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2016 Honda Africa Twin: MD First Ride (with video)

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We finally had a chance to throw a leg over the new Honda Africa Twin (also known as the CRF1000L) a couple of weeks ago in Moab, Utah. The U.S. press launch focused heavily on dirt riding, with a short 63 mile street ride on Day 1 and close to 100 miles off-road on Day 2. We came away very impressed, not only with the bike but with the fact that Honda has gone its own direction in the Adventure category.

This is a bike that is not aimed directly at most modern, large displacement (1,000cc and over) “Adventure bikes” with their street focus, high curb weight and massive horsepower. Honda set out to build something entirely different, in our opinion, and as a result, it is a bike worth taking a close look at.

This is not a powerful bike when compared with some of the other new Adventure mounts (such as the big KTMs). Don’t get us wrong, this bike has plenty of power … even for two-up touring with luggage. The 998cc parallel twin, rather, is focused on an extremely broad, linear power delivery that sacrifices some when it comes to peak horsepower.

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Honda designed the engine to be small, light and feature reduced reciprocating mass. Although each head has four valves, Honda borrowed the Unicam design from its motocross racers to actuate those valves with a single, simplified cam design. Other efforts to reduce the size, weight and complexity of the mill include incorporation of the water pump within the clutch casing, and utilization of a balance shaft to drive both the water and oil pumps. A special crank case design stores oil and also houses the pump. The result is an exceptionally short engine top-to-bottom, which allowed Honda to increase ground clearance without an excessively tall seat height.

A 270° phased crank, together with balance shafts, keeps the engine smooth at all rpm levels, and provides a connected feel between the throttle and the rear wheel (particularly, on the manual transmission model). A six-speed transmission is utilized, and the wheels reflect the dirt focus with spoked 21″ front and 18″ rear. Yes, you will find tubes inside these tires, an advantage off-road where fixing a flat can be near impossible with a tubeless design.

Powerful brakes are incorporated including 310 mm front discs squeezed by radial-mount, four-piston calipers. A single 256 mm disc and two-piston caliper reside out back. Both models feature ABS braking, which can be turned off by the rider, and traction control in three, selectable levels of intrusion (plus an “off” position).

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Speaking of the DCT model, Honda is offering the Africa Twin in two flavors. You can have a traditional six-speed manual transmission or a third generation dual clutch transmission (DCT). The DCT on the Africa Twin offers a myriad of adjustments. The standard “D” mode is the least aggressive, most fuel-efficient, automatic setting, and the default position when you start the bike. “S” mode provides sportier performance and three, selectable levels, including “S1”, “S2” and “S3” that allow the rider to pick from lesser to greater aggressiveness, i.e., how long the automatic transmission holds a shift and how aggressively it downshifts. Off-road, you can engage the “G” switch on the dash to, according to Honda, increase the directness of “the connection between the throttle and the rear wheel.” The DCT system also features incline detection that will delay upshifts when climbing and hasten downshifts when descending.

The front fork is a fully adjustable, 45 mm upside-down Showa with 9″ of travel, while the rear shock features rebound adjustment (via a handy, tool-less knob) and 8.6″ of travel.

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The designers looked back at the XRV750 Africa Twin introduced in 1989 for inspiration. That bike was known for its capabilities, both on-road and off, and styling is a melding of historical Hondas and the current Dakar 450. The seating position is bolt upright with an adjustable seat height (34.3″ or 33.5″) and a thin midsection. With a curb weight of 511 pounds (the DCT model is 534 pounds), fuel capacity is 5 gallons.

On the street, the Africa Twin is comfortable and stable. The seat is broad and flat, and is ready for longer trips with a good combination of cushioning and support. The reach to the bars is easy and leg room is relatively generous.

The Africa Twin feels light, but the thin tires (90 section front and 150 section rear) might not give you the confidence to explore deeper lean angles on the road. The wheelbase and steering geometry make the bike exceedingly stable, and the long suspension travel soaks up most road bumps as if they aren’t there.

On the road, the engine pulls well almost from idle to redline, and the delivery is so linear that there is no real rush of power. Generally, you can select one of two or more gears to do the job on twisty highways given the flexibility of the powerplant. This is an exceedingly comfortable motorcycle, and the windscreen provides pretty good protection. An optional windscreen is 90 mm taller and 30 mm wider.

