2020 Honda Africa Twin

- increases their off-road performance

Now comes the next stage of evolution of the ultimate Honda Adventure bike: The new Africa Twin boosts its off-road performance thanks to the combination of lighter and sleek rally-style chassis, redesigned seating position and 5 kg less weight, as well as a larger engine that already meets the Euro-5 emissions standard and offers more power and higher torque. The six-axis Inertial Measurement Unit (IMU) now controls the various driving modes, the Honda Selectable Torque Control (HSTC traction control) and three additional systems: Curve ABS, Wheelie Control and Rear-Lift Control. DCT models also have a curve recognition function. The 6.5-inch full-color TFT touchscreen integrates Apple CarPlay® and Bluetooth connectivity. Cruise control and dual LED headlights with daytime running lights are standard equipment.

Photo: Honda
  1. Introduction

More than 30 years ago, the first Africa Twin, the Honda XRV650, was introduced in Europe. The spirit and tradition of this bike are also noticeable in the latest model versions with this name, even if the Africa Twin was completely redesigned as CRF1000L in 2016.

The pronounced balance between performance and lightness made the original of the past so special. This is exactly the case for the new Africa Twin. The combination of sporty look, an engine that is really fun and a powerful, comfortable chassis makes the Africa Twin a perfect all-rounder. Whether for adventurers travelling the world, commuters or even weekend tourers – the Africa Twin is and remains the first choice for many.

In the 2018 model year, the models with manual manual transmission as well as with dual-clutch transmission DCT received an electronic gas handle (Throttle By Wire), three driving modes and extended Honda Selectable Torque Control (HSTC traction control) options. In addition, the intake and exhaust system has been revised to further optimize the response and sound of the engine. New addition sintroduces the Africa Twin Adventure Sports, which has the same updates and also offers improved wind protection, more tank volume and longer spring travel. This makes it well equipped for even more extensive off-road tours.

Both models are very popular both in Europe and internationally – since the market launch in 2016, more than 87,000 units have been sold worldwide. With 2020, another milestone for the Africa Twin is just around the corner.

Touring comfort, technology and performance of the new CRF1100L Africa Twin Adventure Sports [1]  have been further expanded and supplemented by the optional Showa EERATM (Electronically Equipped Ride Adjustment) cushioning system. The CRF1100L Africa Twin has been fundamentally redesigned: the aggressive and compact design in rally style puts it even more into the off-road segment. More power, higher torque and significantly less weight continue the tradition of this model.

  1. Model overview

The new Honda CRF1100L Africa Twin of the 2020 model year has a clear off-road focus, which is reflected in the look – and feel – of a real rally bike. Smaller, slimmer and 5 kg lighter, the Africa Twin is now even more athletic. The redesigned engine delivers seven percent more peak power and a six percent higher torque with more power over the entire speed range. The Euro 5 standard is already being met.

The completely redesigned chassis now uses an aluminium auxiliary frame. The rear wheel swing arm made of the same material is based on that of the Honda motocross bike CRF450R. The six-axis Intertial Measurement Unit (IMU) controls the seven-stage Honda Selectable Torque Control (HSTC), the new three-stage wheelie control, the Rear Lift Control, the curve ABS (with off-road mode) and the curve detection of the dual clutch transmission (DCT). In addition, the previously offered driving modes Urban, Tour and Gravel are supplemented by an off-road mode.

For perfect control of the Africa Twin, the seating area has been narrowed and the handlebars positioned higher. The 6.5-inch TFT touchscreen features a full-color multi-information display (MID) for Africa Twin owners to fully access the bike's wide range of settings, Apple CarPlay® and Bluetooth connectivity. Cruise control is standard. Dual LED daytime running lights make the bike very visible to other road users and increase safety.

  1. Features

3.1 Styling & Equipment

  • Compact design for off-road use, with narrow seat and high handlebars
  • Multi-information display (MID) with 6.5 inch TFT touchscreen
  • Apple CarPlay® allows Apple iPhone® control via MID
  • Bluetooth connectivity, cruise control and daytime running lights

Aggressive and compact: These two words describe the new rally design of the Africa Twin. The reason: maximum off-road capability. The fixed windshield is significantly lower than before for ideal terrain overview. The seat height is still 850 to 870 mm, the handlebars are now positioned 22.5 mm higher for a more upright seat position. This guarantees optimal control over the bike and maximum comfort, standing and sitting.

