When you’re stuck for choice between the Honda’s Dakar inspired Africa Twin and BMW’s elegant F800GS/F850GS, it’s hard to choose.
While the BMW F800GS and it’s bigger brother, the F850GS, is largely considered to be more modern adventure motorcycles, the Africa Twin has more power on tap. Both bikes offer excellent capacity for touring the world given their handling and reliability which are difficult to compare fairly.
It’s a difficult choice to compare one motorbike vs another, especially given how close these 2 bikes actually are. Reviews rank each bike quite faborably and it’s a true apples for apples comparison.
BMW F800GS/F850GS vs Honda Africa Twin
We’ll break this one down into several sections and we’re not biased in anyway. Unlike other publications, we aren’t paid for our own reviews from manufacturers.
On and Offroad Handling
Straight up – The Africa Twin is ergonomically more usable. While BMW usually wins the crown for ergonomics and cockpit design with their motorcycles, Honda takes the award on this occasion.
The handling is certainly different especially as Honda’s fuel tank is traditionally in-front of the rider, while the BMW has a good portion of the fuel tank sitting under the seat. It just feels a little strange and the suspension could certainly use a tune-up if you’re a heavier rider.
This isn’t to say that BMW is a bad choice. We would just feel slightly more confident on various offroad terrain with the Honda. On the road, however, it’s an entirely different scenario with BMW being very comfortable for long flat sections though the Honda does fare well.
You would expect the Honda to be more performance-happy given the larger engine, and it is! Out on the open road it makes light work of freeway onramps and there’s just plenty there for any overtaking challenge.
Design and Aethisics
This is a tough one. Some people love the design of the more traditional Africa Twin, while others love the clean lines of just about any BMW adventure motorcycle, even down to their 390’s.
When we compare both bikes side by side, most people tend to lean towards the BMW for the modern design. However, one must remember that the sides will be loaded up with adventure bags, a tank bag and some crash bars too.
All these added accessories to make these adventure bikes more capable will significantly change both the look and feel, but the handling as well. Those bags might not be heavy but they’ll certainly knock a few seconds off those otherwise quick acceleration times. Not that this matters…as it’s all about the journey, right?!
While both come with adventure fairings, the BMW could certainly use an upgrade unless the wind in your face is your idea of fun.
Chances are that you’re going to keep this motorcycle for several years and so you’ll want one that you can live with for quite some time. It’s for that reason that you need to really live with this bike….almost as much as adopting a pet.
These are heavier on the scales than most other adventure motorcycles. They’re the reason why a good portion of adventure riders have looked elsewhere for close to 2 decades for dirt bikes which they could modify for adventure use. Funnily enough, manufacturers didn’t pay attention until just recently where companies like Honda came on the scene with their 250L.
Point is – you’ll want to be sure that you can lift this bike + all your gear when you drop it. And be sure that you can handle those fast-flowing sand sections and whoops.
Both bikes shine in terms of their use as adventure motorcycles. Yet they are more 80% road and 20% dirt orientated. For tight technical stuff, both bikes like many in the big bore adventure riding space fail miserably.
Both bikes offer so much value in terms of performance, looks and being adventure-ready. For many riders, there isn’t much else to do but to throw on some saddle bags, buy some gear and head off into the sunset.
Of these two bikes, we’d take the Africa Twin despite the BMW just looking so much better. Its handling in the hard stuff is where it just shines through a little better due to the ergonomics and suspension. And when you’re in the middle of nowhere, that’s exactly what you need going for you in the right direction.