Trail – Test Honda CRF1100L Africa Twin 2020: just the excess? – Africa Twin 1100 test page 1: focus on German standards!


Olbia (Sardinia), the

2020 Honda CRF1100L Africa Twin review: just the excess ?

Trail - Test Honda CRF1100L Africa Twin 2020: just the excess? - Africa Twin 1100 test page 1: focus on German standards!

Chase the natural, he returns to motorcycles: Honda is in turn moving towards the maxi-trail with high technological content with its new Africa Twin 2020, four years after having praised simplicity and the right measure on its old CRF1000L.


Africa Twin 1100 test page 1: focus on German standards !

Dear cousin Germaine,

I followed your advice to become more popular, even if it meant reassessing my principles: here I am ultra-connected and connected with my 6.5-inch color TFT screen – with tactile feedback, STP! -, my inertia system which acts on my ABS and my traction control according to the inclination, as well as my six driving modes, my new anti-skidding, my engine brake control and my regulator now standard (details on pages and).

  • MNC special file :
  • MNC of October 11, 2019 :
  • MNC duel: 

I also did weight training, aware of the proven attractiveness of "always more": my vertical twin climbs to 1084 cc and develops 102 hp and 105 Nm (against 95.1 hp and 99 Nm last year). Admittedly, your 1254 cc flat twin cube spits out 136 hp and 143 Nm, but we can’t do it again: a certain measure seemed necessary to me to remain efficient on all terrains..

I take this opportunity to follow your lead in terms of positioning and equipment: auf wiedersehen the old CRF1000L pragmatic and accessible, willkommen to the new CRF1100L more stripped down and upscale! Example? A short fixed screen replaces my old wraparound windshield, with the convenient pretext of improving visibility in all terrain…

Trail - Test Honda CRF1100L Africa Twin 2020: just the excess? - Africa Twin 1100 test page 1: focus on German standards!

To save weight, my new rear buckle is made of aluminum and is especially lightened by the luggage rack and passenger handles, as well as the luggage racks! All these equipments become optional, except on my Adventure Sports version on which my Japanese father relies a lot: objective 70% of sales in France against 30% in standard version.  

Finally, as in 2019, the central stand to maintain my chain remains optional, as are the Tubeless rims (standard only on the Adventure Sports). However, I keep as standard my height-adjustable saddle without tools, my metal shoe, my spoked wheels, my preload adjustment dial and a practical USB socket in the cockpit.. 

I leave you, my dear cousin: the first testers will take my handlebars in the standard version, which takes 900 euros to reach 14,499 euros (13,599 € in 2019). I will come back to you later to tell you more about my Adventure Sports version at € 16,799, which peaks at € 19,499 with tricolor color options (+ € 300), double clutch (+ € 1,000) and electronically controlled suspensions (+ € 1,500). !

In the saddle on the new Africa Twin 1100

First impressions on contact with the standard Africa Twin, which improves its ergonomics through a slightly raised handlebar, a redesigned fuel tank and a narrower 40mm saddle. The distance between the thighs is reduced appreciably, to the benefit of accessibility: the 1.75 m riders touch the ground on both sides despite identical values ​​for fuel volume (18.8 l) and seat height (easily adjustable from 850 to 870 mm).

Trail - Test Honda CRF1100L Africa Twin 2020: just the excess? - Africa Twin 1100 test page 1: focus on German standards!

The wide handlebars still fall easily between the gloves and provide precise and straightforward control of the high (21 inches) and narrow (90 mm) front wheel. The bike has retained its fabulous balance and instinctive grip, resulting in natural and fluid angle positions. Phew !

The inevitable inertia caused by the "off-road" dimensions of its Tubetype rim can only be seen at low speed or in abrupt changes of direction, via a slight resistance to tilt. But this little disturbing phenomenon is quickly tamed as the Africa Twin is homogeneous and obvious.. 

The CRF1100L remains astonishingly manoeuvrable considering its intimidating height (1395 mm) and its wheelbase of 1575 mm (as in 2019). Its sensational agility is reinforced by its welcome loss of 4 kg: the standard Africa Twin 1100 goes from 230 to 226 kg, far, very far from the 260 kg exceeded by some rivals !

Trail - Test Honda CRF1100L Africa Twin 2020: just the excess? - Africa Twin 1100 test page 1: focus on German standards!

Extremely stable and well cushioned, the Honda supports without flinching the entry into a curve on the brakes and explosive exits of turns. Mass transfers are ideally managed despite its high travel (230 and 220 mm, as in 2019), avoiding the phenomenon of "rocking horse" and offering enormous traction. 

