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Honda Hawk 11: The Africa Twin’s Sportbike Spawn

Honda’s soon to be launched Hawk 11 shares its chassis and parallel-twin engine with the Africa Twin.

Honda’s soon to be launched Hawk 11 shares its chassis and parallel-twin engine with the Africa Twin. (Honda/)

There’s nothing new about using one engine design across a variety of different bikes, but the 1,084cc parallel twin from the latest generation of Honda Africa Twin is proving to be a remarkably versatile design. Already used in the Rebel 1100 bobber and NT1100 tourer as well as the Africa Twin itself, the engine is about to appear in a neo-retro café racer that revives the famous Hawk title.

The Hawk 11 is already being teased in a series of official videos and is expected to make its debut at the Osaka Motorcycle Show in late March, combining the retro styling of the Honda CB4 Interceptor concept with the Africa Twin’s running gear to make a surprisingly attractive package. Although the teaser videos take the standard tack of hiding details in dark shadows and using short close-up clips to muddy the overall impression of the machine, you can get a pretty decent idea of the styling and technical makeup of the model from the stills seen here.

Related: Honda Hornet Makes a Comeback

Bullet-shaped nose fairing with circular headlight is a clear homage to Honda’s 2017 CB4 concept.

Bullet-shaped nose fairing with circular headlight is a clear homage to Honda’s 2017 CB4 concept. (Honda/)

Starting at the front, the bullet-shaped nose fairing is the clearest nod to the 2017 CB4 Interceptor concept—sharing the same satin black paintwork and oversized, circular headlight that gives a visual link to the “Neo-Sports Café” styling direction that’s already seen on the CB1000R, CB650R, CB300R, and CB125R. However, while those are all naked roadsters, the Hawk is a sportbike.

Where the CB4 Interceptor used the chassis and engine from the CB1000R, the Hawk 11 takes parts wholesale from the Africa Twin and NT1100, borrowing not only the 101 hp, 1,084cc, Unicam four-valve-per-cylinder parallel twin but also appearing to adopt the same steel semi-double-cradle frame. It was already impressive that the adventure bike design from the Africa Twin could be adapted to suit the touring needs of the NT1100; that it can also work as a sportbike chassis is even more surprising. However, the essentials of the Africa Twin—a compact, lightweight engine and frame—also tick the same requirement boxes of a sport model, and the more parts that can be shared, the lower the final price of the bike is likely to be.

The CB4 Interceptor concept also sported underseat mufflers, but it’s unclear whether the new Hawk will have the same arrangement.

The CB4 Interceptor concept also sported underseat mufflers, but it’s unclear whether the new Hawk will have the same arrangement. (Honda/)

Even the front section of the exhaust, just visible in one section of the video, seems to be the same as both the NT1100 and Africa Twin, although the rear pipes aren’t shared between those machines and the Hawk will probably get its own to suit the styling. Whether it can adopt the underseat muffler of the CB4 Interceptor concept remains to be seen, as that section is hidden in the videos.

The identical front exhaust hints that there’s no big change to the engine’s spec or power, so the Hawk 11 clearly isn’t a superbike-rivaling performance machine, nor does it gain the supercharged version of the Africa Twin engine that Honda has been working on. Even with 101 hp, coupled with the Africa Twin’s plentiful torque, it promises to be a lot of fun.

Related: Examining Honda’s 2022 Africa Twin

Front of the exhaust looks identical to the Africa Twin’s suggesting the engine carries over relatively unchanged.

Front of the exhaust looks identical to the Africa Twin’s suggesting the engine carries over relatively unchanged. (Honda/)

The revival of the Hawk name comes soon after Honda’s announcement that it will bring back the Hornet title on an upcoming parallel-twin roadster. The Hornet is expected to use a new, high-revving, smaller-capacity twin of around 755cc, according to Japanese sources. Honda’s tactic, already employed for many years on the CB500 range, is to make as many models as possible from a number of shared components, using economies of scale to bring prices down—so the upcoming Hornet, expected to be launched late in 2022, will also lead to multiple models. A reborn Transalp, built around the same smaller twin engine, is widely believed to be following hot on its heels.

Although it’s very distinct, the Hawk’s retro styling still draws a direct line to Honda’s current Neo-Sports CB series.

Although it’s very distinct, the Hawk’s retro styling still draws a direct line to Honda’s current Neo-Sports CB series. (Honda/)

In the meantime, the Hawk 11 brings something distinctly new to Honda’s lineup, despite harking back to the past and sharing so many components with existing bikes. The demise of the CBR600RR in many markets means there’s a gaping hole in the between the CBR650R and the CBR1000RR-R Fireblade, and there are already hints that the retro trend is migrating toward faired machines—just look at Bimota’s new KB4, MV Agusta’s Superveloce, and the 2018 Husqvarna Vitpilen Aero concept, which is also expected to spawn a production machine eventually. All share the same sort of bullet-faired, circular-lamped style that’s appearing on the Hawk 11, but none with the mass-manufactured level of availability that’s promised by the Honda badge.

The current retro trend may be morphing away from nakeds and toward fairing-ed machines, which would favor the timing of the Hawk’s launch.

The current retro trend may be morphing away from nakeds and toward fairing-ed machines, which would favor the timing of the Hawk’s launch. (Honda/)

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