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  1. Honda has just made a ton of people very happy. The bike that we’ve all asked for, we’ve all wondered why it didn’t exist, we’ve all been trying to create ourselves is now a reality. Based on the updated 2019 CRF450R motocross bike, the all-new CRF450L is essentially a 50-state legal, 6-speed dirt bike with a plate. This is the first road-legal 450 motocross-based machine offered by a Japanese OEM and could well become the small adventure bike of choice for aggressive, mostly dirt riders. With the introduction of the all new CRF450L, the long-lived off-road only trail machine CRF450X is all new as well and is a whole different bike than the 2018 and older models. Both the X and L are very similar to each other, yet the specs show that they have slightly different ground clearance (12.7 inches on the X and 12.4 inches on the L) and different seat hs (37.4 inches on the X and 37.1 inches for the L) indicating that the suspension travel may be slightly less on the L. Honda didn’t provide suspension travel numbers at the time of the announcement. The New CRF450L Platform While all the CRF450s share a very similar architecture, the CRF450X and the CRF450L are sort of in their own category since these bikes are not primarily designed for racing (yet we have little doubt that they could) and they have a new six-speed transmission. This extra gear makes the bottom end of the engine wider and requires a wider lower part of the frame. That being said, most everything else on the bikes are derived directly from the latest version of the CRF450R. Engine The layout and overall appearance of the CRF450L’s engine is nearly identical to the X’s with some notable exceptions to make the L street legal more appropriate for street riding. The X and L have the same bore and stroke and a milder 12.0:1 compression ratio compared to the R’s 13.5:1. The L also has its own cam profile and cam timing for more controllable power off-road. There is 12 percent more crank inertia than the R to give more traction and better control in tight off-road terrain. As mentioned above, a major difference is the six-speed transmission. This is sure to make street riding and longer stints on asphalt a less buzzy, more enjoyable experience. The ECU has a dedicated setting on the L and there is a single-sided exhaust system rather than the dual silencers on the competition models. Noise Reductions A major factor in getting a bike to be street-legal is passing noise regulations. One part of that test is a drive by sound measurement where the overall sound of the bike, not just the exhaust, is recorded. Rather than just focusing on the noise coming out of the muffler, Honda found other ways to keep the overall decibel level down on the CRF450L. Engine case covers are on the right and left sides of the engine. Not only are these for protection, they dampen overall engine noise. Also, there is a full cover over the front sprocket. Again, more protection but sound damping as well. Even the swing arm plays a noise reducing role. It is injected with urethane to lower the overall bike volume. Lastly the exhaust system is a dedicated street legal unit to keep noise levels down. Suspension/Chassis There are no compromises when it comes to the suspension. The CRF450L has the same 49mm, fully adjustable coil-spring Showa fork and the same fully adjustable, Pro-Link system Showa shock as the X, yet the settings (damping and spring rates) are dedicated to each machine. The twin-spar aluminum frame is wider to accommodate the wider L transmission, and the subframe is specific to the L, designed to better handle carrying luggage and tools. The tank is 2.0 gallons and made of lightweight titanium. Extras The dash is a simple enduro-style unit, all this sort of bike needs. There are the necessary street-legal bits such as turn signals, mirrors, a horn, and a pretty cool looking LED headlight assembly. The battery is a beefed up lithium ion unit to handle more electrical demands. The high capacity radiators also have a thermostat controlled cooling fan for slow-going situations. The front brake is the same high performance caliper that the CRF450X has but the disk is thicker and the fluid reservoir is larger for more durability. The sealed o-ring chain is wrapped around steel sprockets for greater durability as well. Lastly the CRF450L comes stock with 50/50 IRC GP-21/22 tires. The Whole CRF450L Package We are definitely excited about this bike. The overall package seems to check all the boxes when it comes to a full-on enduro capable dirt bike that can be ridden on the street as well. The primary target rider for this bike, according to Honda, is the off-roader who wants to connect gnarly trails with stints on the road. But we also see its potential as a light ADV Machine — and it could be with a few additions such as luggage, an even bigger tank, and possibly some wind protection. Understanding Honda’s strict durability standards for street-legal machines, we have little doubt that a properly-maintained CRF450L would handle the rigors of long-sustained travel. So far on paper, the only thing that might put a damper on riding this machine is a curb weight that tips the scales a bit heavy for the class. At a claimed 289 pounds wet (the new CRF450X is a 275 pounds), the CRF450L is about 34 pounds heavier than a KTM 500 EXC-F. Also, depending on your budget, the target price of $10,399 might be a little steep but it is still about $600 cheaper than the Austrian 500s of the same style. No dates yet for when we’ll get our first chance to test the bike but Honda says that the CRF450L will be available to the public by September of this year. And before we get to the Honda provided bullets and specs, we chatted with Chuck Miller, Senior Manager of Dealer and Customer Services who also had a major hand in developing this bike. ADV PULSE: We are so glad to see this bike. Why now versus earlier or later? Chuck Miller: “Five years ago I was in product planning and we knew that we wanted this machine. We knew that we had a great X platform and really we wanted an X with a plate on it. But, Honda’s standards are so different between a competition machine, a performance machine versus a street-legal machine. Street legal bikes have sound regulations and exhaust emissions, as well as certain light issues, such as a light has to go out so far. Part of it was helping the engineers understand that we really want this competition machine to just be street legal. It was difficult for Honda to understand both of those in the same bike. Because our street standards are so high for durability, so to have them understand that we want a performance machine with that same durability it has been a challenge. Over the last few years they’ve been able to overcome some of the sound and emissions issues with the performance of the machine and some of the parts they put on it. For example, the case covers on this bike is actually for sound. There is a drive by test what a lot of manufacturers will do is detune the machine to be able to make that sound level. Honda came up with another way where they covered some of the parts to reduce the sound. By doing some of the things that they did, we were able to keep the performance up.” ADVP: Dirt bike and street bike maintenance intervals are vastly different. How does this bike fit on that scale? CM: “It will be a little more like a street bike actually. One thing we will be recommending on this bike is a more frequent oil change than the X and part of that is because, if someone rides it on the pavement all the time or down the freeway wide open for hours, they would need to check their oil. I think there is 1.8 quarts of oil so if you were to use some oil or it got too hot the maintenance intervals are a little sooner for sure. What’s interesting is that we’ve been talking about the crossover between the L and adventure bike riding. Because this is adventure bike too, in a lot of ways. It’s just a more aggressive adventure bike. I can already see soft bags and some racks for the back, that the aftermarket will take care of and you’ll see people riding these bikes all over the country.”
  2. Honda has just made a ton of people very happy. The bike that we’ve all asked for, we’ve all wondered why it didn’t exist, we’ve all been trying to create ourselves is now a reality. Based on the updated 2019 CRF450R motocross bike, the all-new CRF450L is essentially a 50-state legal, 6-speed dirt bike with a plate. This is the first road-legal 450 motocross-based machine offered by a Japanese OEM and could well become the small adventure bike of choice for aggressive, mostly dirt riders. With the introduction of the all new CRF450L, the long-lived off-road only trail machine CRF450X is all new as well and is a whole different bike than the 2018 and older models. Both the X and L are very similar to each other, yet the specs show that they have slightly different ground clearance (12.7 inches on the X and 12.4 inches on the L) and different seat hs (37.4 inches on the X and 37.1 inches for the L) indicating that the suspension travel may be slightly less on the L. Honda didn’t provide suspension travel numbers at the time of the announcement. The New CRF450L Platform While all the CRF450s share a very similar architecture, the CRF450X and the CRF450L are sort of in their own category since these bikes are not primarily designed for racing (yet we have little doubt that they could) and they have a new six-speed transmission. This extra gear makes the bottom end of the engine wider and requires a wider lower part of the frame. That being said, most everything else on the bikes are derived directly from the latest version of the CRF450R. Engine The layout and overall appearance of the CRF450L’s engine is nearly identical to the X’s with some notable exceptions to make the L street legal more appropriate for street riding. The X and L have the same bore and stroke and a milder 12.0:1 compression ratio compared to the R’s 13.5:1. The L also has its own cam profile and cam timing for more controllable power off-road. There is 12 percent more crank inertia than the R to give more traction and better control in tight off-road terrain. As mentioned above, a major difference is the six-speed transmission. This is sure to make street riding and longer stints on asphalt a less buzzy, more enjoyable experience. The ECU has a dedicated setting on the L and there is a single-sided exhaust system rather than the dual silencers on the competition models. Noise Reductions A major factor in getting a bike to be street-legal is passing noise regulations. One part of that test is a drive by sound measurement where the overall sound of the bike, not just the exhaust, is recorded. Rather than just focusing on the noise coming out of the muffler, Honda found other ways to keep the overall decibel level down on the CRF450L. Engine case covers are on the right and left sides of the engine. Not only are these for protection, they dampen overall engine noise. Also, there is a full cover over the front sprocket. Again, more protection but sound damping as well. Even the swing arm plays a noise reducing role. It is injected with urethane to lower the overall bike volume. Lastly the exhaust system is a dedicated street legal unit to keep noise levels down. Suspension/Chassis There are no compromises when it comes to the suspension. The CRF450L has the same 49mm, fully adjustable coil-spring Showa fork and the same fully adjustable, Pro-Link system Showa shock as the X, yet the settings (damping and spring rates) are dedicated to each machine. The twin-spar aluminum frame is wider to accommodate the wider L transmission, and the subframe is specific to the L, designed to better handle carrying luggage and tools. The tank is 2.0 gallons and made of lightweight titanium. Extras The dash is a simple enduro-style unit, all this sort of bike needs. There are the necessary street-legal bits such as turn signals, mirrors, a horn, and a pretty cool looking LED headlight assembly. The battery is a beefed up lithium ion unit to handle more electrical demands. The high capacity radiators also have a thermostat controlled cooling fan for slow-going situations. The front brake is the same high performance caliper that the CRF450X has but the disk is thicker and the fluid reservoir is larger for more durability. The sealed o-ring chain is wrapped around steel sprockets for greater durability as well. Lastly the CRF450L comes stock with 50/50 IRC GP-21/22 tires. The Whole CRF450L Package We are definitely excited about this bike. The overall package seems to check all the boxes when it comes to a full-on enduro capable dirt bike that can be ridden on the street as well. The primary target rider for this bike, according to Honda, is the off-roader who wants to connect gnarly trails with stints on the road. But we also see its potential as a light ADV Machine — and it could be with a few additions such as luggage, an even bigger tank, and possibly some wind protection. Understanding Honda’s strict durability standards for street-legal machines, we have little doubt that a properly-maintained CRF450L would handle the rigors of long-sustained travel. So far on paper, the only thing that might put a damper on riding this machine is a curb weight that tips the scales a bit heavy for the class. At a claimed 289 pounds wet (the new CRF450X is a 275 pounds), the CRF450L is about 34 pounds heavier than a KTM 500 EXC-F. Also, depending on your budget, the target price of $10,399 might be a little steep but it is still about $600 cheaper than the Austrian 500s of the same style. No dates yet for when we’ll get our first chance to test the bike but Honda says that the CRF450L will be available to the public by September of this year. And before we get to the Honda provided bullets and specs, we chatted with Chuck Miller, Senior Manager of Dealer and Customer Services who also had a major hand in developing this bike. ADV PULSE: We are so glad to see this bike. Why now versus earlier or later? Chuck Miller: “Five years ago I was in product planning and we knew that we wanted this machine. We knew that we had a great X platform and really we wanted an X with a plate on it. But, Honda’s standards are so different between a competition machine, a performance machine versus a street-legal machine. Street legal bikes have sound regulations and exhaust emissions, as well as certain light issues, such as a light has to go out so far. Part of it was helping the engineers understand that we really want this competition machine to just be street legal. It was difficult for Honda to understand both of those in the same bike. Because our street standards are so high for durability, so to have them understand that we want a performance machine with that same durability it has been a challenge. Over the last few years they’ve been able to overcome some of the sound and emissions issues with the performance of the machine and some of the parts they put on it. For example, the case covers on this bike is actually for sound. There is a drive by test what a lot of manufacturers will do is detune the machine to be able to make that sound level. Honda came up with another way where they covered some of the parts to reduce the sound. By doing some of the things that they did, we were able to keep the performance up.” ADVP: Dirt bike and street bike maintenance intervals are vastly different. How does this bike fit on that scale? CM: “It will be a little more like a street bike actually. One thing we will be recommending on this bike is a more frequent oil change than the X and part of that is because, if someone rides it on the pavement all the time or down the freeway wide open for hours, they would need to check their oil. I think there is 1.8 quarts of oil so if you were to use some oil or it got too hot the maintenance intervals are a little sooner for sure. What’s interesting is that we’ve been talking about the crossover between the L and adventure bike riding. Because this is adventure bike too, in a lot of ways. It’s just a more aggressive adventure bike. I can already see soft bags and some racks for the back, that the aftermarket will take care of and you’ll see people riding these bikes all over the country.”
