The original Transalp, introduced in 1986 with a 583cc V-Twin engine, is something of a legend. And as testament to the sheer quality of its build and timelessness of its design, many can still be seen on Europe’s roads today.
Back then, its focus was as a smooth, comfortable do-it-all crossover that could cope with rougher ground thanks to long-travel suspension and light off-road dynamic. By 2000 the engine had grown to 647cc and, for the last version in 2008 it landed with 680cc, fuel injection and a 214kg kerb weight.
The Adventure segment has expanded massively since the Transalp first turned a wheel. Honda has the superb pocket-adventurer, A2-compatible CB500X plus the dual purpose, super-athletic CRF1100L Africa Twin adventure flagship and its long-range continent-crossing sibling, the Africa Twin Adventure Sports. Which means there is room in the mid-capacity sector of Honda’s range for a model to attract customers with a different set of adventurous aspirations.
This is just what the new XL750 Transalp is built to do, and a legend of adventure touring is thus reborn.
The XL750 Transalp takes inspiration from the original and is perfect for an extended touring trip as well as the urban cut and thrust – and all points in-between. It’s at home both slicing through an Alpine pass or kicking up dust on rough tracks. And it adds to the formula a high-performance engine, all-new design and the kind of top-draw equipment level that modern riders demand.
Simply put, the XL750 Transalp is a brilliant all-rounder and leaves only one question unanswered. How far do you want to go?
Styling & Equipment
- Fairing and bodywork balance aerodynamic wind protection, on-road comfort and off-road ability
- Practicality from 850mm seat height, USB socket and rear carrier
- Premium feel of a 5-inch full colour TFT screen with Honda Smartphone Voice Control system (HSVCs)
- Full LED lighting and Emergency Stop Signal (ESS) technology for the rear indicators
In imagining the perfect lines for the Transalp’s bodywork, the Rome R&D designers’ aim was to strike a balance between aerodynamic performance and wind protection at speed matched to a sense of lightness and freedom at low speeds. The concept tagline used throughout was ‘Friendly Toughness.’
The result is sleek, simple and clean bodywork. It has a purposeful look and feel, with zero excess and is built tough. For open visibility forward – and excellent wind deflection – the screen’s height has been carefully optimised. Its compact width also minimises turbulence from ‘trapped’ air. A tall screen and upper/lower around the front and side of the screen deflectors will be available as accessories.
This bike is built to go the distance, so genuine comfort – also for two – matters. Seat height is low for the class at 850mm (an 820mm low seat is also available as an option) and the riding position is upright for natural control and leverage. The riding geometry also works well when standing up. A rear carrier is standard and there’s a USB socket under the seat.
The instruments comprise a 5-inch, full colour high-visibility TFT screen, which offers four types of speed/rpm display – 3 analogue rev-counter styles and 1 bar – according to rider preference – as well as fuel gauge and consumption, riding mode selection and engine parameters, gear selected and customisable shift-up point on the rev-counter. Management is via the screen and switchgear on the left handlebar.
Also incorporated into the interface is the Honda Smartphone Voice Control system, which links the rider to their Android while on the move and allows voice management of phone calls, messages, music and navigation. Several of the HSVCs functions will also be accessible on IOS smartphones. A helmet-mounted headset is needed, and the smartphone connects to the dash via Bluetooth; management of Honda Smartphone Voice control is also possible using buttons the left switchgear.
To simplify and miniaturise the entire electrical system the Transalp uses a Controller Area Network (CAN) alongside a Body Control Unit (BCU). The BCU is sited on the left-hand frame rail, under the fuel tank and collectively processes control signals – from the ABS modulator, TFT screen and switch gear.
All lighting is LED. The rear indicators feature an Emergency Stop Signal (ESS) function. At a minimum speed of 56km/h with either brake working, if negative acceleration of a minimum of 6.0m/s2 is detected, the hazard lights flash to warn other road users a hard stop is in process. At the same speed the threshold is reduced if ABS is activated, to a negative acceleration of a minimum 2.5m/s2.
They 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.
- 755cc, 8-valve Unicam parallel twin-cylinder engine with 270° crank
- 5kW @ 9,500rpm, 75Nm torque @ 7,250rpm and 35kW A2 licence option
- Transalp-specific TBW mapping for touring focus
- Patented Vortex flow intake ducts and tuned exhaust note
- Assist/slipper clutch
Starting from a clean piece of paper, Honda’s development engineers set out to build a brand new twin-cylinder engine to power both the street fighting CB750 Hornet and adventuresome XL750 Transalp.
The resulting 755c, 8-valve Unicam unit has bore and stroke set at 87 x 63.5mm, with compression ratio of 11.0:1. It produces a hard hit of top end power, with maximum output of 67.5kW @ 9,500rpm. This is accompanied by mountains of usable torque in the low to mid rpm range, rising to a peak of 75Nm @ 7,250rpm. The result is an engine that provides usable, enjoyable performance for rides of all types and all distances, and for riders of all experience levels.
The new engine is extremely compact and lightweight, due in no small part to the Unicam head (as used by the MX competition ready CRF450R) which operates the 35.5mm diameter inlet valves (with 9.3mm lift) via cam, and 29mm diameter exhaust (with 8.2mm lift) by rocker arm.
