Tested: 2023 Honda XL750 Transalp long term review


Mileage: 3226 | Economy: 66mpg | Power: 90.5bhp | Torque: 55.3lb-ft | Weight: 208kg | Price: £9,499 (£10,664 as tested)


Anyone who’s ridden Honda’s massive-selling CB500X will know it’s almost perfect all-round roadgoing ability. New riders and old hands alike enjoy the usable power, easy handling, comfort and frugal fuel economy. The only thing some people might argue is that it needs a little extra power for two-up riding and maybe some smarter electronic assistance.

Honda knows this too and it also knows that in a world of expanding middleweight adventure choices that it needed something a bit funkier than the (also brilliant but not that much more powerful) NC750X to take on Yamaha’s Ténéré 700 and Aprilia’s Tuareg 660.

If someone had told us that Honda’s middle step between the CB500X and Africa Twin would have the light weight of the CB500 and pretty much all the power (if not the torque) of the flagship Africa Twin at a price pretty much halfway between the two I think we’d have been pretty pleased. And that, as far as I can see is exactly what the new Transalp is. It has twice the power: weight ratio of the CB500X in a package weighing only a few kg more and pretty much exactly the same power: weight as the Africa Twin in a bike weighing 20kg less.


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All-new engine is the same as the Hornet 750. It makes twice as much power as a CB500X and 90% as much as an Africa Twin


Which is very smart thinking on Honda’s part. A significant step-up in power for CB500X owners in a similar-sized package, but also potentially a practical step back for Africa Twin owners looking for something a little more road-focused and easily managed.

Honda knows its customers, and CB500X sales have shown that there are many of us looking for an adventure-styled bike that spends almost-if-not-all its time on the road.

And when those roads are covered in potholes, packed with trucks, delivery vans, cyclists and dawdling day-trippers, then the tall seats, pliant suspension and punchy twin cylinder engines of most adventure bikes make them ideal. They also let riders opt out of those main road problems too and enjoy some quiet, relaxing riding on the UK’s network of back lanes and minor roads criss-crossing the countryside. These roads are a long way from high-speed bike hedonism, but they are beautiful, quiet and surprisingly effective at getting from one side of the county to the other. Sat nav and phone apps has made them accessible without the frustration of getting lost.


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‘Sorry I’m late, I came via a largely unused network of tracks and lanes only really accessible by mid-sized adventure bike’ etc


These roads are also usually even more knackered than the main roads which requires a different kind of bike. To enjoy the back lanes, we need a bike with the right balance of confidence, comfort and performance. To justify the cost of buying a new bike I’d also add that these days it needs to be useable for commuting too and able to bring something special to a weekend ride.

Which is why, when I saw the new Honda Transalp, it took about 38 seconds to realise this might be the answer to all the above. I like the long travel suspension and upright riding position to help explore the bumpy rural lanes but without the focus of a proper trail bike or the monster-truck dimensions of the adventure-flavoured superbikes. The Transalp looks like a bike for negotiating potholes and gravel on the deserted back lanes. I’ll leave the rooster-tail, back-wheel-outta-line ready-to-race fantasies to others.


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Switchgear is shared with the Hornet 750 and is much more intuitive and easier to use than the Africa Twin/NT1100


The first 1000 miles of long-term testing are always interesting. Running a bike in gives chance to focus on the things that need a more relaxed riding style to explore.

Things like learning how the bike feels at lower speeds, how the controls feel, how quickly does it steer, how nimble is it in traffic? Plus, of course how economical can it be if you really need to eke out the miles?

None of this happens on a press launch, which tend to focus on how quickly a bike can get from one end of a 1000-hairpin Spanish B-road to the other. And once run-in this test will focus on those other things too. I like to run a bike in properly because at some point next year, some excited customer will buy this bike from a Honda dealer as a year-old used buy and expect that the previous owner loved it as much as they will and did everything by the book.


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Optional low seat, tall screen (with winglets) and top box turn the Transalp into a very comfy commuter and tourer


So, what have we learned so far?