The stock subframe is already set up to handle the optional saddlebags. An optional trunk brings total luggage capacity up where it should be for serious touring enthusiasts. In short, the Africa Twin is a capable street mount with a decided dirt aptitude.

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It was on Day 2 in the dirt where the Africa Twin really stretched its legs. The route near Moab, Utah traversed everything from deep sand, small, loose rocks and silted hard pack. This was not a ride for most bikes that currently call themselves “Adventure” machines. But the Africa Twin handled it well. As an ex-motocrosser, my comfort level off-road exceeds that of most journalists, and I spent the day tight on the tail of our leader, Darren Peterson of Elite Motorcycle Tours, who was aboard a lighter 650cc single.

I tried to push the Africa Twin hard off-road. I started the day fairly tight, and struggled in some deep sand before our first photo stop. The bikes had been switched to DOT legal knobbies for Day 2, but they were much more suited for hard-pack dirt than sand. During the first sand section, I pushed the front end several times. I never crashed during the day, but my biggest “moments” came in the deep sand. At one point, I must have tucked and pushed the front for more than 10 feet and saved it. No small thanks to the Africa Twin Chassis here, and I cannot quite imagine doing the same thing on most large displacement “Adventure” bikes.

On hard-pack, the tires worked much better, and my confidence level soared. I was able to dip the bike in corners like a much lighter dedicated off-road machine and the “leg out” style of cornering felt natural. The stock bars are perhaps a little bit too tall to achieve a classic motocross-style position while seated on the bike, but they worked very well while standing (which we did plenty of).

The engine power delivery was exceptionally good off-road. I turned both ABS and traction control completely off, and the smooth power delivery allowed me to use the engine to spin up the rear wheel to help me point the bike in the right direction when finishing corners … even on some pretty slippery surfaces.

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Following Darren on high-speed trails, we apparently reached close to 70 mph at one point (3rd gear tapped out and into fourth) on some of the rain-rutted, slightly whooped long straights. The Africa Twin felt rock steady while standing on the balls of my feet. It tracked straight with no drama.

The DCT model worked exactly as you might expect on-road. In D mode, upshifts and downshifts are a bit lazy, but the flexible engine, once again, pulls the bike around well at almost any rpm level. The different S modes make the bike behave more sprightly by holding gear changes to higher rpm levels and even downshifting more aggressively in corners.

I rode the manual transmission model most of the day off-road, but did switch to the DCT model for a bit. Settling on the S2 mode, with both traction control and ABS turned off, and the G button engaged, the DCT was also quite capable off-road. It seemed to keep the engine “on the boil” where it should be when riding aggressively, and downshifted nicely before corners. The one negative was a slightly heavier feeling while cornering (the bike has a higher curb weight, and likely an increased gyro effect from spinning engine internals) that prevented me from finishing corners on the correct line while chasing Darren.

The suspension was surprisingly capable off-road, but I did bottom the fork half a dozen times or so … typically, while hitting rocks along the trail. The stock suspension allows you to go pretty fast and hard in the dirt nonetheless.

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The standard transmission shifted well all day, although I would have liked to adjust the shift lever downward (easy enough to do) to accommodate my typical foot position on the left side.

The brakes were excellent, both on-road and off. With ABS disengaged off-road, the powerful binders offered good feel to slow the big bike down in slippery conditions without locking the front or rear wheel, unless you intended to.

Honda says the new Africa Twin offers “True Adventure”, and the slogan is not as cheesy as it at first sounds. This really is a unique motorcycle for the large-displacement Adventure category. It can do everything you need it to do on the street (absent the adrenaline rush of something like a KTM 1190 Adventure) for commuting or touring, while offering off-road capabilities largely unavailable from the competition.

Some video was shot of yours truly at the launch, which you can see below. Note that I misspoke when I intended to say “DCT transmission”.

The Honda Africa Twin is available in the two color schemes shown, priced at $12,999 for the Standard manual transmission model and $13,699 for the DCT model. Take a look at Honda’s web site for further details and specifications.

