In the late eighties the Adventure-Touring segment had become extremely popular in Europe. Inspired by the Paris-Dakar victories of the NXR, Honda launched the Africa Twin in 1988 and laid the foundation of what would become a legendary motorbike.
The design idea behind the Africa Twin was to create a dualsport (or on/off-road – as it was called back then) replica of the Honda NXR750 racer. A motorbike capable of crossing the Alps and the Mediterranean, riding into the heart of the African continent – that was the image the team around chief designer Tomonori Mogi had in mind when they began their work. No wonder first thing they did was borrowing one of the Paris-Dakar winning NXR’s from HRC, to study its design factors. The goal was to project the feel and style of the desert racer into the production bike, creating a model that evoked both dreams and adventure.
Bold words, but the result was impressive: the Africa Twin featured a solid long travel suspension, a robust V2 engine, a rally-style frame mounted fairing, dual 130mm headlights and a huge 24 liter fuel tank. The comfortable seat in suede finish and the prestigious white/blue/red HRC paintwork were also directly inspired by the Paris-Dakar machine. In addition to that, rugged components like the one-piece aluminium bash-plate, a rear carrier made from steel tube, stainless steel exhaust pipes and silencer as well as gold anodized aluminium rims were chosen. The design team insisted the Africa Twin to have expensive quick-release fasteners for its side body panels, just the same that were used on the NXR. The classic, auxilary-type instrument panel completed the image of a factory built machine, constructed with a top priority on function.
No doubt, the Honda designers and engineers have successfully met their objective. Even today, standing next to the original Africa Twin one can sense the air of refinement and quality that surrounds the bike – pure functional excellence.
Its high versatility and legendary reliability made (and make) it the motorcycle of choice for countless travellers. The Africa Twin is nothing less than a true milestone motorbike in which Honda just got everything right.
The Honda XRV650 Africa Twin is located on the second floor of the Honda Collection Hall.
More Honda Dual-Purpose motorcycles at the Honda Collection Hall: http://www.honda-museum.com/dual-purpose/