The comfort and efficiency of these "mechanical" elements are remarkable, marvelously combining softness of cushioning and rigorous handling. To be honest: the electronically calibrated suspensions installed as an option on the Africa Twin Adventure Sports do not reach such a level, whatever the setting adopted … The best is not always the friend of the good !

Braking is in tune with this display of qualities, especially at the rear: on the road and on dirt tracks, the power and the very fine dosage summoned by the pedal are irreproachable. A guarantee of comfort also for duo rides.

Up front, the 4-piston radial calipers tighten the 310mm discs vigorously, but the somewhat brutal attack may surprise. Fortunately, the ABS sensitive to the angle "takes care of the grain": this device is impressive in efficiency, including on gravel roads. It even allows strong braking from the front on rolling paths: bluffing !

Trail - Test Honda CRF1100L Africa Twin 2020: just the excess? - Africa Twin 1100 test page 1: focus on German standards!

The only downside at this stage: the bubble, as it was cut off at mid-height, provides protection unworthy of a motorcycle of this caliber, only housing the chin and the bust. Most of the helmet, shoulders and arms remain exposed, while the deflection has curiously become insufficient on the backs of the hands

MNC actually discovers that the handguards are less bulky than in 2019 on this basic CRF1100L: passage through the option box necessary to install the upper deflectors on the fixings provided for this purpose! Same disappointment for its saddle, which also offers reduced comfort because it is narrower by 40 mm. We do not stop progress…

The seat quality of the previous model was correct, it becomes quite average especially on long journeys: the stages of more than 200 km highlight a softness and a perfectible support, which encourage to change position to preserve the gluteal skin. Consolation: this redesigned saddle allows more freedom of movement !

More peps at low and mid-range

One of the main developments of the Africa Twin 2020 is due to its increased displacement, which advantageously strengthens its relaunches. The parallel twin-cylinder stalled at 270 ° renews its appreciable flexibility identically – 1,500 rpm on the first reports without hiccups -, but then delivers more consistency.

Trail - Test Honda CRF1100L Africa Twin 2020: just the excess? - Africa Twin 1100 test page 1: focus on German standards!

Its progress is felt between 2000 and 4000 rev / min, sweeping away one of the rare faults accused of the old version: its relative timidity below 4000 rev / min, especially in loaded duo. Overtaking at 90 km / h in 6th gear – at 3000 rpm – becomes a formality, when the previous one required more frequent use of the selector.

The 5000 rpm mark marks a transition to sustained acceleration up to the 8500 rpm switch (quite brutal). This extremely vigorous thrust brightens up an otherwise fairly linear performance: the Africa Twin 1100 produces more response, but less sensations. Why ? Because the lack of "trunk" of the old one contrasted with its energy in the towers, making it more expressive. 

The Euro5 standards to which the Africa Twin is the first to comply do not call into question its superb sound, always so cavernous at idle. The roaring resonance then coming from its airbox perfectly accompanies this somewhat villainous soundtrack, however muted by the new standards: the volume goes from "78 dB to 73 dB", reveals Honda France. 

In terms of pleasure, the twin achieves an almost flawless: the electronic accelerator is precise if not ultra-soft, while the vibrations are discreet at usual speeds. However, the action of the two balance shafts becomes insufficient from 6000 rpm, where hands and feet are "tickled". But at this speed, the third already brings to 120 km / h! Little annoying, so.

All-terrain skills preserved

Since its return in 2016, the Africa Twin has demonstrated its exceptional versatility on all terrain facing "maxi" for which all-terrain is limited to a climb up the gravel driveway of a second home. Good news: the novelty has not lost anything in off-road, as MNC has seen with a standard Africa twin fitted with TK80 studded tires. !

Trail - Test Honda CRF1100L Africa Twin 2020: just the excess? - Africa Twin 1100 test page 1: focus on German standards!

The slender, almost feline line of this remarkably finished motorcycle is not just a vague evocation of its rally-raid roots: the Honda lives up to its name and its status as a benchmark for large-displacement engines. off the beaten track.

Its 45 mm adjustable preload fork absorbs the worst bleeds with mastery, while its single-shock preload and adjustable rebound does not tail off when landing a jump. The directional precision and clearance capabilities of the 21-inch wheel are extremely high, as is its 250mm ground clearance..

The bike steers naturally in an upright position, with the knees properly placed against the tank and the hands placed at the correct height on the handlebars. Set in "Off-road" mode, the Africa Twin presents a smoother response, better suited to the exercise of the TT: managing the drifts is easier despite too high performance in absolute terms for off-road !

