Honda might be late to the middleweight ADV game, but it’s jumping right in with a name that hasn’t been seen on a new bike in a decade: the XL750 Transalp.
The Transalp was introduced in 1986, undergoing several iterations over the years before disappearing in 2012. Over that time, the Transalp built a reputation, similar to its Africa Twin cousin, as being an excellent overall motorcycle.
But while the Africa Twin had its sights set on getting dirty, Honda always imagined the Transalp to be more of an all-rounder. This was a bike equally at home commuting, touring, and, yes, getting a little bit dirty. Its smaller engine size compared to the Africa Twin also gave it some appeal to riders looking for a smaller bike.
This was the inspiration Masatoshi Sato, Transalp Large Project Leader at Honda, had for bringing the bike back—a little cousin of the Africa Twin that’s ready to go anywhere.
2023 Transalp Running Gear: Engine, Suspension, Brakes
Power for the new Transalp comes from a 755cc parallel-twin, the same engine powering another bike with a name from the past, Honda’s new Hornet. This one’s a thoroughly modern engine with four valves per cylinder, operated by Honda’s Unicam system of only using one camshaft to operate the intake valves directly while the exhaust valves are opened via rockers.
Its technology was first used on Honda’s motocross bikes and adapted to the roadside. One cam instead of two means fewer parts and a smaller overall package, which is good because modern motorcycles are packaged so tightly these days.
You have all the other standard items on today’s engines, too: liquid-cooling, ride-by-wire throttle, and ride modes. A slip/assist clutch makes upshifts easier and hard downshifts less jarring on the rear tire. Making upshifts even easier is the optional quickshifter.
Over the years, the Transalp’s engine size has steadily increased. Starting at 583cc, it grew to 647cc before topping out at 680cc. This 755cc power unit is a big jump for the Transalp, and its claimed 90hp is a massive jump from the old bikes. Still, it’s less than the current Africa Twin and its 1,084cc, 101hp engine. And that’s the point—one is clearly positioned to be the stepping stone to the other.
The engine sits inside a tubular steel frame largely borrowed from the Hornet but with different geometry for off-road use. Fuel comes from a 4.5-gallon tank whose shape flows cleanly to the seat, which stands 33.5 inches off the ground. An optional low seat drops the seat height to 32.2 inches.
Honda’s suspension partner Showa supplies the Transalp suspension pieces with a 43mm SFF-CATM inverted fork and Pro-Link rear shock. Suspension travel is 7.8 inches front, 7.5 inches in the rear. Those aren’t go-anywhere, do-anything levels of suspension travel, but it fits considering the bike’s do-it-all nature.
Suspension adjustment appears to be minimal, with rear preload being the only thing you can change. Basic suspension is a clear sign of where a bike’s price point is, and this is a strong indication that the Transalp is destined to be an affordable proposition, not an aspirational one. There’s a 21-inch wheel in the front and 18-incher in the back. Strangely, both tires have tubes inside.
Braking is done via Nissin two-piston axial-mount calipers with 310mm discs. A single 245mm disc is in the back with a single-piston caliper. You get selectable ABS with two different levels, as well as being able to turn off rear ABS for dirt riding.
In addition to turning off rear ABS and the different ride modes, you also get five levels of traction control, three levels of engine braking, and wheelie control. All the information is provided through a five-inch TFT screen. You also get full LED lighting all around. The Transalp also gets Honda Smartphone Voice Control, auto-canceling turn signals, and an adjustable shift light.
2023 Transalp Styling
Despite being gone for a few years, the styling of this new Transalp is instantly familiar. While the bike's engineering was completed in Japan, the styling of the Transalp was done in Italy with clean, recognizable elements that are staples in the ADV world (with a little bit of Africa Twin influence as well).
More signs of a price-point bike reveal themselves with the non-adjustable windscreen and the headlight used in not one but three other Honda models.
Honda hasn’t released pricing for the Transalp yet, but considering its components and the fact the platform is clearly aimed at other Japanese bikes in the middleweight ADV market—the Yamaha Tenere 700 and the new Suzuki V-Strom 800DE come to mind—you can expect the pricing to be in the range of those bikes.
Nonetheless, it’s nice to have options, and it’s also nice to have another classic Honda name make a return. If the return of the Africa Twin is any sign of things to come, the Transalp will hit the market as a good bike that Honda will tweak to make even better in years to come. Either way, we eagerly await its arrival.