Rumors have been resurfacing about Honda planning to go head to head against KTM’s 790 Adventure and Yamaha’s Tenere 700 by releasing a middleweight version of their already successful Africa Twin adventure motorcycles.
The success of the Honda Africa Twin can be traced back to it’s racing heritage when Honda dominated the Paris-Dakar Rally races during the late 1980s. The first Africa Twin prototype, the XRV750 was renowned for its superior handling in the most brutal of terrains and its uncanny high-speed stability. This made them conquer the Dakar Rally races for four years in a row from ’86-’89. Thus, it would only make sense if Honda’s newer middleweight Africa Twin had an engine closer to its original powerplant.
The current 2020 lineup of their Africa Twin 1100 is powered by a 1084cc liquid-cooled Unicam® four-stroke 22.5º parallel-twin mated to a 6-speed manual transmission. Honda recognizes that there is a gap between 250/450cc off-road-focused CRFs, and the much bigger Africa Twin 1100. Kenji Morita, project leader for the 1100cc Africa Twin admitted, "When we speak about pure adventure, we don’t have a wide line-up. So, we are thinking of a half-way model to attract younger people."
While much success can be attributed to the Africa Twin 1100, it is still considered a big machine. It’s heavy, a little pricey, and it might not be very attractive to newer riders who want to dip their toes into adventure bikes. This is what prompted Honda to decide on creating a smaller, middleweight version of the Africa Twin.
According to other reports, the middleweight Africa Twin will have an engine based upon its NC750X, but enlarged to 790 cc. It seems that middleweight motorcycles are all the rage now and Honda is capitalizing on this trend by introducing a smaller 790 cc Africa Twin putting them in the same spotlight as the Moto Guzzi V85 TT, Yamaha Téréné 700, BMW F850 GS and KTM Adventure 790. We’re hopeful that this new bike will be launched at this year's EICMA in November.