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99 Comments

  1. Jim A says:

    The DCT works better than the manual bike in a lot of situations offroad. But to get the best out of it you need to use manual mode. You can swap gears instantly with full control of the shift points, works great for scrubbing off or building speed super quickly. Also frees up your left foot for other duties, like dabbing.

  2. Barry says:

    Honestly, I am a Honda hater. Don’t know why, just am. But, they built a bike that people want. And a good one. The other Japanese OEM’s better wake up quick. This bike looks like a REALLY good KLR!!! Come on Kawasaki. Put a 21/18 spoked wheel set on the new DL1000 and you would have a decent bike. But Suzuki will probably wait 5 years or so. I ride and love my 04 950S KTM I have had forever and Honda basically built a modern (softer) version of it.

  3. MGNorge says:

    Something I saw featured after MD’s video: https://youtu.be/FrxscwTIlyw

  4. Gary says:

    Hard to believe this could out perform the KTM 1190-R in off-road capabilities. I’d like to see an objective test between the two…that is, an evaluation by someone who doesn’t feel they owe Honda (or KTM) any favors.

  5. Guu says:

    “The designers looked back at the XRV750 Africa Twin introduced in 1989 for inspiration”

    I think they took a long, hard look at a 2003 KTM 950 Adventure. The original Africa Twin was much more about the looks than the current model or the KTM. It wasn’t the bike that HRC raced in the Dakar rally.

  6. Grover says:

    Nice enough bike if you bring along a riding buddy to help you pick it up when you drop it. 500+ lbs. is no joke when you go down on the side of a hill. Good.luck with that.

  7. Jim S says:

    I had a deposit on the DCT version but then I sat on one in Europe a couple of months back. Pulled the deposit because the heel of my right foot (size 12) was blocked by the pipe guard and when standing my toes were resting directly over the rear brake. I haven’t heard any mention of this in any reviews but my MX days reminded me that is an error you only make once…..tap the brake inadvertently and you get an interesting view of the front fender, or windshield in this case. Couldn’t get past the thought.

  8. Mark J says:

    I lose a lot of respect for MD’s objectivity when I see a review that says: “Yes, you will find tubes inside these tires, an advantage off-road where fixing a flat can be near impossible with a tubeless design.” without making any mention of how big a disadvantage tubes are for road use. Reminds me of marketing suits who would change, “Our product is killing people” to “Reduction in number of dissatisfied customers”.

    • Jeremy in TX says:

      I don’t follow… so are tubes killing people? 🙂

      Seriously though, this is an article about a bike skewed towards off-road adventure, and the majority of the press ride was spent off-road. Mentioning one of the primary reasons tubes are still in vogue for off-road use is hardly a failure of objective reporting in my opinion. It isn’t an article about the pros and cons of tubes vs. tubeless.

      • Mark J says:

        I believe MD has a responsibility to look at both the pros and cons of Honda’s selection of tubed tires. Yes, the bike is pitched as being more dirt-worthy than the average liter-class adventure bike, but most will see a lot of pavement and touring.

        • daveA says:

          Oh ffs give me a break. We all know that tubeless tires work well on the road. His point was that there is a reason the AT has tube tires. That’s it.

          • Ayk says:

            The real reason is the tubed rims are cheaper, probably lighter but I don’t know. What I do know is that my F800GS has tubes and it’s no big deal. I’ve had one flat in 52,000 miles on that bike. I also know that if you carry a 21″ tube you can repair a tubeless tire. Been there, done that to my buddy’s 19″ front on his GS Adventure in Bumphuque Nowhere, Utah. It lasted the rest of the trip back to California. Tubed tires aren’t the end of the world, and tubeless tires aren’t gifts from heaven…especially if you break the bead while trying to ride it flat.

    • Bart says:

      I see way more off road “unfixables” with tubeless vs. tube on the road or track. Usually rim dents/sidewall pinch from riding heavy bikes fast on baby-headed baja rancho “roads.” Is always entertaining to try and bash back those dents so the rim will seal with the sisters and brothers of the rocka that dented the rim in first place. Especially on a bike the guy is still making payments on. Same goes for Tubliss stuff, unfixable in the field. I tacoed the stock front rim of my 950 pretty good at 90+ but no leaks. Upgrade to Woody’s wheel setup fixed that.
      I set a lap record on a paved track with that bike too, didn’t know tubes were so dangerous! I’ll slow down.

