2017 Honda Africa Twin makes it to India with the automatic gearbox and is clearly the a unique option in the adventure touring market in India and even around the world
- Practical, approachable adventure motorcycle
- Superlative chassis, brakes, engine
- Automatic Gearbox, low seat height is a great addition
- Well priced
- Missing Adjustable Windshield
- Needs better tyres
Honda Two Wheelers in India is now known for selling the most amount of automatic scooters in the country. The manufacturer sells lakhs of scooters in all forms and shapes in the market which are taking the company ahead. The manufacturer has a host options to choose from now. Right from the Cliq to the Activa 125. Honda is now offering superbike into the Indian market every two years which it showcased at the Auto Expo. 2016 saw the Africa Twin come to the Indian stall and today, it has bee launched. Africa twin comes with just the automatic version and there will be no manual option in the future either.
The motorcycle is limited to just 50 units as well and Honda tell us that most of them have been sold off. However, how is it to ride, is an automatic adventure touring bike is what the market needs. Is it awkward to live with it? We spend some quality time with the bike to tell you how is it like. Is the iconic bike still worth the attention? Let’s find out in this Africa Twin India Review.
When it comes to styling, the slim and tall approach makes it look less intimidating then its European rivals. The front end is stubby thanks to small headlamps which are LED units and grab attention in the night. The fairing panels at the side are long and fuel tank is standard adventure bike affair. The seat is dirt-bike style and is quite long. There is an exposed chassis and rear subframe has hardly any panels over it and is dominated by the dual port exhaust. There is also a luggage carrier at the rear and a large LED tail-lamp which is quite a chunky unit.
When it comes to ergonomics, the sitting position is upright, the reach to the handlebar is lower and footpegs are center set. Seat is quite comfortable, seat height is just 820 mm which makes it accessible for smaller riders as well. Inseam area is a bit of problem, but that is something getting used to. What is a major disappointment is the lack of adjustable windshield which makes it difficult to see below when riding in the city and at high speeds, taller riders cannot adjust it to make it more friendly for them. We did experience wind blast because of the same. Sadly, an aftermarket cannot solve this either because for majority of riders will continue to face either visibility or wind blast issue.
Speedo and switches
Cluster is all digital, it has all fuel efficiency parameters apart from distance to empty which is a shocking omission. Tachometer, speedometer, and two odometers are on offer and can be selected by the button the left side. There is an engine kill switch which is also the starter button and an A/M button which is the control whether you want manual or automatic.
Left side has a lot of buttons for functions such as the pass light button is the traction control button when compared to normal bikes. Below that is an identical button which is for upshift of the gearbox. Horn button is replaced with downshit button and the horn and indicator button are placed above it. On above that, is a select and toggle button for the menus on the screen.
Engine and gearbox are the highlight of this bike and they are very smooth and flawless in true Honda tradition. The bike has a narrow RPM limit of just 10,000 RPM and the engine spins fast and yet makes a lot of torque which gives it a good mid-range and top-end power, you can say that the low-end torque is missing, but the fast shifting gearbox also for that matter, in sport mode, make up for it. S mode shifts up and down rather quickly. Engine is also fairly muted and there is hardly any intake or exhaust note on offer.
The power and torque is adequate enough for our roads and off-road trails which are natural in some parts are meant for slow speeds, the Africa Twin feels just right there. We got 20 km/l to be precise which is quite impressive highway and city run and a 15 km off-road trail where we experienced the bike in slow speeds most of the time. Manual mode makes things a lot easier and work like a proper manual gearbox. The Dual clutch gearbox is known for quick shifts and this is no exception. There is a clutch lever imitation, but that is the parking brake, just like an Activa.
Ride and Handling
Dynamically, on the road that is, the Africa Twin is quite a surprise. The motorcycle is quite heavy yet agile in changing direction, tipping into corners is also rather quick thanks to a fast steering. The stability at highway speeds and even at very high speeds is excellent with great front end stability. Ride quality is excellent with firmness that can be felt. Riding around at slow speeds can be tricky because with a manual you can do anything with the clutch and throttle and manage of. Apart from that there is not a problem as speed picks up.
Adjustable suspension is on offer and it does a great job on how things behave after tuning. Brakes are good in terms of bite and power, but could have been better because the tyres aren’t exactly supporting the same. Tyres on the road are just about average, off-the road, the tyres manage a slip rather very easily. Change to the tyres will result in a change which can be substantial enough and change how the bike rides, for the better that is.
2017 Honda Africa Twin India Review, Verdict
Overall, Africa Twin is a great experience. Riding it the first two days is all about learning to ride all over. However, things change as the engagement levels go high, which is quite strange for a bike which is an automatic. The automatic gearbox makes things easier at most of the times, but an manual would make so much more sense. The seat height. the ease of use and other aspects that make manual worth the wait some day.
Pricing can come down, which is even better, which is a highlight of the current automatic bike as well. The Africa twin is the best approachable adventure tourer in the country by a big margin which deserves a special place in the superbike market which is now booming. There are some quirky points, but that is a small price and practice over time that owners will appreciate. So, “This time for Africa?” yes, we finally agree with Shakira!
Rs. 13,31,4301 lakh (Ex-showroom) Mumbai
Africa Twin India Review