Honda announced the release of the Transalp 750 in the U.S. market last month. It then invited us to test the much-anticipated ADV bike on the Backcountry Discovery Routes (BDR) PA Wilds BDR-X route.
Transalp is a lauded monicker to motorcyclists who like to venture on the rougher surfaces of dirt and gravel back roads. The original Honda Transalp hit these less-traveled venues in 1986, and the 2024 Honda XL750R Transalp evoked nostalgia as soon as I saw it. Visually, the bike looked to possess the double personality of highway cruiser and dirt bomber that the original version introduced.
I rode the 2024 Honda Transalp 750 over 2 days on varied terrain in rural central Pennsylvania, luckily catching the incredible fall hues. I rode smooth highways, windy blacktops, and dirt that ranged from tame two-track to challenging rocky sections made slick with puddles and mud. The Transalp and I covered nearly 300 miles of the 500-mile BDR-X route.
In short: The 2024 Honda Transalp 750’s dual purpose matched its dual personality. It was extremely easy to ride, allowing me to traverse more challenging sections without hesitation. The pairing of these alter egos made the Transalp a bike suitable to a wide range of abilities and styles, making the bike an appealing choice for the ADV masses.
- Engine 755cc liquid-cooled 24.5º inline-two-cylinder four-stroke w/270º crank
- Valve train OHC Unicam, 4 valves per cylinder, 35.5mm inlet valves, 29mm exhaust valves
- Induction PGM-FI; 46mm throttle bodies
- Transmission Manual 6-speed
- Clutch Multiplate wet
- Front suspension 43mm Showa SFF-CATM telescopic inverted fork w/ spring-preload adjustment; 7.9" travel
- Rear suspension Pro-Link system w/ single Showa remote-reservoir shock; 7.5" travel
- Front brake Dual 310mm "wave" discs w/ hydraulic two-piston calipers
- Rear brake Single 256mm "wave" disc w/ hydraulic single-piston caliper
- Fuel capacity 4.5 gal.
- Wet weight 459 lbs.
- Ground clearance 8.3"
- Tires 90/90-21 (front), 150/70R-18 (rear)
- Wheelbase 61.5"
- Seat height 33.7"
- Extremely linear and tractable engine response
- Suspension effective over most surfaces at "adventuring" speeds
- Excellent electronic rider aids package
- Great brakes
- Low exhaust could be prone to damage
- No cruise control
- Small, uncomfortable stock footpegs
- USB-C port is under the seat
2024 Honda XL750R Transalp Review
2024 Transalp 750 Engine Characteristics
The heart of any bike is the engine, and Honda graced the 2024 Transalp 750 with one of the most agreeable motors I’ve ever ridden on an ADV bike.
The 755cc liquid-cooled, parallel twin powerplant amicably delivered torque and power. Twisting the fly-by-wire throttle elected a linear power curve that never surprised me, regardless of which of the four factory-set drive modes (Sport, Standard, Rain, Gravel) I chose. This amazingly tractable nature was partly due to the influence of the electronic traction control on the rear wheel.
The single-cam engine (Unicam, borrowed from Honda’s MX lineup) produced a familiar feeling akin to the 1084cc Honda Africa Twin, which I’ve ridden extensively in Baja. The Transalp felt like I thought it should, given the roughly 250cc smaller displacement. And just like on the bigger cousin, the Transalp’s motor and EFI induction were smooth in all rpm ranges. I never felt any annoying vibrations or blips in power delivery.
This extremely linear and predictable motor characteristic made the 2024 Honda Transalp 750 easy to manage, but it did lack the excitement of other current ADV powerplants. There was no rpm to target for a power surge, even while nursing the clutch.
It was very “Honda-like,” in its delivery of 92 horsepower at 9,500 rpm and 53 foot-pounds of torque at 7,250 rpm, which some riders appreciated over the potential rush of riding a surge in power delivery.
Transalp 750 Suspension Performance
The Showa suspension on the 2024 Honda Transalp 750 felt on point for my 168-pound frame in off-road riding gear, without bags or luggage, while on the tarmac. I didn’t hesitate to push into turns, nor did I go out of my way to avoid potholes or wrecked pavement. I didn’t feel any bothersome fork dive upon braking, nor did I feel like I ate through much of my rear shock travel while accelerating.
Much like the engine, the suspension quietly and predictably managed the chassis. This allowed relaxed riding while cruising or on lean during spirited cornering. Again, it was very “Honda-like.”
I felt the same on winding two-track and tamer dirt and gravel on most of the first day along the PA Wilds BDR-X route. I didn’t notice any blaring shortcomings in damping or spring rate while standing on the pegs, which I do exclusively when off-road.
The front-to-rear balance felt fine, and the damping rate was appropriate for most terrains and speeds encountered that day. The off-road surfaces ranged from hardpacked and relatively smooth dirt to looser gravel roads and some sections of embedded and loose rocks up to tennis-ball size.
