Auto Fabrica gives the modern Honda Africa Twin classic rally style

Custom Honda Africa Twin by Auto Fabrica
Born from Honda’s victory in the Paris Dakar rally, The Honda Africa Twin hit the scene in 1988 with ‘modern’ features like liquid cooling, an electric starter, and disc brakes. But the current Honda CRF1100 Africa Twin bears little resemblance to its ancestor. It now boasts a 1,084 cc motor that makes triple-digit power and torque, and enough elec-trickery to make Inspector Gadget blush.

Purists have a lot to say about the complexity of modern motorcycles like the Africa Twin, but the fact is that much of that complexity makes those bikes better. “This thing rips,” Bujar Muharemi says, bluntly, of the new Africa Twin. “I was a tech grinch until I tried it… now I want one.”

Custom Honda Africa Twin by Auto Fabrica
Bujar and his brother, Gaz, are the founders of Auto Fabrica—a UK-based custom shop we’ve followed since their early days. The Muharemi bros have a knack for highly conceptual designs, and create machines that feel more like factory prototypes than traditional customs. Case in point, this retro-futuristic Honda CRF1100 Africa Twin, designated ‘Type 22.’

“Type 22 started as a design study on what we could do if we used mid-80s Honda Paris Dakar and enduro bikes as inspiration, but used a modern CRF1100 donor bike,” Bujar explains. “This was a very interesting challenge for us because as much as we like slick and flowy art deco design, we also like to dip over to the super exciting race bikes and cars. We are automotive designers, after all.”

Custom Honda Africa Twin by Auto Fabrica
Auto Fabrica’s take on the contemporary Africa Twin isn’t as much a throwback to one particular machine as it is a homage that pulls from myriad sources. There are shades of the Honda NXR-750 rally bike that pre-dated the original Africa Twin, plus details that echo the general vibe of 80s off-road competition bikes. There’s a heavy dose of futurism too, in the way that Bujar and Gaz have manipulated those styles to fit the bones of the modern donor bike.

There’s nothing left of the Africa Twin’s plastic bodywork. A classic rally-style fuel tank takes center stage, consisting of two hand-formed aluminum covers over a custom-made reservoir. The inner tank uses the OEM fuel pump and fuel level sensor, while carrying half a liter more petrol than before.

Custom Honda Africa Twin by Auto Fabrica
The Africa Twin’s chunky new solo saddle mimics the perches on old rally bikes, with hand-made aluminum side covers offering another nod to the original Africa Twin. The seat can be removed via the bike’s original key mechanism, with three magnets helping to hold it in place. Behind it sits a bespoke aluminum fender, neatly capturing that quintessential vintage enduro look.

Although each part is impressive enough on its own, it’s the way they harmonize with each other that floats our boat. View the bike from any angle, and each part morphs flawlessly into the next, with myriad details to draw the eye. “Big volumes in the tank and seat areas were key to the design,” Bujar adds, “but we quickly found we could really hone in on detailed cuts, such as the air out inlet and outlet on the main tank covers.”

Custom Honda Africa Twin by Auto Fabrica
The carbon fiber front fender and 3D-printed dual headlight nacelle are unique to this bike too, but getting everything fitted was a chore. It’s here that one major drawback of modern motorcycles became glaringly obvious—they’re hard to take apart without breaking something. Unplug the Africa Twin’s dash or headlight, and the bike is immediately bricked.

Because of this, Auto Fabrica opted to retain all of the Africa Twin’s stock wiring—and the functionality that it enables. So this bike still has traction control, ABS, switchable rider modes, cruise control, and a TFT screen with onboard navigation and Apple Car Play.

Custom Honda Africa Twin by Auto Fabrica
While dismantling the Africa Twin’s rally-style front tower, the guys discovered that the speedo and TFT screen were two separate pieces. Taking advantage of that, they relocated the narrow speedo to a custom mount behind the new headlight nacelle, then built a neat enclosure to house the TFT screen atop the fuel tank. That left them free to remove every last piece of the frame-mounted OEM fairing and mount the new headlights directly to the forks.

Auto Fabrica’s next challenge was figuring out how to swap out the stock LED lightning without upsetting the bike’s CAN bus system. “We actually dismantled and reverse-engineered the standard headlight internals,” Bujar reveals. “These were then retrofitted into LED shells and re-sealed; a huge challenge, but they work and look great.”

Custom Honda Africa Twin by Auto Fabrica
On top of retaining the Honda’s modern functionality, Auto Fabrica went a step further with a few tasty upgrades. FTR Suspension supplied a full set of Öhlins suspension upgrades, and the front brake calipers were swapped for a set of Brembo items. The stock airbox was left alone, but the exhaust was replaced by a full titanium system.

“The key for this sort of bike to work for us has to be its usability,” says Bujar. “There is no compromise on this, other than the seat position moving back 50 mm from stock. This was to get the styling dialed in properly—but after riding the bike we actually found it more comfortable than the stock position.”

Custom Honda Africa Twin by Auto Fabrica
In typical Auto Fabrica fashion, the Africa Twin wears an impossibly cool livery. Bold red graphics sit on a white foundation, accented by clever touches like the 3D-printed LED turn signals.

It’s such a clean design, that we can almost picture it as an official Honda concept bike (if only). Lucky for us, Bujar and Gaz are up to building more of these if there’s interest—which there no doubt will be.

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Custom Honda Africa Twin by Auto Fabrica

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