Writing about bikes for 20 years. Published in dozens of titles on five continents. Mildly obsessed with discovering how things work.
This mock-up image of the 2020 CRF1100L Africa Twin comes from Japanese mag AutoBy
Back in February we brought news that Honda was planning to upgrade the Africa Twin in 2020 and now we’ve got concrete evidence that the bike is going to be officially revealed in the near future.
Although it would be rash to reveal our source we’ve got our hands on a detailed set of specifications for the new 2020 model, which will be renamed ‘CRF1100L Africa Twin’ to reflect a hike in capacity. In February we predicted that the new bike would be around 1080cc, and it turns out we were on the money as its precise size is 1084cc, an 86cc increase over the existing CRF1000L’s 998cc.
That increase is likely to have been achieved via an increase in stroke from the current model’s 75.1mm to 81.5mm, retaining the existing 92mm bore. The focus is on a boost in torque and improved, Euro 5-beating emissions rather than trying to outdo rivals like BMW’s R1250GS for out-and-out power.
There will be a power boost, of course. Our figures, which are known to be correct, show that the 2020 bike will make 75kW (101hp), 5kw (7hp) up on the current model’s 70kW (94hp). The peak power is reached at 7500rpm, the same as the existing Africa Twin.
The added cubes should also give the bike a worthwhile power boost to around 79lbft, compared to the current model’s 73lbft at 6000rpm.
Mocked up front end predicts sharper headlight shape
The engine is clearly the main focus of the changes. As well as its increased size and power, it’s going to be some 3dB quieter than the 2019 model, a sure reflection of the increased emissions controls to suit Euro 5.
It’s going to be bolted to an evolution of the existing bike’s chassis. While we haven’t seen real pictures of the 2020 Africa Twin just yet, we do know its dimensions and they’re very close to those of the existing model. More specifically they’re close to the more off-road-style Africa Twin Adventure Sports model, suggesting the whole Africa Twin line will adopt some of the Adventure Sport’s improvements.
As in the current range, there will be four distinct versions of the 2020 Africa Twin: the base model, the version with Honda’s DCT semi-auto gearbox, the Adventure Sports and the Adventure Sports DCT. All versions will have the same 1575mm wheelbase of the current Africa Twin, allied to a 30mm increased width of 960mm. Length varies from 2330mm to 2340mm depending on suspension settings – again basically the same as the existing bike.
The big dimension changes come in the form of the height and weight. Where the existing base model is 1475mm tall, the 2020 versions are listed as having a minimum height of 1560mm, close to the existing Adventure Sports (1575mm). At their tallest, the new bikes are listed at 1620mm high – suggesting an adjustable-height screen.
The 2020 bikes’ weights also hint at the entire range adopting the Adventure Sports’ larger-capacity 24.2l fuel tank. The existing base model comes in at 232kg, with a full 18.8l tank, and the 2019 Adventure Sport is 243kg (DCT adds 10kg to either version). In 2020, the base model will be 238kg (248kg with DCT), and the Adventure Sports will be 240kg (250kg with DCT). Bearing in mind that those weights include a full tank of fuel, there’s no way the 2020 version is still using two different tank sizes.#
Despite surely sharing many of the existing Africa Twin’s components, the 2020 version is considered a large enough change to be given a new internal Honda model code, as usual made of two letters indicating style and capacity, and two digits reflecting the model generation (‘RC30’ probably being the most famous example – ‘R’ means 600cc-899cc, ‘C’ means street bike). The existing Africa Twin is known as the ‘SD06’ (it was SD04 from 2015-2017), the 2020 model is the SD09. In this instance, ‘S’ means 900cc-plus, ‘D’ means off-road, and ‘9’ means it’s the ninth ‘SD’ project to be developed.
This is the current Africa Twin Adventure Sports – the new model won’t look very different
With the larger tank and taller overall height of the Adventure Sports adopted across the whole range in 2020, it’s likely that the main differences between the base model and the Adventure Sports will be the seat and tail bodywork, while the more off-road style bike will surely retain elements like crash bars – no doubt accounting for the extra couple of kilos over the base model.
Given that the bike’s specifications have already been set in stone this early in 2019, all indications are that the 2020 CRF1100L Africa Twin could be an early-release model for Honda. Rather than waiting until the big motorcycle shows late in the year, the firm might give the bike a surprise unveiling relatively soon, leaving the shows clear to focus on promoting more significant all-new models.