Honda brings Africa Twin to India at Rs 12.90 lakhs

The premium adventure biking segment is heating up in India thanks to the growing disposable income and a penchant for glamorous two wheels. India clearly has the biggest market for two wheelers which is evident with the growing number of brands entering the country. Biking clubs for all popular models have sprung up all over the country with the most prominent being clubs for RE Bullets, Thunderbird, Yamaha R15, Pulsar 200NS, Avenger, Yamaha RD 350, Jawa and Yezdi Motorcycles, Mahindra Mojo, Triumph Motorcycles, Harley Davidsons, Ducati’s, Kawasaki Ninja and many more.

Come any weekend, you will spot a bunch of them gathering around the outskirts of the city preparing to ride out for an overnite trip or just for breakfast. Another growing trend is the fascination for adventure motoring with avid riders exploring remote terrains which were almost inaccessible earlier.

With the entry of brands such as Kawasaki with their Versys 650 / 1000 or Triumph with the Tiger 800 XR, XC and Explorer variants or the Ducati with their MultiStrada models and BMW with 1200GS, riders today have a wide choice of go-any-where bikes at premium price points. The latest entrant to this segment is Honda’s globally acclaimed adventure bike the Africa Twin.Honda Africa Twin is Honda’s first 1000cc variant assembled in India and will be sold at an inaugural price of Rs 12.90 lakhs ex-showroom Delhi. This is sweet news for adventure bike lovers, however, only the Dual Clutch Transmission (DCT) transmission variant will sold in India.

Also known as the Honda CRF1000L, the Africa Twin was purpose build for the popular Dakar Rallies and continues to be a hot favourite for many motorists across the world. The adventure tourer is powered by a liquid-cooled 998 cc, parallel-twin engine which churn out 87 bhp of power and 92 Nm of torque. The engine is mounted on a lightweight, chassis designed specifically for both on and off-road use. The seat height of 850 mm make it the tallest bike in its category and uses 45mm upside down Showa suspension. To know more about the AT and it’s history, try this link – Honda Africa Twin

Honda Africa Twin Vs Triumph Tiger 800 XCx Vs Kawasaki Versys 1000:

Comparing the Africa Twin to its competitors in India, the bike will pit directly against Triumph’s Tiger 800 XC variants with similar specs but the latter boasts of a triple cylinder 800 cc engine churning out 94 bhp of power (can go upto 98 bhp with aftermarket exhaust) but lesser torque. However, the Tiger XC variants score over the AT with its superior WP suspension that can cross over mighty obstacles with utmost ease and a dream to ride on the tarmac due to its more powerful triple engine. The Versys 1000 is the most powerful and the smoothest among the three with it’s 4 cylinder engine producing 114 bhp and 102 nm of torque. However, the Versys is a soft-roader and cannot handle very rough terrain like the Africa Twin and the Tiger XC variants.

We are eagerly waiting to get our hands on the Africa Twin to get a feel of the bike and its full potential. Till then, let’s drool over these pics.

Help us pick the best Dual Sport bike

Yes, it is true. We are on the look out for the best dual sport bike that is currently available in India for a pocket friendly buyer and we want your suggestions as well.

It all started a few months back when we rode with a group of bikes and one being a BMW Gs1200 with the mighty boxer engine. We were mesmerized with the look, capability, power and overall stance of the bike and of course all the attention it received every time we stopped on the road. This got us thinking about the small but growing dual sport market in India and soon we decided to find the ideal bike for us keeping an upper limit of Rs 15 lakhs.

triumph-tiger-xrx

Our search began with Triumph India (Keerthi Triumph, Cash Pharmacy Building, Residency Road) which has the very popular Tiger series – XR, XRx, XCx, XCA for the 800 cc triple cylinder range and the Tiger Explorer – a 1200 cc monster. The Tiger being the more affordable range, we test rode the XRx and XCx models. The main difference is that the XCx has 21 and 19 inch tyres on spokes along with better suspension while the XRx comes shod with a 19 and 17 inch tyres on mags which limit your off-road capabilities along with a slightly inferior suspension. The price difference was about 1.2 lakhs with the XCx priced at about Rs 15.5 lakhs on-road in Bangalore. We loved both these bikes for its power delivery and torque which allows you to go from 40 to 140 kms in top gear but were more comfortable on the XRx due to its lower seat height. The bike was more manageable both in city traffic and on the highway. Read about all their features here – http://www.triumphmotorcycles.in/newtiger800

ducati-hypermotard-939

Next stop was the Ducati showroom which is on the second floor of UB City, Vittal Mallya Rd, Bangalore. Keeping our budget in mind, we picked the Hypermotard 939 to test. This almost naked dual sport bike is a monster with a 113 hp twin engine and a real terror on the road. The power delivery is not linear as expected in a dual sport bike and the naked bike without visors does not really give you the feel of a big bike. The pricing is pretty decent though at about Rs 13 lakhs and another lakh more for the Hyperstrada. The Hyperstrada with full faring and side boxes was however not available in the showroom. You will find the full set of features here – http://www.india.ducati.com/bikes/hypermotard/hypermotard_939/index.do

versys-650-and-versys-1000

Kawasaki Versys 650 and 1000

Our third option was the Kawasaki Versys 650 which is assembled and shipped from Thailand and hence the most economical option among the lot. The 650 Versys runs the same rock solid engine from the ER6N and Ninja 650 and is tuned slightly different to deliver 69 ps. The bike also looks very similar to the Versys 1000 but with narrower tyres, simpler instrument panel and available only in Black color. The engine feels powerful enough for Indian roads, can do a top speed of 215 kmph and has very good Showa forks with adjustable preload and rebound. The build quality is not as refined as the other two brands and there is a huge gaping hole between the handlebar and instrument panel. We also felt the lack of a gear change indicator (can be bought as an accessory) which is standard in the other two brands. The four cylinder 1000cc Versys is however a dream to ride with a butter smooth gear change and power delivery. This model is currently imported from Japan and has a price tag of almost Rs 16 lakhs but if you can stretch your budget, this is really a worthy contender. The bike comes with three riding modes depending on the terrain. The on-road price of the Versys 650 is a modest Rs 7.7 lakhs in Bangalore and a host of accessories are available as after market.

We haven’t ventured into the Benelli territory yet, as there are already some mixed reliability issues on their existing bikes. We do hope the Benelli TRK502 comes to India soon, which might change people’s perception.

We welcome your votes on the above brands and help us decide on our next bike.

Happy riding!