A baby Africa in the works?
Japanese outlet Young Machine has turned into a bit of a Honda rumor mill (among all the other things it does). Over the past year or so, the site has been the source of most Team Red-related rumors for new models, from the upgraded Africa Twin (that turned out to be true) and 1,100cc twin Rebel to a returning V4 superbike.
One of the most recent Honda-centric rumors on the list is that of an entry-level Africa Twin. While in 2019 and earlier in 2020, there was talk of a mid-range addition to the legendary rally lineup, this time, we’re talking about adding a small-displacement version.
To be specific, according to the Japanese publication, Honda is planning to update the CRF250L Rally and to potentially turn it into a miniature adventurer, in line with the Africa Twin. After all, the 250L already has the right naming convention (CRF250L, CF1100L). Plus, the rally version, with its touring windscreen, sump plate, semi-fairing, and hand guars, already takes on a more touring-friendly role in the CRF lineup. Honda wouldn’t need to make dramatic changes to the model to rebrand it as an ADV.
That being said, why would Honda feel the need to rebrand the model considering the name CRF already has a legacy of its own? We haven’t spoken to anyone from HQ, but our educated guess is that it all comes down to market positioning and perception.
As the CRF250L Rally, the model competes in the dirt bike segment. Should Honda add “Africa Twin” to the mix and make the model slightly more touring-ready, it will instead compete in the small adventure bike segment and go after the likes of the KTM 390 Adventure and the Suzuki V-Strom 250. Sure, the flagship adventurer is a CRF as well but people remember the “Africa Twin” namesake. It screams adventure, Dakar rally, and endurance rather than dirt bike.
Of course, like most other rumors, we have yet hear anything from Honda on the matter so for the time being, we can only think of this as great or terrible speculation—it all depends on what your stance on the subject of a CRF250L rebranding is. Should this rumor and that of a mid-size 850 turn out to be true, however, this means that Honda is about to double down in the adventure segment and frankly, we don’t have that idea.