The current-generation Honda Africa Twin is hardly long in the tooth, but it has been around basically unchanged since the CRF1100L update in 2020. The rest of the adventure bike flagship competition has been improving since then, with the BMW R1300 GS confirmed as a fall, 2023 launch. With that in mind, we expect to see a couple of key updates to Big Red’s machine in coming weeks.
The OEMs love their radar-enabled adaptive cruise control tech. This keeps your motorcycle at a steady cruising speed (like regular cruise control) until it detects a vehicle in the lane ahead. Then, it maintains a steady following distance. Such systems are popular in cars, and in the past couple of years, motorcycle OEMs have also started integrating these systems into touring and adventure bikes.
In the case of the Africa Twin, there would be front-scanning and rear-scanning radar units that tell the system what speeds to maintain.
Recently-unearthed patents seem to show Honda working on this design for the Africa Twin. We already expected the Gold Wing to get this tech this year; perhaps both machines will get it this fall? Regardless of how you feel about this technology, Honda must eventually include it on its machines to stay current with other manufacturers.
For years, people have speculated that Honda might add a supercharger to the AT. Some patents seem to hint at this, but others believe those drawings only show a plan to introduce forced induction to the UTV lineup.
Who knows? Honda certainly isn’t telling, but it does seem unlikely to expect a supercharged CRF1100L this fall.
Another option that’s possibly more likely: Other patents show a direct-injected Honda engine, with gas injected directly into the cylinder instead of an intake manifold. This would allow a leaner fuel-air mix with less worry about pre-ignition, and a leaner mix, with less fuel burned, makes for cleaner tailpipe emissions.
Honda, like all OEMs, is very much under pressure to clean up exhaust gasses, and a direct-injected engine would accomplish this while also serving as sort of bragging rights in competition with other manufacturers’ variable valve timed engines (which is another way of reducing emissions). This could very likely be similar to BMW’s last two R1250 GS engine updates, which were fairly significant, but also still very similar to their preceding models. Not total re-imaginations for the bike as a whole, but a generational update for the engine.
With that in mind, even if we don’t see this tech come to the CRF1100L this year, we certainly expect an engine overhaul soon. European emissions regulations will require an updated motor before too long, as those tailpipe pollution laws continue to tighten.
Honda’s Africa Twin would also get some bodywork updates to conceal the radar system, and we’d expect some minor changes to the seat, TFT gauge and maybe the suspension—but nothing too radical.