2018 Honda CRF1000L2 Africa Twin Adventure Sports DCT Review | Taking Arizona
When we caught a glimpse of the new Honda Africa Twin Adventure Sports at EICMA late last year, we couldn’t wait to ride it. In 2016, we hailed the debut of the rally-inspired CRF1000L and I proceeded to scorch the South African desert with a Cheshire cat grin emblazoned across my face.
After two years and over 50,000 units sold, Honda is upping the ante with the 2018 CRF1000L2 Africa Twin Adventure Sports, aimed squarely at enhancing its range and off-road prowess.
After testing the newest Honda ADV motorcycle in the red dirt of the Arizona high-desert, here are the 13 Fast Facts you need to know about the 2018 CRF1000L2 Honda Africa Twin Adventure Sports DCT:
1. For 2018, there are four Honda Africa Twin models to choose from. Both the standard CRF1000L Africa Twin and the more off-road oriented CRF1000L2 Adventure Sports receive critical engine updates and refinements for 2018, and each model is also available in a DCT version. In addition, the Adventure Sports comes nicely equipped with longer travel suspension, more fuel capacity, and a host of travel accoutrements such as heated grips, a 12-volt socket, and rear carrier rack, plus a bigger fairing and windscreen.
2. The HRC Anniversary color scheme is both stylish and retro-cool. Paying homage to the original NXR750 Africa Twin of Paris-Dakar Rally acclaim, the red/blue/gold metallic colors over a white chassis sparkle in the mid-day sun like a freshly painted jet-boat. We like to think of it as resembling an Evel Knievel Stunt Cycle for grown-ups!
3. Long-travel, fully adjustable-suspension works well right out of the box. The Adventure Sports has nearly an inch of additional travel front and rear over the standard model. I was pleasantly surprised by how well the fork held up in the stroke and how stable the bike is over undulations on both tarmac and dirt. For more aggressive off-road riding, the ability to increase spring preload and damping front and rear will undoubtedly come in handy. With the extra travel, the Adventure Sports also gets an additional 0.8 inches of ground clearance.
4. Though the 998cc powerplant is anything but a fire-breather, the motor is extremely usable and now revs up quicker and has a stronger mid-range pull. Honda improved air and exhaust flow by increasing the volume of the airbox and reducing the number of chambers in the muffler. Combined with a 10.6-ounce reduction in the weight of the balancer shaft, these improvements create an engine character that is quicker to thrill and has a solid pull through the center of the rpm range.
5. Throttle by wire paves the way for a comprehensive suite of electronic assistance. No more is the old-school cable-pull throttle; the 2018 Africa Twin gets configurable power delivery, engine braking, and traction control settings. These settings are grouped together in three selectable ride modes (Tour, Urban, and Gravel), as well as one user-defined mode that is retained even when the ignition is cycled off. We always kept the power delivery on setting 1 (full aggressive), but changed engine braking and the traction control to fit the situation. Still, conspicuously missing is a cruise control function.
6. A 300+ mile range means that the Africa Twin Adventure Sports can go the distance. With an additional 1.4 gallons of fuel, the overall tank capacity is upped to 6.4 gallons. I flogged the throttle all day and still averaged 48 mpg. We like these numbers!
7. An easily accessible semi-secure storage box has a-million-and-one uses. Located on the right side of the subframe is a small storage area secured with two 5mm hex head bolts. Conveniently, the hex wrench is stored beneath the seat. We are able to fit a 21-inch innertube and CO2 inflator snuggly. The space would work equally well for any on-board storage need that’s infrequently accessed; think first aid kit, small tool roll, or similar.
8. The Dual Clutch Transmission (DCT) is the way of the future. I consider myself a motorcycle purist, but even I’m convinced of the merits and ease of use of the DCT. Whether in manual paddle-shift mode, aggressive Sport 3 mode, or more toned-down Sport 1 or Drive modes, there’s a setting for every application. Now we think of a shifting manual transmission as akin to eating vanilla ice cream, and utilizing the DCT as tantamount to enjoying all 31 flavors.
