Smaller, slimmer and 5kg lighter, the 2020 Honda Africa Twin now offers even more athletic performance, thanks also to changes to the engine, which now produces 7% more peak power, 6% more peak torque and is much stronger everywhere in the rev-range. The touring comfort, technology and ability of the new CRF1100L Africa Twin Adventure Sports are further enhanced – and it adds the option of Showa Electronically Equipped Ride Adjustment (SHOWA EERA). It also packs more power and torque and is significantly lighter – in keeping with the first principles set out all those years ago.
The frame has been completely revised and now features a bolt-on aluminium subframe. The swingarm, too, is aluminium and based on that of the CRF450R moto-crosser. And at the centre of the Africa Twin, the addition of a six-axis Inertial Measurement Unit (IMU) controls not only the 7-level HSTC but also (new for 2020) 3-level Wheelie Control, Cornering ABS (with off-road setting), Rear Lift Control and DCT cornering detection. An Off-road setting also joins the Urban, Tour, and Gravel default riding modes. It’s EURO5 compliant.
The fixed screen is much shorter than before, to allow for easy scanning of the trail ahead and, while seat height remains 850-870mm, the handlebars now mount 22.5mm higher, giving a more upright riding position and comfortable control, whether standing or seated. The tail section is slimmer and the seat itself is 40mm narrower, for easier ground reach; its shape has also been carefully contoured to allow easier back and forth movement.
New dual LED headlights are set higher, deliver a penetrating beam and also feature Daytime Running Lights (DRL) that automatically adjust to ambient light intensity, improving safety, no matter the conditions. Knuckle guards are standard.
The full-colour Multi-Information Display (MID) 6.5-inch TFT touch screen keeps the rider in control of all of the Africa Twin’s systems, with each of the riding modes selectable through the top left of the screen. The MID can also be customised to show various levels of information relative to the riding mode chosen and is easy to use even when wearing gloves. It also incorporates Apple CarPlay. Hands-free wireless Bluetooth connectivity is also an option for an iPhone or Android device and all control inputs are made from the left-hand switchgear.
The front and rear indicators have an Emergency Stop Signal function. When braking suddenly over 50kph the hazard lights flash to warn other road users a hard stop is in process. They also auto-cancel; rather than using a simple timer, the system compares front and rear wheel speed difference and calculates when to cancel the indication relative to the situation.
The SOHC 8-valve parallel-twin engine’s essential architecture remains unchanged for 2020 but has a larger displacement of 1084cc up from 998cc. And as a result peak power goes from 100 Bhp @ 7,500rpm with peak torque going from 99Nm to 105Nm @ 6,250rpm. The obvious increase in both power and torque makes itself felt from 2,500rpm all the way through to the redline. To create the larger capacity, bore remains 92mm but stroke is longer at 81.5mm (from 75.1mm) with a compression ratio of 10.1:1. The cylinder sleeves are also now aluminium. The ECU setting is new and the injector angle has been modified and the valve timing has been optimised and inlet and exhaust valve lift increased.
To match and deal with the uprated intake efficiency and higher output (thus gas flow) the exhaust end-can now features a variable Exhaust Control Valve (ECV) very similar to the unit fitted to the CBR1000RR Fireblade. It enhances both engine performance and efficiency as it opens at higher rpm and gives a pleasing exhaust note ‘pulse’ at lower rpm. Similarly, for 2020 cruise control is now fitted as standard, to ease long-distance highway travel.
The Africa Twin’s engine received the benefits of Throttle By Wire (TBW) control in 2018, allowing much finer management of engine output and character as well as expanded Honda Selectable Torque Control (HSTC) for rear tyre grip; for 2020 the system has smartly evolved and now works in conjunction with a six-axis IMU. The Bosch MM7.10 six-axis Inertial Measurement Unit (IMU) tucked away at the centre of the machine, measures – in real-time – roll angle/rate, pitch angle/rate and yaw angle/rate. It manages rear wheel traction via TBW and HSTC, front braking grip through Cornering ABS, front-wheel lift through Wheelie Control and also adds Rear Lift Control.
The system offers 4 levels of power and 3 levels of engine braking. Wheelie Control is another new feature. Again, with the IMU measuring pitch angle and rate, and controlling engine torque via TBW, the rider can choose between 3 levels of input. Level 1 allows for intended wheel lift but suppresses any sudden movement. Level 3 stops any front wheel elevation and level 2 is mid-way between the two. Wheelie Control can also be turned off completely. There are four default riding mode settings: Tour, Urban, Gravel and Off-Road, to cover most riding conditions and situations plus two customisable User settings.
Rigidity around the steering head has been optimised to enhance feel for front end grip; the main spars are also slimmer and straighter and do away with the front cross pipe. The aluminium swingarm is all-new, 500g lighter and based on the same design used by the CRF450R. Its improved rigidity improves rear-wheel traction and rider feel. Ground clearance remains 250mm, with a wheelbase of 1575mm and rake and trail of 27° 30’/113mm. Wet weight is 5kg lighter, at 226kg.
On the other hand, the new CRF1100L Africa Twin Adventure Sports shares the frame, engine and riding position of the off-road focussed CRF1100L Africa Twin, but is made to offer riders real continent-crossing long-haul ability and practicality both on and off-road. It’s also EURO5 compliant.
This comes in the shape of a larger 24.8L fuel tank, extended wind protection (from both the fairing and fairing side panels), height-adjustable screen, large engine sump guard, aluminium rear carrier plus tubeless wheels and tyres. ACC charger and heated grips are also standard fit. Just like the 2020 Africa Twin, its engine produces 7% more peak power and 6% more peak torque and is much stronger everywhere in the rev-range compared to the previous design.
For optimum suspension damping front and rear, the Africa Twin Adventure Sports is also available with Showa EERA™ as an option. Four default modes – Soft, Mid, Hard and Off-Road, cover every type of riding situation, and there’s a User mode for further fine-tuning. Rear spring preload can also be adjusted while stationary.
The frame too has been revised and now features a bolt-on aluminium subframe; the swingarm is aluminium and based on that of the CRF450R. And at the centre of the Africa Twin Adventure Sports, the addition of a six-axis Inertial Measurement Unit (IMU) allows control not only of the 7-level HSTC but also (new for 2020) 3-level Wheelie Control, Cornering ABS (with off-road setting) Rear Lift Control and DCT cornering detection.