Firstly, the Transalp feels more like a road bike than Yamaha’s Ténéré 700 or Aprilia’s Tuareg (I haven’t ridden the latest Suzuki V-Strom yet). The standard seat is tall for a road bike but at six-foot tall in bike boots I can get both feet on the floor, even in the full textile kit required for a British summer.

The Transalp feels light and easily manageable, and it filters well through traffic. Balance at low speed is helped by the gyroscopic assistance of that 21-inch front wheel.

Low down power is smooth, but not especially strong, which works in its favour for slipping through urban chaos without endless clutch slipping and also when doing U-turns. There’s a bit more punch as you clear 5000rpm and another kick at 7000rpm to satisfy your sporty side.

The Transalp has tall gearing, especially in fifth and sixth that allows relaxed motorway cruising. 70mph needs a little over 4000rpm in top. There’s no intrusive vibration at those speeds through hands, feet or boy-bags, which is welcome for a long blast on a parallel twin. The tall gearing means that if you need to get a shift on or overtake something, it needs at least one downshift and a substantial crack of the throttle to make decent progress because, while there’s plenty of power up top, the best acceleration is a good few thousand rpm away from that lazy, touring cruising zone. The Transalp might make 90 percent of an Africa Twin’s power, but the 1100cc AT makes 50 per cent more torque allowing much lazier top-gear cruising.

You will however be grinning at the fuel pumps. The other benefit of running a bike in is that fuel economy is an obvious thing you can test. Sticking to an indicated 80mph maximum on a long motorway run gave an average of 65mpg with an average speed of 70mph door-to-door. Dropping the max indicated speed to 70mph brings 70mpg at an average speed of 66mph. Dropping the max indicated speed to 60mph only adds another couple of mpg and is much less comfortable on the road because you’re stuck in the inside lane among the trucks and caravans.


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Twice the power of a CB500X but with an average of 66mpg it has almost exactly the same fuel economy. That’s progress.


How that compares with a typical Sunday thrash will be interesting now the first service has been done but those mpg figures are pretty good for an engine making 90bhp that is as useable and flexible as this one. The last Honda 750 making this kind of power and torque was the VFR750, which typically did around 45mpg. That’s progress.

Handling and suspension are very Honda-like. The suspension is soft and feels almost-but-not-quite underdamped at low-mid speeds. It soaks up potholes well and hints that it might get a bit wallowy at high speed, but somehow it never does.

Steering is light and accurate for a bike with a narrow trail tyre on a 21in front wheel and longer wheelbase than a BMW R1250GS. I’m still not convinced by Honda’s choice of tubed tyres for a bike so clearly designed for road use. You can’t plug a punctured tubed tyre and the ‘Slime’ type preventative sealants get mixed reviews online. I’m planning on trying these at some point in the summer. The brakes are strong but there’s a lot of fork travel to suck up the first half second. 

Comfort is good enough for a bike with a relatively slender seat. 90 minutes on the motorway is fine but by the second hour I’m starting to shuffle around. I do a lot of motorway miles and so have the optional tall screen and wind deflectors fitted. This setup is as comfy as you’d hope at motorway speeds, but not so tall or wide that it obstructs my view in the rain.

This initial period has been all about getting familiar, so I haven’t played too much with the electronics or rider modes yet. That’s for next month.


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Planning on doing a lot more of this in 2023


2023 Honda XLV750 Transalp long term report part two.


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Twisty roads, long distance rambling and indulging the inner nerd.


3000 miles in three months probably tells you all you need to know about how much I’m enjoying the Transalp despite the weather being less than summery for most of it. The memorable highlights are a 700-mile motorway-free round trip to Lincolnshire and another of similar distance (and lack of motorways) to North Wales.

You need plenty of time to stay off the motorways and to remember that simply setting Google maps or TomTom to ‘avoid motorways’ doesn’t guarantee riding thrills. The Worcester ring road or A52 might not be motorways but you won’t be seeing them in any ‘top ten biking roads’ features in your favourite magazines.

That’s not the point for me though. In a world where many people plan journeys with Google or sat nav, all the routes those devices recommend tend to get busier and busier.