The compact dimensions are also due to clever packaging: there’s no balancer drive gear since the primary drive gear doubles up duties and also spins the balance shaft; the water pump is tucked away inside the lefthand engine cover and there’s no need for a water-cooled oil-cooler.
For razor-sharp pick-up and throttle response, patented Vortex flow ducts create a more uniform distribution from the side scoops into the airbox, which then feeds downdraft intakes and 46mm diameter throttle bodies. The cylinders use a Ni-SiC (Nickel-Silicon Carbide) coating, as used on the CRF450R and CBR1000RR-R Fireblade, to increase the engine’s efficiency.
The crank uses a 270° firing order for characterful, twin-cylinder pulse feeling. The exhaust note is tuned for a pleasing low-end beat and raucous top-end howl.
While mechanically identical, the Transalp’s engine TBW settings are tuned differently to focus on an engine ‘flavour’ in keeping with the long distance, touring work for which the Transalp will be the ideal machine.
An assist/slipper clutch – with F.C.C Leaning Segment (FLS) discs – reduces clutch drag torque by 30%, for a lighter lever load and easier up shifts. It also manages rear wheel hop under hard braking and rapid down changes.
Fuel consumption of 23.km/l (WMTC mode) offers a potential range of 390km from the 16.9L fuel tank. And just like the Hornet, a 35kW, A2 licence option will also be available through a quick ECU remap at a Honda dealer.
- Four default rider modes; SPORT, STANDARD, RAIN and GRAVEL
- USER customisation option between all levels
- Four levels of Engine Power and three of Engine Brake
- Five stage Honda Selectable Torque Control with integrated Wheelie Control
- Off-road ABS brake setting allows rear caliper to be switched off in USER mode
Throttle By Wire (TBW) engine control offers four default riding modes: SPORT, STANDARD, RAIN and GRAVEL, adjusting the engine’s performance delivery and feel to suit conditions and the rider’s intent; they’re easily switched and managed between the left handlebar mode and TFT screen. There is also a specific USER mode that allows the rider to fine tune their own personal settings
There are 4 levels of Engine Power (EP), 3 levels of Engine Brake (EB), 2 levels of ABS, and 5 levels of Honda Selectable Torque Control (HSTC) available; HSTC and rear ABS can also be switched off. The riding modes offer different combinations of each parameter. Wheelie Control is also standard and integrated to HSTC.
SPORT mode offers maximum performance and uses level 4 EP, level 2 ABS and level 1 EB and HSTC to deliver strong acceleration with minimum intervention.
STANDARD mode is a mid-way setting for urban riding that uses level 3 setting for EP and HSTC, with level 2 EB and ABS.
RAIN mode is designed for challenging on-road conditions and employs the lowest EP setting, level 1, for the least aggressive power delivery with level 2 EB and ABS and 5 HSTC.
GRAVEL mode features level 2 EP, level 3 EB, and level 4 HSTC with level 1 ABS setting for confident travel on rougher terrain off road.
USER mode allows the rider to choose between settings 1-4 EP, 1-5 HSTC and 1-3 EB plus rear ABS switch off, and save them for future use.
- Lightweight 18.3kg steel diamond frame with integrated subframe
- Showa 43mm SFF-CA USD forks and Pro-link rear shock; both spring preload adjustable
- Two-piston front calipers/310mm wave discs; single piston caliper/256mm rear disc
- 21/18-inch wheel combination wearing 90/90-21/150/70-18 front and rear tyres
The steel diamond mainframe is lightweight, at just 18.3kg – 10% lighter than the frame of the CB500X. A major R&D process of reducing the number of reinforcing parts, thinning of the main and down tubes, and optimisation of the upper shock mount and swingarm pivot shape has produced a hugely strong platform, with rigidity balanced to deliver feel to the rider across all conditions and geometry set to inspire confident handling agility. The integrated heavy-duty subframe employs high-tension steel pipework for strength and toughness.
Rake and trail are set at 27° and 111mm, with wheelbase of 1560mm and kerb weight of 208kg. Slow speed U-turns are easy thanks to a 42° steering angle and 2.6m minimum turning circle.
The suspension specifications have been selected with the all-round concept firmly in mind, with long travel and superb bump absorption to deliver smooth performance and comfort on-road, and reassuring control off-road. Showa 43mm SFF-CATM (Separate Function Fork-Cartridge) USD forks offer 200mm travel with spring preload adjustment, and mount by a forged aluminium bottom yoke and cast aluminium top yoke, for a perfect balance of strength and rigidity in wide-ranging riding situations.
With 190mm travel the remote reservoir Showa shock (with adjustable preload) operates through Pro-Link and the swingarm which, while employing the same castings as the CRF1100L Africa Twin’s, uses aluminium material exclusive to the Transalp. Ground clearance is 210mm.
Compact, two-piston calipers work dual 310mm ‘wave’ discs. The rear 256mm ‘wave’ disc is operated by a single-piston caliper. 21/18-inch front rear (stainless steel) spoked wheels wear (tubed) 90/90-21 and 150/70-18 tyres; Metzeler Karoo Street or Dunlop Mixtour.