The Honda Africa Twin is my dream bike. The original was designed to withstand thousands of miles of desert riding; the holy grail of adventure riding. The new one had much to live up to.
After a year of whisperings, seeing a red and black Africa Twin parked in front of the Exeter showroom made my neck hair bristle. I pulled in, parked up and hopped on. It was taller than my Triumph, but lighter. I booked a test ride for the following weekend.
The new Twin is as beautiful as the original but a couple of things played on my mind. It was tall; tip toe on the tarmac tall. The demonstrator model had the DSC transmission. A 1000cc twist and go? I won’t lie, it didn’t sit well with me.
Test day came. Some new habits needed to be observed. In place of the clutch there is a park brake – under no circumstances should this be pulled while riding. Thankfully it was too far away for any accidents. Select Drive or Sport 1, 2 or 3 before setting off, then swap between automatic and manual as you fancy while on the move. In manual, change up and down using a traditional gear lever on the left foot or the tiptronic shift on the left thumb. Don’t decelerate while changing gear.
I set off in Sport 2 (recommended by the Honda chap) and manual for familiarity. By the first roundabout, I was smitten. Cornering is snug, gear change is seamless, it’s manoeuvrable despite its size. And it’s quick.
A gentle ride along the twists and turns of the Devon coast road to Torquay and back and I parked back at the showroom giggling to myself. It’s going to have to wait a year, but I think I have found my next bike.