Ollie Rooke gets to grips with the Africa twin at the Honda Adventure Centre and discovers just how capable it is on the trails
While I’m firmly of the belief that you don’t need to ride off-road to have an adventure, I have to admit that there are few things that get my heart rate going more than sinking a set of knobblies into the rough stuff.
The second I turn off the tarmac, I feel my pulse quicken, the adrenalin starts to flow, and a grin stretches across my face. So, getting the chance to ride an Africa Twin off-road over two days at the Honda Adventure Centre was my idea of heaven.
Upon arrival, I parked up my long-termer Africa Twin and swapped it for one of the adventure centre’s bikes. They were identical apart from the fact I was looking over a tiny stubby screen rather than the large touring screen on my machine. I was ready to improve my own skills and get a better understanding of just how capable the Africa Twin is off-road. And boy, did it impress.
It’s remarkable how light the big bike feels when it gets moving. Sure, the 226kg weight (wet) is noticeable when things get squirmy, but keep the Honda upright and moving forwards, and it feels like a much lighter bike, while also offering stability and sure-footedness in mud, gravel, and dirt.
The seven-stage traction control, Off-Road ABS (which can be fully switched off), and adjustable power and engine braking modes meant it was easy to rein in the 101bhp as I got to grips with the terrain. Then, as my confidence increased, I gradually turned each setting down to play with a little more of the power on offer.
However, if you turn the ignition off, the ABS and wheelie control reset on your next start up.
This meant that, when I stopped to take photos of my riding buddies, I had to wait for the eternally long loading screen (warning me that motorcycling can be dangerous) to clear, then turn off the ABS, confirm that I did indeed want to turn ABS off, and finally switch off wheelie control.
This is important because with wheelie control turned on, the bike’s onboard computer restricts power to the back wheel and stopped one of the riders on the course making their way up steeper climbs. In the future, perhaps Honda could ensure wheelie control is disabled in the Off-Road rider modes or when Off-Road ABS is selected.
Aside from that, the Africa Twin behaved impeccably. As a part-time off-roader, I was so impressed by how confidence-inspiring it was on the trails. It never faltered, never stalled on me, and conquered every obstacle in its path with a dogged determination, no matter the terrain.
For my riding needs, it ticks every box, and if I had to choose one bike that would take me on tour, on Sunday morning blasts, and on green lane adventures, I’d choose the Africa Twin in a heartbeat.