This is an owner’s review of the 2018 CRF1000 Africa Twin with manual transmission after 100k km (65k miles) and 24 months of ownership.
The reason I decided to buy an Africa Twin was a desire for more comfort on poor-quality roads. I wanted to explore the countryside in my area and most backroads are gravel or poorly maintained asphalt – which is even worse. The bike I owned prior to AT was NC750X, which simply is not suited for long offroad rides due to having a road-biased chassis.
Upgrading to the Africa Twin made a lot of sense in my head at the time. As of today I still believe that I made the right decision.
Here is a foto of my Africa Twin when I picked it up from the dealer.
Sorry for the image quality, at the time I did not know that I would have a blog and would make a review of my bike. Also, I didn’t want the bike in black color in the beginning, however, Honda told me that it is eiver black, or I would have to wait 8 weeks to get the red or white color scheme. I decided that I don’t want to wait.
When I got the bike I was super happy. The bike felt so much better in all regards compared to the previous motorcycles that I owned. I managed to break in my new Africa Twin in just 2 days by riding 1000 km (600 miles). Honda mechanics were really surprised when I came to them on Monday morning for the 1000 km service after collecting the bike on Friday evening.
Africa Twin off-road
Because buying Africa Twin was a spontaneous decision, I didn’t order any engine guards and other accessories in advance. As a result, I was afraid of going off-road during the first month while I was waiting for engine guards to come.
I decided to go with Givi Upper and Givi Lower engine guards. They did an amazing job of protecting the bike during inevitable off-road falls.
I was a total noob on unpaved roads and knew very little about offroad motorcycle handling. As soon as I installed proper 50/50 tires I felt like an offroad god compared to the time when I had stock tires installed.
I managed to drop my bike over 100 times in the forest over 2 years of ownership. Eventually, I added SW Moteck pannier holders, which did an awesome job of protecting the exhaust and other rear parts. The single part that I broke during all these falls was the plastic handguards. I should have installed proper aluminum handguards, however, I was lucky not to break the clutch or brake leavers during future crashes.
Even though Givi crash bars probably saved me a lot of money, I wouldn’t choose them again. The problem is that most crashes happened at slow speed or when I stopped or stalled the bike in a position I wasn’t able to reach to the ground. I believe that much smaller and lighter crash bars would do an equally good job at protecting plastics and engine casings while being lighter. Weight saving is important when going offroad. I would go with SW Motech or Alt rider crash bars today. I have to admit that I really like how Givi crash bars look on the bike though.
2018 CRF1000 with manual transmission has a wet weight of 232 kg. Adding an extra 20 kg in the form of crash bars and other accessories is a bad idea and here is why. I did a lot of forest riding alone and every time I got stuck I spent around 1 hour getting my bike unstuck. Sometimes it meant that I had to put the bike on the side and drag it for 50 meters. Mainly that happened when I got to a dead-end while going downhill and turning around was impossible due to sand or mud. And trust me -dragging 250 kgs for 50 meters on sand uphill is not an easy task.
In my opinion, it is better to go with lighter crash bars that would offer the same protection in standstill or slow-speed crashes. Saving even 3kg might make all the difference when you have to pick up the bike yourself. And in some cases, this extra weight is the reason you crashed in the first place.
Africa twin reliability
I had zero technical issues with Africa Twin over 2 years and 38k km that were not my own fault.
Africa twin engine
The engine is a liquid-cooled 998cc parallel twin with a 270-degree crank. That means that the engine has amazing torque at low rpm. This is really convenient for off-road riding in the sand or in technical terrain.
Such engine configuration also allows cruising in 6th gear at 90 kph (60 mph) at around 3k rpm with enough torque to overtake without downshifting.
The engine works perfectly up to this day with 0 engine-related issues. I did service the bike twice more often than is recommended in the manual. For example, Honda recommends changing the engine oil and oil filter every 12k kilometers in the manual. I prefer to change engine oil every 5k km. Also, after riding 6k km with the same engine oil gear shifts become a little more clunky. After changing the oil, the engine and gearbox work much more smoother. I can not imagine riding 12k km on the same oil.