The rear section of the new Africa Twin is slimmer and the seat 40 mm narrower to make it easier to reach the ground with your feet if necessary. The seat has also been carefully recontoured to make it easier for the driver to move back and forward. Lower (825 mm to 845 mm) and higher (875 mm to 895 mm) benches are optionally available via the accessory range.

The new, higher-mounted LED double headlights provide strong light and feature integrated daytime running lights that automatically adjust their intensity to environmental conditions to improve safety. Hand protectors are standard equipment.

The multi-information display (MID) of the new Africa Twin with full-color TFT touchscreen in 6.5 inches guarantees easy control of system settings. At the top left of the screen, for example, the different driving modes can be quickly selected. The MID can be configured individually, for example to display different information about the current driving mode. It can be operated with gloves without any problems.

With the integrated Apple CarPlay®, the iPhone can be used® the driver via the touchscreen of the Africa Twin. For example, navigation apps can be accessed, calls can be controlled via the Bluetooth headset in the helmet. The iPhone® itself is connected to the right of the MID via USB. iPhone® and Android devices can also be connected wirelessly via Bluetooth, the smartphone is operated via buttons on the left of the handlebars.

The front and rear indicators have an emergency stop signal function. Sudden full braking from speeds of more than 50 km/h is indicated to other road users via the warning flashing function. The emergency stop signal has an auto-cancel function – this is not triggered by a simple timer, but by monitoring the different rotation speeds on the front and rear wheels. In this way, the warning flashing function is automatically switched off again depending on the situation.

In order to make journeys over long distances and on motorways more pleasant, a cruise control with the 2020 model year is standard.

3.2 Motor

  • To 1,084 cm3 enlarged displacement as basis for 75 kW (102 hp) peak power and 105 Nm torque
  • Increased power thanks to new cylinder heads, camshaft control, throttle valves and revised exhaust system
  • Less weight due to optimized gearbox
  • Rear silencer with Exhaust Control Valve (ECV) for improved sound in the low speed range and more power in the high speed range

The basic architecture of the 8-valve two-cylinder SOHC engine will remain unchanged in the new model year. The displacement increases from 998 cm3 to 1,084 cm3. This enables an increase in power from 70 kW to 75 kW (at 7,500 rpm) and a torque grown from 99 Nm to 105 Nm (at 6,250 rpm). This plus is already noticeable from 2,500 tours and brings noticeably more passage into the upper speed range.

To achieve this displacement increase with the same bore of 92 mm, Honda extended the stroke from 75.1 mm to 81.5 mm. The compression ratio is 10.1:1. The cylinder liners are now made of aluminium. In combination with the manual manual transmission, the modified engine weighs 66.4 kg, which is a total of 2.5 kg less than before. With DCT, the system comes to 74.9 kg, which makes it 2.2 kg lighter. This has been helped by weight savings in the transmission and in other places.

In the engine, the crankshaft with 270° stroke pin offset and the irregular ignition sequence were maintained. This ensures the characteristic pulsating of the drive and a perfect feeling of traction on the rear wheel. The cylinder heads and the throttle valves have been completely reworked, the latter have a diameter of 46 mm. The bore and cylinder distances have also been adapted to create a uniform suction profile. Other modifications concerned the injection angle and the Electronic Control Unit (ECU). This makes it possible to inject the fuel even more directly into the also revised combustion chambers with double ignition.

The Honda Unicam valve drive comes from the crF450R competitive motocross bike, and the low-positioned camshaft contributes to the compactness of the cylinder head. For the 2020 model year, the valve control system was optimised and the valve stroke was enlarged on the one side and outlet side (inlet: 10.1 mm instead of 9.2 mm; outlet: 9.3 instead of 8.6 mm).

In coordination with the improved intake cycle and the higher power (and thus the higher gas flow), the exhaust system now has a variable exhaust valve (ECV). This opens at high speeds, similar to the system used in the CBR1000RR Fireblade. This not only improves engine performance and efficiency at higher speeds; this also gets a special, "pulsating" sound at low speeds.

In addition, there are structural details such as a vertically split crankshaft housing, a water pump efficiently integrated into the clutch housing and a thermostat that sits in the cylinder head. The crankshaft housings for the manual manual transmission and for DCT differ only minimally on the outside. The balancing shaft of the motor drives the water and oil pump.

The engine has a semi-dry sump lubrication, with an oil reservoir in the lower part of the crankshaft housing. This allows for a flatter oil pan and thus an overall low height of the engine. Since the pressure pump sits directly in the oil tank, pressure lines are omitted. Second-order vibrations are compensated by the opposite piston movements, two-axis balancing shafts in the motor housing absorb first-order vibrations and clutch vibrations.

