2021 Honda X ADV is here

 2021 Honda X ADV is here


Honda’s ground-breaking X ADV gets a comprehensive update: more power for the engine, plus higher redline.

And revised gearbox ratios, which come hand-in-hand with Throttle By Wire management, four default riding modes.

Refined and expanded Honda Selectable Torque Control, all with no loss in fuel efficiency. 

A redesigned frame now comes in all-new bodywork, and the seat has been re-shaped for easy ground reach.

The storage compartment is usefully larger and includes a USB charger; there’s also now a glovebox.

Twin LED headlights to feature Daytime Running Lights. And a 5-inch TFT display allows smartphone connectivity via the new Honda Smartphone Voice Control System.


It’s not often in the world of motorcycling that a new line of thinking emerges to create a new machine breed. But Honda specializes in innovation and 2016 unveiled an entirely new concept, straight out of the Honda X ADV’s left-field.

The thought processes that led to its birth? Consider the attributes of the average adventure-style motorcycle. Tough go-anywhere appeal, an upright riding position giving superb visibility and remarkable all-round usefulness, work or play.

Then take a look at the typical commuter; it might be a scooter or motorcycle, but in either case, it will be easy to manage.

Nimble and loaded with convenience, efficiency and functional storage space. Honda’s forward-thinking engineers combined the two, and something extraordinary happened.

The machine they created had a rugged, stylish SUV image entirely at home navigating the urban sprawl.

And while arrives with all of the premium features that enable easy life in the big city. It also had the looks, engine power and chassis ability to inject every ride with the adventure promise.


The X ADV captured the essence of two-wheeled freedom in an exciting new form and garnered an army of riders around Europe. Eager for something new, and has proved itself a genuine sales success.

And, proving its off-road credentials. In the hands of seasoned Italian racer. Renato Zocchi a lightly modified version took overall Class 2 victory in the gruelling 7,000km 2019 Gibraltar Rally.

And the X-ADV is not standing still. For 2021 Honda is upping its engine performance, trimming weight.

Enhanced style and adding even more usefulness make the X-ADV even more relaxed and more desirable in the process.

Model Overview

3kW more peak power for the X-ADV’s EURO5-spec engine, plus an extra 600rpm to the redline are the headline changes. Thanks to work on valve timing and intake/exhaust efficiency.

Shorter ratios for first, second and third gears allow smarter acceleration, while taller fourth, fifth. And sixth ratios allow relaxed higher-speed cruising and excellent fuel economy.

Throttle By Wire (TBW) brings with it adjustable engine character through 4 default rider modes: RAIN, STANDARD, GRAVEL. And SPORT plus a customizable USER mode.

It also allows even smoother operation of the Honda Selectable Torque Control (HSTC) system, which now features three intervention levels. The Dual Clutch Transmission (DCT) features Automatic shifting schedules that link with the riding modes.

 A new frame and detail improvements save 1kg. There’s a sharper, more aggressive edge to the X-ADV’s bodywork.

And the twin LED headlights are now equipped with Daytime Running Lights (DRL), as used by the CRF1100 Africa Twin.

For more comfortable ground reach the seat is newly contoured at the shoulders. The redesigned under-seat storage space grows in volume and features USB charging point.

Relocating the parking brake to the right handlebar offers greater convenience and frees up space for a useful new glovebox. A new TFT instrument display shows Honda Smartphone Voice Control System.

 The 2021 X-ADV will be available in the following colour options:

  • Grand Prix Red *NEW*
  • Graphite Black
  • Matt Beta Silver Metallic
  • Pearl Mud Gray


  • Throttle By Wire and an extra 3kW for the peak power figure of 1kW; 69Nm torque
  • An extra 600rpm to the redline
  • Gears 1-3 shorter, for a sportier feel; gears 4-6 taller for improved economy
  • EURO5 compliant, with 3.6l/100km fuel efficiency
  • 35kW A2 licence version available

The design of the X-ADV’s liquid-cooled, SOHC 8-valve parallel twin-cylinder engine ensures punchy performance in the low-to-mid-range.

Its relatively long-stroke architecture and specially shaped combustion chambers combine with the high-inertial mass crankshaft. To produce large amounts of effortless torque from very low rpm.

A forward cant brings the centre of gravity down for optimum stability. Through the course of its 2021 update,e it is now 1.4kg lighter than before.

More on engine

Thanks to a finely balanced 5% change in valve duration (which differs between the two cylinders). Plus the addition of Throttle By Wire (TBW) and improvements to the exhaust.

The engine makes more power and revs harder for longer to a high 7,000rpm redline. Alongside the power hike, it holds onto an increased torque output for longer over 5,000rpm.

Peak power is raised 3kW to 43.1kW @ 6,750rpm, with maximum torque of 69Nm @ 4,750rpm.

Hand in hand with the performance hike are shorter gear ratios over first, second and third gears, improving standing start and roll-on acceleration through each gear.

From 30 km/h the X-ADV will cover 20m in 1.7s, 50m in 3.2s, while at 60km/h the torquey engine is turning at just 2,500rpm.

