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Wing Commander
14,437 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I had no idea what to expect from the Crosstourer. But no matter what I wrote about it, I knew what I could expect from comments on it’s not a new Africa Twin; Honda should make a new Africa Twin.

Well, the Crosstourer is not the new Africa Twin. Its seat is comfortable, for a start – for miles and miles and miles. It has oodles of power to accelerate away, even at cruising motorway speeds. And by the looks of it, the wheel rims are not made of cottage cheese. So no, the Crosstourer is definitely not the new Africa Twin.

It’s not the new Africa Twin in other ways too. This is Honda’s second bike in its Crossover range (some have called it the Crossdresser?) and it shifts the emphasis from the 100% road bias of the Crossrunner slightly towards the off-road bent some of us desire.

But it’s very much a bike for munching the miles down to Spain or Italy and then spending few hours on some gravel tracks and not much beyond that. Expect another, smaller engined sibling within a year that might compete better with BMW’s GS800. That won’t be a new Africa Twin either – but it might just do.

But what will happen to the Varadero? The Crosstourer is the bike Varadero riders will wish they had waited for. It’s superbly comfortable for long journeys or riding the twisties. The leg position is perfect and the upright seating position gives you a great view of the road. Its 1237cc engine has the power to play at being a teenage tearaway, should you wish. Six forgiving gears also allow for economical motorway cruising too, without having to keep switching up and down.

And for those who like their technology, the Crosstourer has it in spades (I told you it wasn’t the new Africa Twin). There’s ABS and traction control as standard - £11,475. You won’t even notice the traction control cut in but it does, and it works. And there’s the more expensive automatic option with Honda’s dual clutch transmission (DCT) – £12,325.

With all that technology you’d have to work hard to crash a Crosstourer. But as your wing commander and head of the Africa Twin airborne division, I rose to the challenge.

To be honest, I was confounded by the automatic gear system, having never ridden a bike with such a system before. Private Eye’s Street of Shame used to feature a cartoon of a journalist with the caption: “Pissed old hack baffled by new technology” (at least it did when I appeared in it). Well, I was sober, but other than that it would have been a fair description.

I’ll explain the technology later, but in practical terms there’s a button on the right handlebar that lets you select neutral, drive (D) or sport (S). There’s no clutch lever or gear change lever. So you spend most of your first ride grabbing at an imaginary lever and flicking your left boot up and down like a folk singer tapping out a rhythm in thin air.

Marketing genius
Honda knows there will be people like me among the fat old men who will want to buy this latest gizmo and in a cheeky moment of marketing genius Honda, having removed the standard left foot gear shift, will be selling one as an accessory – yes, that’s right, if you want a gear lever to change gears on the DCT model using your left foot, it will cost you more.

I didn’t have one. And I could not get used to the DCT at all. I’m sure I would have mastered it, but I did not have enough time.

Automatic clutch in action
Pop it in D and you twist and go like on a scooter. You’ll be fine on the motorway and nice sweeping A roads. It will be economic but has the nous built in to drop down a gear for that sudden overtake. Pop it over to S and you have a race machine. It’s a blast. The smile on your face will be worth the extra petrol you’ve burned.

Then comes the complicated bit. There are manual overrides. On the left handlebar there are buttons for dropping down a gear (under the indicator button for your thumb to press) and switching up a gear (over the back for your forefinger to pull).

Hit the twisties and you simply cannot rely on the automatic gears. Racing in and braking before accelerating into the corners, the DCT does not change down fast enough, so unless you manually drop a gear or two you cough and splutter your way into the corner.

But, even if you do slam down the gears manually, on some corners the DCT will suddenly change back up again, perhaps only three-quarters of the way round the corner. This threw me mentally. I’m not for a moment saying it threw me literally but it did unnerve me.

There is a way round this and that is to switch the automatic gears off completely (a button on the right handlebar), but I did not have the time to practise this.

