Posted in Motorcycles on Mar 08, 2019
Sometimes you end up with no words after some experiences in life... speechless as one can be, our experience with the Honda Africa Twin and the new automatic transmission (DCT) was simply out any other bike we've ridden before. So before continuing, please bear in mind that we are no experienced motorcycle testers, however, our own experience having ridden from Ecuador to Ushuaia twice, all around Europe and riders for Ducati on local and South American championships with good outcomes, gives us a bit of intel on what to look for on a motorcycle. So here was our experience...
We got brainwashed with the Africa Twin standing in the highest positions in all the shoot outs on YouTube and comparisons between high-end adventure motorcycles. So we made up our minds to go and get one of those bad-ass toys to include them in the fleet. As we walked into the dealer (very welcomed by its representative, Bernardo), he pointed at us the section where various models were on display. Two things came to my mind right away: First, those stock tires.... it was like seeing a Range Rover fitted with slicks, I thought. Little did I know that those Bridgestone were going to prove me wrong later on. And the second thing was that I couldn't help to compare the basic model with the 30th-anniversary DCT model standing right behind it. There was no doubt that if we were going to get one of these, we were going to get the best of it. Bernardo also pointed out that the bike was the last one in the country out of the few that came. No questions asked we decided to get it on behalf of our future customers at Ecuador Bike Rental by Sleipner. To be fair, we couldn't push the bike too hard due to tires and engine break-in, but it didn't disappoint.
An ok first ride with this monster was obviously under controlled conditions. So we decided to take it to the beach riding through twisties from the Andes towards the coast. It took 30 minutes to get used to the lack of a clutch lever. Then figure it out what was the logic on the gear shifting and engine break while going from the mountains to the Pacific Coast. Its got 3 riding modes to change its power output, thanks to its HSTC (Honda Selectable Torque Control), engine brake and parameters like traction control, that can be changed on the fly in 7 levels or turn it off. The user mode allows you to modify the engine output, the engine break logic, and the traction levels. Once familiar with these commands, and in drive mode, we noticed the bike is leaned a lot to fuel consumption, which can be overridden by the use of the shifters in the left-hand side. So used to up/down normal shifting, I thought this was going to be a fallback on fun, but far from it, it makes it more interesting. According to some magazines, this lady has close to 80 riding modes for all likes in all its combinations and I don't think we tested all of them. Then, we decided to test a variation of the "Drive mode" if you press the button enough, 3 levels of Sport mode open to you, and with this, it's own mapping of RPM selection for upshifting and downshifting thanks to its dual clutch system, which gives you the output needed for fun in the twisties and to hold gears off-road. And if that is not enough for you, you can always hit the manual mode as we did, and just do it manually. Perfecto!
One plus of the DCT, it allowed us to feel more relaxed on traffic jams. I felt like if we could ride 11 straight hours with a normal bike, with this one we could go over 15 easily.
Few facts about power and stats on this particular model. It's overall ready to ride weight of 240 kg is pretty well balanced on-road and off-road. Off course, we had to test it in sand and dirt roads as well. Its 998cc, outputs some sweet 94 CV and 99 Nm in torque, making it more than enough while riding this bike where it's supposed to be ridden, off-road. That mixed with increased travel in its front and rear suspension, a 21in front wheel and two little buttons on the right-hand side (G, and ABS rear off), converts this gentle machine into a dirt devour. You'd feel that the asphalt sport-convertible you were riding before, suddenly became a war tank ready to whatever is thrown at it. The Gravel button allows you to have a dryer response from the clutch, while the rear ABS turn off switch, allows you to have its tail exactly where you want it on corner entry.
So back to those tires... we had monsoon like those that happen every few years in Ecuador on our way back to the Andes, and those tires gripped as much as we needed. And since we were already wet, thanks to our pre-programmed route GPS, we decided to cross a river which its depth is a bit less a meter. Even with the "doubtful" rubbers, the bike managed to cross it with no hesitation.
Once again, our guides are not professional rally racers, but this bike proved to forgive any hard mistake I did. So after 1000 km of testing, is pretty fair to shout how awesome this machine is.
We're really happy to have it on our fleet and to provide our customers with the best as we always strived. We hope you enjoy it as much as we do.