It’s perhaps a sign of the times that this new 2023 Honda Transalp is a full-on 750. When we were kids, the Transalp was a mere 600 (583cc actually), and you needed to buy an Africa Twin if you wanted a ‘proper’ 750 trail bike. Now, the big adventure bike is an 1100 (the CRF1100 Africa Twin), and the new Honda Transalp XL750 comes with a 755cc engine, with the CB500X as Honda’s entry-level adventure machine.
The other sign of the times is the move away from V-twins to parallel twin engines. The original Transalp and Africa Twins both used narrow-angle Vee layouts, but the current engineering ethos means lighter, more compact, and cheaper inline-twins. On the new Transalp, it’s the same 755cc twin we saw last month on the new Hornet CB750: a slick, super-modern layout, with a SOHC Unicam head, four valves per cylinder, and a series of cunning design tweaks on the bottom end to reduce friction, mass and space. The primary drive system doubles up as the balance shaft drive, and the water pump is tucked inside the left hand engine cover, and removes the need for a water cooled oil cooler.
Power is the same as the Hornet, around 90bhp@9,500rpm – though Honda says the throttle response is tweaked compared with the Hornet, to better suit the adventure tourng Transalp. The cylinders have a 270 degree firing order for added character and a ‘twin pulse’ power delivery, and the fuelling is taken care of by a ride-by-wire throttle setup.
Like the old Transalp, the new XL750 uses a tough steel frame (based on the same foundations as the 2023 Honda CB750 Hornet), that can soak up abuse, while remaining fairly light for the job. Indeed, Honda claims it’s actually 10 per cent lighter than the CB500 X mini-adventure machine, at 18.3kg. The firm reckons its engineers put in the hard yards, analysing tube wall thicknesses, and optimising things like shock mounts and bracketry, to ensure there’s no excess metal anywhere.
The rest of the chassis is fairly standard light-adventure fare: suspension consists of 43mm Showa SFF-CA (Separate Function Forks-Cartridge) USD front forks and a Showa rear monoshock, all adjustable for preload only. The brakes have twin 310mm wave-type discs up front, but only sliding twin-piston Nissin calipers, while the wheels are proper dirt sizes: 21” front rim with a 90/90 tyre, and an 18-inch rear with 150/70 rubber. Nothing earth-shattering, literally or metaphorically, but as always with Honda, you’d expect that it will all work in a very capable, unfussed manner.
As with even the most basic of 2023 machinery, the new Transalp boasts electronic rider aids and tech kit that we could only dream about in the 1990s. The dash has a full colour five-inch TFT LCD panel and features Honda’s voice-controlled smartphone link. There’s a full set of rider aids: engine power, engine braking, traction control and ABS are all customisable, with offroad settings to switch off the rear ABS channel. No sign of any IMU advanced cornering aids though, which is perhaps what you’d expect at this model and price point.
It’s fair to say that Honda has got the styling spot-on. The old Transalp was slightly frumpy, with only very soft dirt looks and the sort of cuddly lines that 1980s Japanese kit excelled at. This 2023 machine is far sharper though, with tougher looks, and a neat melding of semi-retro styling and current trends. It’s not as pretty as Ducati’s DesertX – but it’s definitely pushing some of the same buttons.
Price is to be confirmed, and the new Transalp XL750 will be on sale in the spring next year. More info: www.honda.co.uk/motorcycles