  3. Without getting too historical, you need to know a little bit about the Italian brand SWM Motorcycles to understand that they didn’t just come out of nowhere. The short version of the story is that after enjoying years of success in European motocross competition during the 70’s and early 80’s, SWM eventually went into liquidation. The company was revived in 2014 by a former Husqvarna engineer with major investments from Chinese based Shineray Group. With the new funding, SWM was able to take over Husqvarna’s old Italian factory, equipment and workforce, after KTM purchased Husqvarna from BMW. That brings us to the SWM Superdual X, a 600cc, liquid-cooled, DOHC, 4-valve single cylinder adventure bike based heavily on the Husqvarna 2011/12 TE630. But, as you can see, it has been adventure-ized with a larger tank, crash bars, and a host of other changes making the Superdual X its own machine. The weight of the bike comes in at a claimed dry 372.5 lbs, which is over the XR and DR but lighter than a KLR. Another cool feature is the 21/18 inch wheel combo. Power The motor in the Superdual X has been used in a few Husqvarna bikes in the past but not the Terra and the Strada which had 650s. The six speed transmission pumps power to a chain final drive through a wet clutch with hydraulic actuation. The exhaust is a 2-into-2 system with handsome dual mufflers out back. To get fuel into the single cylinder, the Superdual X has a Mikuni D45 EFI fuel system and the bike starts with a push of a button. Suspension Out front the bike sports 8.3 in. (210mm) of suspension travel and a Fastace fully adjustable 45mm fork. We’ve heard of this brand before but it is more of a budget option for suspension on motorcycles. They are more known in the mountain bike world. Suspension travel in the rear is reported at 10.6 in (270mm). The shock is a Sachs adjustable unit, which is more known and found on other European off-road bikes. Extras The 21/18 inch wheel combination makes for finding good knobbies a breeze. There are upper and lower crash bars as well as a skid plate and center stand. Hand guards and windscreen are included and the braking duties are handled by Brembo components. ABS is standard and can be turned off at the rear. The tank holds a little over 5 gallons, which, with a single, should offer a very considerable range. For the vertically challenged, the 35 inch seat h might cause some issues since that is right on the cusp of being pretty tall. For those looking for a slightly shorter version, there is a SWM Superdual T model that has 19/17 inch wheels and more road oriented tires stock. Availability We’ve reached out to SWM Italy and SWM’s US importer to see if we can get any more information on an estimated landing time here in America but we are still on hold. We do know this bike is available for purchase for $10,490 Australian dollars ($7,838 US). From the reviews in the Australian motorcycle media, the bike seems to be getting an overall positive reaction. Testers are saying that while it is much more expensive than the 650 singles from other brands, you get a lot more bang for your buck and it isn’t nearly as chuggy as those models. We’ll have to wait and see if the Superdual X makes a big enough buzz Down Under for it to come to the US. For more information go to swmmotorcycles.com Specs Engine: Liquid-cooled DOHC 4-valve single cylinder four-stroke Displacement: 600cc Bore & Stroke: 100 x 76.4mm Transmission: 6 speed Clutch: Wet, multiplate type; hydraulic control Ignition: GET Fuel System: Mikuni D45 EFI Start: Electric Front Suspension: 45mm USD Fastace fork Rear Suspension: Sachs adjustable shock with external preload adjuster Wheels: 18/21 inch with Metzeler Sahara 3 tires Brakes: Switchable ABS. Front: 300mm front disc, Rear: 240mm rear Suspension Travel: 8.3 in. (210mm) Front / 10.6 in. (270mm) Rear Ground Clearance: 7.0 in. (180mm) Seat Height: 890mm Wheelbase: 1495mm Fuel Capacity: 19 litres Dry Weight: 372.6 lbs (169kg) Warranty: 24 months or 20,000kms parts and labor About the Author: With his sights set on doing what he loved for a living, Sean Klinger left college with a BA in Journalism and dirt bike in his truck. After five years at a dirt-only motorcycle magazine shooting, testing, writing, editing, and a little off-road racing, he has switched gears to bigger bikes and longer adventures. He’ll probably get lost a few times but he’ll always have fun doing it. Two wheels and adventure is all he needs.
  4. Without getting too historical, you need to know a little bit about the Italian brand SWM Motorcycles to understand that they didn’t just come out of nowhere. The short version of the story is that after enjoying years of success in European motocross competition during the 70’s and early 80’s, SWM eventually went into liquidation. The company was revived in 2014 by a former Husqvarna engineer with major investments from Chinese based Shineray Group. With the new funding, SWM was able to take over Husqvarna’s old Italian factory, equipment and workforce, after KTM purchased Husqvarna from BMW. That brings us to the SWM Superdual X, a 600cc, liquid-cooled, DOHC, 4-valve single cylinder adventure bike based heavily on the Husqvarna 2011/12 TE630. But, as you can see, it has been adventure-ized with a larger tank, crash bars, and a host of other changes making the Superdual X its own machine. The weight of the bike comes in at a claimed dry 372.5 lbs, which is over the XR and DR but lighter than a KLR. Another cool feature is the 21/18 inch wheel combo. Power The motor in the Superdual X has been used in a few Husqvarna bikes in the past but not the Terra and the Strada which had 650s. The six speed transmission pumps power to a chain final drive through a wet clutch with hydraulic actuation. The exhaust is a 2-into-2 system with handsome dual mufflers out back. To get fuel into the single cylinder, the Superdual X has a Mikuni D45 EFI fuel system and the bike starts with a push of a button. Suspension Out front the bike sports 8.3 in. (210mm) of suspension travel and a Fastace fully adjustable 45mm fork. We’ve heard of this brand before but it is more of a budget option for suspension on motorcycles. They are more known in the mountain bike world. Suspension travel in the rear is reported at 10.6 in (270mm). The shock is a Sachs adjustable unit, which is more known and found on other European off-road bikes. Extras The 21/18 inch wheel combination makes for finding good knobbies a breeze. There are upper and lower crash bars as well as a skid plate and center stand. Hand guards and windscreen are included and the braking duties are handled by Brembo components. ABS is standard and can be turned off at the rear. The tank holds a little over 5 gallons, which, with a single, should offer a very considerable range. For the vertically challenged, the 35 inch seat h might cause some issues since that is right on the cusp of being pretty tall. For those looking for a slightly shorter version, there is a SWM Superdual T model that has 19/17 inch wheels and more road oriented tires stock. Availability We’ve reached out to SWM Italy and SWM’s US importer to see if we can get any more information on an estimated landing time here in America but we are still on hold. We do know this bike is available for purchase for $10,490 Australian dollars ($7,838 US). From the reviews in the Australian motorcycle media, the bike seems to be getting an overall positive reaction. Testers are saying that while it is much more expensive than the 650 singles from other brands, you get a lot more bang for your buck and it isn’t nearly as chuggy as those models. We’ll have to wait and see if the Superdual X makes a big enough buzz Down Under for it to come to the US. For more information go to swmmotorcycles.com Specs Engine: Liquid-cooled DOHC 4-valve single cylinder four-stroke Displacement: 600cc Bore & Stroke: 100 x 76.4mm Transmission: 6 speed Clutch: Wet, multiplate type; hydraulic control Ignition: GET Fuel System: Mikuni D45 EFI Start: Electric Front Suspension: 45mm USD Fastace fork Rear Suspension: Sachs adjustable shock with external preload adjuster Wheels: 18/21 inch with Metzeler Sahara 3 tires Brakes: Switchable ABS. Front: 300mm front disc, Rear: 240mm rear Suspension Travel: 8.3 in. (210mm) Front / 10.6 in. (270mm) Rear Ground Clearance: 7.0 in. (180mm) Seat Height: 890mm Wheelbase: 1495mm Fuel Capacity: 19 litres Dry Weight: 372.6 lbs (169kg) Warranty: 24 months or 20,000kms parts and labor About the Author: With his sights set on doing what he loved for a living, Sean Klinger left college with a BA in Journalism and dirt bike in his truck. After five years at a dirt-only motorcycle magazine shooting, testing, writing, editing, and a little off-road racing, he has switched gears to bigger bikes and longer adventures. He’ll probably get lost a few times but he’ll always have fun doing it. Two wheels and adventure is all he needs.
  5. While most of us want to get a little slimmer before the swimsuit season, Cardo Systems created the all-new PackTalk Slim headset in time for summer riding season. For years, the top of the line helmet communicator at Cardo was the PackTalk with its proprietary Dynamic Mesh Communication. Now the standard size PackTalk is called the PackTalk Bold and the all new smaller version is called the PackTalk Slim which only gives up a tiny bit of range to become the lowest profile full-feature communicator on the market. The PackTalk Slim packs premium features including Mesh Communication technology into a slender 6.5 mm profile. While the new PackTalk Bold is the same size and has the same button layout as the previous PackTalk units, there are some changes that, overall, are aimed at making using Cardo communicators simpler and more intuitive. Both Slim and Bold share all of the following features. New Voice Commands Previously, when you wanted to use the voice command system to tell the PackTalk to do something, you would have to tap the roller button or make a loud sound to activate the system. Cardo realized that taking your hand off the controls to activate the system sort of defeats the purpose of using voice command. Now, with the natural voice operation feature, you can say “Hey Cardo” to activate the voice command system and not take your hand off the bar. With the other activation method (making a loud noise) there were a lot of false activations when riders accidently made loud noises (possibly expletives) when going through tough terrain. Now with the activation phrase, it will be less likely to activate the voice command system accidentally. The voice command system is now wired for activating your phone’s voice assistant by saying “Hey Siri” or “OK Google.” Then you can use pretty much any command to get directions, order some dinner, or make a phone call. But, if you are using the “Hey Cardo” command to manipulate your PackTalk communicator, you still have to know the right commands to say. It isn’t as smart as Siri or Google Assistant, yet there is a little bit of leeway. New Button Interface Again, following the theme of making everything simpler, the button patterns on the PackTalk Bold and Slim are brand new. The goal is to make the button mapping easier and faster to perform tasks. If you have an older PackTalk unit and update the firmware, the new button mapping will be uploaded to your unit making your user manual obsolete. Yet, you can download the new pocket guide that explains the button sequences and there are videos online that explain as well. SmartPack Discontinued But Still Supported Cardo Systems SmartPack communicator was a lower cost version of the PackTalk that also had the DMC mesh technology but was limited to four connections instead of 15 and had a smaller range. While they aren’t going to be made anymore, if you already have one, they are still being supported. Owners should know that with the most recent firmware update, Cardo has removed the 4-person max intercom connections restrictions. You can still find the SmartPack at a good price here. New App For All Devices And Better Sound In the past, Cardo had separate apps for each different device. Now there is one Cardo app to control them all. The app allows you to configure the device settings like FM radio presets, VOX sensitivity, phone presets and more. Plus the speakers are slightly larger and the audio processor is faster and has new enhancements to make the PackTalk sound output as best it can be. The PackTalk Slim includes a battery pack that attaches to the back of your helmet. Which PackTalk Is Right For You? All the features found in the updated PackTalk Bold are also in the all new PackTalk Slim, so who would choose the bigger Bold? Well, if you are used to the PackTalk roller wheel system or if you want the most range possible, then the Bold might be a better choice. It has a range of 1.6 km (0.99 miles) and the Slim has a range of 1.2 km (0.75 miles). Also, although the Bold is bigger, it is all one unit while the Slim is very low profile, but there is a separate battery pack that attaches to the bottom/back of your helmet, which is also very low profile. For the rider who spends most of his/her time in tight, dense foliage, the Slim would be a better choice while the rider who needs maximum range and doesn’t mind a larger unit should think about the Bold. Here at ADV Pulse we’ll be getting a couple of Slims to test out so keep your eyes peeled for a full review soon. Shopping Options About the Author: With his sights set on doing what he loved for a living, Sean Klinger left college with a BA in Journalism and dirt bike in his truck. After five years at a dirt-only motorcycle magazine shooting, testing, writing, editing, and a little off-road racing, he has switched gears to bigger bikes and longer adventures. He’ll probably get lost a few times but he’ll always have fun doing it. Two wheels and adventure is all he needs.
