack and larger skid plate. The only feature that is missing is the center stand, which is a must for any type of adventure or touring machine.
Pricing and the Verdict
It is probably the most iconic adventure motorcycle and one of the first bikes comes to mind when it comes to off-roading, 2021 Honda Africa Twin Adventure Sports is not a dedicated off-road machine like it used to be in the 80s, but still capable of handling off-road tasks, thanks to the 21″ front wheels and off-road tires. However, it rides exceptionally well as a daily rider, and that’s where you feel that it is engineered more as a Touring bike with adventurous vibes.
If that’s something you are interested, 2021 Honda Africa Twin Adventure Sports DCT is priced at $21,299. Considering the features and versatility you get, I think it is a good deal, considering you get some car-like features such as DCT and Apple CarPlay that you can’t find in this segment. For more details – please visit https://motorcycle.honda.ca/