The adventure-bike market has been steadily growing, even as other markets recede. Year after year, the BMW R1200GS has been the best-selling big bike worldwide. But one company has been notably absent from the fray: Honda. The 2016 CRF1000L Africa Twin is Big Red’s return to that market segment, and it makes a very strong statement indeed.
The project started with a two-word design brief: “Go anywhere.” Those words drove decisions throughout the development process. For example, high ground clearance plus reasonable seat height plus mass centralisation added up to a parallel twin, since a V-twin would be too long. Continuing that theme, managing the overall size of the bike meant space was at a premium, so the engine uses compact unicam heads like a CRF motocrosser and integrates oil and water pumps with the balance shafts (there are two) inside the engine side covers. Moreover, using a parallel twin gave the bike a narrow waist that makes it easy for the rider to get his feet flat on the ground.