  6. Published on 05.16.2018 For 2018 Giant Loop has upgraded its double-ended, 100% waterproof Dry Bag line. Enhanced features include air purge valves, backpack straps, beefy molded rubber grab handles, additional D-ring attachment points, more reflective accents and two-tone gray and black styling. Better than top-loading duffels, both rolling ends open to provide easy access to gear without removing anchor straps. Constructed of heavy-duty vinyl tarpauline with RF-welded seams, Giant Loop’s Dry Bag line features reflective daisy chains that prevent the Dry Bags from slipping out from under straps even in the roughest terrain. Three Expedition-Ready Options Giant Loop’s Dry Bag line includes carry straps and D-ring attachments for backpack conversions. Designed to integrate into Giant Loop’s modular, customizable motorcycle soft luggage, the Rogue Dry Bag (17 liters), Tillamook Dry Bag (38 liters) and Columbia Dry Bag (70 liters) provide mud proof, dust proof and waterproof storage for overland moto travel. Backpack conversions with two included carry straps extend the adventure to even broader horizons. The Rogue Dry Bag and Tillamook Dry Bag are specifically designed to integrate with the cinch ring and beaver-tail compression straps on Giant Loop’s signature horseshoe-shaped Coyote Saddlebag and Great Basin Saddlebag, while the Columbia Dry Bag pairs with Giant Loop’s top-loading Siskiyou Panniers, MotoTrekk Panniers and Round The World Panniers. The Tillamook and Columbia Dry Bags include built-in anchor straps that secure to four solid connections on your motorcycle. Living up to their namesake Oregon rivers, the Rogue, Tillamook and Columbia Dry Bags are equally at home on the water, as well as on the land and snow. Giant Loop Dry Bags have been used, tested and proven on a multitude of adventure travels, including multi-day wilderness rafting, snow biking, and airline travel. For more information go to giantloop.com
  7. Trickle down technology. It’s so much more fun to talk about than trickle down economics or politics, which we will leave to very different jounalists than us. KTM’s standard operating procedure is to launch its latest and greatest technology on its Factory Edition SX models that the pro supercross and motocross teams race. Then, the regular SX and XC models get that same technology about a half a year later. Then, finally, the EXC-F and XC-Ws get that tech the following year, and the cycle continues. For 2017 KTM overhauled the EXC-F line (even adding the “F” that wasn’t there previously). New engines, new frames, new suspension, new pretty much everything. For 2018, there were very minor changes by way of suspension updates and for 2019 (yeah, it’s already that time) more incremental changes to the line. A quick history lesson on the 2017 changes to the line. Previously, there were only two street legal KTM EXCs, the 350 and 500. In ‘17 KTM added a 250 EXC-F and 450 EXC-F Six Days to the already existing line up (they also cut the four-stroke XC-Ws, which were so close to the street legal models it didn’t make sense for KTM to keep them both). The new frame was still steel but much lighter, as was the more compact engine layout across the board. They kept WP as their suspension brand but switched to a new Xplor line of forks and shocks. To keep noise to a minimum, there is actually a reed cage between the air box and fuel injection system to stop engine noise coming back out of the intake. And for us adventure bike enthusiasts, they saved us the trouble of buying TKC80s – they come stock on these bikes, even though most hard-core dirt guys will swap them for true knobbies. New For 2019 On All EXC-Fs • Slightly stiffer fork setting for improved feedback and bottoming resistance. • Reworked rear shock main piston and settings for increased comfort and bottoming control. • New seat cover – improved comfort and grip. • Stronger and super lightweight Lithium-Ion battery – better starting. • New graphics and orange frame – high-end Ready to Race appearance. While none of this is ground breaking, it is good to see that KTM is continuing to make adjustments to it’s WP Xplor suspension. For faster, more aggressive off-road riders, the Xplor fork and shock was on the soft side. If anyone wanted to add more weight luggage and a bigger tank, having stiffer suspension is also a bonus. It is also cool to see the comeback of the orange frames. When you are buying a street legal dirt bike for more than $10,000, some premium features go a long way to sweeten the deal. Lastly, the lighter battery is also supposed to be stronger and work better in cold temps. That means those early morning roll outs from northern elevations will be less of a worry. For more detailed information from KTM, read below: 4-STROKES EXC-F DUAL SPORT MODEL RANGE Offering highly competitive extreme off-road bikes while meeting the requirements to be 50 state street legal. The comprehensive line-up of KTM 4-stroke EXC-F ranges from the nimble 250 EXC-F and 350 EXC-F to the extraordinary 500 EXC-F powerhouse. State-of-the-art engines featuring the latest electronic fuel injection provide not only the customary, high power levels expected from a genuine KTM Dual Sport. With a compact architecture optimized down to minute details, the power houses also contribute significantly to the latest round of weight savings and centralized masses, supporting the state-of-the-art chassis in delivering previously inconceivable levels of ride ability. EXC-F Intake Sophisticated Velocity Focused Intake reed Valve Set in the Intake Boot increases torque and throttle response and reduces noise. Comprising three models which are very different and yet united by KTM’s pursuit of quality, the EXC-F range of off-road models are street legal. 250 EXC-F The smallest model of the KTM 4-stroke range is a great choice for motivated amateurs and ambitious pros alike, with its super compact, powerful engine, minimal weight and well-centered masses providing a lively performance and fantastic handling. Sharing many components with the successful 350 EXC-F engine, this power plant offers class-leading performance with plenty of torque thanks to its advanced fuel injection system. The 250 is easy to ride, agile and highly controllable for complete rider confidence, with state of the art technology for great throttle response and controlled power delivery. ENGINE The 250 EXC-F DOHC engine has a very compact and lightweight design and delivers class-leading torque and power figures across the entire power band all the way up to 12,800rpm. Its compact architecture contributes to an excellent mass centralization, supporting the ride ability of the bike. In addition, it only weighs 60.8 lb. That is including the incredibly beneficial electric starter. CYLINDER HEAD The centerpiece of the compact DOHC (double overhead camshaft) engine is the cutting-edge cylinder head. It features two overhead camshafts, which activate the titanium valves via super-light finger followers with a hard DLC coating. TRANSMISSION The 250 4-stroke transmits its unrelenting power through a 6-speed transmission with gear ratios specifically optimized for its power delivery. An advanced KTM ‘No Dirt’ gear lever design prevents dirt from blocking the joint of the lever, contributing to secure gear engagement. All KTM 4-stroke EXC-F’s feature a gear sensor to sync up the engine’s power curve to the currently selected gear as well as the surface conditions. CLUTCH Actuated by BREMBO hydraulics, the clutch is distinguished by consistently precise control across the entire operating temperature range. The KTM-developed DDS clutch employs a diaphragm spring instead of the usual coil springs for a significantly easier clutch action, while providing sufficient space for a damping system to be integrated into the clutch hub. The added benefit is increased traction and outstanding clutch durability. ELECTRIC STARTER The standard E-starter provides the 250 EXC-F with a clear advantage in dicey race situations. Engaged by the proven KTM starter drive and powered by an even stronger, high capacity and lightweight lithium ion battery, a reliable Mitsuba starter motor makes sure the 250 is fired up reliably and easily in any conditions at the push of a button. ENGINE MANAGEMENT SYSTEM The state-of-the-art Keihin Engine Management System with electronic fuel injection features a 42mm throttle body. Its unique injector position ensures a very responsive power delivery. Separate systems automatically take care of cold starts and idle adjustment. 350 EXC-F When optimum ride ability and maximum offroad performance are called for, there is no substitute for the KTM 350 EXC-F. Combining the handling of a 250 with power closely approaching 450 levels, its compact, powerful DOHC engine, low weight and perfectly tuned suspension make sure this machine masters each and every challenge with ease. And thanks to its playful agility, the 350 EXC-F retains the advantage when the going gets really tough. The longer the distance, the more riders on all levels benefit from its low-fatigue design for maximum riding fun. ENGINE The 350 cm³ 4-stroke engine with a state-of-the-art electronic fuel injection system offers a very wide power band and is distinguished by a dynamic but low-fatigue power delivery. At the core: a highly sophisticated DOHC cylinder head with DLC-coated finger followers and flow-optimized ports, as well as a highly rigid, box-type, 88 mm piston. At the same time, the engine’s compact architecture helps to group the masses tightly around the bike’s center of gravity for outstanding ride ability. All of this makes the 350 EXC-F brilliantly suited to both amateur riders as well as consummate pros. CYLINDER HEAD The centerpiece of the compact DOHC (double overhead camshaft) engine is the cutting-edge cylinder head. It features two overhead camshafts, which activate the titanium valves via super-light finger followers with a hard DLC coating. TRANSMISSION A rugged 6-speed transmission, wide gear ratios and a special low-friction coating on the shift forks serves to transmit the power of the 350 EXC-F to the rear wheel. The gear lever is protected by its advanced KTM ‘No Dirt’ design, preventing debris from blocking its joint for a secure gear engagement at all times. A gear sensor syncs up the engine’s power curve to the currently selected gear as well as the surface conditions. CLUTCH Actuated by BREMBO hydraulics, the clutch is distinguished by consistently precise control across the entire operating temperature range. The KTM-developed DDS clutch employs a diaphragm spring instead of the usual coil springs for a significantly easier clutch action, while providing sufficient space for a damping system to be integrated into the clutch hub. The added benefit is increased traction and outstanding clutch durability. ELECTRIC STARTER Fitted as standard with a rugged electric starter, the 350 EXC-F will fire up with the greatest reliability, a great benefit especially in demanding offroad races. The powerful Mitsuba starter motor is powered by a new, even stronger lightweight lithium ion battery. Riders insisting on a mechanical back-up may retrofit the KTM PowerParts kick-starter kit. ENGINE MANAGEMENT SYSTEM The state-of-the-art Keihin Engine Management System with electronic fuel injection features a 42mm throttle body. Its unique injector position ensures a very responsive power delivery. Separate systems automatically take care of cold starts and idle adjustment. 500 EXC-F The most powerful off-road competition bike on the market, the KTM 500 EXC-F combines raw 4-stroke punch with outstanding ride ability, thanks to its high tech, large-displacement engine sitting in a chassis optimized for low weight and outstanding agility. With an incredible power-to-weight ratio, this awesome 510 cm³ SOHC single provides nothing less than the most dynamic enduro experience available, not the least due to its sophisticated mass centralization and geometry, made possible in part by a highly compact engine layout. The extended levels of ride ability afforded by the expert-grade chassis are a necessity in order to successfully tame this kind of performance, for a true racing advantage. ENGINE The 500 EXC-F’s fuel-injected powerhouse is the most compact and lightest 500 on the market, while delivering awesome torque and power across the power band. The four valves of the SOHC cylinder head are controlled by extremely rigid rocker arms while flow optimized ports ensure an efficient gas exchange. Vibrations are kept in check by a carefully optimized crank drive with plain bearings, as well as a multifunctional balancer shaft. The cutting edge Keihin engine management system with electronic fuel injection and a 42 mm throttle body ensure an astonishing response. CYLINDER HEAD Inside the SOHC cylinder head, an overhead camshaft controls four ultra-lightweight titanium valves via extremely rigid rocker arms, which are DLC-coated on the intake side. A configuration like this allows high engine speeds and powerful engine characteristics. TRANSMISSION The 6-speed transmission of the 500 EXC-F is fitted with all the latest trimmings, from the gear sensor supporting the engine management, to friction optimized shift forks and gear wheels, to the ingenious KTM ‘No Dirt’ gear lever, unfazed by any kind of debris for a secure gear engagement. CLUTCH Actuated by BREMBO hydraulics, the clutch is distinguished by consistently precise control across the entire operating temperature range. The KTM-developed DDS clutch employs a diaphragm spring instead of the usual coil springs for a significantly easier clutch action, while providing sufficient space for a damping system to be integrated into the clutch hub. The added benefit is increased traction and outstanding clutch durability. ELECTRIC STARTER The standard E-starter provides the 500 EXC-F with a clear advantage in dicey race situations. Engaged by the proven KTM starter drive and powered by an even stronger, high-capacity and lightweight lithium ion battery, a reliable starter motor makes sure the engine is fired up reliably and easily in any conditions at the push of a button. ENGINE MANAGEMENT SYSTEM The state-of-the-art Keihin Engine Management System with electronic fuel injection features a 42mm throttle body. Its unique injector position ensures a very responsive power delivery. Separate systems automatically take care of cold starts and idle adjustment. About the Author: With his sights set on doing what he loved for a living, Sean Klinger left college with a BA in Journalism and dirt bike in his truck. After five years at a dirt-only motorcycle magazine shooting, testing, writing, editing, and a little off-road racing, he has switched gears to bigger bikes and longer adventures. He’ll probably get lost a few times but he’ll always have fun doing it. Two wheels and adventure is all he needs.
