Review: 2024 Honda Transalp

In the Mojave Desert. PHOTO CREDIT: Zac Kurylyk

Honda’s Transalp is a bike with a lot of history—but most of that history took place outside the borders of Canada. The original Transalp was only imported to North America for a short run at the end of the ’80s, although the rest of the world had it from 1987 through 2012. There was much rejoicing when Honda confirmed the new Transalp model in the fall of 2022, and North Americans were even happier when the bike was confirmed for our market a few months later.

By fall of 2023, the first machines were on our shores; earlier this year, I had the chance to ride one through the southwestern US, on a four-day trip from Los Angeles to Las Vegas with a detour into the Santa Monica mountains. Here’s what I found out about the machine along the way.

Honda sells this bike with a much nicer red/white/blue paint scheme in Europe. The only colour scheme we get in Canada is this grey/black selection. PHOTO CREDIT: Honda

You get the nicest engine in a Honda

In days gone by, Honda had a reputation for building bold, exciting engines. The CR500, the original CBR600, the V65—Honda was shooting to thrill. But that’s not so much the case these days. While the Africa Twin and CB500X/NC500 are reliable and fuel-efficient, with more than enough power in their respective categories. they are often categorized as bland. I think that’s unfair, but pre-conceived notions are hard to overcome.

The Transalp is very much built along the same lines as those bikes, with a 755cc liquid-cooled parallel twin engine that slots nicely between the half-liter and 1100 options. The horsepower builds steadily almost through the top of the rev range, but the torque curve has a modest curve, building to its peak about mid-way through the rpm range, then trailing off.

How does it work in the real world? I believe it makes a great touring engine, because it’s power that doesn’t wear you out.

This is the same engine that Honda uses for the CB750 Hornet in overseas market (not yet available in Canada). PHOTO CREDIT: Zac Kurylyk

After half a lifetime behind the handlebars of vibrating single-cylinder engines, not to mention buzzy Suzuki inline fours, I’ve come to really appreciate an engine with smooth power delivery that doesn’t require hard runs up the rev range to build torque. Get on the highway or byway with the Transalp, get to legal or extra-legal speed, and you can tour all day without feeling beat-up, all while averaging at least 40 mpg (remember, I was on a US-spec machine)… until you hit a headwind.

On old Route 66 in southeastern California, I noticed significant decline in fuel economy when fighting a hard headwind, dropping from about 41-42 mpg to the low 30s, and even the low 20s at some points if I was running 80 mph against the wind. If you watched the throttle (no cruise control), you could probably get 400 km from a tank on this bike, but high speed and wind cuts that potential back a lot.

Honda has a pile of factory accessories available for this bike as well. PHOTO CREDIT: Honda

I think this is tied to the engine’s relatively tame torque curve. While the Euro-spec bike makes 90 hp at 9,500 rpm and 55 lb-ft of torque at 7,250 rpm, the US-spec bike makes about 83 hp at 8,500 rpm due to environmental regulations. I reached out to Honda weeks ago, but nobody has told me whether or not Canada’s bikes have the same tune as the EPA-neutered versions in the US. Whether or not that’s the case, the Honda is regardless not as hot a machine as some of the Euro or Japanese competition.

This, I think, will be most riders’ main complaint about the machine. While it will certainly haul you and your gear to expensive-ticket-territory, it’s not begging to be flogged like, say, the V-Strom 800 or KTM 790/890 series. Jaded adventure bikers will turn up their nose and use the dreaded B-word, writing off the bike with the dreaded proclamation: “It’s just bland.”

These plastic cases were convenient and waterproof, but I’d want sturdier boxes if I was off-roading. Or, ideally, soft bags. Oh, and that seat? Super-comfy, at least for me. PHOTO CREDIT: Zac Kurylyk

But I think it would be a mistake to write this bike off because of its non-offensive power delivery, because the careful engineering makes it a pleasure to live with for long days and distances. You can bang out hundreds of miles without feeling it at all. And in stop-and-go urban traffic, the light slip/assist clutch action is so easy that the quickshifter is only something I used as an afterthought. That’s standard on the US-spec model instead of an extra-cost add-on like the competition’s bikes, but unless you were hooning through the twisties, I don’t think you’d miss it. Kudos to Honda for including it as standard equipment, though!

Speaking of the twisties: On my second day with the bike, I spent several hours in the Santa Monica mountains. I was severely jet-lagged and loaded down with luggage; hardly in peak fighting form. But I welcomed the chance to ride the bike in the hills, as the Transalp name implies that’s the sort of riding it’s aimed at: touring to and through curvy roads. I think the engine’s tune suits this kind of riding perfectly—most riders are not going to be tackling the corners at max speed, balls-to-the-wall if they’re loaded down with luggage, looking for high-revving thrills. It’s made for exploring at an aggressive pace, but not hyper-speed.

Honda used a steel diamond frame, but carefully designed it to minimize weight. The suspension is basic, but works well on-road. IMAGE CREDIT: Honda

A chassis that matches

The bike’s chassis is well-matched to this kind of riding. Up front, there’s an inverted Showa SFF-CA fork with 7.9 inches of travel. In back, the shock is also from Showa, with spring preload adjustment and 7.5 inches of travel. That’s very basic when compared to the fine-tuning built into suspension on-board KTM/Husqvarna’s bikes in this displacement class, or the Tenere 700.

But it works, because Honda didn’t build this bike for fast off-road riding; it is an adventure travel bike and those options already exist for other riders who want to prioritize off-road performance over on-road comfort. Honda put its engineering into other aspects of chassis performance; careful design kept the frame weight down, while still allowing them to make it from affordable steel. Not only is steel less money than aluminum, it’s much easier to weld and repair when you’re traveling in the developing world—something the ride-to-work commuters likely don’t consider, but a very important factor if you plan on serious long-distance exploring.