      The Honda looks like a good big bike for baja, just keep the load to the light side and air down the front when in sand. And it has to be easier to fix a flat on the Honda than the MOA back rim of a 950A, which can be near-impossible to deal with in the field.

      • Mark J says:

        If you’re bashing into rocks at warp speed with aired-down tires, yes, tubes are better. In my 45-year career of both dirt and road riding, I’ve had about 25 flats and the vast majority have been simple punctures, fixable with plugs.

      • SeTh says:

        Who does this to an adventure bike? The adventure should be like the sport in sportsman…a little gravel, then beer.

  9. Butch says:

    Just wondering how this would stack up against the Triumph Tiger 800 XCx.

  10. Provologna says:

    I presume I’d be happier on Honda’s current 500 twin with the full adventure conversion offered by I-can’t-remember whom. I’d happily give up the power for well over 100 lbs less weight.

    Looking forward to reports on Husky’s 700cc dual sport.

    • Gary says:

      You’d be happier still with an XR650. These big twins are sad jokes as dirt bikes.

      • daveA says:

        Are you familiar with the term “dual purpose?” It isn’t a dirt bike.

        Predictably, the eCurmudgeons are all over this thing. Keep the faith!

      • MGNorge says:

        I rather look at these kinds of big adventure bikes as the SUV’s of the bike world. At home on the road but capable of making sorties into the dirt. Just as an SUV isn’t an off-road racing truck neither is it correct to compare these bikes to full-on off-road dirt bikes.

        I’d have no trouble riding out on the slab to a far off destination and tipping the front wheel onto a fire road or path through desert land with one of these. Speed would be dictated by the bike and my comfort level.

        Complaining that these make poor dirt bikes is the same as citing 650cc singles as poor road bikes. They all have their place, choose what’s right for you. If the AT doesn’t have the right mix for you, don’t buy one! That doesn’t mean others won’t find it appealing.

        I can’t get over how narrow focused some people get.

        • todd says:

          What do you mean? 650 singles make fine road bikes.

          • daveA says:

            It’s all a matter of perspective. IMO a 650 single makes as good of a road bike as a 600 pound 120hp ADV behemoth makes a dirt bike, which is to say, not a very good one.

            There is no right answer…

        • Gary says:

          Have you ever taken a typical SUV offroad? They suck too.

        • Mike says:

          ref “I can’t get over how narrow focused some people get”

          Ohhhhh come on …..after all your years here and reading thousands of replies

      • MGNorge says:

        I rather look at these kinds of big adventure bikes as the SUV’s of the bike world. At home on the road but capable of making sorties into the dirt. Just as an SUV isn’t an off-road racing truck neither is it correct to compare these bikes to full-on off-road dirt bikes.

        I’d have no trouble riding out on the slab to a far off destination and tipping the front wheel onto a fire road or path through desert land with one of these. Speed would be dictated by the bike and my comfort level.

        Complaining that these make poor dirt bikes is the same as citing 650cc singles as poor road bikes. They all have their place, choose what’s right for you. If the AT doesn’t have the right mix for you, don’t buy one! That doesn’t mean others won’t find it appealing.

  11. Gham says:

    I like it…..alot.

    Can’t spring for a new one right now but in a couple years I’ll be ready.It has about the right amount of dirt capability for what I need (or would use).

    • Kagato says:

      problem is…will be discontinued by then. Will be like my eternal longing for a VT 500 Ascot, IMHO one of Honda’s best looking scoots. Honda makes a lot of money for collector folks I think.

  12. red says:

    Nice! May be the new top dog in multi cylindered dirt worthiness. Like it a lot.

    Still the concept of abusing a $10k+ bike like I do my old 650 thumper is hard to get over.

    • Jeremy in TX says:

      You’ll weep a little with the first few dings and scratches, then you’ll be over it and thrash it like a ratty KLR.