Only a fool in a car, van or truck would choose ‘no motorways’ and so when you do select that more of the journey is uncongested enough to make the most of a bike’s advantage. Get to the front of the queue and then enjoy the freedom until you hit the back of the next one. You’ll still have a few miles on major trunk roads linking the quieter sections but there more things to see, more challenges to keep your mind active and a lot more options when you need a break.


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The motorway would have been quicker but where’s the fun in that?


It took seven and a half hours to do the 350 miles to Wrexham – about 90 minutes longer than Google was predicting on the motorways but, given that I’d allowed whole day to do it anyway, that wasn’t an issue.

The Transalp is a great bike for exploring because it’s as happy on a muddy B-road as it is flicking through traffic on a ring road or hoovering up a motorway. As capable of raising your heart rate on a scenic Welsh mountain pass as sitting on the A34 dual-carriageway for 35 miles clicking off the miles till the A272.

With a 200+ mile tank range and a riding position that spreads the load well enough to stay comfy all day it does a pretty good impression of a middleweight tourer. I tried the optional lower seat for a few weeks to see if that would make it feel even more like a road bike. At five-foot-ten I don’t have a problem with the standard 850mm seat height, and I can flat-foot on both sides as the soft suspension compresses. But swinging a leg over the bike on its side stand in full textile kit sometimes feels a bit clumsy and I was curious to see how the lower one felt.  Fitting the lower seat loses 30mm and does make it easier to swing a leg over and you sit more ‘in’ the bike than ‘on’ it. Unfortunately for me, it puts my head too low for the optional tall screen my bike also has fitted meaning I’m looking through it rather than over it and, when most of your rides are in the rain that’s an issue. I’ll try the low seat and standard screen option at some point and report back.


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Dunlop Trailmax Mixtour tyres are every bit as capable as the bike.


All those miles in the twisty bits of Lincolnshire and Wales demonstrate many things:

  • Modern tyres are brilliant – even when they are tall, skinny and styled for the adventurer in us rather than the racer. The amount of grip and high-speed stability from the Dunlop Trailmax Mixtour rubber makes inappropriate behaviour on 21-inch front wheels all feel very normal.
  • The Honda’s suspension set up for comfort and potholes can be surprisingly sporty too when the rider remembers how to corner properly.
  • Occasionally you hit a series of bumps in high-speed corners and remember that this is a sub £10k tourer, built to a price and rear suspension is always part of that compromise.
  • Upright riding positions are worth an extra 10mph when you’re sharing the roads with sheep.
  • Gearing a bike for relaxed motorway cruising and fuel economy takes a few per cent off the excitement of a snappy, responsive engine.

That last point was reinforced after a quick ride on Honda’s Hornet 750 which has the same engine as the Transalp but doesn’t have a fairing meaning top speed is limited by aerodynamics and Honda has geared it for acceleration rather than speed. The Hornet feels a lot livelier, with sharper acceleration right through the rev range, where the Transalp (which is geared for a top speed in excess of 130mph – about 30mph quicker than any Transalp will ever go) feels sharp and frisky in the first three gears, but progressively more sensible in the last three ratios. That’s fine by me and if you buy a Transalp you’ll be just as pleased with 65mpg and vibe-free motorway cruising (80mph is just 4500rpm in top gear) as keeping up with your mates on the B1183. As a road bike it’s a great compromise and if you bought your Transalp for track days my only question would be ‘what colour is the sky in your world?’


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It goes even better without a photographer leaning over your shoulder.


That’s not to say that you won’t be breaking a few personal records on this bike. I surprised myself in early September by completing my 147-mile journey home from the BikeSocial office on the Transalp in 11 per cent less time than on any other bike. Because I’m a geek that works in a team of other geeks I may or may not keep a spreadsheet of all the test bikes I’ve ridden containing average speeds, mpgs and interesting observations about the journey. Obviously, should such a document exist, it could never be shared in case some of the data, seen in isolation might be thought to be incriminating.

