The Iconic ADV Returns in a New Package
As we promised, we would highlight a few of the new bikes that caught our eye at the 2022 EICMA event. Here’s another we like. -Ed.
Back in the summer I was visiting my friend Barry, the sales manager at Cycle World of Athens, discussing our time with the Yamaha Tenere 700. “This bike is so popular with the ADV crowd, do you think Honda will respond with a mid-size Africa Twin?” I asked. Barry responded, “Not that we’ve caught wind of yet, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see them bring back the old Transalp in this size.” I had not thought of that model in quite some time, but it turns out Barry was prophetic in his proclamation. Honda has indeed reintroduced the venerable old adventure bike from yesteryear, in an all-new package and livery.
The 2023 Honda XL750 Transalp. Photo by Honda.
First introduced in 1986, the Honda Transalp was a rugged, do-everything motorcycle, and enjoyed a long, popular run for nearly 25 years (at least in Europe) in its first life. Originally a 600cc v-twin, the Transalp saw several displacement and horsepower hikes in its years, but never stepped into the 700cc size, nor made more than 60 hp. That all changes with the new iteration revealed at EICMA back in early November.
Taking direct aim at the wildly popular Yamaha Tenere 700 and the also newly revealed Suzuki V-Strom 800DE, the all-new Honda Transalp now displaces 755cc in a Unicam parallel-twin mill, and dubbed the XL750. The engine is shared by Honda’s reinvented CB750 Hornet, making 91 hp, about 50 percent more than any previous Transalp, so a significant bump. The “Unicam” single camshaft design is similar to the setup in the Africa Twin, itself now sporting a larger 1084cc, 101 hp powerplant, creating a more compact, lightweight engine for the Transalp, with the same high-rev chops of a DOHC twin.
Masatoshi Sato from Honda Japan’s R&D crew stated, “With our new Transalp we looked hard at what made the first model so good and wanted to strike the right balance between urban agility, long-distance, on-road touring comfort and off-road ability. The look revives the classic Transalp presence in a modern key, the new engine is incredibly strong and versatile, and the bike has an appealingly long and rich specification list. Around town or around the world – our Transalp is ready!”
The new Transalp sports a ride-by-wire throttle, four ride modes with a fifth customizable, a slip/assist clutch and makes 55 ft lbs of torque. The steel tubular frame weighs a mere 40 pounds, the tank has a 4.5 gal capacity, and the whole machine, full of fuel and fluids, tips the scales at a nice 459 lbs. Seat height is a tad tall at 33.5 inches, but an optional lower seat brings the ride height down to 32.2 inches. Hey, for us inseam-challenged, any little bit helps.
Suspension is provided by a set of Showa fore and aft, with a 43mm SFF-CATM (Separate Function Fork-Cartridge) inverted front fork giving 7.8 in. of front travel, with a Pro-Link rear monoshock providing 7.5 in. of travel. Not quite up to the Tenere or the new V-Strom, but more than adequate for casual off-road duty. Braking is supplied by Nissin dual-disc, dual-piston calipers up front, and a single-disc, single-piston out back. ABS is standard with two selectable levels of intervention, with the rear able to be disengaged for off-road.
We love the styling of this new Transalp. The color schemes (esp. the throwback tricolor design), bodywork, and overall look of this revived model can be credited to Honda’s Italian R&D team in Rome, we’ve learned. There are a few cost-cutting measures we’ve learned as well, such as the off-the-rack headlight used in several other Honda models, the non-adjustable windshield, and no standard cruise control. The Transalp also shares the same TFT color display screen as the new Hornet, with Bluetooth connectivity as expected on bikes today.
2023 Honda Transalp, fully farkled. Photo by Honda.
Honda already has an expansive farkle list posted for the Transalp, in five “Accessory Packs”- Urban, Touring, Adventure, Rally, and Comfort, each incorporating a wide variety of elements ranging from top boxes, side panniers, crash bars, fog lights, center stand, heated grips, to name a few. They will offer the bike in three color schemes- Matte Iridium Gray Metallic, Matte Ballistic Black Metallic, and our favorite, the classic Ross White Tricolour.
As of this writing, our friends at Honda USA could not confirm the Transalp will come stateside in 2023, but we feel fairly confident it will, given the popularity of ADV bikes in general here, and specifically the competition in this middleweight class getting so intense. They would miss a golden opportunity here if they did not. Honda rarely misses opportunities.
The 2023 Honda Transalp looks like a winner to us. Glad to see the revival of this iconic model, and we hope to get our hands on one in the coming year. Stay tuned!
*All photos provided by Honda.