This is more than evident when riding on the gravel with the Honda’s throttle pinned. And here’s the thing, I was testing the third variation of the new Africa Twin - that is the automatic (DCT) version, complete with all the trimmings, like ABS and traction control - and so this one is the heaviest of the three variants, a full 242kg when wet, yet still it pulled like a chav’s Pitbull terrier.
Sure, if you left it to the auto-box to do its thang it would do a nanny job of changing up early and bogging the revs. But Honda, showing some wisdom, also fitted the bike with a manual paddle-shift system for swapping gears, finger operated on the left handlebar. Use your index finger to change up, thumb to change down. So you could override the auto - and I guess we’re talking semi-automatic shifting here, up and down - and let the parallel twin howl. And does it howl? Gloriously… right up to 10,000rpm or so. It’s feisty and flippin’ fast.
And an auto... Like we wanted that, eh? But actually it kind of works. I tried this system on the Crosstourer and honestly I’d sooner take to driving a car than repeat that experience. But this system on the Africa Twin is a serious barrel of laughs. I’ve read stuff from riders saying how they’ve struggled to adapt to the auto set-ups, that they were reaching for the gear lever, the clutch lever etc but on the Africa Twin I never once did either, it feels intuitive right from the off.
I should add there are evidently still six ratios in this auto-box, it’s not one of those constantly variable set-ups as we know from scooters, so the auto aspect is the change-mechanism and very clever it must be too (if we had time to explain we would). There are incidentally two DCT modes, ‘D’ for economy (early up-shifts we dare say) and ‘S’ for ‘sport performance’. I have to admit I was being pretty brutal with the poor Africa Twin so didn’t fully investigate the D mode but given it’ll allow you to hit 61.6mpg (say Honda) if you take it easy then you can see it has its uses.
All said, in full auto mode the DCT set-up made for a splendidly serene cruise, you could just glide along super-quiet, watching the scenery drift by. Then when the wind got up your tail, you could take off like an F-15. The auto still wouldn’t be my first choice as I’d prefer to run without the 14kg weight penalty it comes with, but for some this will be a serious and worthwhile option. Oh yes, and it makes for almost foolproof feet-up full-lock turn capability, as it’ll never stall.