Resting there on its stand, the 2019 Honda Africa Twin Adventure Sports is imposing and demands attention with its eye-catching livery. The crash bars that wrap around the frame set the pace: this bike is designed to take a tumble, which hints at its all-terrain vocation that will definitely appeal to the Paris-Dakar nostalgics.
The Honda Africa Twin Adventure Sports is a formal homage to the 1988 model right down to its name. Beyond the obvious visual and, say, intellectual similarities, the model is in fact perfectly modern, sporting all the necessary electronics including traction control available with seven levels of settings, as well as four riding modes (Road, City, Off-Road, and Custom). Traction control can be turned off—a recommended step when venturing off the beaten paths. In this case, however, you need to be careful about the weight of the bike and the height of the saddle, both higher than usual. The saddle towers at 35 inches from the ground with close to 530 lb to maneuver—weight is the price to pay for the 24-liter tank that allows the Africa to cover over 300 miles.
The version we tested was equipped with Honda’s famous Dual Clutch Transmission (DCT) that changes gears automatically but also offers a “manual” setting. An electronic gear selector was added to the left-hand side cluster to help retain a bit of the sequential transmission’s old-timey charm. The handlebar was even fitted with a left-hand side lever, but don’t be fooled: it isn’t the clutch, it’s the handbrake. It’s been cleverly positioned to give the Africa Twin a more “usual” appearance—though there is no shame in taking full advantage of the DCT, better suited to on-road applications than off-road ones. The dual clutch makes the gear changes easy and accelerations are well-balanced. The 998cc twin mill produces 95 horsepower and provides gradual and generous torque with peak performance between 2,000 and 4,000 rpm.
The softness of the long-travel suspension and weight transfer upon braking (the two 310-mm discs and double four-piston calipers provide a lot of grip) won’t unsettle the nostalgics. The 21-inch front wheel helps improve handling while the shape of the saddle and resulting riding geometry create a very nimble-feeling riding experience without the double-cradle steel frame—nicely painted in white—interrupting.
Behind the high-set windscreen, we can appreciate the digital dashboard—easier to read at night than in daylight. Overall, this 30th Anniversary Adventure Sports is a proper tribute to its ancestor, combining features of the current Africa Twin with a few added off-road-friendly accessories that aren’t just for show. You will only need to take time to figure out what settings work best for you and customize them to your needs and decided whether you will want to spend the extra $800 for the dual-clutch version.