  13. Syringe says:

    This Honda appears to be targeting the BMW F800GS. Very similar horsepower & torque, but more weight. The GS has a 17″ rear wheel, though, FWIW. As a GS owner, I’ve been quite happy with the dirt/gravel travel experience when I’ve put TKC80s on it, and equally pleased with the road manners. I had previously thought that I’d just replace the GS when it wears out, as not much else is in that category of versatility, power, decent fuel economy, and managed weight (Triumph 800s, of course).

    When the GS finally gives up the ghost (50,000+ miles now), I’ll take a look at the Honda, too. For now, though, doing fine.

    +1 on enjoying the excellent photography.

    • mkv says:

      yeah, but the F800 has unbearable handlebar vibes. According to other magazine sources

      • Syringe says:

        It’s pretty smooth under 5500 rpm or so (which puts you around 90 mph in top gear). Above that, it’s definitely a bit “rattly,” I admit. Generally, the vibes are not noticeable, particularly if you aren’t droning. I put softer grips on it, and that really made a nice difference.

        If you want to talk vibey, a 90s Ducati 900SS, or an older British parallel twin shake at all rpm levels in my experience, which the GS does not.

        • todd says:

          My 93 Ducati M900 is really smooth. I’ve ridden the SS and it’s the same. Harleys shake a lot yes, but there must have been something seriously wrong with the Duc you experienced.

          • Syringe says:

            Interesting you should say that. I rode the ’95 SS several times, and it seemed pretty rough-running to me. The owner told me not to worry (much) about it [character, right?], but a couple of days after I gave it back, it started spitting oil out the rear cylinder, lost (more) power, and is now in line for a rebuild….full extent of problems unknown…

      • Provologna says:

        I rented an early model F800GS, rode from San Francisco to the motorcycle concourse at Carmel. The 800GS had two deal breakers: engine vibes at high RPM and front end dive. The latter is fixable and I presume the former is not.

        Surprisingly good power though…straight line acceleration on par with my heavier ’00 R1150GS.

  14. Vrooom says:

    Honestly it looks pretty nice. I’d love a full review. It’s a bit heavier than I would have imagined, maybe 475 is what I would have guessed fueled and ready to go. The issue is that by the time you add the center stand, the luggage, etc. you’re probably into it about the same as the more expensive competitors (OK, not the BMW). I’d prefer tubeless tires, but new rims would probably not be hard to do.

  15. Terry says:

    I like it a lot, I even got to ride one around in a parking lot last Saturday. Great job Honda! When is the CRF500L that I really want coming out?

    • Brian says:

      Yeah, really…that’d be a fantastic bike. In fact, I think somebody’s even built a DIY CRF500L themselves. Can’t be that big an engineering challenge, and I’ll bet they’d sell the hell out of them.

  16. Joe Bogusheimer says:

    I know it’s been commented on before, but I still don’t understand how Honda does a clean-sheet design for a dirt-oriented ADV bike, with a parallel twin designed for lightness, and still comes up with a bike heavier than a KTM1190 Adventure, with its larger displacement and presumably heavier v-twin engine. The KTM also has a lot more power and the larger wheels and tires to handle that power. I think the Honda is probably still the better choice for off-roading, but it’s disappointing that it didn’t come in lighter than it did.

    • notarollingroadblock says:

      The $3,700 list price difference likely explains some of the weight disparity, as does the famous Honda durability.

  17. Kent says:

    Looks like a great bike but you do not really need a liter bike anymore with today’s smaller bikes putting out the power of liter bikes a few decades ago. Seems like the NC700 will do everything this bike will do for a fraction of the price. Buying, maintaining, insuring a lot more power than you will ever need is kind of like buying a mansion with rooms you will never use.

    • Selecter says:

      Uhh, the NC won’t do a bit of the off-roading that this bike is designed for – the NC700 is not a dirt-worthy bike in any sense – it’s a dedicated, purpose-designed commuting and street bike. As for insurance, I’ve tended to find that anything vaguely in the dual-sport/enduro realm is WAY cheaper to insure than any dedicated street motorcycles, which the NC700 most certainly is. Replacement cost for parts is usually negligible, and total loss rates are very low.

    • todd says:

      An XR650L will do everything this bike will do for an even smaller fraction of the price – well, it won’t do 100 but, oh well.

