A fellow biker send us review of a rented Honda Africa Twin CRF1000L DCT. He wanted to explain the DCT (Double Clutch Transmission) is not an automatic transmission, DCT may shift automatically, but it is most definitely not an automatic transmission. Inside you’ll find the same gears and shifter forks as in a conventional motorcycle. How DTS works is that first, third and fifth gears operate through one clutch while second, fourth and sixth work through the second clutch. Essentially what happens is that when you’re riding around in first gear, second gear is already pre-selected but its clutch is disengaged. If the computer calls for a switch for you to toggle on the left handlebar switches, calling for a “manual” shift — the second clutch slams home while the first opens up. As you can imagine, that’s a much faster process than the whole gears engaging/disengaging and clutch pulling process, the reason why virtually all of the world’s fastest supercars now use dual-clutch transmissions.
In the real-world, the DCT works pretty much as advertised. There are two selections: Drive and Sport and in automatic mode, the former holds gears longer and the latter shifts quicker. To be truthful, I tried Sport once for evaluation purposes and left it in Drive the rest of the time, the 998-cc parallel twin’s abundant low-end torque plenty even when riding two up with the transmission short-shifting. And, even in Drive, if you gas it up the big twin will spin up to its (relatively conservative) 8,000 rpm, so max power is always available.
His trip aboard this Africa Twin DCT to from Chiang Mai to Doi Ang Khang (ดอยอ่างขาง) or just Angkhang is a mountain resort at the northwestern tip of Chiang Mai Province, Northern Thailand. Was a 450 km ride through the countryside with temperatures hovering right around the 34-degree mark (that’s Fahrenheit so it was cold) quite cold. The area has a cool climate all year round, particularly from December to January, when much of the area is frosty.
Once under way, the Africa Twin feels tall, thin, a bit lighter than I expected and softly sprung. Roll on the throttle and it pulls strong even though the DCT seems to shift earlier than I would like. It sounds good when you get it the revs up, despite having the eco-friendly stock exhaust. There’s a load of buttons on both bars, so I didn’t focus on that right away. But to get the most from this bike, you have to get familiar with them all. The dash looks compact and clean, it’s easy to read and full of useful info: fuel, clock, air temp, all the DCT, ABS, TC setting as well as the requisite idiot lights. Wind protection is decent, too, and since it was biting cold, I was painfully aware of what areas were not sheltered from the elements.
The Africa Twin has good-looking brush guards that block most of the wind from hitting your hands directly. The seat is a combination of firm padding and a good shape that holds you in place without being too wide at the seat-tank junction. The tank is narrow, too, so the bike feels thin and comfortable when sitting down or standing up.
From the Chiang Mai-Fang road (Hwy 107), turn left at an intersection around km137 (at Mae Kha Market) and proceed to Doi Ang Khang at a distance of 25 km. It is a steep zigzagging asphalt road. Therefore, only vehicles in good condition and experienced riders can make the trip to Doi Angkhang Mountain roads. Doi Ang Khang is very windy, and many steep hairpin turns. Angkhang Montains is a part of the Himalayan mountain range, Doi Inthanon is Thailand’s tallest peak at 2,565 metres above the sea level. Doi Inthanon National Park covers an area of 482.4 square kilometers in three districts of Chiang Mai province. Cool climate lovers should visit the park during December to February, which is winter and you also get a chance to see the blossom of Siamese sakura flowers all over the area.