In the last four years (including lockdown periods) I’ve ridden 41 different bikes on this route ranging from a Suzuki V-Strom 250 and Yamaha Tricity 300 scooter all the way up to a Ducati Panigale V4S, Honda FireBlade SP and Gold Wing. In truth, this trip on the Transalp was as much down to traffic conditions and my need to be home at a certain time and it wasn’t one of those trips when you feel slightly ashamed of what you’ve done at the end of it. I’m a grown-up and my riding these days is considered and responsible, but the fact that we got home in that time without stress is a tribute to the Transalp’s ability to cover ground quickly and safely. I should say at this point that good times on this journey are achieved through smart average speeds not big numbers on the dash. The worst legal outcome would have been a fixed-penalty notice and probably a speed awareness course.

The Transalp is never going to be a bike for high-speed bragging rights or bike-caff bullshit. It makes it easy to cover ground effectively but not so easy to get into trouble. Somehow you get to places more quickly than expected. Even on this trip it still averaged 53mpg which sounds great until you realise that’s 20 per cent more fuel than normal to knock 11 per cent off the journey time.


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Suspension copes well with most things but occasionally gets overwhelmed by a rider forgetting he’s not riding a CBR.


There are a handful of niggles but no major problems. Not having a display for ambient air temperature or fuel range remaining seems a bit odd when the appropriate hardware is there to be measuring it. The dash offers plenty of data that seems highly unnecessary (the angle in degrees at which the twistgrip is open being the weirdest plus things like how much time has elapsed since you last reset the ‘how much time has elapsed’ button) instead of adding these two which I’d use a lot.

The headlight is disappointing on main beam too. Dip beam is ok, allowing 50mph on an unlit B-road. Main beam doesn’t really add anything to that – it’s almost not worth the extra switch.

And finally, the gearchange is a bit stiff, which combined with a slightly clumsy clutch feel (can’t think of a better way to describe it) makes gear changes feel like a chore rather than a pleasure. 

But let’s end on a high. Returning from that Welsh trip, after six and a half hours on the road I hit the A272 which is what passes for a decent biking road in the south of England. It’s busy (4.45pm), greasy and there are new 50mph average speed cameras on the section just after Loomies towards Petersfield. The Transalp makes short work of the conditions, short work of the traffic and once home, unpacked and suitably lubricated I sleep better that night than I can remember for ages.

Don’t underestimate the brilliance of a Honda middleweight twin.


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Optional low seat is 30mm lower, but it doesn’t work with the also-optional tall screen



Modifications and accessories

  • Taller screen - £125
  • Wind deflectors - £110
  • Heated grips - £185
  • 12v socket - £50
  • Top box kit (inc base plate) - £695


Three things I’m loving about the 2023 Honda XL750 Transalp

  • Versatility
  • Economy
  • Comfort


Three things that aren’t so good…

  • Tubed tyres make me anxious
  • Styling is a little conservative
  • Lacks a little midrange pull in higher gears


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Suspension is soft but still controlled in bumpy corners


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2023 Honda XL750 Transalp - Technical Specification

New price

From £9499



Bore x Stroke


Engine layout

Parallel twin

Engine details

4v per cylinder, unicam, 270-deg crankshaft


90.5bhp (67.5kW) @ 9500rpm


55.3 lb-ft (75Nm) @ 7250rpm

Top speed

135mph (estimated)

Average fuel consumption

66mpg tested

Tank size


Max range to empty (theoretical)


Reserve capacity


Rider aids

Five riding modes, five TC settings, wheelie control, three engine braking modes, two ABS modes, switchable rear ABS


Steel diamond frame

Front suspension

Showa 43mm USD forks

Front suspension adjustment


Rear suspension

Showa rising rate monoshock

Rear suspension adjustment


Front brake

Twin 310mm wave discs with axial mounted dual-piston Nissin calipers

Rear brake

256mm disc, single-piston Nissin caliper

Front tyre

90/90-R21 tubed tyre

Rear tyre

150/70-R18 tubed tyre




2325mm x 838mm 1450mm (LxWxH)



Ground clearance


Seat height


Kerb weight



Unlimited miles / 2years