Fourth, fifth and sixth gears are now slightly taller, for improved fuel efficiency and flexible use of the increased power figure.

For A2 licence holders, a 35kW version is available, which can be converted to the full power version by a Honda dealer at the appropriate time.

Equally, it is possible to restrict the full power version to 35kW by a Honda dealer remapping the ECU.

Twin balancers counteract vibration from higher rpm inertia without affecting the distinct ‘throb’. Delivered by the engine’s irregular firing order and 270° phased crankshaft.

Bore and stroke are at 77 x 80mm. Possible components do more than one job: the camshaft drives the water pump, while one of the balancer shafts drives the oil pump.

By keeping the number of parts to a minimum, the engine is kept light, efficient and reliable.

The X-ADV engine sips fuel ­with a measured 27.8km/l (WMTC mode) consumption, providing a potential 366km range from the 13.2-litre fuel tank.

It is also now compliant with EURO5 regulations. Which from January 1st 2020 introduced significantly stricter engine emissions standards compared to EURO4.

These requirements include substantial reductions in permitted carbon monoxide emissions.

And over 40% decrease in total hydrocarbon emissions. More rigid misfire detection and the introduction of a particulate matter limit.

 Engine Electronics

  • Throttle By Wire delivers four default riding modes, plus USER customization.
  • Honda Selectable Torque Control features much more adequate management and three levels of intervention.

With TBW now managing engine performance. And character, there are four modes for the rider to choose from, covering all riding conditions. The left-hand switchgear contains mode selection.

STANDARD delivers a balanced middle point between engine power delivery, engine braking and HSTC intervention, with the most substantial ABS intervention level.

SPORT gives more aggressive engine power delivery and engine braking, with low HSTC intervention, high ABS.

RAIN transmits low engine power delivery and engine braking, high HSTC and ABS input.

GRAVEL employs high power and engine braking with low HSTC and ABS.

USER offers custom options of low/medium/high between engine power delivery and engine braking and short/medium/high/off for HSTC.

Honda Selectable Torque Control (HSTC) now offers much softer, more adequate control as it uses TBW.

To manage torque delivered to the rear wheel, with three levels of input as opposed to the 2 of the previous system:

Level 1 allows the minimum intervention for some rear-wheel spin on gravel or dirt. For instance, and its level of intervention is reduced from the previous design.

Level 2 is the default setting and provides confidence-inspiring traction for general riding conditions.

Level 3 provides maximum control for slippery roads.

 The rider can also switch off the HSTC.

 Dual Clutch Transmission (DCT)

  • Differing shifting schedules link with riding modes.
  • The USER mode allows the choice of 4 settings, from smooth to aggressive.

Honda’s DCT technology is now in its eleventh year of production. And over 140,000 units of DCT-equipped Honda two-wheelers have been sold in Europe.

It delivers consistent, seamless gear changes up or down and very quickly becomes second nature in use.

It uses two clutches: one for start-up and 1st, 3rd and 5th, the other for 2nd, 4th and 6th, with the main-shaft for each clutch located inside the other for compact packaging.

Its electro-hydraulic circuit independently controls each clutch. When a gear change occurs, the system pre-selects the target gear using the clutch not currently in use.

The first clutch is then electronically disengaged as, simultaneously, the second clutch engages.

The result is a consistent, fast and seamless gear change furthermore. As the twin clutches transfer drive from one gear to the next with minimal interruption of the drive to the rear wheel.

Any gear change shock and pitching of the machine is minimized, making the change feel direct and smooth.

Extra benefits include durability (as the gears cannot be damaged by missing a gear) impossibility of stalling, low-stress urban riding and reduced rider fatigue. 

The DCT system offers two distinct riding approaches the Automatic settings, with pre-programmed shift patterns which frequently read vehicle speed.

Gear selected and engine rpm to decide when a shift should occur. And the Manual Transmission setting for gear changes using the paddle-shift style triggers on the left handlebar.

Through TBW control, there are 5 Automatic shifting schedules available. Level 1 is the most relaxed, with upshifts and downshifts operating at relatively lower rpm; it comes with the RAIN riding mode.

Level 4, on the other extreme, shifts up at higher rpm and downshifts earlier for more engine braking effect.

It comes with the SPORT mode. Level 2 comes with STANDARD riding mode, with Level 3 situated between STANDARD and SPORT.

For the GRAVEL riding mode, the X-ADV uses the relatively sporty ‘G’ shifting pattern. This has the added functionality of a decreased level of ‘slip’ as the clutches operate from a fully open or closed throttle.

To give the rider more direct feel for traction at the rear wheel and perform controlled sliding off the road.

Whereas the separate G Switch previously activated this functionality, it now arrives into the new ‘G’ shift pattern of the DCT.

 The USER mode functionality allows the rider to select any DCT shift patterns with the preferred permutations of the other parameters – power delivery, engine braking, ABS and HSTC. 

  Styling & Equipment

  • Sharper, slimmer and more aggressive styling
  • Honda Smartphone Voice Control System offers smartphone link through new 5-inch TFT display
  • New LED twin headlights include Daytime Running Lights
  • New screen improves wind and weather protection
  • Larger 22L storage space includes a new glovebox and houses a USB charger

The X-ADV’s unique head-turning styling, originally conceived. And developed by Honda’s R&D team in Italy, has been sharpened and slimmed comprehensively for 2021.