Who got their knee down?
So, out of Britain’s assembled motorcycle press (plus me) I was the only one to get my knee down. Unfortunately I also got my ankle, thigh and wrist down – oh and a whole brand new Crosstourer.

Now, here’s an interesting point that, of all the test riders, only I discovered: lay a Crosstourer down and it’s dead. It’s an ex-Crosstourer. It is no more. It has shuffled off its mortal coil.

I mean my Crosstourer and I had a little sideways skid across some grass into a bush. I was up and helping pick the bike back up (along with the Crosstourer’s chief engineer and designer, Yosuke Hasegawa (pictured), who was following and stopped to help). It had lost a wing mirror and one lower plastic panel that defends the radiator – all would have been saved with crash bars.

First we had to get it in neutral and that was challenge persuading the computer to engage neutral even when we had clearly flicked the handlebar switch to neutral – to be fair, many a rider who has an off can be seen stomping on their gear lever trying to find neutral. But once it was in neutral and wheeled on to the smooth road surface, it refused to start. We turned it off and on again – yes, even senior Honda engineers who invent motorcycle technologies try that old trick with their onboard computers – but it refused. Not a spark, not a growl, not even a cough. The computer said “No!”. So into the back of the van it went and out came another one for me to ride.

The problem is that most of the time we give our bikes a little lie down, we’re in the middle of nowhere, with several miles of inhospitable green lanes in both directions. We don’t have another van following us with spare bikes in the back. A bike that won’t start after a minor off is no use, even to the target audience who will do gentle gravel tracks.

And Honda has not yet been able to explain what stopped the Crosstourer from starting. I’ll let you know when I do hear.

EDIT: Honda experts believe the problem was cased by "a loss of hydraulic pressure to the clutch meaning that the dog of the transmission was not in the right place to engage gear. Once the bike had been righted and had travelled back to the Hotel, it started fine and engaged gear perfectly."

I later rode the basic manual model – oh the joy of a clutch lever and gear change foot pedal. It’s a corker of a road bike. Apparently the Crosstourer is heavy, heavier than my RD04. But I’d never have guessed. It’s narrower, more comfortable, faster, more forgiving.

Words of warning
There are a few things you’ll need to consider when buying it. First, the screen. If you broke the standard screen off I doubt you’d notice. It is way too short. There is a 145mm higher than standard tall screen as an accessory. We did not get to try it, but it has to be better than the hopeless standard screen. On the motorway my neck was doing heavy gym-type exercises. Honda describes it as: “The design lets the rider feel the breeze, which is part of the joy of riding a motorcycle, while keeping fatigue to a minimum.” No it doesn’t.

You’ll need to change the hand guards too or at least add spoilers – before we left for our rideout Honda had to warn us our hands would get cold, despite the heated grips (another accessory).

And the luggage is an aesthetic and practical disaster zone. The bike’s shape was carefully thought through. “We tried to make it as small and compact as possible, even though it is quite a big bike,” explained Honda. And then some idiot stuck ugly panniers on the side – very cleverly mounted without the need for pannier rails.

And the top box is, well, frankly useless. It has a zipped extension so its capacity can be increased to fit a single helmet inside. But that leaves your helmet and any other valuables easily at the mercy of anyone with a short penknife blade. For an incredibly well engineered bike, the luggage is a let-down.

Love it
Having said all that, in true XRV grumpy old man style - the Crosstourer is a hoot. Riding it will put a smile on your face. I reckon you could get used to the DCT gears within a couple of days. It will be a popular Honda bike and it deserves to be. I’d ride it to the end of the road, wherever that may be, but no further. If you want the upright riding position, the rugged off-road looks and the ability to take a few very gentle brown (not green) lanes (or at least pretend to your mates that you do) then this is the bike for you, It’s a rock solid Honda and has the potential to beat anything on the market that pretends to be the same.

But it won’t be in my garage.

