Apologies if things have been a bit sparse here the last few days, as I’ve been making yet another trans-Atlantic crossing…my third in just seven days.
The trip has been worth it though, as I have been fortunate enough to ride in Morocco with Bridgestone the last few days, testing out the new Battlax A41 adventure-touring tire, and the Battlax T31 sport-touring tire.
Because of the schedule, we are going to have to Tarantino this “Gone Riding” post a little, and do thing in reverse, but there is plenty to talk about.
Our routes have been based out of Ouarzazate (productions like Gladiator and Game of Thrones have been filmed here), and it is a high-desert terrain with red rocks and plenty of sand and wind.
With two different tires, I have been on a host of bikes as well. On the Battlax A41, it was the BMW 1200GS Rallye, KTM 1290 Adventure S, and the Honda Africa Twin; while for the Battlax T31, it was the Suzuki GSX-S1000F, BMW R1200R, and KTM 1290 Super Duke GT.
Feel free to pick my brain about the new Bridgestone tires, the bikes I have been on, and what it is like to visit Morocco and the Ouarzazate region.
As always, you can follow our thoughts on the tires via Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, and you can see what our colleagues are posting on social media by looking for the hashtags #BattlaxA41 & #BattlaxT31
The Brits over at MCN have an interesting story right now, whereby Honda is considering making a middleweight version of its Africa Twin adventure-tourer. 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, 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.
The Honda Africa Twin gets a sibling for the 2018 model year, as the Honda Africa Twin Adventure Sports debuted today at Honda’s pre-EICMA event. As expected the Africa Twin Adventure Sports is a more off-road focused version of the Honda Africa Twin, and comes with a robust set of features that make it easier to go globetrotting on the plucky ADV bike from Honda. Like on the now revised 2018 Honda Africa Twin, the Adventure Sports version comes with improvements over the original Africa Twin design. This includes new foot rests, a new instrument panel, RbW throttle control with three throttle maps, seven levels of traction control system, a new exhaust design, and a lithium-ion battery.
Honda seems set to update the Africa Twin, its plucky ADV model, with a more off-road focused machine. Teasing the new model online, the Honda Africa Twin “Big Tank” – nicknamed for its supposedly larger 22-liter fuel tank – is expected to debut next week at the EICMA show in Milan. Not too much is known about the machine, but we expect it to borrow heavily from the Honda Africa Twin Adventure Sports Concept, which debuted at the Osaka Motorcycle Show last year. Accordingly, we can expect more off-road goodness for the Africa Twin in Italy, with a slight styling refresh as well. The larger fuel tank (up from the stock 18-liter unit) will necessitate some bodywork changes, which includes a redesigned flat seat.
When it comes to adventure-tourers that can actually go off-road, the Honda Africa Twin easily rises to the top of the list. Couple that to Honda’s pursuits in the Dakar Rally and other rally raid events, and its easy to see where the Honda Africa Twin Rally could be born. A special model being built by Italy’s Honda importer that was unveiled at this year’s Motodays show, the Africa Twin Rally won’t be hitting other markets any time soon (read: never), though it shows a machine that many ADV riders have been clamoring for, since the first shots of the Honda CRF450 Rally hit the internet. The Honda Africa Twin Rally loses roughly 15 pounds over its OEM predecessor, mostly by using carbon fiber and a minimalist LED headlight assembly. Yes, a roadbook is an optional accessory, for when you find yourself in the middle of The Dakar.
It’s 2017 and the Two Enthusiasts Podcast crew is back into the swing of things, bringing you a slightly irreverent perspective on the motorcycle industry.
To get the new year started off right, we have an extra long Episode 42 for you, which covers all of the major stories from last year – what bikes were hot, what news items were important, and a review of the racing season await you.
We’ve got some interesting shows lined up for 2017, and we think you’ll enjoy how we’re starting off this next orbit around the sun.
You can listen to the show via the embedded SoundCloud player, after the jump, or you can find the show on iTunes (please leave a review) or this RSS feed. Be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter as well. Enjoy the show!
File the Honda Africa Twin Enduro Sports concept under things we like, as the adventure-bike concept takes perhaps the most off-road competent ADV bike on the market, and raises its dirt credit by another factor of ten.
Built off the Honda CRF1000L Africa Twin, the Enduro Sports concept is intended to expand the Africa Twin family, and to help the new adventure bike attract more riders into its Cult of Brap.
To do this, Honda’s R&D department came up with several lighter weight chassis components (Honda does say what specifically, of course), which were initially developed for the Honda CRF450 Rally race bike, which competes in the Dakar Rally.
The styling is aggressive, especially with the revised headlight assembly. The windscreen and fairings have been re-styled for a sportier look as well, and of course the Termignoni exhaust system is eye-catching, in utilitarian sort of way. Overall, the effect is quite stark.
Honda concept bikes have a funny way of becoming production models in a year or two’s time. As such, we wouldn’t mind have one in our garage. Would you?
The Honda Africa Twin doesn’t lend itself naturally to a supermoto format, though it is one of the most capable off-road adventure bikes on the market, but you have to admit that this photoshop render by French designer Nicolas Petit is very intriguing. Maybe it’s our obvious bias towards anything supermoto that is talking, or maybe it’s that there is something to the idea of taking the Africa Twin, adding 17” wheels, and lowering it just enough that riders can actually flat-foot the machine while sitting on it. Add in some styling cues that scream “supermotard” and you have a very handsome machine that is ready to conquer anything the urban environment can throw at it. Hell, it’s probably just a scary clown costume away from a good time on a gravel road. Right??!
Honda’s flagship factory, in the Kumamoto Prefecture, is now back to normal production levels, after its slow recovery from earthquake damage sustained earlier this year.
For those who don’t remember, Honda took the Kumamoto factory offline on April 14th, resumed minor operations on May 6th, and resumed production of key models on June 6th.
Honda says that its large motorcycle production lines are now ready to go back to work, meaning the production at the Kumamoto factory is now back to its normal levels, though mini-vehicle parts production has been transferred to Honda’s Suzuka factory.
“If your quarry goes to ground, leave no ground to go to” seems to be KTM’s marching orders right now, as the Austrian brand is pushing into seemingly every segment and market with its motorcycle lineup. KTM already has a robust off-road lineup, which they have used to launch themselves into the ADV category with great success. As such, the KTM 1190 Adventure series already sees strong sales success with adventure-touring riders, but KTM isn’t resting on those laurels. Set to debut a 800cc parallel-twin platform later this year, KTM CEO Stefan Pierer has revealed, while talking to MCN, that his company will soon have a rival for the Honda Africa Twin.
After seeing the region devastated by earthquakes, the Honda factory in the Kumamoto Prefecture is slowly coming back online. The Kumamoto factory (seen above, before the earthquake) has been offline since April 14th, though resumed minor operations on May 6th.
Honda says it has finally completed removal of debris from its most affected facilities; and as of June 6th, the company has partly resumed production of its main motorcycle models.
This is of particular note for American motorcyclists, as it means that Honda can once again being producing the Honda Africa Twin adventure-tourer, which was mid-production for the US market at the time of the earthquakes.