  8. Trickle down technology. It’s so much more fun to talk about than trickle down economics or politics, which we will leave to very different jounalists than us. KTM’s standard operating procedure is to launch its latest and greatest technology on its Factory Edition SX models that the pro supercross and motocross teams race. Then, the regular SX and XC models get that same technology about a half a year later. Then, finally, the EXC-F and XC-Ws get that tech the following year, and the cycle continues. For 2017 KTM overhauled the EXC-F line (even adding the “F” that wasn’t there previously). New engines, new frames, new suspension, new pretty much everything. For 2018, there were very minor changes by way of suspension updates and for 2019 (yeah, it’s already that time) more incremental changes to the line. A quick history lesson on the 2017 changes to the line. Previously, there were only two street legal KTM EXCs, the 350 and 500. In ‘17 KTM added a 250 EXC-F and 450 EXC-F Six Days to the already existing line up (they also cut the four-stroke XC-Ws, which were so close to the street legal models it didn’t make sense for KTM to keep them both). The new frame was still steel but much lighter, as was the more compact engine layout across the board. They kept WP as their suspension brand but switched to a new Xplor line of forks and shocks. To keep noise to a minimum, there is actually a reed cage between the air box and fuel injection system to stop engine noise coming back out of the intake. And for us adventure bike enthusiasts, they saved us the trouble of buying TKC80s – they come stock on these bikes, even though most hard-core dirt guys will swap them for true knobbies. New For 2019 On All EXC-Fs • Slightly stiffer fork setting for improved feedback and bottoming resistance. • Reworked rear shock main piston and settings for increased comfort and bottoming control. • New seat cover – improved comfort and grip. • Stronger and super lightweight Lithium-Ion battery – better starting. • New graphics and orange frame – high-end Ready to Race appearance. While none of this is ground breaking, it is good to see that KTM is continuing to make adjustments to it’s WP Xplor suspension. For faster, more aggressive off-road riders, the Xplor fork and shock was on the soft side. If anyone wanted to add more weight luggage and a bigger tank, having stiffer suspension is also a bonus. It is also cool to see the comeback of the orange frames. When you are buying a street legal dirt bike for more than $10,000, some premium features go a long way to sweeten the deal. Lastly, the lighter battery is also supposed to be stronger and work better in cold temps. That means those early morning roll outs from northern elevations will be less of a worry. For more detailed information from KTM, read below: 4-STROKES EXC-F DUAL SPORT MODEL RANGE Offering highly competitive extreme off-road bikes while meeting the requirements to be 50 state street legal. The comprehensive line-up of KTM 4-stroke EXC-F ranges from the nimble 250 EXC-F and 350 EXC-F to the extraordinary 500 EXC-F powerhouse. State-of-the-art engines featuring the latest electronic fuel injection provide not only the customary, high power levels expected from a genuine KTM Dual Sport. With a compact architecture optimized down to minute details, the power houses also contribute significantly to the latest round of weight savings and centralized masses, supporting the state-of-the-art chassis in delivering previously inconceivable levels of ride ability. EXC-F Intake Sophisticated Velocity Focused Intake reed Valve Set in the Intake Boot increases torque and throttle response and reduces noise. Comprising three models which are very different and yet united by KTM’s pursuit of quality, the EXC-F range of off-road models are street legal. 250 EXC-F The smallest model of the KTM 4-stroke range is a great choice for motivated amateurs and ambitious pros alike, with its super compact, powerful engine, minimal weight and well-centered masses providing a lively performance and fantastic handling. Sharing many components with the successful 350 EXC-F engine, this power plant offers class-leading performance with plenty of torque thanks to its advanced fuel injection system. The 250 is easy to ride, agile and highly controllable for complete rider confidence, with state of the art technology for great throttle response and controlled power delivery. ENGINE The 250 EXC-F DOHC engine has a very compact and lightweight design and delivers class-leading torque and power figures across the entire power band all the way up to 12,800rpm. Its compact architecture contributes to an excellent mass centralization, supporting the ride ability of the bike. In addition, it only weighs 60.8 lb. That is including the incredibly beneficial electric starter. CYLINDER HEAD The centerpiece of the compact DOHC (double overhead camshaft) engine is the cutting-edge cylinder head. It features two overhead camshafts, which activate the titanium valves via super-light finger followers with a hard DLC coating. TRANSMISSION The 250 4-stroke transmits its unrelenting power through a 6-speed transmission with gear ratios specifically optimized for its power delivery. An advanced KTM ‘No Dirt’ gear lever design prevents dirt from blocking the joint of the lever, contributing to secure gear engagement. All KTM 4-stroke EXC-F’s feature a gear sensor to sync up the engine’s power curve to the currently selected gear as well as the surface conditions. CLUTCH Actuated by BREMBO hydraulics, the clutch is distinguished by consistently precise control across the entire operating temperature range. The KTM-developed DDS clutch employs a diaphragm spring instead of the usual coil springs for a significantly easier clutch action, while providing sufficient space for a damping system to be integrated into the clutch hub. The added benefit is increased traction and outstanding clutch durability. ELECTRIC STARTER The standard E-starter provides the 250 EXC-F with a clear advantage in dicey race situations. Engaged by the proven KTM starter drive and powered by an even stronger, high capacity and lightweight lithium ion battery, a reliable Mitsuba starter motor makes sure the 250 is fired up reliably and easily in any conditions at the push of a button. ENGINE MANAGEMENT SYSTEM The state-of-the-art Keihin Engine Management System with electronic fuel injection features a 42mm throttle body. Its unique injector position ensures a very responsive power delivery. Separate systems automatically take care of cold starts and idle adjustment. 350 EXC-F When optimum ride ability and maximum offroad performance are called for, there is no substitute for the KTM 350 EXC-F. Combining the handling of a 250 with power closely approaching 450 levels, its compact, powerful DOHC engine, low weight and perfectly tuned suspension make sure this machine masters each and every challenge with ease. And thanks to its playful agility, the 350 EXC-F retains the advantage when the going gets really tough. The longer the distance, the more riders on all levels benefit from its low-fatigue design for maximum riding fun. ENGINE The 350 cm³ 4-stroke engine with a state-of-the-art electronic fuel injection system offers a very wide power band and is distinguished by a dynamic but low-fatigue power delivery. At the core: a highly sophisticated DOHC cylinder head with DLC-coated finger followers and flow-optimized ports, as well as a highly rigid, box-type, 88 mm piston. At the same time, the engine’s compact architecture helps to group the masses tightly around the bike’s center of gravity for outstanding ride ability. All of this makes the 350 EXC-F brilliantly suited to both amateur riders as well as consummate pros. CYLINDER HEAD The centerpiece of the compact DOHC (double overhead camshaft) engine is the cutting-edge cylinder head. It features two overhead camshafts, which activate the titanium valves via super-light finger followers with a hard DLC coating. TRANSMISSION A rugged 6-speed transmission, wide gear ratios and a special low-friction coating on the shift forks serves to transmit the power of the 350 EXC-F to the rear wheel. The gear lever is protected by its advanced KTM ‘No Dirt’ design, preventing debris from blocking its joint for a secure gear engagement at all times. A gear sensor syncs up the engine’s power curve to the currently selected gear as well as the surface conditions. CLUTCH Actuated by BREMBO hydraulics, the clutch is distinguished by consistently precise control across the entire operating temperature range. The KTM-developed DDS clutch employs a diaphragm spring instead of the usual coil springs for a significantly easier clutch action, while providing sufficient space for a damping system to be integrated into the clutch hub. The added benefit is increased traction and outstanding clutch durability. ELECTRIC STARTER Fitted as standard with a rugged electric starter, the 350 EXC-F will fire up with the greatest reliability, a great benefit especially in demanding offroad races. The powerful Mitsuba starter motor is powered by a new, even stronger lightweight lithium ion battery. Riders insisting on a mechanical back-up may retrofit the KTM PowerParts kick-starter kit. ENGINE MANAGEMENT SYSTEM The state-of-the-art Keihin Engine Management System with electronic fuel injection features a 42mm throttle body. Its unique injector position ensures a very responsive power delivery. Separate systems automatically take care of cold starts and idle adjustment. 500 EXC-F The most powerful off-road competition bike on the market, the KTM 500 EXC-F combines raw 4-stroke punch with outstanding ride ability, thanks to its high tech, large-displacement engine sitting in a chassis optimized for low weight and outstanding agility. With an incredible power-to-weight ratio, this awesome 510 cm³ SOHC single provides nothing less than the most dynamic enduro experience available, not the least due to its sophisticated mass centralization and geometry, made possible in part by a highly compact engine layout. The extended levels of ride ability afforded by the expert-grade chassis are a necessity in order to successfully tame this kind of performance, for a true racing advantage. ENGINE The 500 EXC-F’s fuel-injected powerhouse is the most compact and lightest 500 on the market, while delivering awesome torque and power across the power band. The four valves of the SOHC cylinder head are controlled by extremely rigid rocker arms while flow optimized ports ensure an efficient gas exchange. Vibrations are kept in check by a carefully optimized crank drive with plain bearings, as well as a multifunctional balancer shaft. The cutting edge Keihin engine management system with electronic fuel injection and a 42 mm throttle body ensure an astonishing response. CYLINDER HEAD Inside the SOHC cylinder head, an overhead camshaft controls four ultra-lightweight titanium valves via extremely rigid rocker arms, which are DLC-coated on the intake side. A configuration like this allows high engine speeds and powerful engine characteristics. TRANSMISSION The 6-speed transmission of the 500 EXC-F is fitted with all the latest trimmings, from the gear sensor supporting the engine management, to friction optimized shift forks and gear wheels, to the ingenious KTM ‘No Dirt’ gear lever, unfazed by any kind of debris for a secure gear engagement. CLUTCH Actuated by BREMBO hydraulics, the clutch is distinguished by consistently precise control across the entire operating temperature range. The KTM-developed DDS clutch employs a diaphragm spring instead of the usual coil springs for a significantly easier clutch action, while providing sufficient space for a damping system to be integrated into the clutch hub. The added benefit is increased traction and outstanding clutch durability. ELECTRIC STARTER The standard E-starter provides the 500 EXC-F with a clear advantage in dicey race situations. Engaged by the proven KTM starter drive and powered by an even stronger, high-capacity and lightweight lithium ion battery, a reliable starter motor makes sure the engine is fired up reliably and easily in any conditions at the push of a button. ENGINE MANAGEMENT SYSTEM The state-of-the-art Keihin Engine Management System with electronic fuel injection features a 42mm throttle body. Its unique injector position ensures a very responsive power delivery. Separate systems automatically take care of cold starts and idle adjustment. About the Author: With his sights set on doing what he loved for a living, Sean Klinger left college with a BA in Journalism and dirt bike in his truck. After five years at a dirt-only motorcycle magazine shooting, testing, writing, editing, and a little off-road racing, he has switched gears to bigger bikes and longer adventures. He’ll probably get lost a few times but he’ll always have fun doing it. Two wheels and adventure is all he needs.
