The 2023 Honda Africa Twin still checks all the boxes for touring-oriented adventure seekers.
There is a reason why the Africa Twin nameplate has a cult-like following. You are buying an Africa Twin not just for great adventure features, or touring capabilities, but it also comes with the Dakar rally heritage that the owners love bragging about. Let’s be honest – it is a completely different bike for a different audience compared to the original one, but it is still the first bike that comes to mind for all types of adventure seekers.
Unlike the adventure bikes from a decade ago, many adventure motorcycles come with different versions, and Africa Twin is no exception. In fact, Africa Twin is one of the first entries that started this, allowing people to choose the proper trim for their riding style. Our tester is the touring-oriented “Adventure Sports” trim, which comes with extra protection for the oil pan, and the fairings. It also comes with a bigger gas tank, a must-have for longer trips.
Regardless of the trim you choose, the current generation Africa Twin looks just as same, if not very similar to the previous model years. There is no reason to reinvent the wheel for Honda, therefore you still get the rugged and purposeful design features, with a nice balance of aggressive yet upscale looks. The front fairing and the headlights are the signature design features that give the Africa Twin a unique front fascia, the dual headlights not only look great with the DRLs, but they offer excellent visibility during night riding and low-light conditions.
From the side profile and all other angles, the Africa Twin looks like a big adventure bike, mainly due to the big and tall front fairing that also offers great wind and weather protection. Although I found the windscreen a little bit small for a touring-oriented bike, it offers great wind protection with no buffeting, and you can also raise or lower the windscreen very easily. It is still a 2-hand operation to change the windscreen position, so it is only recommended to adjust when you fully stop.
Speaking of the side profile, it is important to talk about ergonomics, as it is a very important feature that makes the Africa Twin a great tourer. With its relatively high seat height at 34.3 and 33.6 inches, the Africa Twin might not be a good fit for short adults, but you can get the optional lower or higher seats if needed. Adjusting the seat height is relatively easy, and you always get a very neutral riding position mainly due to the wide and tall handlebars. The Africa Twin offers a very commanding riding position as you sit quite upright and high, thanks to the 9.8-inch ground clearance.
As our tester is the Adventure Sports trim with a bigger gas tank, the ergonomics are slightly different than the base model. It is also very top heavy as you have a 6.5-gallon tank on top of the engine, which is 1.5 gallons more than the base trim, and it is definitely noticeable at lower speed maneuvering and stop & go traffic. If you are planning to take your Africa Twin to technical off-road trails, the base trim might be the more nimble choice.
For adventure seekers looking for the latest tech, Africa Twin has been the go-to option, as it is one of the few entries that come with smartphone integration such as the Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, along with the touchscreen TFT which allows the rider to customize the layout to see the right information. After 4 years, I found there is a little bit of input lag especially when you try to change riding modes and different screens. If you have ever wondered why the Africa Twin has two digital speedometers, the bottom one can be used if you are using the bigger screen for the CarPlay or Android Auto.
Although having a touchscreen makes your life relatively easy, the most frustrating part about the whole bike is the number of physical buttons especially on the left side of the handlebar. It requires a lot of time to get used to it, which means you have to constantly look at it to interact with the TFT screen while on the go. Things get more complicated at night, as they are not illuminated. Honda should find a simple solution just like BMWs rotary knob, there should be fewer buttons to keep it simple.
The Adventure Sports trim comes with SHOWA 45mm inverted forks and an electronically controlled suspension that allows you to choose the stiffness based on your riding style and road circumstances. It would not allow you to fine-tune each setting for front and back like you would find in some European entries individually, but it still gives you several different options to find the right suspension tune through custom User 1 and 2 riding modes.
Just like the previous years, Africa Twin comes with a 1084cc liquid-cooled parallel-twin engine that generates around 101 horsepower and 77.4 lb-ft at the crank. The parallel-twin engine can only rev up to 8000 rpm, but it still has a nice exhaust note, mainly due to the 270-degree crank that gives you V-Twin engine character. The horsepower and torque figures may be slightly lower than big bore entries, but Africa Twin always prioritizes usable powerband more than the spec sheet.
For some people, the biggest selling point is that it comes with two different transmission options. As always, there is a 6-speed manual transmission available for all trims, but you can also choose 7-speed dual-clutch transmission. The DCT is still taboo for many riders, especially the ones that never tried it. I personally would still choose manual transmission especially if you are planning to take it off-roading for more precise clutch engagement, but I see the value of DCT for the right audience.
Just like we tried it several years ago, Honda has yet to change shifting points in standard “D” mode, which upshifts very early even in the mid-corner. Thankfully, It allows you to choose different modes that change the shifting points by just switching to “S” sport mode which gives you three different options based on your riding style. You can simply use the shifter buttons located on the left side of the handlebar if you like to ride in a spirited fashion.
Even though the transmission tune is too “eco” focused, I think Honda deserves the credit that they give you the option to choose in a market where no one else even tried before. It also does not require additional maintenance other than an extra oil filter for the dual-clutch. Honda also added an electronic shifter in front of the left footpeg, so you can still switch the gears anytime manually.
Our tester had the optional side panniers and a top case, which can be added to any Africa Twin trim. The metal panniers look and feel very sturdy, they can handle the impact even if you drop it, just like the rest of the crash bars located in the front. The best part about having OEM storage options is being able to use one key for everything, and you can remove them quite easily.
The Africa Twin may not be the newest kid in the block, but there is a reason why it has a cult-like following as it can do many things well. It is exceptionally comfortable as a daily rider, and also a great bike for long trips, it is fun to ride in a spirited fashion, and can easily handle any type of light-duty off-roading, which means it can take you off the beaten path if needed.
The Adventure Sports trim is undoubtedly the right choice for travellers, as you get the extra luxury with the features like electronic suspension and touring-oriented features. However, it might not be the optimal bike for low-speed tight turns, city riding or stop-and-go traffic as it weighs over 540 lbs, and it can be a challenging experience. That’s why Honda needs to bring a middleweight entry to challenge new entries such as the Suzuki V-Strom 800DE. On the other hand, when the Africa Twin is in its natural habitat, it is one of the easiest adventure bikes to get from A to B in a fun way.
The starting price of $22,178 CAD and optional dual-clutch transmission for an additional $1000 puts the Africa Twin into a weird spot as it is more expensive than even most of the premium entries in this segment. However, if you are looking for an iconic heavyweight adventure bike, the Africa Twin still keeps the golden formula that adventure seekers have been looking for.
|1084cc, liquid-cooled, parallel-twin, DOHC
|101 hp @ 7,500 rpm
|77 lb-ft @ 6,250 rpm
|Dual four-piston calipers with 310mm discs
|Single one-piston caliper with 256mm disc
|546 lbs – 248 kg
|6.5 gallons – 24.8 L
|33.5 in to 34.2 in – 850 mm to 870 mm
|Base Price (as tested)