Queensland’s Gold Coast provided the setting for the recent launch of Honda’s mid-capacity adventure bike, the XL750 Transalp. Now in its fourth generation, this dirt friendly two wheeler was first introduced in 1986.
Back then it was a 583cc V-Twin, growing in capacity to 647cc in the year 2000, and 680cc in 2008. Today, it shares its 755cc Parallel Twin powerplant with Honda’s CB750 Hornet, delivering a very usable 67.5kW of power and 75Nm of torque.
History lesson aside, the Australian media launch found us based out of the Langham Hotel, where things kicked off with a presentation about the new look XL750 Transalp’s technical specifications.
It’s there we found out that the new model shares its frame with the Hornet too, although they have different sub-frames, with the adventure bike also borrowing its wheels from its big brother, the Honda Africa Twin.
Likewise, it’s also fair to say this writer was a little excited about the opportunity to jump on the dual-focus Transalp, having spent some time on the Hornet that’s currently sitting with the Exhaust Notes Australia team as a long term loan.
Our first real hands-on experience of the XL750 came with a chance to check out the 5.0-inch TFT display on some display bikes during dinner. Also shared with the Hornet, it’s easy to use, and simple to navigate.
In the case of the Transalp, it offers five riding modes, including Sport, Standard, Rain, Gravel and User (custom). There’s also four levels of power, three engine braking options, and two levels of ABS.
Honda’s five stage torque control system, with integrated wheelie control and off road ABS (which allows the rear brake calliper to be switched off) also features, as does Bluetooth connectivity through the Honda Road Sync app.
After some sleep, an early rise the next morning saw us kick of the riding experience at 7.15am, with our first adventure led by former 500cc MotoGP world champion and Aussie legend, Daryl Beattie.
The heated hand grips fitted to our test bike are our first piece of excitement for the day, as we venture off towards some mountain roads on our way to Mount Tamborine. Proving too that simple things are awesome, the self-cancelling blinkers work a treat.
As we reach the top of the hill and look back over Surfer’s Paradise, and the high rise apartments, there’s a few things that impress about the Transalp. Among them are the effortless power it delivers, and just how good it handles on the blacktop.
The XL750 is fitted with a Showa 43mm USD fork up front, offering 200mm of travel, and Showa mono-shock with adjustable preload, and a pro-link swingarm, with 190mm travel on the rear.
Thanks to that setup, the Honda eats up the bumps and rough roads with ease. It’s agile and nimble, and super easy to flick through the twisty roads, while also giving a feeling of solidness and stability.
A couple of runs up and down some tight 20km/h turns for pictures show us the bike remains settled, and is easy to flip-flop from side-to-side. The brakes feel solid, with twin 310mm discs up front and a single 256mm rear disc.
It dives hard when you put the stoppers on, which is not a surprise given all that suspension travel. We were having a tonne of fun when we realised we were following Beattie, a slightly daunting experience.
Pausing to wait for the other riders to come through gave us the opportunity for some spirited riding on the way to Beaudesert. The Honda handles it without complaint, and is impressively stable, even at higher speeds.
Hitting a few hundred metres of dirt road, this writer decides to stay in Sport mode, and the XL750 again delivers the stability, with very little interference from the traction control system either.
With a quick coffee stop, it was time for some real fun, in the dirt. Swapping to the User ride mode, we drop the power level, keep the engine braking at two bars, and kill both traction control and the rear ABS.
For a relatively inexperienced off roader like yours truly, the 2023 Honda XL750 Transalp is easy to ride, and feels pretty sturdy. But there was more fun to be had. Post lunch, we switched to a bike with a quick-shifter, bark busters and some engine protection bars.
It also had metal foot pegs and a taller screen. The quick-shifter is a must in our opinion, but the taller screen seemed to just add wind buffeting. With the day drawing to a close, we took the opportunity to test the various ride modes on the dirt and sealed roads back.
There’s a noticeable difference between each of them, and we found the best mix to be Sport for on-road, and User for dirt and off road scenarios. Rain obviously works best for when there’s water falling from the sky.
The backside did get a little sore by the end of the day though, but we were impressed by how easy it is to stand on the pegs while riding, and still feel very much in control on the Transalp. It’s a legitimately impressive bit of kit for $14,499 plus on-roads.
Whether you’re just getting into the adventure bike scene or are a more experienced rider, it has plenty to offer. Available in three colours; Ross White, Matte Ballistic Black or Matte Iridium Grey, the first is our pick, as it pays homage to the original version from 1986.
There are five pre-fab accessory packages available too, including Pannier, Adventure, Rally, Comfort and Top Box – it’s a unique way to let you bundle the bits that suit your needs. Taking them all might prove a little pricey though.
Testing of the 2023 Honda XL750 Transalp aside, we’d like to give a special nod to Daryl Beattie’s mum, who hand made gift bags with our names on them, filled with some fruit and snacks for our ride day. Hands down the coolest personal touch ever.
Our test bikes were provided by Honda Motorcycles Australia as part of the Australian media launch. To find out more about the 2023 Honda XL750 Transalp, contact your local Honda Motorcycles dealer.