Honda XL750 Transalp review: A peak performer

Christopher Chaves Updated: June 11, 2024, 11:40 AM IST

When Honda came out with the XL750 Transalp, I was completely stoked, because just look at it, it looks like a baby Africa Twin, right? But then again, a closer inspection of the spec sheet revealed that it wasn't going to be on par with the CRF 1100L on sheer capability alone. And that left a big question mark looming over what this bike was actually capable of. That was until now, because Honda have finally gotten around to giving us the motorcycle for a limited amount of time for me to gauge what I can and tell you all about it.

The XL750 Transalp looks absolutely brilliant, ok not so much in this dark colour, but in the white paint scheme with red and blue streaks, and those gold rims, it looks drop-dead gorgeous in my opinion. It looks proportionate, not too big, but not overly imposing either, fitting for a mid-size, multi-cylinder ADV bike. Although some might find it to look rather simple, the features list that this bike houses says otherwise.

The Honda Transalp comes with the same 5-inch TFT screen that it shares with the NX500 but this one has a lot more information for you read out and even configure on the go. You have four themes, you get four ride modes. You have settings like engine power, engine braking, traction control and ABS, and there's even one ride mode where you can personalize things to your riding style and liking.

The lovely thing about the Transalp's screen is that the display is crisp and the important information that you want to be shown is laid out clearly. Better still is that you have that one 'user' ride mode to configure things the way you like. But there is a bit of a catch with the switchgear.

As you can see there's many buttons to fiddle and toy around with on this motorcycle, but the actual layout of the buttons will take some getting used to. Some of the switchgear is oddly laid out like where the turn indicators and hazard lights switches are located. Not where you'd find these switches on any other bikes that we have out here in the country.

That might take a bit of time to get accustomed to, what won't however is the actual bike itself, because it's just so easy, comfortable and balanced.

The seat height of the Transalp is tall, but once you get aboard, it feels like one of those motorcycles where you're seated within rather than on it. The rider triangle is very upright and the padding keeps things nice and comfortable as well. One of the highlights of this motorcycle is how well balanced it feels whether you're riding fast, slow, braking hard. Standing up sitting and going for it, it allows you to really see obstacles ahead, react to it in time and get past it with a calculated precision.

Honda have really mastered the center of gravity with this one. It doesn't feel top heavy when you tip it over, and that on its own, allows you to feel a great connection with this bike at all times. When you're not riding it, even walking this 208kg (stock) bike around isn't a big task. But the best part of this bike? Ho ho! It has to be that 755cc twin-cylinder engine. It's one of the new parallel-twin engines from Honda and it's the same one that powers the Hornet 750 elsewhere in the world, so you know it's got some sting.

The 755cc parallel twin that powers the Transalp is a real treat because it makes a good amount of power which is 91.7PS and 75Nm of max torque, and being a 270degree crank, it makes most of that power in the mid and top end of the spectrum, with a decent amount of grunt low down the powerband as well. Now it's not exactly vibe-free, but it does have a nice amount of grunt to it and that gives this bike a brilliant character. Out on the road, it's just a real treat when you wring it, in the right settings of course.

Acceleration is smooth off the line and the clutch is nice and light which is great for the city, but once the roads open up a bit, and you dive into the mid-range, well that's when you have yourself a big ol' bag of fun. Power builds up to the mid-range fairly well after which this motor just wants spread its wings and take flight. Great, great fun if fancy a brisk ride. You can hear a nice click each time you work the gearbox and it gives you this nice crisp feeling overall. This parallel-twin engine just is so linear in its delivery, there are no surprising spikes in power so it's not a task when you throw the hammer down at any point.

It's so involving out on the road, it feels like you're hitting the nail on the head each and every time you whack the throttle open. I absolutely love the fact that you have engine braking settings on this bike because it just allows you to be a little more at ease depending on the weather or kind of terrain you're going through. Yes, and even that boomy exhaust note from the end can enhances what already is a thoroughly delightful ride experience.

When you're riding off-road too, there's more than enough power on tap to light your eyes lit up with glee. But although you have a good amount of travel at both ends, you have 200mm at the front and 190 at the rear, the suspension can bottom out quite easily if you're making new trails and make a mistake. And remember, that protective bashplate you see on there, it's not standard fit. But let's just say that I was very happy that it was on this time around.

The Showa suspension at both ends is preload adjustable and it allows a good amount of wheel travel at both ends as well. The 21-incher up front will keep you safe from a lot of pothole abuse and it manages to keep to its like on the road very nicely. It allows you to have a good amount of tilt and flow in through corners with great ease. Sadly the rear suspension is on the softer side and inconsiderate of whatever settings you put it in, it is going to wallow in corners.

The compression and rebound settings of the Showa units aren't really setup for you to be overly adventurous off the beaten path and the tyres, well that's a bit of a surprise too..

The current Nissin brakes setup on the Transalp is very appropriate given this bike's capability in its current form. But what comes across as a downer is the tubed tyre setup on the bike. Now you get spoke wheels at both ends â€" a 21-inch at the front and an 18-incha at the rear. But those are Dunlop tubed tyres on the pair of them. Now although they faired decent on the road, but once you get into off-road sections, that could be tricky because you see something like even the center stand is an add-on accessory and not standard fitment. So if you're out on a long journey or even out hitting some trails and happen to get a puncture, god help you. But then again again, there is a way around this, because you can swap these wheels out for the tubeless set that's on the Africa Twin, but then again, it's not going to come cheap.

So after my short stint with the bike, I found the XL750 Transalp to be a simply brilliant on-road machine, but sadly not so much so, off it, in this stock form at least. It feels like a thorough long-distance tourer that will take you pretty much anywhere where you want to go as long as the terrain isn't overly challenging. And it's got that CBU Japanese reliability backing it up after all.  Still, if you expect to do a lot more off-road riding on this one, there's some bits of it that you'll fancy swapping out over the course of time.

To sum things up out here with the Honda Transalp, let me reiterate by saying that this is not in fact a baby Africa Twin, because this is more of an adventure tourer, rather than a full-blown adventure motorcycle. Not this comes to India much like the NX500, so it isn't going to come cheap. Rs 11 lakh ex-showroom, and that too just for the bare-bones bike because all of the things you see out here like the tall windscreen, the knuckleguards, the crash guards, the bash plate, even the center stand are all accessories that will cost you extra. Around Rs 1.8 lakh extra. So that's not cheap too. So in terms of sheer value, this motorcycle takes a step back. But there will still be a lot of people that will fancy this bike for its aesthetic, comfort levels, that stonking engine, the features and the whole dynamic of it all. So if you can afford it, it is a really nice motorcycle. Now there has been one rival from the Suzuki stable in the form of the V-Strom 800 DE that's recently been launched in the country, and it'll be interesting to see how that bike squares up against this one because it is better equipped, and is in fact more affordable than the Honda.

Price (Ex-Delhi)
Starts Rs 16,01,500
Max Power(ps)
Max Torque(Nm)