The frame has been completely revised and now features a bolt-on aluminium subframe. The swingarm, too, is aluminium and based on that of the CRF450R moto-crosser. At the centre of the Africa Twin, the addition of a six-axis Inertial Measurement Unit (IMU) controls not only the 7-level HSTC but also (new for 2020) 3-level Wheelie Control, Cornering ABS (with off-road setting) and Rear Lift Control. An OFF-ROAD setting also joins the URBAN, TOUR and GRAVEL default riding modes.
Tailored for complete control, the riding position features a slimmer-section seat and higher-set handlebars. A full colour Multi Information Display (MID) 6.5-inch TFT touch screen offers immersive engagement with the machine’s systems, plus Apple CarPlay and Bluetooth connectivity. Dual LED Daytime Running Lights (DRL) are highly visible, improving safety, and cruise control is standard-fit.
• Capacity rises to 1,084cc
• Achieved through a new cylinder head, valve timing and lift, throttle body and exhaust
• Manual transmission ratios and gear material optimised, saving weight
• The muffler now features a variable Exhaust Control Valve (ECV) for improved low-rpm sound and high-rpm performance
The SOHC 8-valve parallel-twin engine now has a larger displacement of 1,084cc, up from 998cc. Significantly, the obvious increase in both power and torque makes itself felt from 2,500rpm all the way through to the redline.
To create the larger capacity, bore remains 92mm but stroke is longer at 81.5mm (from 75.1mm) with compression ratio of 10.1:1. The cylinder sleeves are also now aluminium. Along with other detailed weight savings in the transmission and elsewhere, the manual transmission engine is now 2.5kg lighter (at 66.4kg) than the previous design.
The cylinder head is completely revised, as is the larger diameter 46mm throttle body; the bore and cylinder pitches are also now aligned to create a smooth air intake profile. The ECU setting is new and the injector angle has been modified to deliver a more direct spray into re-shaped twin-spark combustion chambers.
Honda’s SOHC Unicam valve train is a feature of the MX competition-specification CRF450R and the low-set position of the cast camshaft contributes to the compact nature of the cylinder head. For 2020 the valve timing has been optimised and inlet and exhaust valve lift increased to 10.1mm inlet and 9.3mm exhaust (from 9.2/8.6mm).
To match and deal with the uprated intake efficiency and higher output (thus gas flow) the exhaust end-can now features a variable Exhaust Control Valve (ECV) very similar to the unit fitted to the CBR1000RR Fireblade. It enhances both engine performance and efficiency as it opens at higher rpm and gives a pleasing exhaust note ‘pulse’ at lower rpm.
The crankcases are split vertically; the water pump is housed efficiently within the clutch casing with a thermostat integrated into the cylinder head.
It’s a semi-dry sump design with in-tank lower crankcase oil storage. This allows a lower pan depth, keeping overall engine height low. As the pressure-fed pump is located within the tank where it delivers its oil from, there is no need for a pressure-feed passage. Secondary vibrations are neutralised by the mutually reciprocating motion of the pistons, while primary inertial and coupling vibrations are cancelled by the use of biaxial balance shafts.
For 2020 precision of the front and rear balance gears has been improved, allowing removal of their scissor gears; the addition of a crank pulsar ring adds misfire detection. In addition, the 02 lambda exhaust sensors have been replaced with Linear Air Fuel (LAF) sensors in the downpipes to allow for much more accurate measurement of the air/fuel mixture ratio.
The aluminium clutch centre and pressure plate use ‘assist’ cams to ease upshifts and ‘slipper’ cams for deceleration and downshifting; the clutch diameter is now smaller and features reduced spring tension for lighter lever feel. The gears are also re-shaped and constructed from stronger material. A quickshifter remains available as an optional extra.
• IMU-managed HSTC intervention levels optimised for off-road use
• Wheelie Control features 3 levels and IMU management
• OFF-ROAD joins the default riding modes TOUR, URBAN and GRAVEL
• Two USER modes allow for complete riding modes customisation
The Africa Twin’s engine received the benefits of Throttle By Wire (TBW) control in 2018, allowing much finer management of engine output and character as well as expanded Honda Selectable Torque Control (HSTC) for rear tyre grip.
For 2020 the system has smartly evolved and now works in conjunction with a six-axis IMU. At the very heart of the Africa Twin’s elevated on- and off-road performance is a Bosch MM7.10 six-axis Inertial Measurement Unit (IMU) tucked away at the centre of the machine, that measures – in real-time – roll angle/rate, pitch angle/rate and yaw angle/rate. It manages rear wheel traction via TBW and HSTC, front braking grip through Cornering ABS, front wheel lift through Wheelie Control and also adds Rear Lift Control.