The technology
The development team, led by the guy who helped pick up my bike, Yosuke Hasegawa (Large Project Leader), wanted to create a machine that gave the rider a sense of challenge and adventure. Apparently, Japanese phrases used during the concept creation and development translate into English as, “I can do this. I can go to a place like that”. “This” could be a long distance journey on fast major roads and motorways, or an adventure to a remote destination in the mountains. The Crosstourer development team wanted to create a motorcycle that was fit for all purposes, a perfect travel companion, while also offering a premium and unique design complemented by cutting edge technologies

So how did Honda do?
Here’s what Honda says and, to be fair, it all seemed true:
Compact engine dimensions: The V4 configuration is slim and compact, reducing frontal area and helping realise a mass-centralised chassis for excellent handling. Furthermore, the engine features a very closely set pair of rear cylinders, making the engine narrower at the back. The result is a comfortably slim and manageable motorcycle. Further contributing to the engine’s compact dimensions is Honda’s revolutionary Unicam technology, borrowed from the CRF range of single-cylinder motocross machines. This employs a single overhead camshaft configuration to reduce the size and weight of the cylinder heads and optimise combustion chamber shape, benefiting performance.

Smooth engine operation: The Crosstourer’s engine uses a combination of a 76° angle between the two banks of cylinders and a crankshaft with 28° phasing between the crankpins to virtually eliminate vibration. Since this obviates the need for a power-sapping balancer shaft, the result is a higher output together with a serene absence of vibration. This is an engine you can use all day, for hundreds of miles, without fatigue.

Optimised engine settings: Based on the engine found in the VFR1200F, the Crosstourer’s powerplant has been modified to better suit its intended duties. To further increase low and medium rpm drive the design of the camshafts has been revised, as has the valve timing. The result is satisfying drive, even from very low engine rpm.

Now we get to the DCT. This is Honda’s explanation:
Dual Clutch Transmission: A product of Honda’s ongoing desire to use new technologies to bring fun and convenience to peoples’ lives, Dual Clutch Transmission uses automated clutch and gearshift operation to deliver the same riding enjoyment as a manual transmission with the convenience of an automatic. As the name implies, the system uses two clutches: one for start-up and 1st, 3rd and 5th gears; and another for 2nd, 4th and 6th. By pre-selecting the next gear using the clutch not currently in use, the system can electronically switch clutches when required to deliver swift, smooth and seamless gearshifts. This smoothness is particularly beneficial when carrying a passenger.

A mode for every situation: Three modes of operation are available for flexibility to suit different riding styles and situations. MT mode gives full manual control, allowing the rider to shift gears with the handlebar trigger control buttons. Two fully automatic shift modes are also available. D mode is ideal for city and highway riding, and maintaining fuel efficiency. The ECU monitors several key parameters and can choose between two maps; one for normal conditions, which minimises gear shifts for smooth progress, and a second for high-load use that changes gear more readily for increased acceleration and stronger engine braking. In sporty S mode the transmission lets the engine rev a little higher before shifting up, giving greater performance, and also shifts down sooner when decelerating. In either D or S mode the Dual Clutch Transmission offers immediate manual intervention if required. The rider simply selects the required gear using the MT mode shift button. Changes to the software system now mean that at an appropriate time the system reverts back to the automatic mode.
The frame of the Crosstourer is hollow aluminium. The Crosstourer’s spoked wheels allow for tubeless tyres and take 110/80-R19 at the front, 150/70-R17 at the rear. It has 43mm upside-down telescopic forks and a Pro-Link rear suspension, with front and rear adjustable. And it has what Honda calls a “a maintenance-free shaft final drive”.

