2024 Honda Transalp XL750 Review: This Motorcycle Will Take You Anywhere

Literally anywhere.

byJonathon Klein|
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I’m gonna be brutally honest with myself and you, our dear readers. I’m not a good enough rider for how wild the 2024 Honda Transalp XL750 throws down. Even at the fittest I’ve ever been, and not discounting that I’ve been riding motorcycles for 20 years, I’m just not. 

But even after coming away humbled after trying to stay on the tail of Honda’s own Ryan Dudek, who’s competed in the infamous Erzbergrodeo hard enduro, and who led our convoy along the PA Wilds Backcountry Discovery Route, I’m hyped that I could even hang with folks of Ryan’s caliber thanks to the Transalp’s capabilities. 

Now, I’m not saying Honda launched its brand new middleweight adventure motorcycle where only Ryan, Pol Tarres, Manny Lettenbichler, and 250cc dirtbikes go, i.e. the hard enduro trails of Erzberg or Romaniacs. But the BDR’s mild enduro trails had slippery rocks, a whole lot of damp leaves covering said rocks, errant root systems, inclines, declines, and everything in between. Add a 459-pound adventure bike, with riders far faster than I who run hard enduros for fun, and you’ve got a helluva recipe for a white-knuckle two-day ride. 

Yet, despite Ryan and the other journalist riders’ proficiencies, the front-leading pack of fast motorcyclists only managed to lose me once or twice—for only a minute or two— over the course of two days and several hundred miles of off-road gnarliness. This is a motorcycle that lifts riders up. It pushes their abilities to the max, even when they’re 36-year-old writers who don’t get out of the office all that often anymore. 

Honda debuted a brilliant, inexpensive, over-engineered motorcycle. I really wish I could’ve packed it in my carry-on. 

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2024 Honda Transalp XL750 Specs
Base Price$9,999
Powertrain755cc liquid-cooled inline-two-cylinder | 6-speed sequential manual with Quickshift
Horsepower83 @ 8,500 rpm
Torque55 lb-ft @ 9,500 rpm
Weight459 pounds
Seat Height33.7 inches
Quick TakeThe new middleweight king?

The first day’s morning was frigid, as it was October in Pennsylvania. The mercury hovered around 40-ish degrees and Honda’s decision to pair the optional heated grips to the Transalp was hugely appreciated. If you’re doing any sort of riding in the fall or winter, get them, they’re clutch. 

We started off easy, winding through the paved backroads of Pennsylvania. The fall colors were spectacular, bathing the world in light streaming through the golden leaves still clinging onto the trees. I think what surprised me out of the gate, however, was the Transalp’s 755cc parallel twin-cylinder engine. It throbs at idle, rumbles at speed, and is incredibly punchy when you crack the throttle to release the bike’s 83 horsepower. It doesn’t feel like many other Honda products, outside the brand's dirtbikes. 

It also had the low-down torque road manners thanks to its gearing and rear sprocket that I yearned for when riding the CB1000R last summer. As such, it was awesome as we scythed our way through the countryside with ease. I never wanted more torque and could even keep it in a higher gear without worrying about needing to constantly downshift just to pull away from someone. But the promise of a torquey engine, 55 lb-ft specifically, is one that can only be truly enjoyed on dirt, and that was in store soon, as we turned off a main road, and entered the forest for the first time. 

Almost immediately upon hitting gravel and dirt, Ryan and a pack of three faster riders were off. And I chased after them. We blazed through the golden tunnel of leaves, shadows, and light streams, letting the tail of the Transalp slide from corner to corner. For most of our morning romp, I kept the bike in Sport mode—one of four unchangeable presets—which gives you full power, full engine braking, but keeps the rear wheel traction control on, but at the lowest setting before off, and ABS on. I felt extremely comfortable, even at our accelerated pace. Hard-packed dirt and slippery gravel, this thing eats and still lets you slide around. 

Standing up through a handful of longer, faster sections, the optional adventure pegs made a world of difference in keeping my O’Neal ADV boots planted. Even when an errant pothole obscured by the morning’s shadows bounced the bike, my feet held firm. The overall comfort of this motorcycle also can’t be overstated, as whether sitting or standing, you’re comfy thanks to a high (33.7-inch) seat, and a nice windscreen that keeps the wind off your chest, even for my six-foot-four frame. I will say if I bought the Transalp, I’d personally turn the handlebars slightly upward to give me a little more height when standing. But they aren’t too low stock.

