Honda XL700V Transalp (2008 - 12): Buying Guide

Author: Phil West Posted: 24 Dec 2015

The original Japanese adventure bike was succeeded by the Africa Twin

Why you want it:

The original middleweight adventure bike dated back to the mid Eighties and made up with versatility and durability for what it may have lacked in excitement.

The long-lived Transalp was originally brought out in 1987 as the original Japanese adventure bike before being succeeded by the larger, more long-legged Africa Twin and its ilk later in the decade. Instead it lived on as a pretty much unique ‘middleweight adventure bike’ aimed particularly at Continental travellers and with impressive build quality and versatility. Its V-twin engine, while no powerhouse, was flexible and unburstable; its handling and ergonomics are easy-going and idiot-proof and it is also classily built and durable. A final update in 2008 improved the previously rather dreary looks and performance a tad, although with just 59bhp from its Deauville-derived lump the Transalp is still outpaced by more modern alternatives such as Kawasaki’s 650 Versys and Suzuki’s 650 V-Strom. That said the Honda’s a willing puppy of a performer, has plenty of appeal as a first big bike (particularly as its seat is much lower and novice-friendly than many adventure style machines), will happily cruise all day at 80mph and is impressively reliable and durable, too. The Transalp also has pretty good build quality (although the most recent incarnation was actually built in Spain, not Japan), decent instrumentation, ABS as standard and plenty of accessories available. Overall, though now a little outdated and outperformed, the Transalp remains a decent, good value, well-equipped and versatile all-rounder and a good, trusted option as a first big bike. Find a reasonably low mileage example in good condition and you’ll have a useful, reliable year-round workhorse with low running costs that has more style and equipment than most, especially for the money.

A reliable year-round workhorse with low running costs

What to look for:

Generally, the Transalp’s reliability record is near-legendary, thanks mostly to its over-engineered, understressed powertrain, years of refinement and decent build quality. As a result, as long as its service record is complete and it has been decently looked after you shouldn’t have any major problems. Instead, the main areas of concern will be related to ownership. In other words: is there any owner-related damage – more likely with a Transalp than most due to its ‘first big bike’ appeal – either due to rider mishaps or poor maintenance? Accordingly, be sure to check for mechanical or cosmetic damage, ie scrapes, scratches, scuffed or bent levers and controls or, worse, bodywork damage which can be expensive to correct. In addition, be sure to check that everything is maintained, adjusted and lubricated correctly, particularly the chain and controls, and that all consumables (tyres, pads) are within acceptable wear limits. If they’re not, it indicates that the bike hasn’t been well looked after and that there could potentially be more horrors hidden away. Besides, a knackered chain or tyres will cost hundreds to replace.

The Transalp's reliability is near-legendary

Any updates?

Originally launched as a 600 in 1987 (although few of these survive); the Transalp was facelifted in 1992, grew to a 650 10 years later then finally a fully-refreshed, completely updated 700 in 2007. It was finally deleted from the Honda UK line-up in 2012.

What to pay:

Transalps remain popular for their durability and versatility, particularly as year-round or winter commuters, which keeps prices relatively high. Accordingly, high mileage, older examples still fetch getting on for £3K but will have plenty of life left in them. Clean, low mileage examples are around £4000.

Who to ask:

  • - Very active UK-based owners forum for all things big Honda trail and adventure bike has a section devoted to the Transalp.



680cc, V-twin, 8v, SOHC




59bhp @ 7750rpm



44ftlb @ 5500rpm





Have you owned or ridden the Transalp? What are your thoughts?