Accessories include:
An Averto Alarm Kit: A compact alarm unit with a 118dB siren and back-up battery. Low
consumption sleep mode to protect the battery from draining. Features a movement and shock detector with 8 sensitivity modes.
A 38-litre expandable top box: Can store 1 full face helmet when fully expanded. 1-key operation (can be opened and closed with the motorcycle key). Matches the pannier set.
A pannier set: Specially designed and fully integrated 35L (RH) and 39L (LH) square panniers. The left pannier can contain most helmets. The set fits directly to the motorcycle. 1-key operation (can be opened and closed with the motorcycle key). Matches the top box.
A pannier / top box inner bag: Portable inner bag with black zippers and a grey Honda wing logo.
Carrying belt and handle included. 21-litre capacity. The same inner bag can be used for the top box and pannier set.
A mainstand: Allows more secure parking and also facilitates cleaning and rear wheel
A cowl ornament kit: Tubular anodised aluminium kit developed to emphasise the bike’s rugged appearance. Also serves as a front LED fog lamp stay.
A front LED fog lamp kit: Pair of LED fog lights which mount on the cowl ornament kit. Combines a very bright beam with minimal power consumption and a long lifetime. Control button integrates nicely in the motorcycle’s fairing.
A touring screen: PC replacement screen. 145mm higher than standard screen.
A side deflector kit: Set of left and right deflectors which protect the rider and pillion from the elements and reduce turbulence. Made from black polyurethane.
Heated grips: Kit includes integrated controller. Ultra slim for maximum comfort and design integration. 3-step variable heating levels.
A 12V DC socket kit: Can power additional electrical equipment. Positioned under the seat.
An outdoor cycle cover: Protects the bike from the elements.
A 123/217 U-Lock: Fits under the seat.
A tank pad: Helps to protect the tank from scratches.

Type Liquid-cooled 4-stroke Unicam 16-valve 76° V4
Displacement 1,237cm3
Bore x Stroke 81mm x 60mm
Compression Ratio 12:1
Max. Power Output 95kW / 7,750min-1 (95/1/EC)
Max. Torque 126Nm / 6,500min-1 (95/1/EC)

Carburation PGM-FI electronic fuel injection
Throttle Bore 44 mm
Aircleaner type Oil-permeated, viscous-type paper filter
Fuel Tank Capacity 21,5 litres
Fuel Consumption 16.3 km/l (Tested in D-Mode WMTC mode)

Ignition System Computer-controlled digital transistorised
with electronic advance
Ignition Timing 8.4° BTDC (idle speed
Sparkplug Type NGK : IMR8E-9HES
Starter Electric
Battery Capacity 12V/11.2AH (YTZ14S)
Headlights 55W x 1 (Hi)/55W x 1 (Low)

Clutch Wet, multiplate
*Wet multiplate, hydraulic 2-clutch
Clutch Operation * D mode/S mode/Manual mode
Transmission Type 6-speed
Primary Reduction 1.738 (73T / 42T)
Gear Ratios 1 2.600 (39T / 15T) *2.250 (36T / 16T)
2 1.600 (32T / 20T) *1.700 (34T / 20T)
3 1.260 (29T / 28T) *1.304 (30T / 23T)
4 1.076 (28T / 26T) *1.107 (31T / 28T)
5 0.961 (25T / 26T) *0.967 (29T / 30T)
6 0.897 (35T / 39T) *0.886 (31T / 35T)
Final Reduction 2.699 (37/39 x 19/17 x 28/11)
* 2.706 (39/41 x 19/17 x 28/11)
Final Drive Enclosed shaft

Type Diamond; aluminium twin-spar

Dimensions (LxWxH) 2,285mm x 915mm x 1,335mm
(w/ std screen and std position)
Wheelbase 1,595 mm
Caster Angle 28°
Trail 107 mm
Turning Radius 2.7 m
Head turning angle 40°
Seat Height 850mm
Ground Clearance 180mm
Kerb Weight 275kg (F: 132kg; R: 143kg)
285kg (F: 138kg; R: 147kg)

Type Front 43mm inverted telescopic forks with hydraulic damping, preload and rebound damping adjustment Rear Pro-Link with gas-charged damper, preload and stepless rebound damping adjustment