  9. It is well known the pitfalls of forgetting the past. And Honda made sure that we, the motorcycle media, did not neglect the history of the Africa Twin with the launch of the new Adventure Sports CRF1000L2. To put us in a historical mood, we were gathered in Prescott, Arizona, which was the first capital of the Arizona Territory in 1864. The motorcycle history didn’t go that far back, but for 2018 Honda is recognizing the 30 year anniversary of the Africa Twin with the first major update since its re-launch in 2016. First seen as a prototype at EICMA, the Adventure Sports is not only a new model in the Africa Twin family, it shows Honda’s commitment and focus on the adventure bike category. While this bike is sure to excite the long-distance, comfort-craving riders out there, we are also hopeful that Honda follows through with the Africa Twin Enduro Sports prototype for plain ol’ dirt-riding gnarly-ness. New On Both CRF1000L and CRF1000L2 First off, the CRF1000L2 is not replacing the CRF1000L and for 2018 many of the new features on the Adventure Sports model are shared on the standard 2018 Africa Twin. If you want to get technical about it, there are now four different Africa Twin models: CRF1000L Africa Twin ($13,499), CRF1000L Africa Twin DCT ($14,199), CRF1000L2 Africa Twin Adventure Sports ($14,999) and CRF1000L2 Africa Twin Adventure Sports DCT ($15,699). Quick reminder, DCT stands for Dual Clutch Transmission which basically means the bike is shifted electronically by either paddle shifters manually or by utilizing four different automatic drive modes. Starting with the performance changes, the air box has a 20mm longer funnel that is said to increase throttle response, and the muffler went from a three-stage to a two-stage system, making it simpler, smaller, and, therefore, lighter. Inside the engine, the balancer-shaft weights are 10.6 ounces lighter for “added character and feel in power delivery.” On both models, the 998cc parallel-twin engine is updated with a new airbox, now featuring a 20mm longer funnel length and matched to redesigned exhaust internals. The biggest change in the performance area is a new throttle-by-wire system. This opens a whole host of options for electronic control over the way the engine performs. There are now four ride modes – Tour, Urban, Gravel, and User. These are not to be confused with the ‘DCT’ drive modes which are D, S1, S2, and S3. Drive modes only affect shift points when you are riding a DCT model in non-manual mode. Therefore, a DCT bike will be in a drive mode and a ride mode simultaneously. This is way less complicated than it sounds. The ‘User’ ride mode lets you fully customize all of its settings, while the other pre-programmed ride modes (Tour, Urban, Gravel) only allow you to change the HSTC (Honda Selectable Torque Control) setting. The HSTC is Honda’s version of traction control and while there were three (plus off) levels previously, the new Africa Twin now has seven levels, plus off. We asked Honda how the seven levels line up to the previous three and they said that it broadens the range and adds some levels between as well. Level 1 (least invasive/most wheel spin) is lower than the previous level 1, level 2 is the same as the previous level 1, level 3 is between, level 4 is the same as the previous level 2, level 5 is between, level 6 is the same as the previous level 3 and level 7 is the most invasive. Throttle by Wire is new for 2018, opening the door to four individual riding modes and an expanded HSTC system. The ride modes (Tour, Urban, Gravel, and User) have three components. One is the HSTC mentioned above. The other two are “P” for Power and “EB” for Engine Braking. The Power setting has three levels, level 1 being most aggressive and level 3 being the most tame. Honda explained that this just controls the abruptness of the power delivery, not overall HP or power output. The Engine Braking setting also has three levels, level 1 being the most and level 3 being the least. Lastly, the dash is set at a shallower angle to make it easier to read while standing, a new lithium-ion battery shaves 5.1 pounds off the bike, and the rider foot pegs are wider while passenger foot pegs are mounted differently to allow for more room and better grip. Adventure Sports Ride Modes Chart Mode Power Engine Braking HSTC Tour 1 2 6 (adjustable) Urban 2 2 6 (adjustable) Gravel 3 3 6 (adjustable) User 1-3 1-3 1-7 Just On the CRF1000L2 Since the Adventure Sports model is positioned to compete with the other premium, big ADV machines on the market, it has some extras that the standard Africa Twin doesn’t. Honda simply explained that the L2 is a bike designed to “go farther” and “go anywhere.” Starting with the “go farther” part, there are some range extending features such as the 6.37 gallon tank, up from the 4.97 gallon tank on the standard AT. There are new fairings to accommodate the larger tank. Also, the windscreen is all new with a 80mm taller profile and slightly tinted material. To make things a little more comfortable, it has heated grips and comes stock with a 12-volt accessory socket standard. Then the “go anywhere” part comes in with the longer-travel suspension and higher ground clearance (10.6 inches from 9.8 inches of clearance). The Showa 45mm cartridge-type inverted fork has 9.9 inches of travel (up from 9.1 inches) and the Showa shock has 9.4 inches (up from 8.6). Both the fork and shock have new springs and valving to deal with the heavier machine. Honda also said that the suspension is set up for more aggressive off-road riding, meaning stiffer and more hold-up, rather than the original Africa Twin that was set up a little bit more on the comfort side. To deal with gnarlier terrain, it also has a larger skid plate and aluminum crash bars. Changing the rider position to an even more upright stance are the higher bar mounts, new bar with more sweep, and flatter, taller seat. With the extended suspension and taller seat, the Adventure Sports seat h had to go up as well. The L2’s standard seat h is 36.2 inches which is almost two inches taller than the standard AT’s 34.3 inch seat h. You can still drop the standard seat almost an inch by putting it in the lower position and on the L2 that lower setting is still high at 35.4 inches. The Adventure Sports gets an all new rear rack/passenger hand hold. The size and shape of the rack is smaller and simpler, allowing for more luggage options. On top of that, the rack is completely removable to make it easier to install enduro style soft bags, or large U-shaped soft luggage. There is also a small storage pocket on the right side of the rear section. On The Road Now to the riding, which was on the DCT version Adventure Sports – Honda said they wanted the media to really focus on all the new electronics and the best way to do that was on the DCT model. While it might sound like you need a graphing calculator to figure out all of the ride, drive, HSTC, etc., after a few minutes on the road, we got pretty comfortable with switching them around. The new dash (still standard digital, not TFT) is pretty busy compared to some of the other premium bikes in the adventure segment. Honda has to pack a lot of information in the same amount of space as before since each ride mode has three new adjustments. But toggling through them is simple enough and, unlike TFT dashes that have selections inside of selections that you can get lost in, the Honda dash has all the ride and drive information available all at one time. Also when you turn off and on the bike, it remembers the last setting that you were in. And ‘User’ ride mode settings are saved so any time you go to that ride mode, it will be the same as the last time you set it. The only electronic options that won’t be “remembered” are what Honda says are safety related. Meaning, if you turned off ABS, when the bike is shut off and on, you will have to turn off ABS again, each time. The same is true if you turned HSTC off completely. But, if the HSTC was selected at any level from one to seven, it will remember that setting. Hopping on the bike for the first time, the taller seat h is extremely noticeable. Our tester is 5’ 8” and could just barely touch both toes to the ground, and that was with the seat in the lower position. In fact, Honda set all the seats to the lower position and no editor moved it to the higher position all day. There was a worry that with the seat in the lower position the rider’s knees would be too bent and would feel like they were sitting too deep in the bike, but that really wasn’t the case. With the higher profile seat, the lower position felt like the previous normal position. We think the only riders that will run the new seat in the normal seat position are those north of 6 feet tall and those riders that know that they are going to be standing most of the day on gnarly off-road trails. For tall riders, a taller seat reduces fatigue by shortening the distance you have to stand up when transitioning from the seated to standing position all day. It also reduces leg cramping by decreasing the knee bend angle while sitting for long distances on the highway. The stock tires were left on the bike for this intro and they are street biased, which was great for the twisty road sections. Sure, this bike is tall but it can lean over really easily and the extra weight of the bigger tank and protection wasn’t noticeable from a handling perspective. The throttle-by-wire does smooth out the bottom end hit that the cable actuated previous models had. On one hand, the throttle-by-wire takes away a tiny amount of excitement, but the engine is no slower than before, and, if anything, it is easier to ride. It is still a 1000cc parallel twin with that great sounding 270° crank and torquey power. While the bottom end is a notch mellower, the mid-range feels stronger which was the aim of the new intake and exhaust system. It keeps making impressive power up to the red line, if you are brave enough to keep the throttle open that long. Also for those sporty ADV riders out there, even on the DCT model, there is autoblipping down shifting which sounds and feels awesome. One the highway, the bike gets up to 75 mph without breaking a sweat and will gladly and aggressively accelerate from cruising up to passing speeds with ease. It is very smooth at a cruising pace and the DCT clicks through the gears with shifts faster than any human could with a clutch and shift pedal. Drive modes change how aggressively the bike shifts and doesn’t affect power at all. The “D” mode is the most economic and shifts the fastest into higher gears, basically keeping the bike in the lowest possible RPM at any given time. The S modes all hold gears longer and downshift sooner when decelerating. The S3 mode is the sportiest and mimics how we would shift going through the twisties pretty accurately. It down shifts as you apply the brakes (autoblip!) before a turn and holds that lower gear longer as you accelerate to the next apex. The bigger tank isn’t noticeably wider in the knees, but it is definitely wider closer to the front of the bike — sort of BMW R1200GS like, but not quite that big. The larger windscreen has much more coverage and gives the rider a comfortable, buffer-free bubble. It was 94° F when we rode the bike so the heated grip test will have to wait for another ride. In The Dirt With the new bar mounts and bar bend, standing on the Adventure Sports is effortless. Not that the previous models where difficult to stand on while riding, just that the higher and closer bar position is very natural and we felt it gave an abundance of control while riding off-road. The dirt section of the ride was comprised of grated dirt and gravel roads and didn’t have anything (rocks, roots, ruts) to test the longer-travel suspension. We did, however have plenty of time to play with different ride modes and the traction control. The Gravel preset ride mode puts the Power setting at 3 (lowest), Engine Braking at 3 (least) and HSTC at 6, which is very high. After just two turns into the dirt section, we dialed the traction control back to 4 — at 6 it would barely let the bike accelerate out of turns. As soon as the wheel started to slip, the HSTC would kick in and hold the RPMs at a steady rate even though we were giving it more throttle. The power in Power mode 3 is very smooth and the RPMs climb slower than 2 or 1. The engine still feels torquey and powerful, just smoothed out. The Engine Braking setting didn’t offer a huge difference between settings and in level 3 it didn’t turn into a two stroke or anything. The biggest difference we felt between the new CRF1000L2 DCT Model and the previous DCT model was the clutch engagement. Obviously, we aren’t talking about the clutch lever. We are talking about when the bike is stationary and idling and you give some throttle to get going. We have a 2017 Africa Twin DCT test bike we’ve ridden quite a bit in technical terrain. One our few complaints is that there is a lurch, a sort of little jump, right off idle. This isn’t an issue any other time, just when in first gear getting on and off the throttle, the engagement point is a little vague and jerky. This can be frustrating when really trying to pick your way through tight, bars-to-the-lock type of riding. But, with the new throttle-by-wire, any and all hesitation is gone. We really tried to test this by cracking the throttle the smallest amount we could possibly twist. On the older version, you’d hear the RPMs start to rise, then feel the bump of engagement. But the Adventure Sports starts to inch forward very, very slowly before you even hear the engine register the throttle input. The transition from stopped to moving is buttery, velvety smooth. We are making a big deal of this because, without a clutch, having confidence in when and how the auto clutch is going to engage is vital to technical riding. That being said, there wasn’t any hard off-roading on this intro but riding through some rolling elevation changes, we did notice the Adventure Sports would downshift later than we’d want when climbing a small crest. As with previous DCT models there is a finger trigger (upshift) and thumb button (downshift) to take the shifting duties into your own hands. At any time, in any mode, you can use the trigger/button to override the system and shift, or you can take full control with the Manual mode. No need to let off the gas, just click, shift, and go! Bottom Line Is the new CRF1000L2 Adventure Sports better than last year’s Africa Twin? It really depends on what your definition of better is. For many, the extra features, better suspension and the throttle-by-wire/DCT combo are a major step forward. Although if weight is very important in your decision making, waiting for the 2018 standard CRF1000L Africa Twin to be released with the updated electronics package may be the better option. Honda took some efforts to drop poundage, but the Adventure Sports DCT model weighs in at 555.8 pounds (49 pounds heavier than the standard Africa Twin). The taller seat h of the CRF1000L2 might be a deal breaker as well for the inseam challenged ADV riders out there. But the increased suspension travel and ground clearance means that it can clean gnarlier, more haggard trails and take you places you might have avoided otherwise. Plus, 6.4 gallons of gas helps ease range anxiety for those that want to do longer-distance, globetrotting adventures. The additional comfort, range and protection will also be appreciated on longer journeys but more features means more money, so you’ll have to decide what you really want and for what price. 