For the new model year, the precision of the balancing shafts has been improved, so that their drive gears can now do without counter-wheels. A kurbell shaft sensor has been added to detect misfires. This is important to meet the requirements of both the Euro 5 emission standard and the second-generation on-board diagnostics (OBD-2). Also important for Euro-5: Instead of lambda probes, linear air fuel (LAF) sensors in the exhaust manifold measure the mixture in order to determine the air-fuel ratio more precisely.

The clutch hub and aluminium printing plate use "power cams" for easier power braking and "slipper cams" for down-switching and braking. The new coupling has a smaller diameter and a lower spring tension, making the clutch lever easier to operate. The gears have been reworked and are now made of more durable material. A Quickshifter is optionally available.

3.3 Motor and chassis electronics

  • IMU-controlled traction control optimized for off-road use
  • Three-stage wheelie control, IMU-supported
  • The new off-road driving mode complements the previous Tour, Urban and Gravel
  • Two user driving modes for individual customization

The Honda Africa Twin has already received an electronic gas handle (Throttle By Wire, TBW) for a finer dosing of engine power in 2018, as well as the Honda Selectable Torque Control traction control (HSTC) for more grip on the rear wheel. For the 2020 model year, the overall system has been greatly developed: it is now working with the data of the six-axis IMU [2].

The power can be adjusted in 4 stages and the engine braking effect in 3 stages. The HSTC can be set in 7 levels as before, but the effect of each level has been significantly improved as the HSTC now processes real-time data (roll and yaw angle as well as rate) of the IMU. The differences between the individual stages can now be felt more clearly, so that drivers can, for example, optimally dose the sliding of the rear wheel in off-road use. The traction control can also be completely switched off if required.

Another new feature is the Wheelie-Control: Here the IMU provides information about the inclination angle of the bike and controls the speed via the TBW system. Three levels can be selected here. In level one, it is possible to lift the front wheel intentionally, but a quick ripping is prevented. At level three, any loss of contact of the front wheel with the ground is prevented. Level two is between the other two levels. The wheelie control can be switched off.

There are four preset driving modes: Tour, Urban, Gravel and Offroad. These cover most driving requirements. Two other driving modes can be individually defined by the driver. But the preset modes can also be varied – the Honda Selectable Torque Control in seven stages, the wheelie control in three stages (plus shutdown), and the optional dual-clutch transmission in S mode in three possible shift patterns.

Driving modes:

Tour delivers maximum performance (1) for tours with passenger and luggage, a medium engine braking effect (2) and an active curve ABS for asphalt.

Urban offers medium power (2), medium engine brake (2) and active on-road curve ABS for a variety of requirements.

Gravel is the mode with the lowest power development (4) and engine braking effect (3). The curve ABS is active in an off-road setting. The ABS of the rear brake cannot be switched off.

Offroad uses low to medium power (3) and lowest engine braking effect (3). The curve ABS is active in an off-road setting. The ABS on the rear wheel can be switched off.

User 1 & 2 allows two personalized, combined setups. The power development is adjustable in stages 1 to 4, the engine brake in stages 1 to 3. In addition, on- and off-road ABS can be customized.

3.4 Dual-clutch transmission

  • Super-fast gear changes in manual mode (MT) as well as in automatic modes D and S
  • Three-stage S-mode allows higher speeds and switches back earlier than the D mode: ideal for sporty driving
  • G-Switch for special, traction-optimized off-road tuning
  • Slope detection automatically adjusts switching operations
  • IMU-supported curve detection for improved switching timing

Since the launch of the Honda DCT ten years ago (2009) in the VFR1200F, Honda has already sold more than 100,000 motorcycles with this system in Europe alone. Another proof of the popularity of the dual-clutch transmission: Last year, 48 percent of buyers in Europe opted for this transmission variant for models with a DCT option.

The unique DCT ensures smooth, seamless and super-fast gear changes and quickly becomes a self-evident tool for the driver. It uses two couplings: one for starting and for gears one, three and five, the other is responsible for the second, fourth and sixth gears. For a compact design, the two main shafts are plugged into each other.

Each coupling is controlled independently of the other by its own electrohydraulic circuit. During automatic switching, the system selects the next gear using the currently open coupling. This then closes electronically while the other opens – the new gear is ready.

