A fling with an Africa Twin Adventure Sports

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A fling with an Africa Twin Adventure Sports

Postby Kwacky » 08 Sep 2018, 19:24

Today I got my chance to swing a leg over the new 2018 Honda Africa Twin Adventure Sport DTS. Quite a mouthful. Or the ATAS DTS for short.

Acutally I'm lying. You don't swing your leg over this bike. You stand on the peg and jump on, or put your knee on the seat and do a side swipe with your leg, or you show off your Taekwondo skills and side kick your leg over it.

This beast is tall

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Before I was given the chance to smash my shin against the metal rear grab rail Rich showed me the controls. As this is the DCT model there's no clutch. The lever on the left side is a handbrake. I was warned not to touch the handbrake when you're moving as you;ll bin it.

I was also warned not to blip the throttle when you're at the lights, as you'll end up in the side of a white van.

And to be gentle with the throttle when you pull away.

And to forget that your left foot is there.

Then you're shown the controls, which includes the buttons for gravel riding, turning off the rear ABS, the semi automatic gear selector paddles, the neutral switch, the drive switch, the mode switches, the engine braking selections, the hand heater levels, traction control levels, the horn, the indicators and load more I had forgotten because by now I was too scared to even touch the throttle for fear of binning it.

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look at all those buttons and controls

Did I mention the height? The seat had been lowered to its lowest setting. Honda do a lower seat as an option. I'm just under 6 foot and I struggled to get on the bike. I'm sure there's a knack to it.

Once on I managed to swing the bike to my right foot, flick the side stand up and gentle pull away. This bike is gentle on the throttle and the fly by wire gives an instant reply.

It is weird not having a clutch, especially when you come to a stop as your instinct is to grap the lever. On the other hand, or foot, a lack of a gear lever was soon forgotten.

Once on the move the height gives you an excellent view around. The screen is probably too tall for this bike, it causes a bit of turbulence. I reckon a short sports screen would be much better suited. The bars are wide giving you very good control, which the tall 21 inch front wheel mops up. This handles well with the plush suspension adding more than a supportive role to your steering requirements.

Some people have criticised this bike for having harsh suspension but it suits me. I like feedback through the bars and seat and this bike gives.

The brakes slow the big ATAS without being harsh or suggesting that you're going to get into trouble. For the opening few minutes you expect the bike to stall when you're braking, but it doesn't. The DTS is very well programmed.

Talking of which, it's weird hearing a bike making gear changes for you when all you're doing is twisting the throttle.

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The engine is a big parallel twin kicking out less than 100bhp, but it doesn't seem like it. The fuelling is really good and the engine sings when you're gassing it and rewards you with a nice chorus when you're dropping the knots. In fact, I'll stick my neck out and say from the pilot's seat this sounds better than the 1090 from KTM

This is old school Honda. Not the tech, but the build quality, design and ergonomics. The paintwork is well planned and implemented with an obvious depth to it. The seat is flat, firm and wide, but comfortable. The controls (all of them) are easy to flick a digit on and the whole bike seems well put together.

There have been complaints about the spokes. I saw a 2016 model with the issue. It's not really a problem, the spokes have lost some off the galvanising. Honda have gone stainless for 2018.

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I took the bike on the motorway, A roads, urban backstreets and some tarmac covered single track roads. It goes where you want as quickly as you can. I got an indicated 120 out of it then backed off. If you wind open the throttle it goes sporty and hammers through the rev range with that lovely background note.

I parked up to take some photos. As you can see, it was at a slight slope, which made it a doddle to get back on, but hard work to get off the side stand.

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I didn't have too long on the bike which meant I didn't get used to the height and weight. So I was cautious at slow speeds, I think you need to be more confident to hustle this bike, I was offered another hour on the bike, but I had to get back home. I can go back any time I want to for more time with the ATAS.

So the big question - would I have one?

The DCT is great but it's not for me. I felt a bit of a spare part on the bike. Rich at Sutton Honda told me that they sell an even split. Like me he appreciates the DCT but prefers the manual.

I love the looks, the build quality, the features and the engine. The height I could get used to. Rich and I crunched some numbers and as always the sticking point is the high mileage on my Versys, although he did acknowledge it's in excellent condition. The offer on the table is appealing.