2018 Africa Twin Adventure Sport Specs Engine Type: Liquid-cooled 4-stroke 8-valve parallel twin with 270° crank and uni-cam Displacement: 998cc Bore & Stroke: 92.0 x 75.1mm Compression Ratio: 10.0:1 Max. Power Output: 93.8 HP @ 7,500rpm Max. Torque 73 ft-lbs @ 6,000rpm Induction: PGM-FI electronic fuel injection (Throttle By Wire); (2) 44mm throttle bodies Ignition: Full transistorized ignition Starter: Electric Fuel Capacity: 6.37 gallons (24.2 liters) Fuel consumption: 51 mpg Clutch MT: Wet, multiplate with coil springs, Aluminium Cam Assist and Slipper Clutch; DCT: 2 Wet multiple clutches Gearbox / Transmission Type: Constant mesh 6-speed MT / 6-speed DCT with on and off-road riding modes Final Drive: O-ring sealed chain – 16Tx42T Frame Type: Steel semi-double cradle type with high-tensile strength steel rear subframe Dimensions (L x W x H): 92.3 in. x 36.7 in. x 61.8 in. (2,340mm x 930mm x 1,570mm) Wheelbase: 62.2 in. (1,580mm) Seat Height (Low/STD): 35.4/36.2 in. (900/920mm) Ground Clearance: 10.7 in. (271mm) Wet Weight: Manual: 535.7 lbs (243 kg); DCT: 555.8 lbs (252 kg) Turning Radius: 8.53 feet (2.6m) Suspension (front): Showa 45mm cartridge-type inverted fork with hydraulic preload and damping (compression & rebound) adjuster, 9.9 in. (252mm) stroke, 8.8 in. (224mm) axle travel Suspension (rear): Cast aluminium swing arm with Pro-Link linkage, hydraulic preload and rebound damping adjustment, 9.5 in. (240mm) rear wheel travel, 101 mm stroke Wheels Front: Wire spoke with aluminium rim Wheels Rear: Wire spoke with aluminium rim Rim Size Front: 21M/C x MT2.15 Rim Size Rear: 18M/C x MT4.00 Tires Front: 90/90-21 tube type Tires Rear: 150/70-R18 tube type ABS system type: 2-Channel with rear ABS off switch Brakes Front: 310mm dual wave floating hydraulic disc with aluminium hub and radial fit 4-piston calipers and sintered metal pads Brakes Rear: 256mm wave hydraulic disc with 1-piston caliper and sintered metal pads. Also Lever-Lock Type Parking Brake System on DCT model with additional slide type 1-piston caliper Instruments: Rally style negative LCD instrument display including: Riding Modes, Speedometer, Tachometer, Fuel, Gear position, ABS, HSTC, Odometer, Trip and Clock Headlight: Dual LED (1 High/1 Low) Color: White/Blue/Red Pricing: Standard ($14,999); DCT ($15,699) About the Author: With his sights set on doing what he loved for a living, Sean Klinger left college with a BA in Journalism and dirt bike in his truck. After five years at a dirt-only motorcycle magazine shooting, testing, writing, editing, and a little off-road racing, he has switched gears to bigger bikes and longer adventures. He’ll probably get lost a few times but he’ll always have fun doing it. Two wheels and adventure is all he needs.
  10. It is well known the pitfalls of forgetting the past. And Honda made sure that we, the motorcycle media, did not neglect the history of the Africa Twin with the launch of the new Adventure Sports CRF1000L2. To put us in a historical mood, we were gathered in Prescott, Arizona, which was the first capital of the Arizona Territory in 1864. The motorcycle history didn’t go that far back, but for 2018 Honda is recognizing the 30 year anniversary of the Africa Twin with the first major update since its re-launch in 2016. First seen as a prototype at EICMA, the Adventure Sports is not only a new model in the Africa Twin family, it shows Honda’s commitment and focus on the adventure bike category. While this bike is sure to excite the long-distance, comfort-craving riders out there, we are also hopeful that Honda follows through with the Africa Twin Enduro Sports prototype for plain ol’ dirt-riding gnarly-ness. New On Both CRF1000L and CRF1000L2 First off, the CRF1000L2 is not replacing the CRF1000L and for 2018 many of the new features on the Adventure Sports model are shared on the standard 2018 Africa Twin. If you want to get technical about it, there are now four different Africa Twin models: CRF1000L Africa Twin ($13,499), CRF1000L Africa Twin DCT ($14,199), CRF1000L2 Africa Twin Adventure Sports ($14,999) and CRF1000L2 Africa Twin Adventure Sports DCT ($15,699). Quick reminder, DCT stands for Dual Clutch Transmission which basically means the bike is shifted electronically by either paddle shifters manually or by utilizing four different automatic drive modes. Starting with the performance changes, the air box has a 20mm longer funnel that is said to increase throttle response, and the muffler went from a three-stage to a two-stage system, making it simpler, smaller, and, therefore, lighter. Inside the engine, the balancer-shaft weights are 10.6 ounces lighter for “added character and feel in power delivery.” On both models, the 998cc parallel-twin engine is updated with a new airbox, now featuring a 20mm longer funnel length and matched to redesigned exhaust internals. The biggest change in the performance area is a new throttle-by-wire system. This opens a whole host of options for electronic control over the way the engine performs. There are now four ride modes – Tour, Urban, Gravel, and User. These are not to be confused with the ‘DCT’ drive modes which are D, S1, S2, and S3. Drive modes only affect shift points when you are riding a DCT model in non-manual mode. Therefore, a DCT bike will be in a drive mode and a ride mode simultaneously. This is way less complicated than it sounds. The ‘User’ ride mode lets you fully customize all of its settings, while the other pre-programmed ride modes (Tour, Urban, Gravel) only allow you to change the HSTC (Honda Selectable Torque Control) setting. The HSTC is Honda’s version of traction control and while there were three (plus off) levels previously, the new Africa Twin now has seven levels, plus off. We asked Honda how the seven levels line up to the previous three and they said that it broadens the range and adds some levels between as well. Level 1 (least invasive/most wheel spin) is lower than the previous level 1, level 2 is the same as the previous level 1, level 3 is between, level 4 is the same as the previous level 2, level 5 is between, level 6 is the same as the previous level 3 and level 7 is the most invasive. Throttle by Wire is new for 2018, opening the door to four individual riding modes and an expanded HSTC system. The ride modes (Tour, Urban, Gravel, and User) have three components. One is the HSTC mentioned above. The other two are “P” for Power and “EB” for Engine Braking. The Power setting has three levels, level 1 being most aggressive and level 3 being the most tame. Honda explained that this just controls the abruptness of the power delivery, not overall HP or power output. The Engine Braking setting also has three levels, level 1 being the most and level 3 being the least. Lastly, the dash is set at a shallower angle to make it easier to read while standing, a new lithium-ion battery shaves 5.1 pounds off the bike, and the rider foot pegs are wider while passenger foot pegs are mounted differently to allow for more room and better grip. Adventure Sports Ride Modes Chart Mode Power Engine Braking HSTC Tour 1 2 6 (adjustable) Urban 2 2 6 (adjustable) Gravel 3 3 6 (adjustable) User 1-3 1-3 1-7 Just On the CRF1000L2 Since the Adventure Sports model is positioned to compete with the other premium, big ADV machines on the market, it has some extras that the standard Africa Twin doesn’t. Honda simply explained that the L2 is a bike designed to “go farther” and “go anywhere.” Starting with the “go farther” part, there are some range extending features such as the 6.37 gallon tank, up from the 4.97 gallon tank on the standard AT. There are new fairings to accommodate the larger tank. Also, the windscreen is all new with a 80mm taller profile and slightly tinted material. To make things a little more comfortable, it has heated grips and comes stock with a 12-volt accessory socket standard. Then the “go anywhere” part comes in with the longer-travel suspension and higher ground clearance (10.6 inches from 9.8 inches of clearance). The Showa 45mm cartridge-type inverted fork has 9.9 inches of travel (up from 9.1 inches) and the Showa shock has 9.4 inches (up from 8.6). Both the fork and shock have new springs and valving to deal with the heavier machine. Honda also said that the suspension is set up for more aggressive off-road riding, meaning stiffer and more hold-up, rather than the original Africa Twin that was set up a little bit more on the comfort side. To deal with gnarlier terrain, it also has a larger skid plate and aluminum crash bars. Changing the rider position to an even more upright stance are the higher bar mounts, new bar with more sweep, and flatter, taller seat. With the extended suspension and taller seat, the Adventure Sports seat h had to go up as well. The L2’s standard seat h is 36.2 inches which is almost two inches taller than the standard AT’s 34.3 inch seat h. You can still drop the standard seat almost an inch by putting it in the lower position and on the L2 that lower setting is still high at 35.4 inches. The Adventure Sports gets an all new rear rack/passenger hand hold. The size and shape of the rack is smaller and simpler, allowing for more luggage options. On top of that, the rack is completely removable to make it easier to install enduro style soft bags, or large U-shaped soft luggage. There is also a small storage pocket on the right side of the rear section. On The Road Now to the riding, which was on the DCT version Adventure Sports – Honda said they wanted the media to really focus on all the new electronics and the best way to do that was on the DCT model. While it might sound like you need a graphing calculator to figure out all of the ride, drive, HSTC, etc., after a few minutes on the road, we got pretty comfortable with switching them around. The new dash (still standard digital, not TFT) is pretty busy compared to some of the other premium bikes in the adventure segment. Honda has to pack a lot of information in the same amount of space as before since each ride mode has three new adjustments. But toggling through them is simple enough and, unlike TFT dashes that have selections inside of selections that you can get lost in, the Honda dash has all the ride and drive information available all at one time. Also when you turn off and on the bike, it remembers the last setting that you were in. And ‘User’ ride mode settings are saved so any time you go to that ride mode, it will be the same as the last time you set it. The only electronic options that won’t be “remembered” are what Honda says are safety related. Meaning, if you turned off ABS, when the bike is shut off and on, you will have to turn off ABS again, each time. The same is true if you turned HSTC off completely. But, if the HSTC was selected at any level from one to seven, it will remember that setting. Hopping on the bike for the first time, the taller seat h is extremely noticeable. Our tester is 5’ 8” and could just barely touch both toes to the ground, and that was with the seat in the lower position. In fact, Honda set all the seats to the lower position and no editor moved it to the higher position all day. There was a worry that with the seat in the lower position the rider’s knees would be too bent and would feel like they were sitting too deep in the bike, but that really wasn’t the case. With the higher profile seat, the lower position felt like the previous normal position. We think the only riders that will run the new seat in the normal seat position are those north of 6 feet tall and those riders that know that they are going to be standing most of the day on gnarly off-road trails. For tall riders, a taller seat reduces fatigue by shortening the distance you have to stand up when transitioning from the seated to