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Once the trail turned into a rock garden full of massive muddy puddles, however, I wasn’t thinking about the bars. I was thinking, “I need more practice,” while the Honda thought “GO VROOOM!”

As the fast riders railed ever faster, I slowed down to run my own race. I’ve got children, y’know? But that let me be a little more present and think about all the bike’s dynamics, rather than just movin’ and groovin’ and reacting. And what presented was a motorcycle wholly unconcerned with the insanity that lay before me. Up and down rocky trails, littered with head-sized boulders, mud, and leaves, everything was slicker than the Exxon-Valdez. 

Numerous times I thought, “There’s no way in hell this bike is staying up.” But it did. We did. And that’s in large part thanks to the excellent chassis, somewhat adjustable Showa suspension, the Bridgestone Battle Adventure Trail AX41 tires, and Honda’s Gravel mode—level two of four power, full engine braking, level three of five traction control, and offroad ABS—which helped reduce wheel slip even in the slickest conditions. 

Now, I call out the “somewhat adjustable” suspension, as preload is adjustable, but nothing else. I’d like to change more, just to dial in everything further, especially for a rider of my size compared to someone the statue of my daughter. However, I only bottomed out once or twice, taking in the full eight inches or so of travel from the front and rear shocks when I got off-line in one particularly gnarly rock garden. As well as once after nailing a muddy puddle that swallowed me and the bike. Apparently, someone installed a pool in the middle of the trail. My boots are still drying out…

The route then vacillated between the faster-than-hell sections I’d experienced earlier in the day and the mild enduro stuff with big rocks, many leaves, and much mud littering the trails. It provided an excellent test bed for Honda’s engineering. And through it all, not a single bike failed. We did have one tire deflation, but it looked more like it slipped off the bead. A quick adjustment and refilling of the tube and the rider was back on the road. 

One thing that made me giggle was the bike’s User mode, which allows the rider to select the levels of power, traction control, engine braking, and ABS. My personal setup was full power, full engine braking, and both traction control and ABS off. That was perfect for the long, flowy, and fast sections of dirt and gravel—slidey, slidey—along with on-road activities. I may have allegedly popped a wheelie or two just throttling up in first. 

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You do have to be careful about using it off-road, as it will roost anyone behind you like a machine gun sprays bullets in every direction. But I think my only gripe also comes with User mode as, once you turn the key off, you lose your settings. I wish, wish, wish, Honda would throw a software update that lets you keep your individual presets even after you switch off the ignition. 

We ended our two-day adventure with a long section of highway and backroad riding. And while the engine vibrates at lower speeds, it smoothes out and reduces the overall vibration through the machine at highway speeds, feeling far more refined. 

What this left me believing is that it’s truly a do-everything machine, as it can take you to far-flung destinations à la Long Way Round, storm backroads with the best nakeds (provided you swap the tires), or go for a long, cross-country cruise with the optional saddlebags and long-range windscreen. All in pretty reasonable comfort, so long as you remember to bring some boot dryers. 

It’s a stupid-good machine. 

Y’all Are On Notice

The middleweight adventure motorcycle pack is a stacked deck, with the likes of the KTM 890 Adventure, BMW 850 GS, Suzuki Vstrom, Yamaha Teneree 700, Triumph Tiger 900 Rally, Aprilia Touareg, Ducati DesertX, and Husqvarna Norden 901. But while some of these motorcycles offer hellacious capabilities that sometimes exceed the Transalp’s, none of them offer similar capability with a price tag of $9,999. 

You will have to spend a few dollars more for things like the adventure pegs, crash bars, and skidplate, but you’re still looking at under $11,000 out the door. That’s incredibly good value for money and for the credentials of what you’re getting. I could easily see someone taking this motorcycle around the world—call me if you want to do that, Honda, 'cause I’m game.

I wouldn’t call the Transalp the new benchmark of middleweight adventure performance. It isn’t quite that. There are more adept motorcycles available to you, like the new Ducati DesertX or KTM 890 Adventure R. A Transalp R, however, with a set of further adjustable shocks front and rear, and a software update to keep your user settings even when you turn off the bike, could edge out its challengers. Just saying. 

With all that in mind, the 2024 Honda Transalp XL750 is poised to make all the other OEMs likely rethink their recipes. Or at least their prices. 

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