I just don't get it. Honda take a few professional race riders and puts them through their paces in non technical open tracks of desert to through up some dirt and make a media splash. Like the Yamaha's Tenere, Triumph's Explorer and even the Honda's XR650L aptly named the "big red pig" has no business in the dirt. As the saying goes a few very capable expert riders can make anything look good. Who needs another massively heavy adventure bike trying to act like a dirt bike, like the R1200 BMW GS Adventure or the new Mega expensive Multistrada.
The Africa Twin failed horribly every road test I read, lacks power, handling, performance, just like the other Kawasaki Versys 1000 "bike of the Year" I rode one, horrible snappy throttle, whiplash cruise control engagement that puts a knot in your lower spine, worse than the Honda Gl1800, owned 2, if Honda can't build a silky smooth cruse control at least copy BMW or Indian.
Like we say there is a butt for every bike, as for us, Honda Africa Twin is another marketing flop, that doesn't stand up to the name, hasn't made one single production goal, doesn't deliver to the consumer market as promised in form/function/production market delivery schedule. Like the much hyped and anticipated Kawasaki Versys 650, it wasn't remotely versatile, was a dismal failure of engineering and a total dog on the road.
I just crossed America twice this summer on a 250cc 2004 Honda Helix, true to it's heritage one of the best products Honda ever produced. It's time for motorcycle manufacturer to get a grip on more horsepower doesn't equal better motorcycling, better suspension should come in the bike, not out of the box from aftermarket suppliers, ergonomics, quality seats worth sitting on should come standard.
We have enough heavy as **** Adventure Bikes trying to play dirt bike, what we need is something along the lines of a Paris Dakar 450cc that can kick ass off road and take names on road, carry a load for solo bike Adventure Riders and keep up with the 650, decent crash protection right out of the box, real skid plates, crash bars upper and lower, durable luggage options.
Like Sursup says there is some point to some of what you say and despite the blatant negativity that You express with regard to the Africa Twin I do understand some of your points.
In their advertising bling, Honda have done no more than any manufacturer selling a large Adventure bike. They made it look good offroad. The difference here is that like the other good offroad bike that came before it (KTM 950/990), the AT can perform well offroad in the right hands. Sadly my hands are no longer strong enough to make mine perform in proper offroad conditions. I also have a Triumph Explorer. It is a much heavier bike than the AT but Triumph also hired an expert rider who made it look very good indeed in offroad conditions albeit not as extreme as the AT can handle.
You mention various motorcycles that you have little good to say about, and I fear for your motorcycling future. I too owned a GL1800 previously for example. A behemoth indeed, but one that never ceased to amaze me with its ability and handling on all sorts of roads, gravel included. I eventually parted with mine in 2012 because at age 62 (then) I was having difficulty with its weight at low speeds and when manhandling. However I still have great memories of my 10 years of ownership, as does my Wife who toured all over Europe on it with me.
Honda with finally showing some sense among manufacturers and producing horsepower on the AT at more sensible and usable levels. It has a gem of a motor. My former NC700X also had another brilliant motor but I swapped it for the AT because the AT had far superior suspension and a slightly better motor. The AT also is perfect for my favoured rough backroads and occasional tracks. I remember when I first rode the demo AT I took it on some rough mine roads near my home. I knew that day that it was better suspended than the KTM 690 Enduro that I had used for trail riding for the previous six years. As you suggest it is still heavy and there are places that I would have brought the 690 that I would not have used the AT on.
So You have crossed America on a 250. My fellow countryman who travelled from Alaska to Patagonia on a Honda C90 would possibly have thought that what you rode was overpowered and overweight. I suppose it is all relative to ones individual needs. However I do agree that in the interests of choice it is high time that the manufacturers produced a decent 400/450 trail bike for those of us who have a preference for something lighter and more manageable. I am currently considering a CRF250L for trail riding again but cannot make up my mind because there is such a poor choice out there. As such I am now looking back at some older models such as the DRZ400 and even further back if I can find a decent bike that doesn't have its saddle up in the clouds. Ideally something light and comfortable in the 350cc range would be ideal, but porky 250's are all that are out there currently. I will live in hope, but in the interim I would never call the AT a marketing flop. Quite the opposite actually. Maybe not Bike of the Year, but if not perhaps an alternative ?