standing position all day. It also reduces leg cramping by decreasing the knee bend angle while sitting for long distances on the highway. The stock tires were left on the bike for this intro and they are street biased, which was great for the twisty road sections. Sure, this bike is tall but it can lean over really easily and the extra weight of the bigger tank and protection wasn’t noticeable from a handling perspective. The throttle-by-wire does smooth out the bottom end hit that the cable actuated previous models had. On one hand, the throttle-by-wire takes away a tiny amount of excitement, but the engine is no slower than before, and, if anything, it is easier to ride. It is still a 1000cc parallel twin with that great sounding 270° crank and torquey power. While the bottom end is a notch mellower, the mid-range feels stronger which was the aim of the new intake and exhaust system. It keeps making impressive power up to the red line, if you are brave enough to keep the throttle open that long. Also for those sporty ADV riders out there, even on the DCT model, there is autoblipping down shifting which sounds and feels awesome. One the highway, the bike gets up to 75 mph without breaking a sweat and will gladly and aggressively accelerate from cruising up to passing speeds with ease. It is very smooth at a cruising pace and the DCT clicks through the gears with shifts faster than any human could with a clutch and shift pedal. Drive modes change how aggressively the bike shifts and doesn’t affect power at all. The “D” mode is the most economic and shifts the fastest into higher gears, basically keeping the bike in the lowest possible RPM at any given time. The S modes all hold gears longer and downshift sooner when decelerating. The S3 mode is the sportiest and mimics how we would shift going through the twisties pretty accurately. It down shifts as you apply the brakes (autoblip!) before a turn and holds that lower gear longer as you accelerate to the next apex. The bigger tank isn’t noticeably wider in the knees, but it is definitely wider closer to the front of the bike — sort of BMW R1200GS like, but not quite that big. The larger windscreen has much more coverage and gives the rider a comfortable, buffer-free bubble. It was 94° F when we rode the bike so the heated grip test will have to wait for another ride. In The Dirt With the new bar mounts and bar bend, standing on the Adventure Sports is effortless. Not that the previous models where difficult to stand on while riding, just that the higher and closer bar position is very natural and we felt it gave an abundance of control while riding off-road. The dirt section of the ride was comprised of grated dirt and gravel roads and didn’t have anything (rocks, roots, ruts) to test the longer-travel suspension. We did, however have plenty of time to play with different ride modes and the traction control. The Gravel preset ride mode puts the Power setting at 3 (lowest), Engine Braking at 3 (least) and HSTC at 6, which is very high. After just two turns into the dirt section, we dialed the traction control back to 4 — at 6 it would barely let the bike accelerate out of turns. As soon as the wheel started to slip, the HSTC would kick in and hold the RPMs at a steady rate even though we were giving it more throttle. The power in Power mode 3 is very smooth and the RPMs climb slower than 2 or 1. The engine still feels torquey and powerful, just smoothed out. The Engine Braking setting didn’t offer a huge difference between settings and in level 3 it didn’t turn into a two stroke or anything. The biggest difference we felt between the new CRF1000L2 DCT Model and the previous DCT model was the clutch engagement. Obviously, we aren’t talking about the clutch lever. We are talking about when the bike is stationary and idling and you give some throttle to get going. We have a 2017 Africa Twin DCT test bike we’ve ridden quite a bit in technical terrain. One our few complaints is that there is a lurch, a sort of little jump, right off idle. This isn’t an issue any other time, just when in first gear getting on and off the throttle, the engagement point is a little vague and jerky. This can be frustrating when really trying to pick your way through tight, bars-to-the-lock type of riding. But, with the new throttle-by-wire, any and all hesitation is gone. We really tried to test this by cracking the throttle the smallest amount we could possibly twist. On the older version, you’d hear the RPMs start to rise, then feel the bump of engagement. But the Adventure Sports starts to inch forward very, very slowly before you even hear the engine register the throttle input. The transition from stopped to moving is buttery, velvety smooth. We are making a big deal of this because, without a clutch, having confidence in when and how the auto clutch is going to engage is vital to technical riding. That being said, there wasn’t any hard off-roading on this intro but riding through some rolling elevation changes, we did notice the Adventure Sports would downshift later than we’d want when climbing a small crest. As with previous DCT models there is a finger trigger (upshift) and thumb button (downshift) to take the shifting duties into your own hands. At any time, in any mode, you can use the trigger/button to override the system and shift, or you can take full control with the Manual mode. No need to let off the gas, just click, shift, and go! Bottom Line Is the new CRF1000L2 Adventure Sports better than last year’s Africa Twin? It really depends on what your definition of better is. For many, the extra features, better suspension and the throttle-by-wire/DCT combo are a major step forward. Although if weight is very important in your decision making, waiting for the 2018 standard CRF1000L Africa Twin to be released with the updated electronics package may be the better option. Honda took some efforts to drop poundage, but the Adventure Sports DCT model weighs in at 555.8 pounds (49 pounds heavier than the standard Africa Twin). The taller seat h of the CRF1000L2 might be a deal breaker as well for the inseam challenged ADV riders out there. But the increased suspension travel and ground clearance means that it can clean gnarlier, more haggard trails and take you places you might have avoided otherwise. Plus, 6.4 gallons of gas helps ease range anxiety for those that want to do longer-distance, globetrotting adventures. The additional comfort, range and protection will also be appreciated on longer journeys but more features means more money, so you’ll have to decide what you really want and for what price. 2018 Africa Twin Adventure Sport Specs Engine Type: Liquid-cooled 4-stroke 8-valve parallel twin with 270° crank and uni-cam Displacement: 998cc Bore & Stroke: 92.0 x 75.1mm Compression Ratio: 10.0:1 Max. Power Output: 93.8 HP @ 7,500rpm Max. Torque 73 ft-lbs @ 6,000rpm Induction: PGM-FI electronic fuel injection (Throttle By Wire); (2) 44mm throttle bodies Ignition: Full transistorized ignition Starter: Electric Fuel Capacity: 6.37 gallons (24.2 liters) Fuel consumption: 51 mpg Clutch MT: Wet, multiplate with coil springs, Aluminium Cam Assist and Slipper Clutch; DCT: 2 Wet multiple clutches Gearbox / Transmission Type: Constant mesh 6-speed MT / 6-speed DCT with on and off-road riding modes Final Drive: O-ring sealed chain – 16Tx42T Frame Type: Steel semi-double cradle type with high-tensile strength steel rear subframe Dimensions (L x W x H): 92.3 in. x 36.7 in. x 61.8 in. (2,340mm x 930mm x 1,570mm) Wheelbase: 62.2 in. (1,580mm) Seat Height (Low/STD): 35.4/36.2 in. (900/920mm) Ground Clearance: 10.7 in. (271mm) Wet Weight: Manual: 535.7 lbs (243 kg); DCT: 555.8 lbs (252 kg) Turning Radius: 8.53 feet (2.6m) Suspension (front): Showa 45mm cartridge-type inverted fork with hydraulic preload and damping (compression & rebound) adjuster, 9.9 in. (252mm) stroke, 8.8 in. (224mm) axle travel Suspension (rear): Cast aluminium swing arm with Pro-Link linkage, hydraulic preload and rebound damping adjustment, 9.5 in. (240mm) rear wheel travel, 101 mm stroke Wheels Front: Wire spoke with aluminium rim Wheels Rear: Wire spoke with aluminium rim Rim Size Front: 21M/C x MT2.15 Rim Size Rear: 18M/C x MT4.00 Tires Front: 90/90-21 tube type Tires Rear: 150/70-R18 tube type ABS system type: 2-Channel with rear ABS off switch Brakes Front: 310mm dual wave floating hydraulic disc with aluminium hub and radial fit 4-piston calipers and sintered metal pads Brakes Rear: 256mm wave hydraulic disc with 1-piston caliper and sintered metal pads. Also Lever-Lock Type Parking Brake System on DCT model with additional slide type 1-piston caliper Instruments: Rally style negative LCD instrument display including: Riding Modes, Speedometer, Tachometer, Fuel, Gear position, ABS, HSTC, Odometer, Trip and Clock Headlight: Dual LED (1 High/1 Low) Color: White/Blue/Red Pricing: Standard ($14,999); DCT ($15,699) About the Author: With his sights set on doing what he loved for a living, Sean Klinger left college with a BA in Journalism and dirt bike in his truck. After five years at a dirt-only motorcycle magazine shooting, testing, writing, editing, and a little off-road racing, he has switched gears to bigger bikes and longer adventures. He’ll probably get lost a few times but he’ll always have fun doing it. Two wheels and adventure is all he needs.
  11. Published on 05.14.2018 Typically, adventure riding companions are your buddies who share the same passion for riding and the open road that you have. But what about your family? Do they ride? Obviously, if your kids are too young they can’t, but it doesn’t mean that they can’t share adventure riding with you as a passenger. In this video produced by filmmaker and ADV Pulse contributor Stephen Gregory, BMW Brand Ambassador Shawn Thomas rides with his daughter Hailey through the tropical wonderland that is Costa Rica. Shawn explains that he had such a curiosity and passion for riding that started when he was a kid and, after years and years of riding, those small moments of pure riding excitement were beginning to be harder to find. But riding with his daughter, he has rekindled that raw excitement through her. Plus, with technology and friends and TV, it is more difficult than ever to really connect with our kids and Shawn found that riding through Costa Rica while talking through their headsets was an amazing way to spend quality time together. Also, the fact that they are in Costa Rica doesn’t hurt. Taking a break from the bike for surf lessons is a great way to keep a pre-teen from getting too bored. Plus the never ending variety of terrain can keep both rider and passenger happy for weeks. Dense, vividly green jungle laced with dirt roads lead right down into beautiful sandy beaches. River crossings, white volcanic clay, rustic farmland, and challenging two-track are all there, ready for exploring. So, sit back and enjoy a little family riding time with Shawn and Hailey. For more information on how to ride Costa Rica, check out the BMW Certified Tour Guide and Instructors at Elephant Moto. About the Author: With his sights set on doing what he loved for a living, Sean Klinger left college with a BA in Journalism and dirt bike in his truck. After five years at a dirt-only motorcycle magazine shooting, testing, writing, editing, and a little off-road racing, he has switched gears to bigger bikes and longer adventures. He’ll probably get lost a few times but he’ll always have fun doing it. Two wheels and adventure is all he needs.
  12. Published on 05.14.2018 Typically, adventure riding companions are your buddies who share the same passion for riding and the open road that you have. But what about your family? Do they ride? Obviously, if your kids are too young they can’t, but it doesn’t mean that they can’t share adventure riding with you as a passenger. In this video produced by filmmaker and ADV Pulse contributor Stephen Gregory, BMW Brand Ambassador Shawn Thomas rides with his daughter Hailey through the tropical wonderland that is Costa Rica. Shawn explains that he had such a curiosity and passion for riding that started when he was a kid and, after years and years of riding, those small moments of pure riding excitement were beginning to be harder to find. But riding with his daughter, he has rekindled that raw excitement through her. Plus, with technology and friends and TV, it is more difficult than ever to really connect with our kids and Shawn found that riding through Costa Rica while talking through their headsets was an amazing way to spend quality time together. Also, the fact that they are in Costa Rica doesn’t hurt. Taking a break from the bike for surf lessons is a great way to keep a pre-teen from getting too bored. Plus the never ending variety of terrain can keep both rider and passenger happy for weeks. Dense, vividly green jungle laced with dirt roads lead right down into beautiful sandy beaches. River crossings, white volcanic clay, rustic farmland, and challenging two-track are all there, ready for exploring. So, sit back and enjoy a little family riding time with Shawn and Hailey. For more information on how to ride Costa Rica, check out the BMW Certified Tour Guide and Instructors at Elephant Moto. About the Author: With his sights set on doing what he loved for a living, Sean Klinger left college with a BA in Journalism and dirt bike in his truck. After five years at a dirt-only motorcycle magazine shooting, testing, writing, editing, and a little off-road racing, he has switched gears to bigger bikes and longer adventures. He’ll probably get lost a few times but he’ll always have fun doing it. Two wheels and adventure is all he needs.