9. Enhanced off-road ergonomics provide a comfortable and effective way to burn up the dirt. Arguably the single biggest off-road improvement, beyond the additional suspension travel and protective skid plates and light bar, are the higher handlebar riser and wider footpegs. The grip position is a full 1.3 inches higher, allowing the rider to effectively steer in a standing position with elbows bent. This makes for added comfort and better control over long off-piste stretches. Those concerned about seat height will note that the 36.2-inch seat height of the CRF1000L2 is nearly two inches higher than the standard Africa Twin, though each can be dropped 0.8 inches by adjusting the seat.
10. Single panel LCD is informative and easily viewable whether seated or standing. The new dash is a giant leap forward, and even better is the fact that it’s viewable from any position.
11. The new Bridgestone Adventure A41 tire comes stock on the Honda Africa Twin. I raved about the new Bridgestone rubber as I tortured it across the inhospitable terrain of Morocco this past March. When it comes to mixing up paved and unpaved roads, the Bridgestone A41 is definitely top gear.
12. True adventure with a price tag that is within reach. With an MSRP of $14,999 for the manual and $15,699 for the DCT version, the Africa Twin Adventure Sports is priced only $1500 more than its base-model sibling. We would pay nearly that for the tricolor paintjob alone, not to mention the off-road package and the creature comforts that it’s bundled with.
13. Three words: Balance, Stability, and Harmony. The 2018 Honda CRF1000L2 Africa Twin Adventure Sports does not top the performance charts in any single category in its class—it’s not the most powerful, nor the best suspended, nor the most off-road worthy. It’s better than that. The Africa Twin Adventure Sports takes all of these parameters and combines them in an incredibly well balanced and refined way to build a truly integrated machine, in complete harmony with its various parts—exactly what you would expect from a Honda.
Photography by Scott Cox
- Helmet: Shoei VFX-Evo
- Goggles: Oakley Airbrake MX
- Jacket and pants: Klim Carlsbad
- Gloves: Klim Induction Short
- Boots: Sidi Adventure
2018 Honda CRF1000L2 Africa Twin Adventure Sports DCT Specs
- Type: Parallel twin
- Displacement: 998cc
- Bore x stroke: 92.0 x 75.1mm
- Compression ratio: 10:0:1
- Valve train: SOHC, 4vpc
- Fueling: Two 44mm throttle bodies
- Ignition: Twin-spark
- Transmission: Six-speed
- Clutch: Fully and semi-automatic DCT w/ slipper function
- Final drive: O-ring sealed chain
- Frame: Steel, semi-double cradle
- Front suspension; travel: Fully adjustable 45mm Showa fork; 9.9 inches
- Rear suspension; travel: Fully adjustable linkage-assisted Showa remote reservoir shock; 9.5 inches of travel
- Tires: Bridgestone Adventure A41
- Front tire: 90/90 x 21
- Rear tire: 150/70 x 18
- Front brakes: 310mm floating wave-type rotors w/ radially mounted four-piston calipers
- Rear brake: 256mm wave-type rotor w/ single-piston hydraulic caliper (DCT has additional single-piston cable actuated parking brake)
- ABS: Two channel, with rear ABS off-switch
DIMENSIONS and CAPACITIES
- Wheelbase: 62.2 inches
- Rake: 27.3 degrees
- Trail: 4.4 inches
- Seat height: 36.2/35.4 inches (two-position)
- Ground clearance: 10.7 inches
- Fuel capacity: 6.4 gallons
- Curb weight: 556 pounds
2018 Honda CRF1000L2 Africa Twin Adventure DCT Sports Color:
2018 Honda CRF1000L2 Africa Twin Adventure DCT Sports Price:
- $15,699 MSRP ($14,999 MSRP without DCT)