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Honda XL650V TRANSALP Adventure Motorbike Review

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Honda XL650V Transalp motorcyce review - Riding
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MCN overall verdict rating is 3

The Honda XL650V Transalp has been providing honest transport seemingly since the dawn of time. Revitalised with a bigger motor and a face-lift in 2000, it’s softly-chuffing charm and easy-going manners have won a devoted audience. Mostly blokes more interested in getting from A-to-B than having a giggle buy them up.

Engine

MCN rating rating is 3
Owners' rating rating is 3.5

The carb-fed, SOHC V-twin of the Honda XL650V Transalp should struggle with a weighty 191kg to cart about, but actually it does it quietly and efficiently. It’s the same motor as the Deauville, but feels more fun in this sit-up-and-beg package. There’s decent pull and it’s only when you hit motorway speeds does it begin to feel the strain, with 90mph about as comfortably fast as you’re both happy to travel at.

Ride and Handling

MCN rating rating is 4
Owners' rating rating is 3.5

Although there’s nothing special about the Honda XL650V Transalp's forks (unadjustable) or the shock (adjustable for compression damping only) the set-up works and lasts very well. It’s comfortable over tarmac and light dirt, handles a pillion with ease and only the weak brakes prevent you from exploiting its performance to the full.

Equipment

MCN rating rating is 2
Owners' rating rating is 3.5

The Honda XL650V Transalp’s equipment level is fair – you do get an ignition-based immobiliser, but the bashplate’s plastic not metal and a centrestand’s only available as a factory option. Ideally you’d want the factory heated grips, taller screen and hard luggage in your deal.

Honda XL650V Transalp (1987-2007)

Detail Value
New price £5,249
Dealer used prices
£2,670 (2005) - £3,550 (2006)
Private used prices
£2,410 (2005) - £3,190 (2006)
  View full used price info
Engine size 647 cc
Power 53 bhp
Top speed 110 mph
Insurance group 11 of 17
  MCN ratings Owners' ratings
Overall rating is 3 rating is 4
Engine rating is 3 rating is 3.5
Ride & Handling rating is 4 rating is 3.5
Equipment rating is 2 rating is 3.5
Quality & Reliability rating is 4 rating is 4.5
Value rating is 3 rating is 4

Quality and Reliability

MCN rating rating is 4
Owners' rating rating is 4.5

The Honda XL650V Transalp's motor is very reliable. It’s in a soft state of tune and, provided it’s regularly serviced, should go on forever. The older 600cc should be checked closely for worn wheel bearings, the suspension bearings in the Pro-Link shock, rusty exhausts and loose or broken spokes.

Value

MCN rating rating is 3
Owners' rating rating is 4

Compared to BMW’s excellent F650S and F650GS the Honda XL650V Transalp seems somewhat overpriced and the GS is much more versatile, boasting genuinely better trail qualities. At the same price point, however, it falls down to which style you prefer, though the Honda is arguably the better road bike. Find a Honda XL650 Transalp for sale.

Insurance

Insurance group: 11 of 17

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Model History

1987: Honda debuts its Transalp 600V. Off-road styling, 583cc single cylinder motor, single front disc.
1994: Revised with new fairing and better instruments.
2000: Another revision; 647cc motor, new shock, twin front discs, HISS ignition-based immobiliser.
2006: Sleeker design, black wheel rims, better, brighter headlight.
2008: Honda XL650V Transalp deleted to be replaced by all new XL700V Transalp (see seperate review).

Other Versions

None.

Specifications

Top speed 110 mph
1/4-mile acceleration 12 secs
Max power 53 bhp
Max torque 41 ft-lb
Weight 191 kg
Seat height 843 mm
Fuel capacity 19 litres
Average fuel consumption 46 mpg
Tank range 190 miles
Annual road tax
Insurance group 11 of 17
Engine size 647 cc
Engine specification 6v V-twin, 5 gears
Frame Ally twin spar
Front suspension adjustment None
Rear suspension adjustment Compression
Front brakes Twin 256mm discs
Rear brake 240mm disc
Front tyre size 90/90 x 21
Rear tyre size 120/90 x 17

See all Honda XL650V TRANSALP motorcycles for sale

Honda
XL650V TRANSALP

12100 miles

£3,199

Honda
XL650V TRANSALP

15000 miles

£2,400

Honda
XL650V TRANSALP

26000 miles

£2,695

Honda
XL650V TRANSALP

10481 miles

£3,395

Honda
XL650V TRANSALP

42700 miles

£1,299

Owners' Overall Rating rating is 4(11 reviews)

  • Almost perfect for what its meant for

    markxzx

    Average rating rating is 4

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    Overall
    Ride and Handling
    Equipment
    Quality and Reliabilty
    Value
    Engine

    I have to confess a liking for these machines, amongst many others bikes I have owned, I am about to buy my fourth Transalp! You need to take the machine in perspective though, it isn't going to challenge a big GS, or a Pan European, or an R1, but then it isn't meant to. What it is is a reliable, economical, comfortable, gentle all rounder. I have never had mechanical problems with one of these, and I've done a lot of miles on them. I'm tall, so find them comfortable. The handling is ok, the suspension isn't budget rubbish and seems to last well. Equipment and weather protection is good, compared to the beemer parallel twins and the 800 tiger. It doesn't have the performance of those machines, but then is cheaper to buy and run. My only criticism is finish quality. My first two Transalps were Jap built 600s, had a hard life and stood up well. The 650 is Euro built, and the difference shows if you don't look after them. I've seen far, far worse finishes on budget four cylinder bikes though. Oh, and it has a really annoying restrictor in the tank that makes it a pain in the fundament to fill up, really slow. Economy and range is pretty good though. Doesn't have the grunt for long motorway hauls, but then motorways and bikes = boredom. Shouldn't you be on a more interesting route? The smaller the road gets, the more sense it makes. Great through traffic too, that 21" front wheel keeps it nimble and stable. And there is proper road rubber available for it, which I prefer to fit than the semi triallie stuff. So, you want practicality, these are pretty hard to beat.