  13. Published on 05.14.2018 Typically, adventure riding companions are your buddies who share the same passion for riding and the open road that you have. But what about your family? Do they ride? Obviously, if your kids are too young they can’t, but it doesn’t mean that they can’t share adventure riding with you as a passenger. In this video produced by filmmaker and ADV Pulse contributor Stephen Gregory, BMW Brand Ambassador Shawn Thomas rides with his daughter Hailey through the tropical wonderland that is Costa Rica. Shawn explains that he had such a curiosity and passion for riding that started when he was a kid and, after years and years of riding, those small moments of pure riding excitement were beginning to be harder to find. But riding with his daughter, he has rekindled that raw excitement through her. Plus, with technology and friends and TV, it is more difficult than ever to really connect with our kids and Shawn found that riding through Costa Rica while talking through their headsets was an amazing way to spend quality time together. Also, the fact that they are in Costa Rica doesn’t hurt. Taking a break from the bike for surf lessons is a great way to keep a pre-teen from getting too bored. Plus the never ending variety of terrain can keep both rider and passenger happy for weeks. Dense, vividly green jungle laced with dirt roads lead right down into beautiful sandy beaches. River crossings, white volcanic clay, rustic farmland, and challenging two-track are all there, ready for exploring. So, sit back and enjoy a little family riding time with Shawn and Hailey. For more information on how to ride Costa Rica, check out the BMW Certified Tour Guide and Instructors at Elephant Moto. About the Author: With his sights set on doing what he loved for a living, Sean Klinger left college with a BA in Journalism and dirt bike in his truck. After five years at a dirt-only motorcycle magazine shooting, testing, writing, editing, and a little off-road racing, he has switched gears to bigger bikes and longer adventures. He’ll probably get lost a few times but he’ll always have fun doing it. Two wheels and adventure is all he needs.
  14. Riders come in all shapes and sizes with all kinds of skill levels and preferences. Yet other than seat h, most models of adventure bikes are a one size fits all sort of situation. To fix that, there are a lot of basic ergo adjustments that can be made to your stock bike with little to no additional expense. For those of you rolling your eyes because this seems basic to you, there are many more riders who have never moved their levers or bars from the “stock” position, just because they don’t really think about it. First off, there is no stock position for bars and levers. When a bike shows up to a dealer, it is in a crate with the controls off the bike. Someone at the dealer has to put the bars and levers on and not to say that they do a bad job, it’s just that they have no idea who is buying the bike and therefore have a very slim chance of getting the ergos and controls set up right where you want them. Off-road racer, rider coach and founder of AltRider, Jeremy LeBreton, has been giving presentations about this for years. Here are some of the highlights. Stand Up, Levers Down Jeremy likes to do this thing where he asks his audience to extend their arms straight out in front of them, open their hands and point their fingers straight up with their palms facing forward. Then he says to hold that for five minutes. People don’t, but his point is that when you are standing on the bike with a finger on both clutch and brake lever (like you always should) if the levers are parallel to the bar this can put stress on your wrists. There is no reason to force your hand into this position if it is uncomfortable. By dropping the levers to where your wrists are in a more comfortable position when standing you are adding comfort and safety. Adjust levers so that your arms and wrists are aligned straight for more stability and less stress on your wrists in the standing position. “A lot of guys just don’t take the time to do this because they just never really think about it. Everyone thinks the guy from Craigslist or the teenager in the back of the dealership is going to do it right. Something so simple and free and easy can really make a big difference,” says Jeremy. Also, don’t be afraid to use the adjustment wheel on the levers. They are there so you can dial in your levers to match your correct hand size. Reaction time is critical when riding off-road and when you need to pull either lever, you finger should be on it ready to go, not fully wrapped around the grips. Teflon Tape Your Perches This tip comes from the world of off-road. If you ever watch professional racers take a spill and then just use their hand to bang their bikes levers back into place, it is because they are using teflon. For dirt bikes, some aftermarket perches come with a layer of teflon between the perch and where it will clamp on the bar. You can get the same benefit by just using some plumbers tape. Go around your bar two or three times where your perch will clamp, the mount it up. When tightened down all the way, you should not be able to spin it with your hand, but a sharp impact with the ground will spin the whole clutch perch rather than breaking the lever or perch. Then, just bang it back into place. Keep Track Of Your Controls “After you’ve put the time and the work over the last three weeks to adjust your bars and levers all in the exact perfect position for you, mark them so you know where they should be if they move after a tip over or when replacing parts.” You can you use a permanent marker, or a scribe if you want to get really permanent. Mark the bar clamps/bar and your lever perches/bar so if any of the controls gets out of position, you have a definitive reference point. Don’t Neglect The Pedals Just like adjusting your handlebar levers to suit the standing position, the brake and shift pedals can be adjusted as well. When you are sitting, your foot position is naturally tilted more forward and street-bike style controls reflect that by being positioned lower than the peg. On ADV Bikes, the “stock” position is most likely close to this orientation. But when you stand, your foot levels out perpendicular to the ground and reaching the pedals becomes much harder. Those who ride primarily off-road will want to set the foot controls more level with the foot pegs to make them easier to reach while standing. Each bike is different when it comes to adjustability. Some don’t allow you to change the brake pedal placement, but there are aftermarket pedals that have a higher and lower braking platform that work for both sitting and standing. We would suggest finding a setting somewhere in the middle that is comfortable for both sitting and standing to start with. Then if you know that you ride mostly off-road, set the pedals more level with the pegs because it is easier to adjust to that setup on the street than to adjust to a street setup on the trail. That being said, if you are a mostly street rider, the pedals should be adjusted lower to be more comfortable in the seated position. Foot Peg Refresh If you’re bike is a couple years old and retains its stock pegs, the teeth might be rounded off pretty good. Instead of buying new pegs, you can grab a file and freshen up the edges on the teeth. But as Jeremy says, “be mindful of the shape of the teeth.” Not only are sharp points going to drastically reduce the life of your boot, they can be dangerous. “It is amazing what putting the edge back on your pegs can do. You’re not making sharp points, you’re making 90 degree, sharp edges again.” See Also: Quick Tips: How To Set Your Rear Sag On An Adventure Bike About the Author: With his sights set on doing what he loved for a living, Sean Klinger left college with a BA in Journalism and dirt bike in his truck. After five years at a dirt-only motorcycle magazine shooting, testing, writing, editing, and a little off-road racing, he has switched gears to bigger bikes and longer adventures. He’ll probably get lost a few times but he’ll always have fun doing it. Two wheels and adventure is all he needs.
  15. We’ll start off this two-bike comparo by saying that it is a very good time to be in the market for entry-level adventure bikes. Whether you are a first-time buyer, converting from dirt or street, or looking for a smaller, lighter bike to compliment your large ADV Bike, we have two very impressive machines battling it out in this contest — BMW G310GS vs Kawasaki Versys-X 300. Why did we pick these bikes to compare? Quite simply, they are a close match in the Small ADV Class with a similar price tag and adventure touring features like a wind screen, contoured seating, luggage rack, and good fuel range. Honda’s CRF250L Rally ticks some of these boxes but like the Yamaha WR250R and Kawasaki KLX250, it’s really more of a dual sport in stock trim. And for those Yellow fans out there, the Suzuki V-Strom 250 would fit right into this comparison, yet it is still unavailable in the US market. So, for now (come on KTM!) we have Bavaria’s smallest adventure bike to date and small-bore twin from Japan. Our initial impressions of the G310GS and Versys-X 300 were both mostly positive, yet neither knocked it out of the park. The main benefit of comparing bikes back-to-back on the same days, in the same conditions, is that we can really feel the character of the bikes and notice things that are harder to tell when riding the bike on its own. How They Match Up On paper, the Versys-X 300 and G310GS are fairly evenly matched yet go about getting their numbers differently. The Versys, using a 296cc parallel-twin, has a touch more horsepower at a claimed 39.3 peak at 11,500 rpm while the BMW’s 313cc single trails slightly at a claimed 34 peak at 9,500 rpm. On the other hand, the G310GS has a edge with 20.7 ft-lbs of torque to the Versys’ 19 ft-lbs. In the suspension department the two bikes start to diverge a little more. The virtual nod would have to go to the BMW’s upside-down fork and 7.1 inches of travel, front and rear. The Versys-X 300 boasts a modest 5.1 inches from its standard fork and 5.8 inches of rear travel. Interestingly enough, both forks are 41 mm. Yet numbers don’t tell the whole story and a little later we will get into how these two suspension setups stack up. Both bikes have rear luggage racks and enough fuel range to enable longer journeys, yet the Kawi offers 4.5 gallons to the BMW’s 2.9 gallons. The advantage in wind protection goes to the Green bike as well with a full-size windscreen. The G310GS has street-oriented cast wheels while the Kawi has wire-spoked wheels that are more durable in the dirt. Lastly, the Beemer is the lighter of the two bikes with a claimed wet weight of 374 lbs while the Kawasaki clocks in at 385.9 lbs. Looking at all the stats, there isn’t a clear advantage, overall, to either bike. Lucky for us, we just had to go ride them both to figure out how these bikes behave in the wild. How We Tested The bikes were initially tested at their respective press introductions, both of which were light on the off-road sections. We got some additional time with the G310GS on some mild to moderate off road routes, then we slogged both machines up to Castaic Lake, California to ride them at the ADV Days Adventure Rally. We didn’t follow any guided tours since we had some more adventurous riding in mind that included some seriously narrow, side hill single track. Lastly we took the bikes to the super secret ADV Pulse testing grounds in the high desert, going through our off-road testing loop with stopwatch in-hand. Ergonomics Just hopping on one bike after the other, we noticed a big difference in overall feel and ride position. The BMW G310GS has a more familiar, off-road-bike layout with wider, neutral-h bars, slightly higher seat, and wider (with the rubber removed) metal footpegs. It also has a more ‘sit on’ rather than ‘sit in’ feel. The foot controls were a little too far down so the shifter was moved up, but unfortunately the brake pedal is non-adjustable and when riding off-road, especially going down hill, it is a far reach. While it isn’t dirt-bike-slim, the BMW’s seat-to-tank transition is smooth and offers a good contact patch for your legs when standing. The ergos on the Kawasaki Versys-X 300 are very different. The lower seat h gives a definite ‘sit in’ feel to the bike. This also makes the bar feel a little high (at least for our shorter tester) when sitting. The bar is also narrow compared to the BMW making it a little more awkward to ride off-road. The seat is much firmer than the GS’s, but it wasn’t something that we complained about when riding the Kawasaki by itself. Only after we rode the Kawi, then hopped on the G310GS did we notice that the BMW’s seat was pleasantly more padded. The non-removable rubber-topped street pegs make off-road riding on the Versys a little sketchy and when standing, the shape of the tank makes it a little harder to grip the bike with your legs than the GS. Street Test On tarmac, neither bike is a rocket but will get you out in front of traffic from stoplight to stoplight with relative ease, but the Versys-X 300 has a slight advantage. The motor comes from the Ninja 300 and just loves to scream. Keep revving and the bike will keep accelerating. On the highway, the Versys-X 300 can cruise very comfortably at 80 mph with barely any buzz. There is even more acceleration if you need to pass and throttle response from 80 to 90 is pretty good considering how small the engine is. The BMW’s highway manners aren’t as nice. It has more vibration as the revs pick up and 65 mph is where the bike is buzzing the least. It will go 80-85 mph but that is tapped out, with nothing left in reserve. The vibration at that speed isn’t teeth chattering but it is unpleasant enough to make you want to back it down a few mph and arrive at your destination a little later. [embedded content] We tested the bikes in the twisties as well, which was fun on both machines. But again the Versys-X was a little more at home on the curvy pavement than the BMW. The Kawasaki is effortless to lean into a deep turn and stay planted throughout. It also transitions smoothly from one turn to the next without any unsettling or stand-up. But, with its lower ground clearance, scraping the pegs came quicker on the Versys-X . The BMW, perhaps because of its longer suspension travel, wasn’t as fluid or effortless when leaning it over. It had noticeably more brake dive under as well, making it harder to get settled into a turn. The GS also was a tick behind the pace when it came to accelerating out of tight apexes. Dropping it into third gear to make a tight turn, then trying to blast out of it, we wacked the throttle wide open and weren’t super excited about the rev rate, which is a bit slow. The Kawi, on the other hand, spools up quicker and gets to a more exciting rpm faster out of turns. Just to be clear, there wasn’t a massive gap and we also know that these are 300s, not liter bikes. Using the appropriate frame of reference, both bikes are very fun in the twisties. Where their lower displacement leaves something to be desired, their low weight and controllable power make them fun bikes to test the limits of your street riding abilities. The BMW’s brakes felt like they had more power and feel than the Kawasaki’s but neither where sportbike-strong. Keeping the stock tires on for the whole test was a good idea when it came to the asphalt sections. The factory rubber on both machines is very street oriented and didn’t have us worrying about leaning deep into turns or grabbing a handful of front brake. Click the “Next Page” link below to continue.
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