There are three purposes for which you could need a motorcycle; four if you count track riding. The first three are to commute, to travel with, or to go the places where cars can’t. I leave track riding out because, corner splicing is something that requires a precision machine, and there are plenty of machines on the market today that can splice corners with demonic accuracy, the Ducati Panigale or the Triumph Daytona for example. The catch being while most of these machines are extremely good at what they do, they are often hideously impractical and quite delicate to boot. The point is it’s nice to own a superbike and it makes perfect sense for a weekend biker. And I mean no derogation when I say that, the fact is that I’m a leisure biker at best. I enjoy riding very much, and if it was always cool and dry, I would probably ride every day. But it isn’t, so I don’t. The fact is there are some of us (read: lunatics) who will ride their motorcycle to work every day because they enjoy riding their bike. I know a few looney bins who ride their superbikes to work too and honestly given the Indian condition (both roads, traffic and weather) it must be a harrowing experience.
Which brings me to the Honda CRF1000L, the Africa Twin. First off, yes, it’s an adventure tourer, yes. It has a 1000cc engine and an automatic gearbox. It makes a respectable 94 hp and 98 Nm of torque. And yes I know the R1 make 210hp, but hear me out! THe Africa Twin with its DCT gearbox will hit a 100 kmph in 3 seconds. Which is why I would like to propose at this point that; if want to buy a litre class motorcycle that you can ride every day, even on rough or no road conditions, the Africa Twin is the bike for you, here are three reasons why I think that is:
No-Clutch makes both Traffic and Touring a breeze: Riding a big bike through traffic can be exhausting. Manipulating the clutch in first gear can get annoying. The DCT on the Africa twin in telepathic, it can stroll through traffic without even the slightest jerk. To make that even easier, there are 88 different riders modes that you can set up so the gearbox and engine match your riding style. It may not sound like a lot but if you have ridden a big-bike in traffic you’ll know how strenuous it really is! The Africa Twin is just breezy. This comes in handy for long rides too, allowing you to much more miles (although we’ll get to that later).
It’s great on the highway: I mean sure there are better highway motorcycles, if speed and agility are not your things, you could have a Harley or an Indian. But the Africa Twin’s DCT gearbox paired with the brilliant 1000cc motor can chug along at triple digit speeds with very little to report in terms of windblast. Meaning that if you're the touring sort you could do 500kms without even having to get off the bike. Although we will wait to actually do the Ironbutt on the Twin.
It can get through almost anything: It's based on a Dakar Rally bike (the CRF450), so obstacles are disposed of almost as easily as they appear. The on-off road tyres work both when you're leaning in and out on corners and that’s really notable. Okay, flat out on dirt I still think the Tiger might be the more capable machine, but that doesn’t mean the Twin DCT will not go through it with just as much ease.
It is not without flaws though, the Africa Twin like a strong charactered being has its own set of flaws. Here are our top three reasons NOT to buy an Africa Twin in India:
It’s got tubed tyres: Now Honda claims that tubed tyres are better for riding off-road and this is true. But if all you wanted to do with the motorcycles is a ride in the dirt, why would you buy a twelve lakh rupee Africa Twin. You’d have something more purpose built for the cause, I mean the Africa Twin is great off-road but it is a 1000cc motorcycle at the end of the day, it’s both expensive and heavy. Yes, spoked rims are easier to repair, but if you have dismount the wheel every time you get a flat, is just too much to bear for really very little to gain.
It's a complex machine: Well duh, it’s a twelve lakh rupee automatic Adventure Tourer. But seriously between the rider modes, the DCT and the complicated electronics. It can be a bit of a worry in the unlikely event that you do get yourself stuck somewhere. Not that the Africa Twin is delicate, it's been built to survive hell. But the thing about uncertain conditions is that they are uncertain, and if you crash and break something you can’t fix, somewhere you’re not likely to find help. It’s going to be a problem.
It's an automatic: And yes I know, that’s what I said when earlier as a reason to buy one, but there is some part of the biker in me that considers Honda’s perfect-perfect DCT gearbox blasphemous. I don’t blame the gearbox, but I do know that there are a lot more people who will agree with me.