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Tamiya Honda CRF1000L Africa Twin

Honda CRF1000L Africa Twin
Tamiya No. 16042
Model Type: Injection-molded styrene
Molded Colors: black, silver, clear, white, chrome
Scale: 1/6
MSRP: $296
Pros: Well-organized assembly sequence, detailed decals
Cons: Masks not pre-cut, unrealistic Phillips screws


Assembling parts before painting meant stronger joints on important subassemblies and a better finish with less touch-up from sprue attachment points. Usually, it also allows for fixing minor fit issues, but the engineering of this kit made that a minor task.
The fuel tank needed a little filler and filing to get rid of the seam between the tank halves. The white decal proved to be a bit of a problem, as it didn’t want to conform to the concave shape of the tank’s top.
The engine, rear shock absorber, and center stand have been installed on the frame. These parts are all held in place with screws, giving a solid assembly and bright spots of polished metal. However, the Phillips head screws do give away the fact this is a model.
The front and rear shocks combine metal and plastic components and result in a working suspension. Take care assembling the rear shock so that the adjustment knob is correctly oriented. Three springs are stacked inside the fork tubes to support the bike’s weight.
I should’ve known by the mischievous grin on former editor Jim Haught’s face that this was no ordinary going away present. He popped into my office with a giant box, and the first thing I caught was the Tamiya logo.

He knows I’m a sucker for imported car models, so I wondered what it could be. The picture on the box just wasn’t registering as any kind of car, and I didn’t expect a motorcycle.

But motorcycle it was, a 1/6 scale model of a Honda’s CRF1000L, also known as the “Africa Twin.”

The Africa Twin name has quite a reputation among rally racing fans. The original Africa Twin, released in 1988, was a replica of the racer Honda developed to win the Paris-Dakar Rally. The consumer model, the XRV650, went on to compete in the Dakar rally itself, with 50 being entered in 1989. The model left the market in the early 2000s, but was revived in 2015 with the introduction of the CRF1000L in Europe. Tamiya’s model comes right on the heels of the full-sized bike’s release.

That big box housed 358 parts on 19 sprues. Another nine bags hold 140 metal parts, mostly screws, with nuts, springs, and front suspension components, as well as two wrenches, two screwdrivers, and an Allen key for building the front forks.

There also are a pair of vinyl tires; two diameters of vinyl tubing for cables and hydraulic lines; mirror stickers for backing the reflectors; a sheet of printed, but uncut, masks; and decals for two of the “Africa Twin’s” available paint schemes.

In addition to the 32-page instruction booklet, Tamiya includes a fold-out reference sheet with the bike’s history and dozens of photos of the full-size motorcycle to aid in finishing. A four-page foldout parts list proved helpful too, making it easy to find parts and keep track of painting.

I used mostly Tamiya paints for this build as I’m not as familiar with motorcycles as I am with cars. This is a big kit, and uses a lot of paint. In an attempt to economize, I chose the red and black scheme as I had leftover cans of Tamiya spray in Italian red and black. I had enough black, but I had to run out for another can of red. The kit also sucked up two spray cans of NATO black, and even that wasn’t enough. My hobby shop was out of stock with the Tamiya color, so I substituted a bit of Vallejo Air NATO black to finish.

The parts sheet was helpful in painting, as I marked parts with colored pencils to show what should be painted which colors. It made it easy to see that some sprues could be sprayed quickly with a spray can, while others were more suitable to airbrush or hand paint.

Another organizational trick I used was to transfer the metal parts to old 35mm film canisters, marked with the parts bag codes from the parts list. This made it easier to get to the small parts without having to worry about losing them from an opened bag.

Like most Tamiya kits, the Africa Twin went together in a trouble-free manner. Being a brand-new kit, there was virtually no flash, and Tamiya’s first-class engineering meant that all of the parts fit exactly as they were intended to.

I encountered no surprises during this build, and even the daunting-looking spoked wheels, made up of six parts each, were no problem.

I went through the instruction sheet and noted which parts could be assembled before painting, including the engine, frame, and wheel rims.

The Africa Twin’s fuel tank decals were a bit cumbersome. The white panel that fits between the red and black areas tended to stretch over the contours of the tank rather than lay into them, causing some cracks and pulling. I covered the gaps with plain white decal paper cut to fit. It probably wouldn’t have been too much more work to simply paint all of the colors on the tank.

Cutting the pre-printed masks for the tank was a tedious task that could have been simplified with die-cutting at the factory, but the masks sealed well.

The decals on the fairings and the front fender went on with no problems. The only part fitment concern I had was with the left side fairing. It’s meant to slip round the headlight assembly and stay there, but my example tended to pull out a bit, leaving a gap.

Many of the parts are screwed together, including the hardware for mounting the engine to the frame, rear swingarm and shock absorber, seat, fuel tank, front fender, radiators, and assorted smaller pieces.

Most of the screws were Phillips head, which for parts such as the windscreen are possibly correct, but the engine mounts surely use bolts, either hex head or cap screws, and photos show the brake discs are bolted, not screwed, on to the bike. I’m not sure if appropriately sized hardware would be available, and it would’ve complicated Tamiya’s inclusion of the tools needed to assemble the kit, but it does leave super-detailers something to do to bring this model even closer to the real thing.

A Detail-Up kit is available from Tamiya, with a link-by-link chain assembly. Thankfully, this option wasn’t included in Jim’s gift.

A notice in the instruction sheet led me to wish for another Detail-Up option - metal spokes. The plastic spokes are scale-sized and look great, but the instructions warn that prolonged display with the model resting on its wheels could distort the spokes shape.

A clear plastic stand is included to keep the bike off its wheels. If you want metal spokes, you’ll have to work that out for yourself.

I didn’t count the hours I spent building this kit, mostly because I was having fun, but it must have eclipsed 100. There’s a lot to do here, but each step brought another cool assembly together.

This isn’t a beginner’s kit, but anyone with a bit of experience will likely have a great time building it.


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