Bigger can also mean smaller.
All these months of speculation and teasing have finally culminated with the launch of the all-new 2020 Honda Africa Twin. As expected, it is now more powerful thanks to a new, bigger engine, but Honda has also managed to make it leaner. Here are the details about the new CRF1100L.
One of the most hyped motorcycles of the year has finally shown up and things look brighter than we anticipated. The new Africa Twin ups the ante on many fronts, including emissions, power, and even weight! When the rumor started circulating that the next-generation CRF flagship was receiving a bigger engine, concerns were understandably raised about its weight. Bigger engine equals higher weight was the logical equation—however, in that regard, we were wrong to worry.
In fact, Honda confirms that the new 2020 CRF1100L is lighter than its predecessor, now tipping the scale below the 500lb mark. The entry-level CRF weighs in at 498 lb while the DCT model now weighs 520 lb. The company has taken a number of weight-saving measures to achieve this, including a lighter gearbox.
Gallery: 2020 CRF1100L Africa Twin
Combined with the weight is now a slightly lower standard saddle height that can be set up as low as 33.4 inches instead of the standard 34.3. A new low seat option makes the model more accessible with a saddle of 32.5 inches and for the taller riders out there, the high set option allows to increase the height to up to 35.2 inches.
Of course, the star of the show is the Africa’s new 1084cc parallel-twin engine which increases in displacement but also receives a number of design upgrades. The cylinder sleeves are now made of aluminum, the cylinder heads have been redesigned, new ECU settings optimize the direct injection in the reshaped twin-spark combustion chambers, valve timing has been reviewed, etc.
The new block is now rated at 101 horsepower, a 7-hp output increase over the current model, and 77 lb-ft of torque. To help increase power while also reducing emission, Honda designed a muffler equipped with a variable Exhaust Control Valve (ECV). There are now six driving modes: tour, urban, gravel, and off-road as well as two customizable settings. The modes vary the input and the braking power depending on the situation and desired level of aggressiveness.
The suspension set up remains virtually unchanged with a Showa 45mm inverted fork with 9.1 inches of travel at the front and a Showa shock teamed with a Pro-Link swingarm allowing for 8.7 inches of wheel travel at the back. The size of the wheels also remains unchanged with a 21-inch wire-spoke rim at the front and an 18-inch one at the back. Stopping power is provided by four-piston calipers teamed with a 310mm disc and a single-piston block at the back paired with a 256mm disc, both paired up with cornering ABS.
Look-wise, the changes are on the very subtle side. The front fairing has been slightly altered with a new headlamp shape and a higher-set nose. A new, larger skidplate wraps around the exhaust pipes.
With this new, slimmer, and lighter design, Honda hopes to encourage riders to head back on the trails with their Africa. But improved off-road chops doesn’t mean the CRF turns its back on touring. The model receives such features as standard cruise control, a new 6.5-inch TFT display with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, auto turn signal cancel, a USB port, wheelie control, and Bluetooth connectivity.
Those are the European specs—Honda US has yet to release the North American specs, but we don't expect them to be dramatically different. We do have US prices, though. Entry-level pricing gets an $800 price hike, the lineup now starting at $14,399 for the base model. In the US, the new Africa Twin is expected to land in the showrooms in March 2020.