It would make an excellent all year round bike. The rider modes and the ability to change the ABS, traction control and engine braking means you can programme it so it's all set up just the way you like it.

it would also make for an excellent tourer. It's comfortable, tall, economical and got a 24.5l tank. This thing can munch continents, on or off the road.

But here's the "but". It's a £12k bike. It's almost too good to replace the Versys as an every day ride to and from work. The little 650 does what I want and does it well. It's been through a winter and I know now what I need to do to the Kwak to make sure come spring it doesn't look like it's been pulled out of a World War 1 battle site.

I have no idea how the ATAS would look after a British winter.

Likewise as it's a £12k bike it's a bit of a expensive toy to leave in the garage for most of the year.

The compromise could be keeping the Versys as a winter hack while the salt is out and use the ATAS once the road salt has been washed away, but that seems a bit gluttonous to me.

And I would still want a sports orientated bike for weekend blasts and the occasional track day.
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Re: A fling with an Africa Twin Adventure Sports

Postby duke63 » 08 Sep 2018, 20:48

Its an impressive looking machine and seems from the photos to have old skool Honda build quality.

I'm told by an ex Honda motorcycles employee that Honda design and planning is driven by Honda America which is why sportsbikes are low on the agenda and the likes of this are high. No doubt that accounts for the DCT box too.

My previous Multi was taller than my DVT version and i must confess that the height to the floor could be a concern now and again ( not on the DVT though). I do like sitting upright through and the view of the road ahead on bikes like this, both for safety and pressing on, does make things easier.

Nice bike.
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Re: A fling with an Africa Twin Adventure Sports

Postby Deegee » 08 Sep 2018, 21:19

One of the few bikes that would entice me into buying Honda. :?

Good write up Kwacky, have you ever tested the Explorer?
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Re: A fling with an Africa Twin Adventure Sports

Postby Kwacky » 08 Sep 2018, 21:25

Cheers Dee

No, I've not been on any of the Tigers apart from the 800s
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Re: A fling with an Africa Twin Adventure Sports

Postby D41 » 08 Sep 2018, 23:47

It's a nice looking bike to be sure, but the color-scheme, general purpose of the bike, etc....all scream BMW to me.

Not that that's a bad thing, I suppose....I just find it a bit odd.
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Re: A fling with an Africa Twin Adventure Sports

Postby StMarks » 09 Sep 2018, 08:05

Cracking write up Kwacky.
The colour scheme (despite echoing classic Honda) somehow seems to make me think BMW.???

Honda AT's have always been good solid bikes IMHO, nice to see they still retain that feel.
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Re: A fling with an Africa Twin Adventure Sports

Postby C00kiemonster » 09 Sep 2018, 10:29

I like the look of that and i'm not an adventure bike fan.

You know it will be bulletproof and if i was in the market for an easy to ride do it all bike that would defo be on the list.

It's not bad for £12k considering the technology and build imo.
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Re: A fling with an Africa Twin Adventure Sports

Postby Kwacky » 09 Sep 2018, 11:47

I'm going to check my finances after the move. I'm half tempted to get one as a forever bike. The Versys owes me nothing and it seems a shame to get rid of it and use another bike for commuting when the Versys is spot on for it.

Versys 650
Africa Twin Sport
+Nearly new sports or naked sports

That's a dream line up.
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Re: A fling with an Africa Twin Adventure Sports

Postby R1ckster » 09 Sep 2018, 12:59

Kwacky wrote:I'm going to check my finances after the move. I'm half tempted to get one as a forever bike. The Versys owes me nothing and it seems a shame to get rid of it and use another bike for commuting when the Versys is spot on for it.

Versys 650
Africa Twin Sport
+Nearly new sports or naked sports

That's a dream line up.
Excellent review. And know what you mean. I was impressed by the DCT and personally would have signed up there and then. But after a few days of thinking over it. Possibly I'd most likely get the standard non DCT version. As I would like to easily change the clutch plates and cables myself when worn. Or if dropped on a trip I'd be scared of screwing up the switchgear and potentially render my gearbox useless. Or drown the bike in the dirt like I nearly did my 800XC and fear electrics getting drown and again would render my outing dead in the water. Maybe I'm over thinking it. But have since googled water and switch gear being affected causing random gear changes sometimes dangerous.. albeit rectified by Honda when taken in. Just points to think about. However still a tough decision as I did love the ease of the DCT for most my usage. 20km a year.

