Review: 2024 Honda Transalp XL750R

Motorcycle Review: 2024 Honda Transalp XL750R | RoadRUNNER Touring & Travel

What magic did the 1980s possess that causes nostalgia for the age to be so prevalent? Notables, such as Harrison Ford and Jeff Bridges, have revived ‘80s characters, shows such as Stranger Things adopt the decade, and the list goes on.

In 1986, Honda unveiled the first Transalp—the XL600V. This twin-cylinder adventure bike would transform over three generations before disappearing completely in 2012.

Through all these years, only a few of the earlier Transalps were ever available in the U.S. in 1989 and 1990. Now, in 2023, this machine with its ‘80s roots has resurfaced on the world stage, including the U.S. market.

Having built up a reputation in Europe as a solid adventure touring machine, its return to American shores has been highly anticipated. After a 33-year hiatus from the U.S. market (and an 11-year hiatus from all markets entirely) does the anticipation match the experience of the machine?

The Reboot

Much like rebooting an old movie franchise, the 2024 model year Transalp is a reboot in name only. The first three generations of Transalps shared a V-twin design that gradually increased in size with each new version.

After waking up from its 11-year slumber, the Transalp now sports a 755cc parallel-twin with a 270-degree crank arrangement.

Putting out 83 hp and 55 lb-ft of torque, this statistic alone immediately outshines Yamaha’s Ténéré 700 (74 hp) for bikes in this price range. However, it’s far less than the more expensive KTM 890R (105 hp).

The fact that the new Transalp also boasts customizable ride modes merits a closer look at what this bike with an ‘80s name is all about.

Motorcycle Review: 2024 Honda Transalp XL750R | RoadRUNNER Touring & Travel

First Impressions

As the bike warmed up in the brisk pre-dawn, poking at the switch cluster buttons to set up ride modes, heated grips, and other pre-ride checklist items initially provided impressions of a familiar Honda Africa Twin-esque TFT, housed in a broad Kawasaki KLR-like fairing.

With its 33.7-inch seat height, I could plant both feet firmly on the ground after throwing a leg over the bike. That was also partially due to the thicker soles of the Klim Adventure GTX boots I was trying out for this ride.

A low seat option brings the seat height down to 32.5 inches.

Motorcycle Review: 2024 Honda Transalp XL750R | RoadRUNNER Touring & Travel

Navigating the Transalp’s ride modes will be familiar to anyone who has experienced Honda’s other reboot of the Africa Twin. The icons look similar, and the five ride modes (Sport, Standard, Rain, Gravel, and a customizable user mode) are similar between the two bikes, just slightly stripped down on the smaller bike.

The Transalp has one customizable user mode versus two of its bigger brother, six levels of traction control (or “Honda Selectable Torque Control”) versus eight, and the G button has been removed for the mid-size offering. Also absent from the Transalp is selectable wheelie control.

That said, for a budget-friendly mid-size adventure bike, the electronics package is very robust.

A lone Function switch can be assigned to a variety of things based on user preference. Thankfully, for the press launch, Honda had pre-selected this switch to operate the heated grips, which made quick work of turning them on and selecting any of the five available levels.

The Ride

The shape of the small, non-adjustable windscreen at first reminded me of the early Africa Twin Adventure Sports model, which was not ideal for my 5-foot-11-inch frame. Fortunately, I experienced almost no buffeting on the Transalp around either the top or sides of my helmet after many high-speed miles both on and off-road.

Honda has been developing this particular screen for a long while—the original XL600V Transalp in 1986 was Honda’s first dual-purpose motorcycle to incorporate a fairing for increased wind protection.

Motorcycle Review: 2024 Honda Transalp XL750R | RoadRUNNER Touring & Travel

Power delivery on the Transalp felt like it fell somewhere between a Ténéré 700 and KTM 790R, but it was arguably smoother than either of those. For a newer rider, this quality makes the Transalp a very approachable motorcycle. For more experienced riders coming from other bikes, the 270-degree crank produces a familiar grunt, in a comfortable, unimposing package.

The Transalp also shares the same Unicam valve train design as the CRF450R and CRF1100.

Off-road, the docile nature of the Gravel mode is another feature that makes the Transalp a good entry-level adventure bike. Switching to Sport mode and deactivating traction control entirely is nearly like riding a completely different bike.

The 755cc twin is a blast to let loose, without needing quite the level of attention that doing the same thing on a CRF1100L Africa Twin demands.

In more serious off-road conditions, deactivating traction control is a must. Even when the feature is dialed down to its lowest level of intervention, the rear wheel will complain and argue with the throttle as the system fights for traction in those split-second moments where almost none exists. Riders will also feel the front brake stuttering and pumping up under hard braking in these same situations, as ABS is only fully-deflatable to the rear wheel.

While both traction control and ABS (to the rear wheel) can be turned off completely, they will re-engage themselves with each power cycle. The solution is simple—don’t turn the bike off.

For typical trailside pauses during a long ride, the battery will be fine with leaving the dash active to retain your settings. These complaints are common refrains for several other bikes as well, and I’d like to believe they’re the trickle-down result of decisions from NHSTA legislators more than motorcycle manufacturers.

With just under eight inches of travel (7.9 in front, 7.5 in rear), I was pleasantly surprised by the suspension feedback and only bottomed out the bike entirely once or twice. Fork dive on twisty pavement was minimal, even when getting on the brakes hard, and small-bump compliance was noticeably good over speedier rocky roads. Preload is adjustable both front and rear, and it felt appropriate for 185 pounds plus gear.

A welcome inclusion to the standard equipment package is a quickshifter, although I felt some hiccups in shifting at times. Although it worked smoothly the vast majority of the time, the bike occasionally wanted to remain in its current gear even when pulling the clutch in and mashing on the shifter lever a bit.

I’ve no firm conclusions on why this happened, but it seemed to result from the quickshifter being activated for a gear change and then not completely deactivated afterward.

Overall, the bike felt more at home on-road versus off-road, but that had more to do with the standing position than any mechanical aspect. The rider triangle, combined with a simple but highly effective windscreen, created a welcoming cockpit environment while in the saddle.

That same cockpit becomes a bit more cramped when you get up on the pegs, and I found the tank shape interfered with having a completely neutral standing position, particularly when climbing.

An Approachable Adventurer

With an MSRP squeaking in at just under $10,000, the 2024 Honda Transalp provides a lot of value for the money. It’s a bit like taking a CRF1100L Africa Twin and throwing it in the dryer with a new pair of denims.

Out comes a smaller, more approachable bike, yet offering power, performance, and a feature set attractive to a wide variety of riders.

My testing experience in Pennsylvania involved riding the picturesque landscapes between the quaint GodSpeed lodging facility in Port Matilda and the palatial Rusty Rail Brewing Company’s guest rooms in Mifflinburg. Through all these miles, the Transalp proved itself a worthy successor to the earlier bike with the same name, even if you might not think they’re awfully similar.

Technical Specs

+ impressive engine, extensive ride mode options, surprising wind protection, cool heritage, under $10,000
- cramped riding position when standing, overly sensitive traction control off-road, non-defeatable front ABS

Distributor: Honda Powersports
MSRP: $9,999
Engine: parallel-twin, 4-stroke, liquid-cooled, Unicam SOHC, 4-valve
Displacement: 755cc
Power: 82hp; 53 lb-ft
Transmission: 6-speed, quickshifter, multiplate wet clutch chain final drive
Rake/Trail: 27°/4.4in
Weight (Wet): 459lbs
Seat Height: 33.7in
Fuel Capacity: 4.5gal
Color: Matte Black Metallic