Traction control is a valuable ally in this: this responsive and convincing device provides a life-saving safety net when needed. But beware: this "Off-road" mode is deliberately not very intrusive, even if it retains a minimum of front-to-rear ABS and traction control. Bikers who are less sure of themselves will rather opt for the "Gravel" mode, which is more secure..

Trail - Test Honda CRF1100L Africa Twin 2020: just the excess? - Africa Twin 1100 test page 1: focus on German standards!

Enlightened amateurs will be tempted to disconnect all the assistance, manipulation not easy to achieve from the new dashboard: we get lost in the sub-menus, the fault of navigation a little complex. Some functions are also accessible in a tactile manner, others go through the left stalk overloaded with buttons: this is particularly the case for cutting the traction control and ABS..

Without its "filters", the Africa Twin 1100 logically requires more experience and attention, without however being elitist. Its successful balance and the precise control offered by all its controls are the allies of committed driving: its only limits come from its excessive weight off-road, which tends to embark in critical phases..

Also beware of the sometimes unnatural reactions of its optional double clutch, which loses ground when the bike is seriously abused off-road. Sometimes unwelcome gear changes and especially complete disengagement after a generous skid triggered on the rear brake are to be expected: creepy to suddenly lose all engine braking, especially at the bottom of this dirt downhill on slopes !

Trail - Test Honda CRF1100L Africa Twin 2020: just the excess? - Africa Twin 1100 test page 1: focus on German standards!

In the context of less committed driving, the DCT, on the other hand, offers incomparable flexibility of use: it is even very practical to be able to up and down the gears as needed from the triggers on the left hand, when the need arises. made felt. MNC, on the other hand, did not feel the benefits of the arrival of the inertia unit on the timing of gear changes: automated gear management still sometimes triggers downshifts at inopportune times, especially on the angle at the entry of turn…  

As in our 2018 test, MNC preferred the double-acting shifter option which allows up and down gears without disengaging. Comfortable and responsive from low revs, it leaves more control: the double clutch, as astonishing as it is, is not – yet? – able to anticipate events and adapt their report accordingly like the rider does !

Verdict: successful evolution, but …

The Africa Twin 1100 does better than its predecessor in several key areas: its engine is more efficient, its chassis is evolving in the right direction – well done for the loss of 4 kg! – and technology is coming on board to meet market demands. Because it is a reality: the "trail runners" are fond of it, no offense to some !

Trail - Test Honda CRF1100L Africa Twin 2020: just the excess? - Africa Twin 1100 test page 1: focus on German standards!

"Many of our customers claimed the regulator, it was really an element that was missing", assures us Fabrice Recoque, director of the motorcycle division of Honda France, who even tells us that "55%" of pre-orders of Africa Twin Adventure Sports to date relate to models equipped with Showa piloted suspensions !

This means that more than one in two buyers opted for the highest level of sophistication straight away, without any prior guarantee of the interest of this electronically managed amortization. However, MNC estimates precisely the superior "mechanical" suspensions. Ironic, no ?!

Regarding the standard Africa Twin tested here – Adventure Sports to come: stay tuned! -, Le Journal moto du Net remains wary of the turn taken by its developments: how to justify the loss of its practical equipment (grab handles, luggage racks, suitcase racks) even though this motorcycle is increasing by € 900 ?

And why was the use of this too short bubble so essential? An adjustable windshield would have easily satisfied all the requirements: placed flush with the instrumentation in off-road and raised about ten centimeters to face the road! Finally, what do we do with the philosophy of accessibility and simplicity advocated by Honda at the release of the CRF1000F in ?

  • MNC Africa Twin 2016 test : 

So many questions remained unanswered during this launch, where everything was done to direct us to Adventure Sports: the standard Africa Twin was only tested very briefly and with all-terrain tires (TK80), so that we drove for a long time on the Adv. Sports which will be – as if by chance – the first available in concession !

Trail - Test Honda CRF1100L Africa Twin 2020: just the excess? - Africa Twin 1100 test page 1: focus on German standards!

That says a lot about the ambitions of Honda, which takes the risk of chasing the famous "GS" on its own ground while leaving out some of the fans of the standard Africa Twin. Enough to do the business of manufacturers who do the opposite, like Yamaha with its Ténéré 700 ?!

  • MNC test :
  • Interview Fabrice Recoque (Honda France) :

Because nothing says that many "Gehessists" become "Africa-Twin-ists": the German is such an icon that for some it embodies an absolute to achieve in the life of a biker, even a mark of success social. Not sure that the Honda, despite all its qualities, will one day reach this prestigious rank…

  • All the details of our test with our photos captioned in

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