Before we get into what the Honda Transalp really was, let’s talk about its predecessor. It was in 1983 that Honda decided to bring the XLV750 which looked like motocross in its colors, but was a big touring bike at heart. The problem with it was its weight and bulk, which couldn’t be transported off-road, so most didn’t know what to do with the bike in the first place. The XLV750 was taken off the market and then brought back as XLV600, as in the Honda Transalp.
To make room for this bike, Honda first created the Rally-Touring category and even started sponsoring an annual rally intended only for Transalp owners to create a buzz around the bike.
The Honda Transalp, being a better motorcycle than most of the single cylinders of its time, and with the help of the right marketing ploys, became a hit, at least in Europe. As for Americans, the Transalp didn’t arrive until 1989, and before anyone could really know what to do with it, it was about to come out, in 1990.
So there was not much time to get used to this bike, although those who bought the Honda Transalp remember it with great fondness. So here’s a look back at the Honda Transalp and why it’s worth remembering.
The thought behind the Honda Transalp
The Honda Transalp was not an off-road motorcycle, but you could take it off-road. And it wasn’t an enduro, but you could ride it comfortably over long distances. Its plastic coating and upright seating position didn’t make it a sports bike either, although again you could get a thrill on it.
So basically it was a motorcycle that was nothing like it because it was a bit of sorts, and it made perfect sense to own it because it could be taken anywhere. and drive the way you wanted. Today, such motorcycles are more common than you might think – the kind that can do a bit of everything, like a jack-of-all-trades. Think BMW, Triumph Tiger, KTM Adventure and more. And yet, the Honda Transalp manages to defend itself against all of them, while still being quite affordable as a classic. Although they are not the most common given the two year period in the United States.
The specifications of the Honda Transalp
The engine that powered the Transalp was a 583cc liquid-cooled four-stroke V-twin and was a reborn version of Honda’s VT500 Ascot engine, which is a good thing. Arranged 52 degrees apart, with constant-vacuum Mikuni 32mm carburetors, the ignition was powered by two spark plugs per cylinder for quick and efficient rotation.
Fully powered, it weighed 450 pounds which was light for a street bike but heavy if you tried to call it a mountain bike. You could go off-road with it, but with all that plastic coating it took a bit of practice to avoid serious scratches or dents.
With a generously long suspension as well as 8.7-inch ground clearance with a narrow engine, you still couldn’t hit this bike unless you really wanted to. The Honda Transalp owes its name to the winding 700-mile-long mountains, the Alps. The Alps start from Slovenia and cross Italy, Austria, Bavaria and Switzerland to end on the French Riviera on mostly paved roads but sometimes not. The Honda Transalp was therefore perfectly suited to traverse endless bends, the fairing protecting the rider from alpine surprises. The 21-inch front wheel and suspension soaked through the rest of the bumps and nudges of rough roads. Only, when it comes to dirt tracks, the rider had to be more experienced than not, due to the weight of the bike and the seat height of 35.3 inches.
What was wrong with the Honda Transalp
When the Honda Transalp made its debut in the United States, there were few complaints. Some have talked about the smoothly mounted handlebars giving a rather sluggish steering for quick responses on the road. Others complained that the versatile tires were more suitable for the road than the road. Other than that, the Honda Transalp did not disappoint those who bought it.
The Honda Transalp was also a motorcycle that could tour with a short windshield option and the standard luggage rack, with a fairing protecting you from many elements on twisty roads. It was the perfect solution for anyone who wanted a motorcycle but only wanted one. Because it could double or triple in a multi-purpose bike. Still, he didn’t find many takers in the United States.
Why? First, we don’t have the Alps in the United States. Even though we have mountains, no one fully understood the fairing and skid plate. For most Americans, a mountain bike or mountain bike had to be minimalist, so the Honda Transalp simply wore too much clothing to fit. So the fact that he can make a comeback is a bit of a surprise. Check out this space for more …
Sources: MotorcycleClassics, RiderMagazine
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