A&R Pro

As the Honda Transalp Arrives, Wherefore Are Thou Africa Twin?

Google+ Pinterest LinkedIn Tumblr

Wherefore art thou, Honda Africa Twin? For years now we have been lamenting Honda’s inclusion of a true middleweight ADV offering in its lineup, to go up against bikes like the BMW F850GS, and newcomers like the Aprilia Tuareg 660 and Yamaha Ténéré 700. Today, that wish has been answered.

On paper, the Honda Transalp fits the bill, though I reserve some judgment until I see US pricing and availability.

My only serious gripe with the spec sheet is the bare-bones suspension pieces, but a cut-throat price tag could help me swallow that pill (along with some nice drop-in cartridges in the aftermarket).

Instead, most of my thoughts on the Transalp actually concern the Africa Twin.

I rate the Honda Africa Twin highly – I did my best to hide my press loan model from American Honda for over a year – but the bike sits oddly in the ADV market.

With the power output of a middleweight, and the curbside manner of a heavyweight, the Honda Africa Twin awkwardly straddles two worlds in the ADV sector.

I suspect this is because when Honda was planning the Africa Twin, that the adventure bike was supposed to be Honda’s “one and done” model for the ADV segment. 100hp-ish was “plenty” for an off-road focused ADV machine, and the chassis was designed to be bulletproof against a lifetime of abuse.

The US launch of the Honda Africa Twin was in 2016, which could put development starting on the Africa Twin to as early as 2011. I don’t think anyone in the Honda factory was thinking that in a decade’s time they would need a follow-up to the Africa Twin, and so the Africa Twin was made the way it was.

But now, comparing specs between the Transalp and Africa Twin, there is only 10hp between them. What’s worse is that the Transalp tips the scales 40 lbs lighter.

The overlap between the two bikes is substantial, and likely rests solely on the Africa Twin’s optional DCT gearbox. It’s a great piece of tech, but certainly controversial in the ADV space.

As such, it is hard to see these two bikes existing on a dealership floor together. That might be less of a problem than it seems though – the Honda Africa Twin CRF1100L is long in the tooth itself. 

Could a revamped, bigger displacement, true heavyweight ADV bike be coming from Honda in the next year or two? It makes sense to me. But, does Honda see it that way too? Time will tell.

Photo: Honda