  18. Auphliam says:

    Great review. I’ve been intrigued by this bike, and how it skews the “Adventure” segment since news first broke about it.

    and to echo many others…Wow, the photography! That Kevin Wing dude might have a future in front of him 😉

  19. Jeremy in TX says:

    A Japanese 990 Adventure. This is the exact bike I wanted to buy… 10 years ago. (Nobody does late-to-market like Honda.)

    That said, I think it is a really nice machine and am glad Honda decided to slide it more towards the off-road side of adventure for the few of us that actually do take these things off-road. Husqvarna briefly produced the Terra under BMW’s stewardship that finally hit the perfect blend of off-road and on-road capability for me in a truly modern package. (Maybe Honda will make a fully modernized XR650 ten years from now that I can buy?) The Husky has eliminated the need for a large adventure bike in my garage, but this Honda is what I would get should the Husky die and no other acceptable modern lightweights exist to replace it.

    • Brian says:

      (Nobody does late-to-market like Honda.)

      You got that right!!!! Way behind every other manufacturer.

    • Brian says:

      Ditto that. I thought the Terra was cool before it disappeared. I’m surprised more haven’t followed the KTM 690 Enduro concept for a more realistic ADV. Or at least updated their 25-year-old dual-sports, as you say.

    • Guu says:

      Well, since KTM abandoned that market segment, Honda is actually just in time. This bike would have been much less exiting against the Dakar-winning 950 Adventure. But against the current megamosters its the race of the bunch.

    • guu says:

      For what’s it worth, BMW-era and earlier designed Husqvarnas are made and sold by SWM. See here: http://www.swm-motorcycles.it/en/

  20. Kagato says:

    I’m impressed. Go Honda! : – )

  21. JBuzzard says:

    I’ve read every article regarding this adventure bike. Your article and video was done very well. I have a deposit on one. I just don’t know which one to get. The DCT seems to be getting good reviews also. It is due to arrive 5/20/2016. I’m anxious on this one. Thank You for such a good and accurate article/video. Jon Busby

  22. Stuki Moi says:

    I have to agree with the rest of the commenters: Those pics really make me bummed that I’m stuck in front of a computer…. Beautiful!

    Never thought I would say this, but I’ve got a serious hankering for the DCT version. Being far from an ex motocrosser in the dirt, twist-n-go sounds like a match made in heaven for a big, heavily loaded ADV bike.

  23. Grover says:

    It’s funny to read how a 1000cc twin is considered “slow”. In the old days this HONDA would have been overkill in the power department. Time passing changes our perspective and our expectations.

    • MGNorge says:

      while realities remain much the same!

    • Francois says:

      I heard a lot of people say “too much power” through the years, and I always believed there is no such thing, but then Kawasaki brought out the very expensive, high rate of widow maker called the H2. That thing is far too much, guys are getting hurt and killed on them left right and center. I am Kawasaki fan, but this thing should be banned.

  24. robert says:

    So tube type tires are easier to fix than tubeless-what are you smoking or is that Honda saying that because their to cheap to put good tubeless rims like BMW or KTM-this issue is the one thing that would stop me from buying one-and for good measure it does not come with a center stand……

    • Stuki Moi says:

      Not all 21/18 tires seal that well on tubeless rims. Especially when aired down. And the plugs, while fine 99% of the time on road, can be trickier aired down over, say sharp rock. And then there are dinged rims. Or even just sand and dirt everywhere, when you’re trying to get a good seal.

      Of course, any 1190 Adventure rider roosting around gravel quarries, will carry spare tubes just in case…. But then, the rims get much heavier….

      It’s a tradeoff. And the zeitgeist of this bike is that it’s a big dirt bike. For riders familiar and comfortable with the whole spectrum of field maintaining a dirt bike. Flats on tubed tires included.

    • PABLO says:

      Read it again Rob, it does not say tube type tires are easier to fix than tubeless it says “fixing a flat can be near impossible with a tubeless design.” which is correct IMO
      It also allows for a far greater selection of tyres.

      “it does not come with a center stand……”
      It does come with a centre stand in some countrys like Aus for example, otherwise it is an option. With the thousands you save over buying a BMW or KTM you should be able to afford the optional $250 centre stand.
      Now go and but one.

