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Dakar racer reviews Honda Africa Twin

Laura Csortan and Christophe Barriere-Varju in "Riding Morocco: Chasing the Dakar” on TV
Christophe riding the Africa Twin in Africa

Four-time Dakar racer Christophe Barriere-Varju has road tested the Honda CRF1000L Africa Twin in the toughest of conditions in Morocco and declared “anyone car ride that bike, cruising or fast”.

Christophe rode the bike with off-road novice and Australian fashion model Laura Csortan for a National Geographic Channel show, “Riding Morocco: Chasing the Dakar”, which will be broadcast in Australia on June 17 at 10.30pm and June 18 at 8.30pm.

Their trip in February this year took them along part of the original Dakar Rally route and included the rugged Atlas Mountains, rocky valleys and gigantic Sahara Desert dunes.

Christophe rode the manual version and Laura rode the dual-clutch transmission model, however, he also had a play on the DCT automatic.

“The automatic is super easy and you have to look at the display to notice the bike actually changed gear, it’s that smooth,” says Christophe whose 2010 Dakar Rally race was immortalised in the feature-length film, Dream Racer.

“You can also override it and change the gears via two triggers (up/down). Basically you have a button to switch from Neutral to Drive or Sport. Obviously there is no shift lever or clutch lever anymore.”

He is also a fan of the ABS which you can turn off at the rear. That allows the rider to lock the back wheel to turn the bike for a corner without worrying that the front will lock and tuck underneath the rider.

Both bikes also have three levels of traction control.

“It would be very useful on a very slippery surface for less-experienced riders, making the bike a breeze to ride,” he says.

Laura Csortan and Christophe Barriere-Varju in "Riding Morocco: Chasing the Dakar” on TV
Christophe with Mr Kudo from Honda Japan, the man who developed the new 1000cc Honda Africa Twin.

Both Christophe and Laura are about 176cm (5’7”) tall, but Christophe says the Africa Twin is “not that high and you have the option to lower the seat by 20mm.”

The Honda has a variable seat height (850/870mm) which is the same as the BMW R 1200 GS.

“The seating position is typical Honda; all natural and you feel comfortable instantly.  From a riding perspective I rode the bikes with a full fuel tank and did not feel it being top heavy,” he says.

The Honda is the lightest of the big-bore adventure bikes (228kg standard, 232kg ABS and 242kg DCT/ABS) with the 18.8-litre tank fully fuelled.

“The centre of gravity is very low and it feels lighter than my bike which is actually lighter in weight. The bike is well balanced so when you hit dips neither the front or the rear kick up.”

The Africa Twin is powered by a new 998cc parallel twin with 69kW and 97Nm.

“The power feels less than a KTM 690 but the wheel seems to get more traction and push you forward in a much smoother, which means you can ride longer faster, and without power surprises to have to control,” he says.

“The engine is vibration free, very smooth and the power is linear.”

Christophe says the Showa forks and ProLink shock are well balanced.

“The bike has no problem switching from on-road to off-road,” he says.

“Overall, I’m quite impressed with the 1000cc Africa Twin. Anybody can ride that bike cruising or fast.” Laura Csortan and Christophe Barriere-Varju in "Riding Morocco: Chasing the Dakar” on TV Africa Twin


Africa Twin $15,499
Africa Twin ABS $16,999
Africa Twin DCT/ABS $17,999
Warranty 24 months
Type Liquid-cooled 4-stroke 4 valve-per-cylinder parallel twin with 270° crank and uni-cam
Displacement 998cm3
Bore & Stroke 92.0 x 75.1mm
Power 70kW/7,500rpm (95/1/EC)
Torque 98Nm/6,000rpm (95/1/EC)
Fuel tank 18.8 litres
Economy MT: 3.7L/100km (61.3mpg)
DCT: 3.8L/100km (61.6mpg)
Clutch MT: Wet, multiplate with coil springs, Aluminium Cam Assist and Slipper clutch

DCT: 2 Wet multiple clutches with coil springs

Transmission Constant mesh 6-speed MT / 6-speed DCT
Final Drive O-ring sealed chain
Honda Selectable Torque Control System (HSTC) * HSTC 3-levels +  Switch Off (*ABS & DCT models only, not on STD model)
Type Steel semi-double cradle type with steel rear subframe
Dimensions (L,W,H) 2335 x 875 x 1,475mm (STD), 2,335 x 930 x 1475mm (ABS/DCT)
Wheelbase 1575mm
Seat 870/850mm
Clearance 250mm
Dry Weight 208kg (STD), 212kg (ABS), 222kg (DCT)
Kerb Weight 228kg (STD), 232kg (ABS), 242kg (DCT)
Turning Radius 2.6m
Front Showa 45mm cartridge-type inverted telescopic fork with dial-style preload adjuster and DF adjustment, 230mm stroke.
Rear Monoblock cast aluminium swing arm with Pro-Link with gas-charged damper, hydraulic dial-style preload adjuster and rebound damping adjustment, 220 mm rear wheel travel.
Wheels Front Wire spoke with aluminium rim
Wheels Rear Wire spoke with aluminium rim
Rim Size Front 21 x 2.15
Rim Size Rear 18 x 4.00
Tyres Front 90/90-21 tube type
Tyres Rear 150/70-18 tube type
ABS system type ABS* 2-Channel with rear ABS off switch (* ABS & DCT models only, not on STD model)
Front 310mm dual wave floating disc with aluminium hub and radial fit 4-piston calipers and sintered metal pads
Rear 256mm wave disc with 1-piston caliper and sintered metal pads. Also Lever-Lock Type Parking Brake System on DCT model with additional slide type 1-piston caliper
Instruments Rally style negative LCD instrument display including: Speedometer, Tachometer, Fuel, Gear position, *ABS, *HSTC, Odometer, Trip and Clock

*denotes ABS/DCT type

Headlight Dual LED (1 High/1 Low) with LED
Taillight LED
Indicators STD: Bulb type
ABS/DCT: LED type. Both with Amber Position Light function (APL)