Motorcycle of the Year: 2016 Honda CRF1000L Africa Twin

Dec 08, 2016 View Comments by

2016 Honda Africa Twin

Some years it’s difficult to name a Motorcycle of the Year, but 2016 was not one of them. While many new and redesigned models hit the streets, none garnered more attention than the one we named MOTY 2016. With the return of the Africa Twin, Honda reshuffles the travel enduro market and sets a new benchmark. The bike traveled the globe from 1988 until 2003, winning the Paris-Dakar Rally four years in a row in the late ’80s, and has enjoyed a loyal following. You can still see these models roaming roads around the world, a testament to their reliability and rideability. Past Motorcycle of the Year emblemperformance is no indicator of future performance, however. Honda’s engineers and designers had a bar set very high.

According to Yosuke Hasegawa, series large project leader, the aim was “to create a full-scale true adventure motorcycle that is equally enjoyable and capable in crossing vast continents as it is on the highway and in everyday use.” The legacy of Dakar still inspires the evolution of the Africa Twin. It’s now a CRF model, which indicates its off-road capabilities. Honda’s decision not to use an engine larger than 1,000cc proves that bigger is not always better. Naoshi Iizuka, one of the bike’s project leaders, recalls the logic behind the engine configuration.

“Our decision was to give priority to reducing the weight and height of the center of gravity, so as a result we applied a parallel twin instead of a conventional V-twin cylinder. The choice to use a Unicam distribution rather than a DOHC is based on the decision that performances at low and medium engine speeds are more important than obtaining a higher maximum power. When we consider the long runs and the controllability of the bike off-road, our priorities are torque output and performance when the throttle is opened at less than 50 percent.”

Engineered in Japan. Designed in Italy. The Honda CRF1000L is ready yet again to capture the wanderlust of motorcyclists around the world. Don’t miss our full review in the Nov/Dec ’16 issue.

Text: Florian Neuhauser
Photography: Kevin Wing


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Tags: , , Categories: Motorcycles