    • achrider says:

      I just completed Baja trip (Mexico) last month and one of our riders got a ding on his BMW GSA front rim when traveling around 60 mph over a pothole. Air deflated quickly thru the bent rim ding. A roadside shade tree mechanic bang up the rim with hammer and torch and whatever tools he can imagine to fix it. The end result? It fixes it and the front wheel keeps air for the rest of 200 miles to get to our hotel. Imagine if it were a tube tire! The air should be intact and we can ride on.

    • motocephalic says:

      I completely agree. Such a great effort towards making a platform for a bike, but shod it with tube tires? This alone would keep me from buying it. Abs only comes with the DCT model? Why? Not sure why they package it like that, since paying more for the DCT would also keep me away. I used to be a Honda fan, but they have missed the mark for over a decade now.

      • Jeremy in TX says:

        RE: “Abs only comes with the DCT model?”

        per the article: “Both models feature ABS braking, which can be turned off by the rider, and traction control in three, selectable levels of intrusion (plus an “off” position).”

    • Jeremy in TX says:

      Being someone who has spent a lot of time riding these big adventure bikes off-road, there have been about 15 instances over as many years where either myself, someone in our group or someone we came across on the trail suffered a flat on a tubeless tire that couldn’t be fixed with a plug. Ironically, we got most of the bikes going again by installing a tube allowing the bikes to limp out just fine. In a few cases, it required atv extraction (one bike had to be carried about a quarter mile before that was even possible.)

      Also as mentioned, you can run really low pressure with tubes, and you’d be surprised how much more traction you get from that.

      The real reason for the tubes I bet is tire selection: A wide selection of gnarly off-road tires come in those 21/18 sizes, and they all run tubes as far as I know. Still Honda would be wise to include a tubeless wheel option in a future streetier model.

      • TF says:

        I think a tubeless option (maybe 19/17) would be wise offering. Reason being, the market for a 500 pound dirt bike that can be ridden on the street is much smaller than the market for a 500 pound street bike that can be ridden in the dirt.

        I was happy to hear (somewhere) that a center stand could be purchased/fitted……a must have for touring use.

  25. VLJ says:

    Whoa. The first time I viewed this thread, it was on my phone. Now I’m viewing it on my full-sized computer.

    Dirck, this is some amazing photography. That second-to-last pic…holy crap.

    Love the way you knew you were being photographed, and looked straight into the camera. Epic shot, all the way around.

    • Tom K. says:

      Dirck, where WAS the second-to-last photo taken? It almost looks like a composite of three photos – wast of Moab on the bottom, the Grand Canyon in the center, and the Wasatch range on the top. I wouldn’t have believed all three of those vistas could appear in one spot! I can tell you one thing, you could do a lot worse than growing old within sight of the rugged beauty that is Utah. I lived for a year in Wyoming a long time ago, and both states are in the running for my (nothing to brag about) retirement dollars.

      • Jeremy in TX says:

        I believe those are the La Sal mountains in the background. That is an amazing shot.

        • Tom K. says:

          Darned if you aren’t right – I’ve never been to Moab, and from the off-road video’s I’ve seen, thought it was a (relatively) flat, shadeless, treeless, red-rock desert – boy, is that shot an eye-opener.

          My Mom’s side of the family hailed from the Park City area (they were all miners and lived a hardscrabble life, long before Park City saw its first ski slope), so I’ve spent a lot of time around SLC and PC, and have been to Zion/Bryce numerous times, but never Moab. I guess the triangle needs to get a bit larger, I always figured on Kanab because of Best Friends and Zion (it would be OK with me to fall from Angel’s Landing on my 89th birthday). I guess I’ve got a lot of traveling to do before making a decision. That Dirck guy has a great job, huh? I’m gonna go click on some links…

          • Jeremy in TX says:

            You should make the time to get out to that part of the country at least once. The sights and riding – be it paved or unpaved – are spectacular.

  26. todd says:

    So the leader was smart enough to choose a 650 single… Did he ever, once, get left behind by the “superior” bikes you guys were riding? I definitely prefer bikes that are less of a chore off road. Even my XR650 is too much in the dirt and long adventure trail rides where I prefer a 250 or 400. On the pavement the 650s and up are a better choice (where extended highway stints are expected) and I still believe that is where 99 percent of these will spend their entire lives.

