Here’s one we didn’t see coming … but maybe we should have? According to Motorrad (a German-language publication), Honda is working on a supercharged Africa Twin with gasoline direct injection system.
This is big news, because despite decades of continued interest from riders, all the OEMs but Kawasaki have walked away from forced induction technology. Yeah, it had a run in the early 1980s, when the Japanese introduced bikes like Honda’s own CX650 Turbo, but now, only Kawasaki uses this idea. Kawi has the supercharged H2 series. Other OEMs have teased the tech, or shown it in patents, but no other manufacturer sells a turbo’d or supercharged bike right now.
That might be about to change, if these patent drawings from Motorrad are the real deal (and we expect they are). They show a supercharger grafted on the CRF1100L parallel twin engine, and as a bonus, there’s a gasoline direct injection system as well.
The direct injection system was spotted before; back in 2019, Honda patents showed design work for this system on the previous-gen Africa Twin, and we expected it to be stock equipment by now. That hasn’t happened. Perhaps it’s because of the cost of change, or because there are some drawbacks to direct injection to go along with its advantages.
However, automobile manufacturers have figured out how to deal with these issues. Honda has had direct injection on its cars for years, so they should have had the problems sorted by now. They are the world’s largest manufacturer of small engines, after all.
The Africa Twin engine saw no updates for 2023; will this tech be included for 2024? Hard to say. It’s actually hard to see Honda putting a supercharger on the AT before it includes that tech on the NT1100 sport tourer. The NT uses that same engine, and the Hawk 11 (neither of which is available in Canada at this point). The Rebel 1100 also uses that engine. It does seem likely that we will see this come to market soon, though, as European leaders and also some Asian governments are cracking down hard on tailpipe emissions. Supercharging and direct injection just may be a workaround solution, for now …