Ross is back from a full day of putting the new middleweight adventure bike from Honda through its paces. Here’s how he got on.
“The handling’s very good. You’d be forgiven for expecting a bit of vagueness from the 21inch front wheel – but in practice, it feels planted and stable with plenty of grip from the Metzeler Karoo Street tyres on the Tarmac (even on damp roads). When things dried up, the Transalp came alive, and I reckon I’d struggle to go much faster on a bigger and more powerful adventure focused machine.
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We’ve also done a bit of trail work. Wide and a bit grimy, it was the perfect introduction to the bike off-road. Its not going to win any Dakar’s, but it feels poised and planted with plenty of adjustability in the electronic settings to suit all skill sets.
The Showa 43mm USD forks up front have 15 stage preload adjustment and 200mm of travel – and the Pro-link monoshock at the rear has 190mm of travel. Developed in conjunction with the frame, it’s a capable setup. There’s a bit of wallowing and diving under hard braking and strong acceleration, but that’s probably to be expected – and it never feels like it’s out of control even when being pressed hard.
For stopping there’s Nissin dual 310mm wave discs with axial mounted two piston calipers up front and single 256mm wavy discs with single piston calipers. They’re good, offering plenty of bite and plenty of feel to stop in a hurry.
There’s a solid suite of electronic rider aids, with adjustability for the rider modes, traction control, engine braking and ABS. Interestingly, full power is available in all modes – but it’s delivered in a slightly different way. There’s a Gravel mode which is a simple way to tune the bike for the dirt. But it’s more for safety than performance. The good news is that there’s also a User mode which allows you to set things up in a slightly more aggressive way.
It’s low and light with an 850mm seat height and a 208kg weight, which helps make it manageable to shift around. I’m 6ft 1inches tall and I can get my feet flat on the floor with room to spare.
The new steel diamond frame has been developed in conjunction with the Hornet. But its not the same. The rear subframe is stronger – with a focus on pillion comfort and carrying capacity. Although we’ve not had a chance to get on the back during the ride, a quick sit suggested that there’s enough padding and enough room for long rides.
The 16.9 litre fuel tank is good for a claimed 300km (186 mile) – though I suspect that you’d struggle to achieve that on all but the most sedate rides. That said, I reckon you’d be able to get fairly close to 150 miles before having to top up.
There’s a lot of competition out there – including Yamaha’s extremely popular Tenere, the KTM 790 and 890 Adventure, the Aprilia Tuareg 660 and the newly released Suzuki V-Strom 1050 DE. But the Transalp holds its own. I reckon it’s probably the best road bike of the bunch. OK, so it’s limited off road and the Tenere is a much better option if you want to hit the trails in a serious way – but I suspect that plenty of potential adventurers would be more than happy with the new Honda’s ability. And let’s not forget that it’s the cheapest of the lot, priced at a very impressive £9499.
Criticisms? It’s a bit of a shame the bash plate doesn’t come as standard – and it’s a bit frustrating that the standard USB socket is tucked away under the seat. Small gripes aside, It really is very good.”
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