While we continue to hear news that the Honda Africa Twin will get a displacement bump to 1,100cc for next year, now we are starting to hear a new rumor from Big Red’s adventure lineup – namely, that a Honda CRF850L is in the pipeline.
The obvious play here is that the baby Africa Twin model would slot in under the 1,100cc version, as a proper middleweight option to go against the BMW F850GS, KTM 790 Adventure R, and the Yamaha Ténéré 700 (whenever it finally comes to market).
The middleweight ADV segment is very hot right now, and it makes sense for Honda to want to get in on the action. As such, this rumor makes a great deal of sense…but then, it also really doesn’t pass the smell test either.
When you draw up a list of middleweight ADV bikes, you almost always have to include the Honda CRF1000L, as the Africa Twin brings with it a very cheap price tag, and lines up with the other middleweights quite well with its power and weight.
Despite the platform moving to 1,100cc in displacement, we don’t expect the key figures on the Honda Africa Twin to change very much, thanks to Euro5 emission regulations.
This leaves very little space for a smaller model in the lineup, unless that rumored Honda CRF850L is going to be an even cheaper option in Big Red’s arsenal, and go head-to-head with the upcoming Yamaha.
If Honda can compete with Yamaha on the cheap, basic, and bulletproof side of the ADV spectrum, then the mid-sized adventure-tourer could make a lot of sense…and be very appealing to dirt-focused riders.
Furthermore, if Honda can get the price tag under $10,000, then it will have a real game-changer on its hands. Besides, no one really wants to take a Honda NC750X off-road anyways.
We will be curious to see how this rumor pans out, and if Honda is quick about things, they could still beat Yamaha to market in the United States, which would deal a huge blow to the prospects of the Ténéré 700.
The rumors suggest that the CRF850L would be a 2021 model, out in late-2020…which should sound familiar to Yamaha fans. Very interesting. Stay tuned.