Review: Honda CRF1000L Africa Twin Adventure Sports

In 2016 I tested the Africa Twin and I wasn’t exactly wild about it. Three years later I have to revise my opinion. But first, let’s look at the bigger picture.

In the late 1980s the Honda XRV650 started the Africa Twin story. The discontinuation of the XRV750 production in 2003 interrupted that story, but Honda breathed new life into the Africa Twin: in 2016 the CRF1000L saw the light of day, after a few years of rumors and speculation.

First update

In 2018, the CRF1000L Africa Twin got its first update and an adventure-oriented variant was revealed: the CRF1000L Africa Twin Adventure Sports.

That update made the Africa Twin 2 kg lighter. It got a ride-by-wire throttle and a new, more extensive LCD display. The engine gained mid-range torque thanks to a lighter balance shaft and a revised inlet and exhaust system. The DCT (automatic gearbox in normal human language) also got an update.

Even more than the Africa Twin, the Adventure Sports is built for long, adventurous journeys. It has a larger tank (24.2 liters compared to 18.8 on the Africa Twin), a higher windshield, a taller fairing, tough-looking crash bars, slightly higher positioned handlebars and 2 cm more ground clearance than the Africa Twin. The adjustable seat can be set at 900 or 920 mm (on the Africa Twin: 850 or 870 mm). There’s also a lower seat available (60 mm lower).

Oh no, DCT!

I spent a few days with the Africa Twin Adventure Sports in Germany’s Black Forest to find out if Honda’s big adventure bike really improved. I hoped to get one with a manual gearbox, because in 2016 my first experience with Honda’s DCT absolutely hadn’t convinced me. So I was slightly disappointed when I discovered that the Adventure Sports I got to test was one with automatic transmission.

I knew that I had to skip the D-mode of the gearbox (due to its sleep-inducing slow shift pattern) and immediately chose the S3 mode, the most extreme of the three sportive shift modes. Very quickly my initial disappointment Continue reading

Review: Moto Guzzi V85 TT

The midweight adventure bike segment is getting pretty crowded lately. We already double-tested the new BMW F 850 GS and the Triumph Tiger 800 last year, and this year the KTM 790 Adventure and the Yamaha Ténéré 700 are causing quite some buzz. You’d almost overlook an Italian bike that mingled in quietly: the Moto Guzzi V85 TT. A brand-new model with a brand-new engine.

I wouldn’t say the Guzzi is a direct competitor of the aforementioned four. For that, it lacks the off-road capabilities. Just look at its 19″ front wheel and the 170 mm suspension travel. The other four have a 21″ in the front and at least 30 mm more travel.

Nor does the V85 TT compete with the less off-road oriented Kawasaki Versys 650, Honda NC750X or Suzuki V-Strom 650. No, the Guzzi has something that these bikes don’t have, and that’s a good portion of emotion and a distinct look which also characterize the BMW R nineT Urban G/S and the Ducati Scrambler Desert Sled. These aren’t typical adventure bikes, but motorcycles that combine the sturdy looks of an adventure bike with a classic design and a distinctive engine.

Off to the Pyrenees!

I took the Moto Guzzi V85 TT for a trip to the Pyrenees (still working on the report). On that 4,464 km trip it regularly Continue reading