Join the BTCC driver as he tries out off-road biking on the new Africa Twin

No matter what sport we love most, it's always intriguing to try something different that's perhaps even a little outside of our comfort zone. And it's the same when it comes to watching our sporting heroes too.

It's one thing to go from something like Formula One to NASCAR, or from motocross to superbikes, but it's another thing entirely to go from four to two wheels. Even so, that's exactly what we see British Touring Car Championship legend Matt Neal doing right here.

Matt was invited by Honda to swap his FK8 Civic touring car for a dirt bike at the Honda Adventure Centre in Exmoor, and the results were recorded for posterity.

And who better to guide Matt on this exciting adventure than the man who runs the centre, multiple world champion and head of the Buildbase Honda Maxxis ACU British Motocross team, Dave Thorpe and his crew.

The centre

The Honda Adventure Centre at its recently new location in the heart of Exmoor National Park in Somerset offers some of the very best adventure motorcycling terrain in the UK. But despite the challenging terrain and get away from it all feel to the location, it's actually easy to find, being only 20 miles from the M5 motorway.

With its seemingly endless trails and spectacular, scenic views everywhere you look, the centre’s stunning new location looks to provide the perfect environment to satisfy the needs of everyone. From eager novices to the more experienced adventure riders, riders of all experience and skill levels are catered for to test themselves, their bikes and their skills over the course lasting two days.

The centre has all the facilities you need such as toilets, male and female changing rooms and a reception room with refreshments for sign on and briefing, and the local area has plentiful accommodation catering for all needs and budgets.

Honda Adventure Centre

Honda Adventure Centre

Matt Neal

Matt was born on 20 December 1966 in Birmingham and made his British Touring Car Championship debut in a BMW M3 at Silverstone in July 1991, which signalled the start to a touring car career that can only be described as outstanding. Matt has competed in no fewer than 633 BTCC races so far, notching up 61 race wins, 154 podium finishes, 16 pole positions and 51 fastest laps along the way. His roll of honour includes: 

    Before this event, Matt had been off-road on two wheels a little before, but was particularly looking forward to experiencing the Africa Twin he'd be riding at the centre after already having some experience of it on the road. Speaking ahead of departing, Matt said: "Of the things I think I'll learn today, there's lots of lovely little features on the Africa Twin, like the torque control, the traction control and the ABS which I probably don’t really exploit on the road. The guys have already talked me through some real neat features on the bikes today; I'm looking forward to trying them out."


    After the first half day of the two-day course Matt was not only impressed with himself for not coming off at any point along the way, but also with the overall experience provided by Dave and the team.

    Matt commented: "Pat and Dave and the guys are doing an amazing job. It's good craic, but it's amazingly educational as well. The Africa Twin – I love it on the road, but almost up to this point a little piece of gravel on the road would scare me. But this gives me a new insight into what the bike's capable of. With their training and education and techniques and everything it's very educational and well worth it."


    Those in charge of the centre who are charged with taking care of everyone are as important to the success of the centre as the location and facilities.

    Matt says of the team: "The people here, they're just great. They read us and they see the experience people need, the education they need, and for me, it's been a fantastic experience on the Africa Twin. – the new Adventure Sport – and what a bike it is."

    Africa twin

    Honda set a new standard back in 2016 when it introduced the CRF1000L AFRICA TWIN, and since then the competition has been doing all it can to try and catch up. But Honda has now pushed things even further with the sensational new AFRICA TWIN ADVENTURE SPORTS. If you’re looking for the ultimate bike for around town that's as competent and capable off-road as it is on-road, look no further.

    The Africa Twin features Throttle By Wire that comes with three ride modes, and on DCT models there's even an additional G mode especially for going off road.  A whole host of other innovative, new engine components work together to deliver a riding experience a capability you've only dreamed of, which makes it the perfect machine for tackling whatever the team at the Honda Adventure Centre can throw at you.

    Of course, the last word has to go to Matt Neal to sum up what the Honda Adventure Centre is all about.

    Matt says: "If you’re into adventure sport bike riding you need to come here and have a go at this – it's a great craic. If you’re not, then it doesn’t matter, it's still a great experience whether you want a good weekend, you're on a stag weekend it's a fantastic place to visit. You need to try it.

    "For me it's been a fantastic insight into the Africa Twin, and of course, the new Adventure Sport which is a step up the game I didn’t think was possible."