What is it with the ongoing rise of parallel twins? Simple really; they’re cost effective, two cylinders is one less than three, two less than four, and they’re cheaper to build than a V-twin, the two pots sharing a single crankcase. Being more compact than those other designs means better mass centralisation and more room for everything else. Moreover, they can generate good low down torque for easy day-to-day use. Yes, they vibrate but there are ways around that. And they can be made to sound ornery.
The latest to join the fray is Honda with its new NT1100 tourer, though to be accurate this is not a new powerplant per se but a development of the firm’s Africa Twin engine or CRF1100L. The single overhead cam unit produces 75kW of peak power and 104Nm of torque. With a 20L tank, its range is said to exceed 400km, so mean fuel use is around 5L/100km.
According to Honda, many riders today want a sport tourer rather than the image or physical dimensions of a large ‘adventure’ bike. In other words, they don’t need the compromises required for off-road work. So they want a purpose-built machine that can handle two-up touring, as well as sports riding, and one that can also commute.
This then is the remit of the NT1100. Not only should it appeal to experienced riders, but also those who might be trading up from a middleweight machine. Based on the CRF1100L it comes well equipped with the gear necessary for safe and practical long distance touring. For example, it has a screen that has five different height settings and includes upper and lower wind deflectors. Integrated panniers, heated grips, centre stand, cruise control and charging sockets are all standard equipment. Lighting is by LEDs, including DRLs, and indicators are self-cancelling.
With a relatively short wheelbase, mass centralised engine and sharp steering geometry it should handle well, while suspension is via 43mm Showa inverted forks and single-tube rear shock, each offering 150mm of travel. Rear spring preload adjusts manually. Dual 310mm front discs are acted on by four-piston radial-mount calipers. Tyres are 120/70-17 up front and 180/55-17 for the rear. Seat height is set at 820mm.
As with the Africa Twin, you can opt for a Dual Clutch Transmission (DCT) instead of the standard six-speed gearbox, offering trigger-based manual shifting or automatic changes.
Other features include three riding modes, (Urban, Rain, Tour) plus two customisable user modes, and three-level wheelie and traction control. A 6.5-inch TFT touch screen is customisable and offers smart phone integration and Bluetooth connectivity.
Available in grey, white or black, the NT1100 should arrive here in the second quarter of 2022. There’s no pricing yet but the CRF1100L upon which it is based ranges from around $28k to $35k. Five years ago the original CRF1000L kicked off at $20k.