The Honda Africa Twin Helped Me Conquer My Fear Of Tall Bikes

Photo: Aaron Brown/Jalopnik

I love adventure touring bikes. Honestly, it’s mostly because they just look so damn cool! They’re modular, look like they can go from like Tierra del Fuego to Nova Scotia, and are usually quick as hell. But for a medium-sized boy like myself, they are often intimidatingly tall.

I’ve been riding regularly on my Moto Guzzi V7 in the New York City area since last November, and I’ve gotten super comfortable on it. It’s not the most comfortable thing for longer trips—the longest I’ve ridden is just under three hours on highways—but it’s super fun to tool around on in the city.

With a seat height of 30.7 inches, it’s just about perfect for my five-foot-eight-ish body. I can almost always flat-foot at stops and never really worry about being able to maneuver it at low speeds.

But, of course, the V7 is by no means a dual-sport or adventure bike, like the Honda Africa Twin.

(Full disclosure: Honda dropped off a gas-filled Africa Twin near our Manhattan office and gave us two weeks to do whatever we want with it.)

For the record, the Africa Twin isn’t terribly tall. It has a dual-position seat, that when in the low setting, rises at 33.5 inches, and in the tall setting, sits at 34.3 inches. For comparison, the Triumph Tiger 800 XCx seat comes in at 33.07 inches and 33.85 inches, and the BMW R 1250 GS Adventure’s seat is at 35 inches and 35.8 inches.

But after hopping off my V7, trying to throw my leg over the Africa Twin felt like I was trying to mount a giraffe.

Before I even got there though, I was nervous. “How would I get on? How would I come to a stop? Should I use both legs? Whichever one touches first? Am I going to have to hold onto cars at traffic lights to keep this thing up? How many times am I going to drop this thing between Times Square and Williamsburg?” Those were just a few of the thoughts that ran through my mind before picking the Africa Twin up from the parking garage.

Of course, when my coworker and Notorious Tall Man Erik Shilling asked me about how I was feeling about riding it home, I brushed it off as like “Oh yeah, no biggie.”

The good thing was, it really was no biggie!

I was able to maneuver out of the garage and through Midtown Manhattan traffic with no problem. Almost immediately, I felt at home on the Africa Twin.

We only got the bike yesterday, and so far, I’ve probably put around 10 city miles on it. Not a ton, yet, but I’ve found you can learn a shocking amount about a bike in the first few miles as you try to adjust yourself for the new experience.

So far, I’ve learned that this bike’s 998cc parallel-twin engine that puts out 93.8 hp is hella quick. Bouncing between its Urban and Touring ride modes, this thing absolutely rips, especially once you find second gear and rev it out. Our tester isn’t equipped with the automatic DCT transmission, but this manual shifts seamlessly and is superbly easy to find neutral with.

It’s a little more bike than I’m used to, both in power and size, but I’ve found it relatively easy to squeeze through traffic, so far. Its massive, high-sitting mirrors were awesome for the brief amount of highway riding I did, and for quick lane changes in city traffic. It’s tall riding position also helps you feel slightly less invisible in the gnarly maze of Ubers, cabs, and commercial vehicles around the city. Also, this thing totally eats up speed bumps and manhole covers in the city. It’s great.

Though I do have to be slightly more thoughtful about how I use my feet when I come to a stop, I haven’t yet found it to be much of a problem. I can’t flat foot it, but I can keep it upright without issue.

If I were buying one of these $13,599 bikes, I’d definitely look into a lowering kit for it. A quick Google search shows that Krooztune sells a 30mm and 50mm kit for it for $334, which to me, sounds like it’d be a smart investment for us shorter folk.

Anyways, the biggest annoyance I’ve had regarding its height, size, and 507-pound weight, is walking around and trying to back it into tight spots in the city. It’s been a total pain, but I’m working on it.

Throughout the next two weeks, myself and Erik are hoping to get a bit more acquainted with the Africa Twin. So! If there’s anything you want to know about it, let us know in the comments.

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