Honda has unveiled six new models for 2016 ahead of this week’s EICMA show in Milan, Italy.
Having already announced their intentions several weeks ago, there were few surprises from at the glitzy preview at downtown Milan, but it did represent an opportunity to see the final production of the long awaited CRF1000L Africa Twin, as well as the updated CB500 and NC750 range.
The return of the Africa Twin also represents Honda’s return to a a class that looks to be hotly contested in 2016, with Ducati’s newly announced Multistrada 1200 Enduro going wheel-to-wheel with the ubiquitous BMW R1200GS and Triumph’s popular Tiger Explorer.
The CRF moniker, usually reserved for Honda’s pukka enduro bikes, gives away the Africa Twin’s all-road ambition. Indeed, the all-new 998cc parallel-twin leans heavily on the CRF450R Dakar bikes, sharing the same four-valve ‘Unicam’ cylinder head design to create a very compact powerplant. Likewise, the six-speed gearbox uses the same shift-cam design as as the enduro bikes, and is equipped with an aluminium assist slipper clutch.
The semi-dry sump engine’s short height gives the Africa Twin an admirable 250mm ground clearance, while Honda claims that the 270° crankshaft will give excellent connection between the throttle and rear wheel.
Honda reckons that around half of the Africa Twins sold will be equipped with the dual clutch transmission (DCT), which has been modified for use off-road with a new ‘G’ function giving a more direct throttle connection than the other modes, which focus on economy and performance.
At 93.8bhp, the Africa Twin is not fighting against BMW, Ducati or KTM in the power stakes, but Honda’s presentation will certainly have you believe that the off-road ability will be second to none.
Certainly the Honda’s chassis looks the real deal, with a 21” spoked wheel up front and 18” at the rear. The two position seat has a height of 850mm on its lowest setting and a claimed wet weight of 228kg, but despite those big figures the Africa Twin feels pretty easy to manage, in relative terms, at least to sit on in the confines of a bike show.
The Africa Twin is a big bike for Honda, in many ways, and should do big business on the continent, where the original late 1980s bike was legendary.
Of the other models, the CBR500R, CB500X and CB500F get LED headlights and updated styling, while the NC750S and NC750X get a host of minor updates to improve emissions, as well as updates to the DCT geared versions. With the X also getting a more adventurous look for the new season.