Type Front tube less spoked
Rear tube less spoked
Rim Size Front 19M/C x MT2.50
Rear 17M/C x MT4.00
Tyre Size Front 110/80-R19
Rear 150/70-R17
Tyre Pressure Front 250kPa
Rear 290kPa

Type Front Dual 310mm disks, Combined ABS
Rear Single 276mm disk, Combined ABS

Some pics:


Hill Rider
3,112 Posts
Thanks for sharing Chris, warts and all (the report/bike, not you ;))

So, do you reckon you'll be asked out for the next launch, Oh Crash Test Demi God?

Steve T


1,412 Posts
So... there's a chance i would have been stranded in the middle of Morcambe Sands... think i'll stick with mechanical, £9k, get back on my feet & continue on my way. I only go 2% offroad, but if it can't kiss the dirt... it's 2% too much. AHA!!!! maybe I could have one of each :p. Nice work if you can get it Chris...:thumbright:

The Angry Pasty Muncher
6,170 Posts
Good write up, i rode the VFR1200 on the launch with the DCS system and if i was buying the new bike would have that system, it was so smooth the only way you could tell it changed gear in any mode was to see the numbers change on the dashboard. Funny riding a bike with a parking brake though

Premium Member
6,168 Posts
I don't think it's going to tempt many off roaders away from their BMWs and KTMs but I do think it sounds like a worthy successor to the Varadero.

Should know better
2,980 Posts
"Crosstourer has landed"? Blimey Chris, I knew you'd had a little - ahem - "incident"- but didn't realise you'd been that airborne again that it's only just landed :D:D:D

3,233 Posts
I don't think it's going to tempt many off roaders away from their BMWs and KTMs but I do think it sounds like a worthy successor to the Varadero.
I think you have hit the nail on the head, it sounds & looks like a very good Varadero replacement.

Good write up Chris, glad your OK:thumbright:

Won't be one in my garage, too many other good true off-roaders available.

Grumpy auld man!
1,646 Posts
Nice write up Chris, and glad to hear you are OK mate. :thumbright: Having studied the report, even if I could afford it I don't think I would buy one.............................far too much technology for an old git like me! :toothy10::toothy10:


whys the rum always gone?
17,680 Posts
interesting - whats the top speed, what are the service intervals and does it wheelie?
more to the point how much is this beasty going to cost to service , i find it quite funny that the KTM 990 ADV is now days seen as basic rudimentry old money ,and for that reason could it be a better bike than this crosstourer ??

the reason i let that go was the sky high servicing , ive a feeling that servicing this V4 is going to be a tad spitefull , so it will be interesting to see what the service intervals are , i mean if Ducati can get 15k between sevices then a honda should go at least 20 k:thumbup:

one thing i will say Chris is with somebody as ugly as you riding it , makes it look a very pretty bike:D:D:D

1,275 Posts
Great write up (you could do this sort of thing for a living:mrgreen:).
Some interesting inovations some good, some????
Not sure on the gear shift idea but no doubt similar coments were made when the foot shift was developed.

By the way there are loads of very nice pictures of the bike in the vertical but none in the hirizontal!!!

12,768 Posts
Good write up Chris.:thumbup:
It will be interesting to find out why it does not start after having a lie down.

3,270 Posts
Chris, yes the bike is crap,but I noticed you had new bike gear on, What was wrong with the tried and tested sewn together adventure gear. Are you being a posh snob.:-D

Wing Commander
14,437 Posts
Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Chris, yes the bike is crap,but I noticed you had new bike gear on, What was wrong with the tried and tested sewn together adventure gear. Are you being a posh snob.:-D
My winter jacket did not fit over the body armour suit.

1,275 Posts
I don't know if I'm becoming old and cynical but I've noticed all the new Honda adventure bike seem to have low level exhaust. That just does'nt seem right to me.
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