    • Tom K. says:

      You are correct, of course. I will be looking hard at this for my next bike, and southern UT is one of the places I’m looking at for retirement (somewhere within the Richfield, Dixie, and Kanab triangle, Provologna’s opinion would be welcome). I don’t have any off-road pretenses beyond fire-roads and hardpack, so this bike would fit the bill very nicely, while giving up very little on-road. Nice job, Honda.

    • Tom R says:

      I think the point is being missed here.

      The fact that the 1000cc twin was able to hang with the 650cc single says a lot about the new bike’s abilities.

  27. Hot Dog says:

    Boy, oh boy, does this machine look nice! I’d love to try the DCT.

  28. North of Missoula says:

    I wonder what they say over at KTM about this motorcycle. While the Honda is admittedly a little more street oriented than the 990 Adventure it has pretty much filled the void created when KTM abandoned the model in 2014.

    It would be interesting to see a back to back comparison between the two models.

    • PatrickD says:

      In the UK, and probably all European markets, the KTM was upgraded to a 1050 model, which sits below the 1200/1290 range. It’s restricted to 95 hp for licensing reasons (!), which isn’t much less than the 950/990 models.
      This Honda seems like a ten-year later attempt at that bike, with no dicernable advantages and a motor that will probaby bore the hell out of you. The 950 and 990 models had very lively motors and suffered only from a poor seat (gel seat an optional extra)

      • MGNorge says:

        To each their own but I don’t need to be scared to death to get an adrenaline rush. I simply like riding and exploring. If the AT retains common Honda virtues it will provide excellent service for years to come.

        • Jeremy in TX says:

          The more time you spend off-road on bikes like this, the deeper you are going to want to go. I have used Recluse clutches (eliminates the need for a clutch lever) before and really like them with heavier bikes that really need to be muscled around. Not having to clutch or worry about stalling in a tricky spot frees up your focus capacity and helps up your game (especially when you move rear brake control to the clutch lever position). I imagine the DCT takes that to another level. I LOVE manual transmissions, but I’d be very, very tempted to try the DCT on this bike given how I personally would use it.

  29. tuskerdu says:

    Beautiful photography; nice bike.

  30. VlJ says:

    I want Dirck’s job. Man….

    Then again, what with Moto-USA.com going down, who knows?

    I sure hope this site survives. This place is one of the very best of its kind, and deserves to prosper.

    • Hot Dog says:

      So how do we support it, to make sure it does survive? Great reporting, knowledgeable followers, great insight, what do we have to do to make sure we can keep coming back here?

      • todd says:

        Click the links and buy stuff that’s advertised.

        • Auphliam says:

          Ain’t no adverts, Holmes

          • VLJ says:

            There are four advert links on this page alone.

          • Jeremy in TX says:

            The only links that come up on my computer browser are in the body of the article: Elite Motorcycle Tours and Honda’s website.

            There are two traditional ads if I am looking on my android phone.

          • GKS says:

            Taking a quick look, I see Generac, Chevy Trucks, Minn Kota, Bob-Cat Mowers.

        • Joe Bogusheimer says:

          Thanks for the hint, I just realized that I had Ad-block enabled on this site. I have disabled it, now. There are just too many (news, for example) sites that absolutely ad-bomb you without it, but I generally unblock sites that I like and which don’t abuse their readers with too many ads.

  31. ABQ says:

    Good job to Honda for creating this bike. The only complaint I would have is the seat height, and the price. At that price I can see people staying with the KLR or the V-Strom. But if money were not such an issue I would enjoy trying out the DCT on an adventure bike.

  32. xLaYN says:

    “Following Darren on high-speed trails, we apparently reached close to 70 mph at one point (3rd gear tapped out and into fourth) on some of the rain-rutted, slightly whooped long straights.”

    Maybe only on my mountain bike on a road I know and where I can see far ahead; all with the red bright light that says “Warning”.

    I should spend some time learning to ride a dirt bike.

    Congrats on the video, landscape and photography.

  33. Eddy G says:

    Nice to hear that this Adventure Bike has more off road capability than is typical. Sounds like a good all around bike.