Saturday, April 22, 2017

Ride Review - 2017 Honda Africa Twin DCT

2017 Honda Africa Twin DCT
Courtesy of Velocity Cycles - Mechanicsburg, Pa
By Jim Bull

It was the bike dreams were made of - at least for a young off road rider from years gone by. Yes it was my dream back in the 1980’s, my buddy Scott and I would sit around and talk about racing the Baja 1000.  

Pa doesn't offer BAJA conditions - but this bike will work great here too.

We would read about the Paris Daker races in the motorcycle pubs and see the big Honda off road bikes that we unfortunate American’s couldn’t get our hands on without the right connections or by moving to Japan or Europe.

Yes we had the XR 650, a great bike by anybody’s standards, but if we could only get our hands on one of those big bore Honda’s we’d definitely go do it. Well too many beers and lots of excuses later unfortunately we never made it to Baja.

Thanks to Velocity Cycle in Mechanicsburg, Pa for making a guys dream come true.

I guess the next best thing would be to wait around a couple of decades and hop on the chance that Velocity Cycles in Mechanicsburg, Pa afforded me in late April.

Yes, finally I got to swing my leg over that big twin cylinder Honda.  Granted a much different version from days gone by and I’d have to say thank goodness. Honda really hit the mark with this masterpiece.

Granted I didn’t get to put it through the paces that a Baja would throw at it, but I’ll tell you this. With the right person on it I believe this bike, even in its stock form would handle today's Baja less some different tires and probably some upgraded lighting to dodge those crazy Mexican roadblocks in the middle of the night.

This bike felt right at home on the back roads of Pa.

Anyhow, the gang at Velocity Cycles mounted me up on Hondas DCT version which in reality means a 6-speed automatic dual-clutch transmission with on and off-road riding modes. Wow what a mouthful. At first I was wishing for the manual clutch 6 speed version but then remembered I did tell Chris a few weeks earlier that I wanted to check out Hondas auto clutch set up.

So off I went to get a handle on this beast. I rode around the block once or twice just to get a feel for the different shifting options. I believe the intro video that I watched talked about 80 different combinations including on and off road torque variations, adding ABS on and off, there’s a gravity sensor that detects lean and you can shift on the fly from manual to auto shifting.  The good news is that I was able to figure it all out pretty quickly for my upcoming 50 mile jaunt. The even better news is if you had this bike to play with for a few days I’m sure you could dial it in perfect for any riding style and skill level.

I felt that in the auto mode on the street that the big parallel twin shifted too quickly but in off road situations it worked just about right for me. Again, the beauty in the setup is if you want to be in a different gear or need more power its right at your fingertips and the engine braking was a welcome addition on those downhill dirt roads.  This bike loved to get into 6th gear fast but again the advantage of the big bore - even in 6th gear whether cruising at 35 or at 65, when you twisted the throttle it was all there and away she went.

The Africa twin was a blast to ride on the twisty mountain roads.

I was able to ride this baby on the highway, on some nice back road asphalt twisties, up and down the other side of the mountain in dirt road conditions then finish off in lots of traffic coming back through Carlisle. I also got to check out the great stopping power of this dream ride when I came around a corner a little too hot on the asphalt and saw dirt road directly ahead. I clamped the big Hondas breaks and came immediately under control with no threat of laying her down. The other feature that Honda nailed was the low center of mass, this bike although tall handled like a dream and was no challenge for my 5’ 8” frame. I didn’t check the weight on purpose prior to my ride because I didn’t want any pre conceived notions on handling and weight distribution.

I'd say buy one of these and spend the next couple years getting lost in our beautiful state.

In actuality the only compliant I have from the whole experience was not taking Chris up on his offer to keep her for the day. I could go on and on about this great ride from Honda but I’d bet you’d get the real story by going online. Check out the website below for more info then head on out to Velocity Cycles and ask Chris or Brandon for your own Africa Twin experience. One caution however, if you don’t want to own one you just better stay home.

Read more about this great bike by: Clicking Here

Learn more about Velocity Cycles by: Clicking Here

MSRP: Starting at $13,999

Engine Type
998cc liquid-cooled 4-stroke Unicam 8-valve Parallel Twin with 270ยบ crank

Bore And Stroke
92mm x 75mm

Wet, multi-plate with coil springs, aluminum cam assist and slipper clutch

6-speed automatic dual-clutch transmission with on and off-road riding mode
Or 6 speed manual clutch

Final Drive
O-ring sealed chain

Torque Control System (HSTC)
HSTC 3-levels + switch-off

Frame Type
Steel semi-double cradle type with high-tensile strength steel rear sub-frame

ABS System
ABS 2-channel with rear ABS off switch

Front Brakes
310mm dual wave floating hydraulic disc with aluminum hub and radial fit 4-piston calipers and sintered metal pads

Rear Brake
256mm wave hydraulic disc with 2-piston caliper and sintered metal pads. Lever-Lock Type Parking Brake System on DCT model.

Front Tire
90/90-R21 tube type

Rear Tire
150/70-R18 tube type

62.0 inches

Seat Height
Standard position 34.3/Low position 33.5 inches

Curb Weight
534 lbs—Includes all standard equipment, required fluids and full tank of fuel—ready to ride

Fuel Capacity
4.97 gallons

Find more great motorcycle and race coverage by: Clicking Here

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