The result is uniform and fast gear changes without noticeable shifts. The traction force and torque on the rear wheel are also only minimally interrupted during DCT gear changes, the jerk ingess and nick movements of the machine are almost eliminated.

A clear advantage is also the long service life of the system, because there are no more unclean circuits, which can damage the gears. In addition, choking the engine with DCT is not possible. In city traffic, a double-clutch bike is much more comfortable, and its rider doesn't tire so fast.

Three selectable operating modes are available for DCT. In MT mode, the driver manually switches via buttons on the handlebars (but without coupling). The D-automatic mode offers maximum efficiency and is ideal for city and highway driving. S-Automatic enables sportier driving in three stages. The ECU causes the engine to rotate higher before switching up and switches back earlier for more engine braking.

Even in D or S mode, the driver can intervene at any time by selecting the desired gear via the up and down buttons on the left handlebars. At the right time, depending on the throttle angle, vehicle speed and gear, the dual-clutch transmission then seamlessly switches back to automatic mode.

Pressing the G button on the TFT touchscreen display activates an additional off-road mode. Less slippage during shifting gives the rider a better sense of the available grip and control of the bike in the terrain.

In addition, the DCT system has integrated an inclination detection system that optimizes the switching behavior depending on the slope or gradient of the road or terrain, thus enabling the best control.

New to the dual-clutch transmission of the CRF1100L Africa Twin is the additional curve detection. The switching program automatically adjusts when the IMU detects that the motorcycle is passing through a curve.

3.5 Chassis

  • Central six-axis Inertial Measurement Unit (IMU)
  • Revised, lighter frame with stiff aluminium auxiliary frame
  • Lighter and stiffer CRF450R rear wheel swing arm improves rear wheel traction and feedback
  • Curve ABS for safe driving experience and with special off-road adjustment
  • New damping and spring rate of the Showa spring front and rear

The inertial measurement unit (IMU) of type MM7.10 from Bosch is the basis for the improved on- and off-road performance of the Africa Twin. Centrally positioned in the machine, the IMU captures roll angle and rate, angle and rate of inclination, and real-time yaw angle and rate. It controls the rear wheel traction via TBW and HSTC, the braking performance on the front wheel via the curve ABS, the ground contact of the front wheel through the wheelie control and the slip of the rear wheel via the rear lift control.

In addition, the development engineers completely revised the double-loop steel tube frame of the Africa Twin for the 2020 model year. The aim was to significantly increase the suitability for off-road areas and at the same time to improve the all-round characteristics on the road.

The stiffness of the steering head has also been increased so that the driver gets better feedback about the grip conditions at the front. The slimmer and straighter main bars also make the front cross bars superfluous. The frame is 1.8 kg lighter than before.

A red-painted, screwed aluminium auxiliary frame replaces the previous steel structure. With a total width of only 195 mm, the new solution is 40 mm narrower. This is crucial for better ground contact. The aluminium monoblock rear wheel swingarm is new and 500 g lighter. It is based on the system used in the CRF450R. The higher stiffness improves traction on the rear wheel and the driving feel.

The ground clearance remains unchanged at 250 mm and the wheelbase is 1,575 mm. With a steering head angle of 27.5°, the fork has 113 mm afterflow. The weight was reduced by 5 kg with 226 kg full.

Showa's revamped 45 mm upside-down fork offers a 230 mm travel for top performance on and off the road. Tension and pressure level are infinitely adjustable. An upper fork bridge made of cast aluminium and a forged lower one – both connected by a hollow aluminium steering axle – fix the fork legs with two screws each at the top and bottom.

The rear-wheel damping has also been revised accordingly: The Showa damper offers 220 mm travel, a 45 mm cartridge and an extra reservoir for sustained good cushioning even in extreme terrain. The spring preload can be adjusted on the damper; Train and pressure levels are also adjustable.

The inner plates of the swinging bearing (now made of high-strength 600 MPa steel) and the upper cross-connection tube serve (via ball joint) as a fixing point of the rear damping. This gives the driver better feedback from the rear wheel.

In order to ideally adjust the braking pressure via the ABS, the IMU analyzes the inclination angle of the machine in an inclined position, the deceleration (via speed sensors on the front and rear wheels) and the slip rate on the front and rear wheels. In case of sudden lifting of the rear wheel, it regulates the braking force in such a way that the machine stabilizes. The rear ABS can be deactivated for off-road driving when the motorcycle is standing.