    25 April 2014

  • Great Bike

    shuey

    Average rating rating is 4

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    Overall
    Ride and Handling
    Equipment
    Quality and Reliabilty
    Value
    Engine

    I owned a 2003 Transalp for about 4 months and the only reason I changed is because of the lack of power. I done a run from Derry N.Ireland to salou(down through France)on it and found the seat very hard. A great commuter but take it to 100mph and it feels like its about to lay down,If you want the Transalp looks and luggage capability go for the Varadero 1000

    27 December 2013

  • Say's on the can.

    Bucephalus

    Average rating rating is 3

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    Ride and Handling
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    Engine

    I bought a 2005 Tranny as a second/ winter bike especially to explore the backwaters of N.Wales, however, I currently live in London but intend relocate 2012 on retirement. I use the bike to commute in London and up to Wales on a regular basis and personally rate this bike highly. I also own a Harley Davidson and a Scott Flying Squirrel, and speak as a life long biker. I intend to change things to better suit my needs which will have no significance to the next reader, so, all next readers please view YouTube: TransAlp 650 Long Way Dany. A most inspirational 4 minutes which say's it better than I ever will.

    21 September 2011

  • Great Bike

    Anonymous

    Average rating rating is 3.5

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    Engine

    Spent 18 months commuting M4 into London, all weather, never let me down.Comfortable riding position/visibility, you can see the 4 wheeled idiots texting, reading and doing there make-up, well in advance. Then out at the weekend into the country 2-up.

    22 May 2010

  • Ideal bike

    StumpyFingers

    Average rating rating is 4

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    Overall
    Ride and Handling
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    Quality and Reliabilty
    Value
    Engine

    I got this in December because it felt right, not to heavy and comfortable riding position. It goes like a tractor just plodding along putting a smile on my face. It does not have a high sustainable top speed, but at the legal speeds it is comfortable.

    23 February 2008

  • Not at all bad.

    colinamarsh

    Musselburgh , UK

    Average rating rating is 4

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    Ride and Handling
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    I've have had the XL650 now for two months.I have ridden it in the worst weather Scotland has to offer and it has coped with it all no problem .Took it up into the Lammermuirs today with a pillion onboard and it did everything i asked of it. Starts first time and behaves well. It doesnt have too much grunt but you dont buy a Transalp for muscle power. You buy it for its staying power. Overall a very good hard working bike.

    06 January 2008

  • Outstanding Bike

    sj_edinburgh

    Average rating rating is 3.5

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    Ride and Handling
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    Quality and Reliabilty
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    Engine

    I thought I add a few comments on the 600, which was built until 2000. I bought this bike after owning bikes like VFR800, Hornet 600 etc. What a revelation! On paper this bike is a disappointment, not a lot of power, quite heavy. Ignore the specs, this a great bike, more than the sum of it parts. Sure it struggles at illegal speeds, but get to 60/70 pretty quickly, won't scare you in process and is the BEST town and B-road bike I've ridden (out of about 30). So easy to ride, great to blasting on country lanes and the steering geometry allow you to brake (lightly) midcorner if you overcook it. Engine note is quite good and build quality very good. Can't think of many negative to be honest, maybe too tall for some and useless on motorways, but apart from that a great bike.

    15 May 2007

  • Happy bunny

    tarby777

    Average rating rating is 4

    Show Details

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    Ride and Handling
    Equipment
    Quality and Reliabilty
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    Engine

    My 650 Transalp is my first big bike. I've only been riding for 6 months and I'm over the moon with her. I commute 20 miles each way on the bike (mostly motorway) and I get out into the Pennines and Peak Distict at weekends, and the TA has done everything I've asked of it. I'm only 5ft 8in so I'm on tip-toes and she does feel a bit big and heavy when I'm pushing her around but she's smooth as you like once I get going. There's plenty of power for my needs, I love the engine note and I get 50mpg. What's not to like? :)

    12 March 2007

  • Great anecdote to sports bikes

    Richybow

    Average rating rating is 4

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    Engine

    Well, Ive been riding for 22 years now and I've tried most things from an RGV250 to a GSXR1000, etc etc. Last few year I've used bikes for touring and pleasure. I have to say that the transalp is comfy, will (contrary to whats published) return 60mpg plus if used frugally, and makes riding enjoyable. I actually enjoy throwing it around more than a sportster. Can't reccommned it highly enough. Strengths: Comfort, good road view due to height, simple engine. Weaknesses: None that I know of.

    20 October 2006

  • Reliable and fun

    iamwu

    Average rating rating is 4.5

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    Overall
    Ride and Handling
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    Quality and Reliabilty
    Value
    Engine

    I find it leaves plenty of room for my 6 foot frame. It has been faultless throughout the winter (touch wood). I have ridden constantly and the bike loves it. It's done the 200miles from London to Devon no problem. It does 6 miles commute through heavy traffic every day. It can cruise at slow traffic crawling speeds and filter well. Great for strapping loads of stuff to the back and tank. I've had no complaints from my pillion's - the seat is very comfortable and the riding position is very relaxed. There is increased confidence from greater field of view due to sit-up-and-beg riding position. Strengths: Reliable, good rider view over traffic, powerful twin, versatility (excellent for long journeys and commuting). Weaknesses: Probably not enough go for two-up touring.

    03 March 2006

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