Africa twin suspension
I am really happy with the suspension. Even though it is not as good as KTM or GS suspension, it is still good enough for bad roads. Compared to my previous bikes, the Africa Twin suspension is what I wanted and what I paid for. It is a huge improvement over any stock middleweight adventure bike suspension manufactured in 2018.
The only minor issue I had – is the rear shock preload adjuster got a little bit stiff and it is hard to turn with one hand. I think that it should be cleaned and lubricated (probably reassembled) to get back to normal.
Some people decide to replace the rear shock, the stock shock works great for me and I am not going to replace it unless it breaks.
The most expensive part that I broke was the front wheel. I managed to bend the rim beyond repair and had to buy a new one. This is entirely my fault and has nothing to do with bike reliability. The funny part is that I bent the front wheel rim while riding in the city and not in the forest. By the way, Honda decided that the price for a new wheel is 700 USD. I should have bought just a rim from eBay or Amazon and replaced it myself, however, at the time I was a technically illiterate person in anything related to wheels so I overpaid 3x for that.
Africa Twin servicing costs
I did most of the servicing myself. It is not the easiest motorcycle to work on since it is not a naked bike. For example, replacing air filters is a 2-hour job that requires taking of crash bars and side plastic panels. Replacing spark plugs would require taking off the radiators.
I still managed to do most of the servicing myself. I even replaced the fork oil myself at 25k km. The only part I am afraid to do myself is valve adjustment. By the way, it turned out that fork oil was clean and I could’ve done another 15k km with that oil in the fork.
Africa twin Ownership cost
Taking all servicing and other ownership costs including fuel consumption (I averaged 4.8 l/100km during 38k km) into account I’ve got approximately 130 Eur per 1000 kilometers ( 145 USD / 600 miles) in Europe. These numbers do not include bike depreciation. You have to include bike price in the secondary market in your country to calculate that number. In Latvia, the price with depreciation would be around 200 Eur per 1000 km. Compared to my previous bikes Africa twin is at least twice more expensive, which is the biggest disadvantage of this bike for me.
Africa twin as an all-rounder
I am from Latvia. The northern part of Europe. Usually, we have 3 months of below-zero temperatures with snow and ice on the roads. Also, the roads are treated with salt during winter to melt ice. Unfortunately, salt also corrodes metals really fast.
Because I am a motorcycle addict and I can not handle 3 months without riding my bike, I decided to ride it occasionally in the winter.
Even though I washed the bike after each ride, then used a hair drier to dry the bike and sprayed it with silicon, the lower parts of the frame started developing rust spots, which I had to fix ASAP to prevent corrosion from spreading. I really wish the frame would be made of stainless steel. I know that no major motorcycle manufacturer uses stainless steel for frames today. However, Elon Musk made an entire Tesla Cybertruck from stainless steel, why Honda can’t make stainless steel motorcycle frames?
Overall I would trust Honda Africa Twin to take me around the globe if I had enough money for such an adventure. On an everyday basis, this bike does everything for me. I even started going to the grocery store with it after I installed Givi soft panniers.
Overall I am really happy with Africa Twin. There are many reviews online criticizing the absence of cruise control and complaining about tubed tires. I have ridden over 90k kilometers (56k miles) on motorcycles during the last 3 years and never had a single tire puncture.
Also, my wrist never got tired of holding the throttle. I did use Oxford heated grips on all of my bikes and turned them on even in summer, it probably helped with wrist fatigue.
I love the electronic throttle that Honda added in 2018, especially how amazingly it works with traction control on gravel roads as well as on wet roads and even on snow and Ice. The only disadvantage I can find is the ownership cost which really adds a lot of limitations for me. However, it is worth it!
P.S. Here are some more photos.
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