The system offers 4 levels of power and 3 levels of engine braking. There are still seven levels of HSTC but each level’s amount of intervention has been optimised to work with real-time input (yaw/roll angle and rate) from the IMU. The spacing of the levels has been optimised to allow the rider a finer choice of the amount of rear tyre slide for off-road riding. HSTC can also be turned off completely.
Wheelie Control is another new feature. Again, with the IMU measuring pitch angle and rate, and controlling engine torque via TBW, the rider can choose between 3 levels of input. Level 1 allows for intended wheel lift but suppresses any sudden movement. Level 3 stops any front wheel elevation and level 2 is mid-way between the two. Wheelie Control can also be turned off completely.
There are four default riding mode settings: TOUR, URBAN, GRAVEL and OFF-ROAD to cover most riding conditions and situations plus two customisable USER settings. Even within the default riding modes, it’s possible to change some parameters – HSTC between levels 1-7 (plus off), Wheelie Control between levels 1-3 (plus off)
TOUR employs the highest level of Power (1), for touring loaded with pillion and luggage plus mid-range Engine Braking (2) with active on-road Cornering ABS.
URBAN suits wide-ranging riding requirements and uses mid-level Power (2) and Engine Braking (2) with active on-road Cornering ABS.
GRAVEL delivers the lowest level of Power (4) and Engine Braking (3). Cornering ABS is active with an off-road setting; in this setting, the rear brake ABS cannot be switched off.
OFF-ROAD uses lower-mid level Power (3) and the lowest amount of Engine Braking (3). Cornering ABS is active with an off-road setting; the rear brake ABS can be switched off.
USER 1 & 2 modes offer the rider a choice of two distinct personalized setups – choosing between Power levels 1-4 and Engine Braking 1-3, and ABS on-road/off-road parameters.
• Revised, lighter frame, with bolt-on aluminium subframe and lighter, more rigid CRF450R-style swingarm for improved rear wheel traction and feel
• A six-axis Inertial Measurement Unit is housed in the centre of the machine
• Cornering ABS provides sure-footed feel and features an off-road setting
• New damping and spring rates for the front and rear Showa suspension
In conjunction with the addition of IMU control for its 2020 evolution, the strength and rigidity balance of the steel semi-double cradle frame was completely re-examined by Honda’s development engineers to boost off-road ability – at the same time reinforcing its all-round on-road manners.
Rigidity around the steering head has been optimised to enhance feel for front end grip; the main spars are also slimmer and straighter and do away with the front cross pipe. Frame weight is 1.8kg lighter than before.
A bolt-on aluminium subframe (finished in red) replaces the integral steel structure of the previous design and is 40mm slimmer at a width of 195mm – crucial for easier ground reach. The aluminium swingarm is all-new, 500g lighter and based on the same design used by the CRF450R. Its improved rigidity improves rear wheel traction and rider feel.
Ground clearance remains 250mm, with wheelbase of 1575mm and rake and trail of 27° 30’/113mm. Wet weight is 4kg lighter, at 226kg.
With stroke length of 230mm the 45mm Showa cartridge-type inverted front fork offers long-travel bump absorption and features revised internal settings to improve both on- and off-road performance. Rebound and compression damping are fully adjustable. A cast aluminium top yoke and forged bottom yoke – joined by hollow aluminium stem shaft – clamp the fork legs with two bolts each top and bottom.
Similarly revised to match the front suspension the Showa rear shock delivers 220mm axle travel and features a 46mm cylinder and remote reservoir for stable damping control under extreme off-road riding conditions. Spring preload can be adjusted via a dial on the shock body; rebound and compression damping are also fully adjustable.
The swingarm pivot points’ inner plates now use 600MPa high-strength steel and the upper cross tube that connects them acts as the rear shock upper mount (through a pillow-ball joint) improving feel for rear wheel traction.
The IMU takes in lean angle, deceleration (from front/rear wheel speed sensors) and incorporates the slip rate of the front and rear wheels to manage braking pressure through the ABS; likewise if it detects sudden rear wheel lift, it finely controls brake force to maintain stability. When stationary the rear ABS can be cancelled for off-road riding.
As before, compact two-piece radial-mount four-piston calipers work dual 310mm ‘wave’ floating discs through sintered pads. The rear 256mm ‘wave’ disc features hole punching and shaping. 21/18-inch front rear (stainless steel) spoked wheels wear 90/90-21 and 150/70-18 tyres. Block pattern tyres (Continental 90/90-21M/C 54S and 150/70B 18M/C 70Q, rated at 180km/h and 160km/h respectively) are approved for fitment.