On the second day, there was an optional “expert” section of mud and wet rocks and roots of significant size. The rear shock was harsh, and the front fork blew through the middle of its travel too quickly. But it wasn’t anything I considered a shortcoming for an ADV bike.
Overall, I felt the Showa 43mm inverted fork and Pro-Link rear shock handled their respective 7.9″ and 7.5″ of travel well for the all-around usage pattern of an ADV bike.
2024 Honda Transalp 750 Electronics Package
A standout element of the Transalp 750 was the electronic rider assistance functions, especially given the four-digit MSRP.
In addition to the four factory-programmed riding modes, there is a user-programmable mode. Every imaginable aspect can be molded to personal preference: engine output, engine braking, rear ABS on/off, and traction control (aided by a slipper clutch). A surprising OEM inclusion is a programmable quick shifter.
For the streets and tamer dirt and gravel roads, the stock riding modes worked fine for me. But anytime it got a bit rocky or loose, the traction control and ABS were intrusive, so I switched them to the lowest settings in the User mode, and all was well.
Speaking of ABS and braking, I found the dual front and single rear caliper brakes excellent from the start. I didn’t have to modulate my naturally occurring braking efforts in any way, and they were always met with predictable bite and progression, both on the road and off.
Quick Shifter & TFT Information Panel
I really enjoyed the programmable quick shifter. After I got over the ingrained habit of tapping the clutch on shifts, I really appreciated the stock addition. Others should follow suit, in my opinion. It added a lot to my riding experience and now that I’m back on a bike without one, I miss it. I found the factory setting to be fine for me, but the “softness” of engagement and other factors is user-modifiable.
The 5-inch color TFT screen was a winner. No matter the lighting conditions, the characters on the screen were clear and easily readable while riding. And as a notable side note, the windscreen was perfect for my 6-foot frame. I experienced little buffeting even at 80 mph.
With the appropriate riding mode chosen for road and gravel, and then the user mode when things got rough, the 2024 Honda Transalp got 53 mpg over the 2 days of riding the PA Wilds BDR-X route.
XL750 R Transalp Nitpicks
It was hard for me to find notable negatives on the 2024 Honda Transalp 750, given the $9,999 price. But, alas, it is my job.
Transalp 750 Chassis
The first and foremost thing I wanted right away was clickers on top of the forks. The forks have 15 levels of preload adjustment, and the shock has seven, but compression and rebound adjusters are not part of the stock package. Given that the forks are Separate Fork Function (compression and rebound handled by one leg each), it even makes more sense to include them.
The next big thing to me was the stock footpegs. I know OEM pegs can be horrible, but I found the Honda ones especially so. They are tiny in every dimension and seem like they came off a kid’s bike. The tank is wider than motocross or single-cylinder dual sport machines.
So, combined with the narrow pegs, standing while squeezing the knees was awkward and uncomfortable. And, even with new Alpinestars Tech 10s, I had obvious pressure points on the bottom of my foot.
I stand almost 100% of the time on dirt. So, the lack of surface area was noticeable, especially on longer, rougher sections. Come on, Honda, give us some decent pegs!
Another exclusion that is often found on ADV bikes is cruise control. I never use it, but others prefer to have it on long highway stints.
I would also prefer a higher exhaust routing. The muffler and mid-pipe felt and looked low. Although I didn’t damage them, they are more prone than a system with a higher exit point.
Lastly, there is a USB-C plug under the seat — not exactly a convenient location. It seems like putting it on the dash would be a default for an ADV bike, but not so on the Transalp 750.
And, the only color is the one you see here.
2024 Honda Transalp 750 Review: Conclusions
I’ve had the incredible luxury of riding many modern ADV bikes. And I want a 2024 Honda Transalp 750 of my own.
For ADV riders that cruise tarmac most of the time to link dirt and gravel sections, lightly loaded, it’s hard to fault this bike at this price. The bike responds predictably to rider and terrain inputs, and the electronics package allows for optimizing these responses. The result is the ability to ride in these conditions with confidence.
I’m more of a 75% off-road guy, and the Transalp would still shine with a few minor tweaks. I would change the stock rubber to a more off-road-worthy set, which we did for our PA Wilds BDR-X route.
And, if I were carrying a camping load, I would increase the spring and damping rates. I have taken both steps on every ADV bike I’ve ever owned. So, this isn’t a shortfall of Honda on the 2024 Transalp 750.
But, what makes the 2024 Honda Transalp 750 irresistible is the price and legendary Honda reliability. A KTM 890 Adventure lists for just under $14,000, while an 890 Adventure R sits at over $15,000. The KTMs may be more off-road-ready in stock format, but I’d trade that for the reliability of a Honda. Then, use the extra $4-5K for upgrades if required.
I’ve had relatively substantial electronic and minor mechanical issues with every other ADV bike I’ve owned. But I’ve had zero issues with any Honda bike. And, I predict the same excellent reliability from the $9,999 2024 Honda XL750R Transalp.