Really, that thought isn’t so shocking, and if this year’s EICMA show was any indication of things, it’s that the middleweight ADV segment is of particular interest to motorcycle manufacturers right now.
One look at Honda’s lineup, and it is obvious that Big Red is missing something that can go head-to-head with bikes like the BMW F850GS and Triumph Tiger 800 (I’m willfully excluding the Japanese brands here), and the soon-to-come KTM 790 Adventure and Yamaha Ténéré 700.
Focused for off-road use, the Honda Africa Twin may not be the pluckiest liter-class adventure-tourer on the market, but it certain is at the top of the pack when it comes to trail riding capability.
That being said, a lighter and cheaper version of the Honda Africa Twin could be a big hit in this motorcycle segment. Of course, making such a machine isn’t such an easy task, explained Kenji Morita, Large Project Leader for the Africa Twin.
Talking to MCN, Morita-san said that Honda notices the gap in its lineup, and he says that Honda is considering doing something about it.
However, if you read between the lines, and understand the development lead time that it takes to bring a motorcycle to market, the subtle answer from the lead developer of the Honda Africa Twin is that we won’t see a mini ADV bike from Honda anytime soon.
Typically, it takes a three to five years to go from “thinking about” to “delivering on” when it comes to new motorcycle models. The issue here then is that if Honda is merely considering the pursuit of smaller Africa Twin, we likely wouldn’t see it until 2020 or beyond…if at all.
What the middleweight ADV market will look like in the new decade is hard to say as well, but we are already seeing its basic underpinnings being challenged.
Bikes like the KTM 790 Adventure are pushing the off-road envelope for the category, while also bringing lighter weights, more horsepower, and a bounty of electronics into the mix.
If Honda wants to enter the fray, at the minimum this is the standard they will have to surpass. The reality though is that the benchmark will be even higher in three to five years’ time.
Until then, let the Honda Dominator rumors fly. We’re certainly intrigued.