The silhouette remains deliberately upright, but each body-panel has been re-chiselled to create a sharper, stronger intent.

A side-to-side comparison with the outgoing model shows clearly how much crisper the new styling has become. More aggressive, more honed, cooler. Simply, more X-ADV.

The re-styled twin LED headlights also now feature Daytime Running Lights (DRL). Automatically adjust to ambient light intensity and give a bright, obvious light improving safety. All LED lighting.

In terms of ergonomics, the 820mm seat height and broad handlebar set at 910mm ensure a high eyepoint, giving excellent visibility. While the seat features re-shaped, slimmer shoulder contours making for more comfortable ground reach.

The X-ADV’s new screen adjusts without tools through 5 positions from low-to-high to maximize or minimize airflow for commuting or touring. The total height difference is 139mm, with an 11° rake between the highest and lowest points.

Incorporated into the X-ADV’s rider interface and viewed through the 5-inch TFT display is the new Honda Smartphone Voice Control System.

Which links the rider to their smartphone while on the move and allows voice management of phone calls, email, music and navigation.

A helmet-mounted headset is needed, and the smartphone connects to the dash via Bluetooth.

Management of the system is also possible through buttons on the left switchgear.

Tough plastic handguards deflect wind and rain while adding protection for hands and levers from stones when off-road. A shot-peened 2.5mm thick aluminium bash plate guards the underside.

The under-seat luggage space grows in volume by 1L to 22L, accommodating a full-face helmet.

And comes illuminated with an integral LED whose textured surface delivers uniform illumination without glare.

A USB charging socket replaces the car-type 12V ACC socket and is at the rear of the compartment.

The parking brake has moved from the right fairing lower to the right handlebar. Freeing up space for a useful, and easy to access glove compartment.

A centre stands with a tilt sensor is fitted as standard and allows the X-ADV parked on an incline without fear of toppling.

For added convenience, the X-ADV uses a Smart Key. Which lives in the rider’s pocket and does away with the need to use a key for ignition, fuel cap and seat.

With the Smart Key present one push of the knob-type central switch powers it up and makes it possible to turn.

The ignition/steering lock gives the rider control and, via two rocker switches, the fuel cap and seat.

It also has an ‘answer back’ function, which makes the indicators flash for easy identification from a distance.

And locks and unlocks the optional Smart Top Box. A clutch mechanism in the main switch stops the handlebars opening by force.

The X-ADV’s rear indicators now have an Emergency Stop Signal (ESS) function. If the negative acceleration of 6.0m/s2 is at a minimum speed of 53km/h with either brake working, the hazard lights flash to warn other road users.

A hard stop is in process. At the same speed, the threshold goes low if ABS comes activated to a negative acceleration of a minimum of 2.5m/s2. 

 The indicators also auto-cancel. Rather than using a simple timer, the system compares front and rear wheel speed difference. And calculates when to cancel the indication relative to the situation.


  • New tubular steel diamond frame saves weight and makes space
  • 41mm cartridge-style USD fork and Pro-Link swingarm 
  • Radial mount four-piston front brake callipers, 296mm discs and ABS
  • 120/70 R17 and 160/60 R15 front and rear tyres

For an invisible – but significant – advance of the X-ADV’S chassis, Honda’s engineers started with the tubular steel diamond frame.

And through a careful redesign using varying tube thicknesses and weight, not only saved 1kg over the previous frame. And freed up more usable space for the storage compartment.

 Rake and trail are at 27°/104mm with a wheelbase of 1590mm. A 39° steering angle (and turning radius of 2.8m) makes the X-ADV manoeuvrable in tight traffic.

Long travel suspension –153.5mm upfront. And 150mm from the rear – is matched to 165mm of ground clearance. Overall wet weight is 3kg lighter, at 236kg. 

For handling rough terrain, the 41mm cartridge-type USD fork adjusts for spring preload and rebound damping.

The spring preload-adjustable rear shock is a single tube split pressure to design and operates the aluminium swingarm.

Constructed from a machined-hollow cross member. And U-shaped (in cross-section) arms – through Pro-Link.

The 17-inch front wheel and 15-inch rear use stainless steel rust-resistant spokes and contribute to the X-ADV’s ability to soak up rough terrain comfortably.

Block-pattern tyres add to the ride quality. And L-shape valve stems make checking air pressure easy. Tyres are 120/70 R17 and 160/60 R15 front and rear.

 Dual radial-mount opposed four-piston callipers grip 296mm discs and worked through ABS.


A full range of Honda Genuine Accessories are available for the new X-ADV and include:

  • Rear carrier
  • Smart Top Box
  • 38L / 50L top box with aluminium/colour matched insert option
  • Pannier stays
  • Panniers – right 26L, left 33L with aluminium/colour matched insert option
  • Console bag
  • Knuckle guard extenders
  • Side protector bars
  • Fog lights
  • Heated grips


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