Honda installed accessory aerodynamic spoilers on this bike, which upped the in-the-saddle comfort practically to Gold Wing levels. PHOTO CREDIT: Zac Kurylyk

I find that crowd, the long-haulers, are less interested in fidgeting with suspension settings anyway; their main concern is comfort and durability, and the Transalp’s relatively soft suspension is cushy for sure. It will also work well for commuters who want a relaxed ride to work, and weekend fun on country roads.

During my SoCal trip, monsoon-level storms disrupted my plans for off-road exploration in the Santa Monicas, and the fact I had the plastic factory-accessory panniers kept me out of the sandy desert. I didn’t fancy trying to zip-tie them back together if I had a tip-over in the dirt, and the weight at the back of the bike wouldn’t have been good in the whoops. However, I did get in some graded gravel around Oatman, Arizona. Despite the street-biased Metzeler Karoo tires, I felt the Transalp gripped the dirt track well at lower speeds. Pick up the pace, though, and the rear end was bouncing around like David Lee Roth in his prime.

In the dirt, the suspension restricted me to slow speeds. Losing the luggage and tinkering with the shock might have helped me, but I didn’t have much spare time on this trip for experimentation. Every day was A-to-B, with no chance to leave the luggage for a proper dual sport romp. PHOTO CREDIT: Zac Kurylyk

With more time, and with no luggage, I think I could have dialed the rear shock in a bit better. However, if you hit up Google, you’ll find that early owners are already looking for replacements shocks and fork upgrades, and the aftermarket is gearing up to supply them.

As far as the brakes: Nothing remarkable here; a pair of 310 mm discs mated to two-piston calipers up front, and a single 256 mm disc in back in rear, with single-piston caliper. Of all the systems on modern motorcycles, I think that braking has to be the biggest no-brainer, and it’s rare for an OEM to get it wrong at this point. In this case, Honda’s stoppers stop you very nicely, with two-channel ABS saving your butt in a dicey situation.

The TFT gauge has a lot of info, but it’s all fairly self-explanatory, unlike some of the competition’s dash components. IMAGE CREDIT: Honda

Saving money on electronics

Along with that ABS system, traction control is also standard, but it should be noted that Honda went with older systems that are not IMU-based. This means they are not leaning-sensitive. It’s possible this saves you money, but considering that Honda is able to put IMU-powered electronics on budget bikes like the CB125R (just updated for Europe for 2024), then I’m going to suggest (in a conspiracy theorist’s tone) that we’ll see an IMU-powered system introduced on the next-gen Transalp as a reason to upgrade.

I could be totally off-based on that; other factors, like component supply, are also to be considered here, and the bean-counters at Honda are far smarter than I am, and would have put that all into their decisions. Either way, my guess is that most buyers will never, ever see a difference on the road.

The riding modes allow you to switch between varying levels of ABS or TC interference, along with changing the power output. IMAGE CREDIT: Honda

The ABS and TC systems can both be switched off directly by navigating the bike’s menus, or dialed down with careful selection of the appropriate ride mode. The electro-interference is tied to your ride mode, as well as throttle response. The Transalp comes with Gravel, Rain, Standard and Sport modes, plus a user-definable mode. They’re extremely easy to switch between, something you come to appreciate if you’re riding a route that changes between paved and unpaved frequently.

On the street, I left the Transalp in Sport mode. In the dirt, I found the TC interference in Gravel mode was a bit too intrusive for my liking, and if I’d spent longer on the bike, I would tinkered with the user-definable mode to set it more to my preference.

The chain drive required no maintenance during my trip. On longer hauls, you’d want to keep an eye on it, obviously, but otherwise, I think this machine is an incredibly easy-to-live-with bike over big miles. PHOTO CREDIT: Zac Kurylyk

All the bike’s electronic features and settings can be viewed through the machine’s 5-inch TFT screen, and controlled by left-hand switches. The TFT also shows your speed, fuel level, RPM and other useful data.


This bike is for the KLR rider who’s grown up, who did their time on a lumpy single and wants something with roughly the same capability, but better. For the weekday commuter who wants a rural road explorer on the weekend. For the long-distance traveler who values reliability and comfort over performance. For the rider who’s had the big-bore adventure bikes and has realized the extra power, and the accompanying weight, weren’t necessarily worth the extra expense and other complications.

Pack your bags and hit the road, Jack! I think of all the current 700-800 class, this is the most mileage-oriented. PHOTO CREDIT: Zac Kurylyk

At a cash price of $13,503, including freight/PDI but not taxes, I think the Honda is at the high end of what a younger rider can afford, and for an older rider who’s price-comparing, the MSRP looks pretty attractive when you realize jumping to the next engine displacement class is going to cost you another $5k, or more.



  1. Biring is exactly how I would describe the Super Tenere. On hour 14 of an 18 hour day, boring is good. No surprises, just quiet reliable competence. Too bad that the fully farkled thing tops 600lbs. On the other hand, besides being easier to lift after a nap-just barely, It will follow a KLR just about everywhere, and be better at it, minus the weight. I’ve have both.

    I expect the Transalp, like the S10 and KLR’s (possibly DR200s too) will be left as the preferred post-apocalyptic means of transport. You’ll just need to figure out how fast you need to get there.

  2. “This bike is for the KLR rider who’s grown up, who did their time on a lumpy single and wants something with roughly the same capability, but better.”
    KLR riders don’t grow up, we just get crankier….

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