Floating 310 mm Wave double discs with 4-piston radial pliers and sintered metal brake pads work on the front wheel. The 256 mm wave brake disc at the rear is punched. The stainless steel spoke wheels (21 inches front; 18 inches rear) are fitted with tyres in dimensions 90/90-21 and 150/70-18. Continental 90/90-21M/C 54S and 150/70B 18M/C 70Q can be mounted as stud tyres, designed for 180 km/h and 160 km/h.

  1. Accessories

The range of original Honda accessories for the Africa Twin has been extended with various luggage options. For example, a high-quality 42-litre top case and side case made of aluminium as well as a 58-litre top case and side case made of plastic are available – each including tailor-made inner pack bags. For the individual rider position on the bike, seat alternatives can be retrofitted in two additional heights. The lower one covers the range from 825 to 845 mm, the higher one covers those from 875 to 895 mm. In addition, touring discs, radiator protection, motor protection, fall brackets as well as advanced hand protectors, heating handles and a 12 V socket are offered.

  1. Technical data

Engine

 

Design

Liquid-cooled two-cylinder SOHC four-stroke in-line engine, Unicam cylinder head, 8 valves, 270° crankshaft

Displacement (in cm3)

1.084

Bore & Stroke (in mm)

92 x 81.5 mm

Compression

10,1:1

Max power (kW at rpm)

75 at 7,500 rpm

Max Torque (Nm at rpm)

105 at 6,250 rpm

Noise (dB)

73

Oil volume (in l)

4.8/4.3 (5.2/4.7 DCT)

FUEL SYSTEM

 

Mixture preparation

PGM-FI Petrol Injection

Tank volume (in l)

18,8

CO2 g/km

112 g/km (MT)

110 g/km (DCT)

Consumption

4.9 l/100 km (20.4 km/l) MT
4.8 l/100 km (20.8 km/l) DCT

Electronics

 

Starter

Electric

Battery

12V-6Ah lithium-ion battery (20 hours)

ACG / Alternator power

0.49 kW / 5,000 rpm

Drive

 

Clutch

MT: Multi-disc coupling in oil bath
Anti-hopping clutch
DCT: 2 multi-disc coupling packages

Transmissions

6-speed manual (optional: 6-speed DCT)

Frame

 

Type

Double-loop pipe frame

Chassis

 

Dimensions (LxWxH, in mm)

2,330 x 960 x 1,395

Wheelbase (in mm)

1.575

Steering head angle

27.5°

Trailing (in mm)

113

Seat height (in mm)

850/870 (low option: 825 mm; higher option: 895)

Ground clearance

250 mm

Weight

226 kg (DCT 236 kg)

Suspension

 

Front

45 mm cartridge upside-down telescopic fork from Showa, travel 230 mm, fully adjustable (spring preload, tensile and pressure stage)

Rear

Monoblock aluminum swingarm, Pro-Link suspension, gas pressure damper from Showa, spring preload hydraulically adjustable via handwheel, shock pull step adjustable, 220 mm travel

Wheels

 

Type front

Aluminum spoke wheel

Type rear

Aluminum spoke wheel

Rim size front

21M/C x MT2.15

Rim size rear

18M/C x MT4.00

Tyres at the front

90/90-21M/C 54H, tubular tire (Bridgestone Battlax Adventurecross Tourer AX41T/Metzeler Karoo Street)

Rear tyres

150/70-R18M/C 70H, tubular tire (Bridgestone Battlax Adventurecross Tourer AX41T/Metzeler Karoo Street)

Brakes

 

ABS system

2 channel, IMU supported, ABS modes with on- and off-road setting

Type front

310mm Wave double discs, aluminium hub, floating bearing, 4-piston radial pliers, sintered metal brake pads

Type rear

256 mm Wave brake disc, single-piston brake pliers, sintered metal pads, 2-channel ABS can be switched off at the rear

INSTRUMENTS & ELECTRONICS

 

Instruments

LCD Speedometer, 6.5 Inch TFT Touchscreen Multi Information Display

Security

Immobilizer, optional alarm

Headlight

Led

Taillight

Led

Electronics

Daytime running lights, Bluetooth audio and Apple CarPlay®,USB port, automatic flasher reset, cruise control, emergency braking signal, IMU, HSTC, wheelie control

All information is non-binding, subject to change.

* These figures correspond to Honda test results under standardized conditions according to WMTC. The tests were carried out on free-range roads with a standard version of the vehicle, with one driver and no additional equipment. Current fuel consumption may vary depending on driving style, vehicle maintenance, weather, road conditions, tire condition, accessories, driver and passenger weight, and other factors.

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