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Re: A fling with an Africa Twin Adventure Sports

Postby Kwacky » 10 Sep 2018, 09:10

Given the time you own a bike and what it's used for I think a manual version would be more sensible for you.

I saw one video from the US were he smashes it and it lands and hits a tree root which basically ends the bike there and then. If you do get one and take it off road, make sure you get some engine cover protectors for it.
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Re: A fling with an Africa Twin Adventure Sports

Postby R1ckster » 10 Sep 2018, 10:18

Kwacky wrote:Given the time you own a bike and what it's used for I think a manual version would be more sensible for you.

I saw one video from the US were he smashes it and it lands and hits a tree root which basically ends the bike there and then. If you do get one and take it off road, make sure you get some engine cover protectors for it.
Thanks mate. Yeah I second your opinion. It was a nice play. But practically speaking for my use and long ownership like you say a manual version would be the one. Got suckered in to the "novelty" of the new thing. But a week thinking about It. Something felt uncomfortable. Anyway have a few house upgrades first. But am going to 're visit the Africa Twin AS again.. So far that's my next bike.

Not that the 800XC or XCA isn't a contender. Just want something different. So far the 800XC has been my best bike. (Not my most loved...that's the R1) but the 800XC is awesome tried and tested all round over 4 years and vouch for it 100%. And would have another anytime

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Re: A fling with an Africa Twin Adventure Sports

Postby Kwacky » 10 Sep 2018, 10:21

I'm half tempted to take the standard Africa Twin version (not the Adventure) out for a test ride to compare the two.
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Re: A fling with an Africa Twin Adventure Sports

Postby R1ckster » 10 Sep 2018, 10:27

Kwacky wrote:I'm half tempted to take the standard Africa Twin version (not the Adventure) out for a test ride to compare the two.
Yes that would be a good comparison. I've heard the AS model has a lot firmer suspension in addition to being taller. Possibly you may prefer the standard AT. I'd be after the AS mainly duebto the larger 24L tank. But my ride on the AT standard but with DCT as you know I enjoyed.

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Re: A fling with an Africa Twin Adventure Sports

Postby C00kiemonster » 10 Sep 2018, 10:31

The range must be massive with a 24L tank. Car type ranges i guess..
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Re: A fling with an Africa Twin Adventure Sports

Postby Kwacky » 10 Sep 2018, 10:38

When I was pootling along on A roads the screen was showing between 75 to 90 mpg. Riders on the forums are all getting at least 60mpg for everyday use

So 300+ miles is easily doable.
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Re: A fling with an Africa Twin Adventure Sports

Postby rocket » 10 Sep 2018, 11:12

Good review. Been toying with the idea of a adventure bike for a trip next year. No were near this budget and it HAS to perform off road and still be easy for a a novice like me.
"80mph" sorry officer I possibly could not have done that I'm no Valentino Rossi.
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Re: A fling with an Africa Twin Adventure Sports

Postby Kwacky » 10 Sep 2018, 11:15

Buy my Versus and put some knobblies on it ;)
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Re: A fling with an Africa Twin Adventure Sports

Postby rocket » 10 Sep 2018, 15:33

Kwacky wrote:Buy my Versus and put some knobblies on it ;)


HAHA ive just bought a bike for the job but its more of a enduro than a adventure as even though the adventure bikes are very capable off road you have to be good to get the most out of them were as this should make it a lot easier off road as my skill levels suck .
"80mph" sorry officer I possibly could not have done that I'm no Valentino Rossi.
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Re: A fling with an Africa Twin Adventure Sports

Postby Kwacky » 11 Sep 2018, 09:13

@BirotarUK got 300 miles from their first tank on the Adventure Sport.
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Re: A fling with an Africa Twin Adventure Sports

Postby R1ckster » 15 Sep 2018, 19:37

Wow 300 miles... That's very useful

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