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RODE ISLAND RED | Bike Tests | In this issue

Hours and hours of consecutive off road seat time went into the making of this test. The Honda Africa Twin made it easy

Now this was a motorcycle launch. We were in the mobile-service-devoid open spaces of Australia’s red centre. At that point coronavirus was ‘a little bit of a thing’, though we arrived back into phone reception some days later to find it a full blown crisis. We had smashed out nearly 2000km in those three days, much of it off road, watched each other tip the things over in impossible mud, eaten more flies than would satisfy our minimum daily protein intake and marvelled at Honda’s new Africa Twin’s ability to remain stable over the most average of track conditions.

Leading the charge was Honda 500GP legend Daryl Beattie (just don’t say that to his face, he is a humble man, who detests any accolades) and his crew of hard-working, mile-munching Daryl Beattie Adventure Tours mates. Beattie’s idea of ‘just up the road a bit’ is 400km, and that’s just the breakfast run. He says that a couple of times a day and, at one point, I had to wonder exactly what it is Dazza is riding away from. He just loves seat time on a bike. For days.

Luckily for us, being stuck with the ‘ride from sun up to sun down, camp and repeat’ mentality, we were at least on the right bikes. All four variations the same, but different. The base-model 2020 CRF1100L Africa Twin ($19,999 plus on-road costs) is the smallest and the lightest. It has an 18.8L tank, a low fixed screen and is claimed to be four kilos lighter than the previous model. The Adventure Sports option ($23,499 plus on-roads) is easily spotted with its 24.8L tank, adjustable screen and tubeless-friendly rims. It’s a bigger looking unit than the base model and more in line with the more traditional adventure bike, size-wise, such as BMW’s R 1250 GS and Yamaha’s Super Ténéré.

The other two ‘versions’ add either electronic suspension (ES) or Honda’s dual-clutch transmission (DCT) to the Adventure Sport model. The ES version will set you back $26,499 plus on-roads and if you also want DCT, that’ll cost you another grand.

And with 2000 arduous kays under our belts, what problems did we have with the bikes? What fell off, etc? Nothing. Not even a loose mirror. We just lubed the chains, checked bolts and motored on. And on. And on.

It was a big call to put these bikes through this punishment on a press launch, but Honda was onto something when it charged Dazza with taking them, and we city-bound writers, into the Outback and letting us loose.

Check out the full story in Vol 69 No 21 on sale now