Best On-Off-Road/Adventure Motorcycle of the Year Winner: Honda Africa Twin
We had to wait a few years for Honda to get on-board with the current Adventure-Touring trend, but when Big Red finally did, it did with the most iconic of Honda off-roaders. The Africa Twin namesake is a lot to live up to, but the latest edition does so, not by being a hardcore Dakar performer, but by being one the most balanced, all-around big-bore ADV bikes on the market.
The 21-inch front wheel speaks volumes about the Africa Twin’s off-road intentions. This choice of wheel size has the Africa Twin in the company of other OEM’s most off-roady off-road bikes: BMW F800GS Adventure and R1200GS-A, KTM 1190 Adventure R, Triumph Tiger 800XCx. With a curb weight of 525 pounds, the Africa Twin is also in the same wet weight range of these bikes.
The new 270-degree parallel-Twin powering the Africa Twin is amazingly smooth, and handlebar vibes aren’t an issue over long distances on paved two-laners. It’s 270-degree crank emits an amazingly burly exhaust note for a parallel-Twin from Honda. With only 86 hp at 7600 rpm and 67 lb-ft at 5900 rpm, the motor produces enough linear power to keep things exciting in the dirt but can only be considered sufficient for pavement riding – especially if you’re wanting to pile on hard saddlebags with clothing and a significant other.
The 2016 Africa Twin is the first model to feature Honda’s next-gen Dual Clutch Transmission, and the only ADV bike in the world equipped with such technology. This is a significant achievement not for the sake of new technology, but because the technology works very well.
At $12,999 ($13,699 with DCT) the Africa Twin is reasonably priced, while its 525-pound wet weight makes it one of the lightest liter-sized adventure bike on the market. The seating position is comfortable as well as adjustable between 33.46 in. and 34.25 in., with plenty of legroom between the seat and footpeg. The non-adjustable windscreen creates a pocket of still air that seems larger than the windscreen itself. We believe the new Africa Twin will find itself with a loyal following among ADV bike enthusiasts.
MO‘s Editorial Director Sean Alexander attended the launch of the Ducati Multistrada Enduro and claims it to be worthy of winning this category, but the bike remains untested by the staff, and we cannot award it a MOBO based on one man’s opinion.
Honorable Mention: KTM Super Adventure
Last year’s On-Off-Road/Adventure winner returns this year as runner-up. Reason for the change is simply going with the Honda because of its lighter weight, more affordable pricing, and its less-is-more persona. Another way of looking at it is the Honda is a great weekend warrior that’d make for an okay tourer, while the KTM is an awesome go anywhere tourer that makes for an okay weekender machine. This year we went with the former.
When we tested the Super Adventure last year in our 2015 Ultimate Sports-Adventure-Touring Shootout against eight of its peers in an epic six-day journey that included thousands of miles of street riding as well as numerous hours spent riding off the pavement, I felt vindicated of any questionable reasoning for the SA winning the 2015 award. My opinion of the Super Adventure’s all-around performance from my initial First Ride Review was substantiated by its overall scores in the Scorecard, while it easily bested the others and came out the winner in my Scorecard column.
With the 1290 Super Adventure, Europe’s largest motorcycle manufacturer is flexing its technological muscle. The few gripes we had with the 1190 Adventure in our Battle Of The Adventures, such as no cruise control, no heated grips or heated seat, needing a more easily adjustable windscreen, have all been addressed with the 1290 model, and then some. The most important technology being the bike’s semi-active suspension, which allows long-travel adventure bikes to be plush or sporty as required in different environments. It also includes Cornering ABS, which is our choice for Best Technology in 2016.
The 1290 Super Adventure clearly straddles both the on- and off-road realms better than a lot of the more streetable ADV bikes. The S-Adventure offers all-day comfort, incredible range, awesome engine power, excellent on- and off-road handling, better-than-most saddlebags, and an electronics package that’s truly beneficial to both rider and passenger. It’s expensive, but it offers the broadest range of features and benefits in its class.
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