Ever since the Honda CRF1000L Africa Twin hit the market in 2016, there have been rumors that Honda was planning a smaller version. Now, those rumors have heated up in the Japanese moto-press, resulting in the rendering above.
Supposedly, we’re going to see a downsized version of the Africa Twin, maybe called the CRF850L, for the 2020 or 2021 market. Presumably, we’d see it debut on the show circuit this fall.
It all sounds great, but let’s look at some facts.
FACT: The Honda CRF1000L makes about 94 hp, give or take a few ponies.
FACT: The Honda CRF1000L has a claimed wet weight just over 500 lb., even more once you add in DCT.
FACT: The Honda CRF1000L has a $13,599 MSRP in the US, $15,199 in Canada.
FACT: The new KTM 790 Adventure lineup makes about the same power, has less weight, has more advanced electronics, and comes in at a lower price.
No doubt Honda would dearly love to release an 800-class adventure bike—the original XRV750 Africa Twin was in that category, and BMW and Triumph have both established a pattern of selling 800-class ADV machines to go with their big-bore bikes. And, if Honda was only competing with those bikes, it might find plenty of space in the market.
However, with KTM’s new 790 Adventure series offering similar or better performance out of a smaller engine, with less weight and an MSRP roughly in the same range, or lower, things are going to be difficult for Honda. Some buyers will always buy a Honda, because that’s what they want. For others, who are shopping around, Honda would have to develop an exciting motorcycle to compete with the 790 range, or else offer extremely competitive pricing. Neither of those seems likely, based on Honda’s recent history. For that reason, it seems it would be silly for Honda to release a CRF850L, with such a disadvantage right out of the gate.
Stay tuned, though! If Honda really is working on such a machine, there could indeed be surprising technological upgrades or a competitive MSRP, and we’d love to see Big Red move the industry forward that way.