HONDA XL650V TRANSALP (1987 - 2007) Review
At a glance
|Owners' reliability rating:|
|Annual servicing cost:||£150|
Overall ratingNext up: Ride & brakes
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.
Ride quality & brakesNext up: Engine
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.
EngineNext up: Reliability
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.
Reliability & build qualityNext up: Value
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 vs rivalsNext up: Equipment
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.
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.
|Engine type||6v V-twin, 5 gears|
|Frame type||Ally twin spar|
|Fuel capacity||19 litres|
|Front brake||Twin 256mm discs|
|Rear brake||240mm disc|
|Front tyre size||90/90 x 21|
|Rear tyre size||120/90 x 17|
Mpg, costs & insurance
|Average fuel consumption||46 mpg|
|Annual road tax||£93|
|Annual service cost||£150|
11 of 17
How much to insure?
Top speed & performance
|Max power||53 bhp|
|Max torque||41 ft-lb|
|Top speed||110 mph|
|1/4 mile acceleration||12 secs|
|Tank range||190 miles|
Model history & versions
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).
Owners' reviews for the HONDA XL650V TRANSALP (1987 - 2007)
17 owners have reviewed their HONDA XL650V TRANSALP (1987 - 2007) and rated it in a number of areas. Read what they have to say and what they like and dislike about the bike below.
Summary of owners' reviews
|Ride quality & brakes:|
|Reliability & build quality:|
|Value vs rivals:|
|Annual servicing cost:||£150|
Great all rounder
Very reliable, though a bit pricey to maintain. As long as you keep the carbs and air filter clean, feed it oil and coolant, it'll probably outlive you.
Brakes are lackluster but the ride quality is brilliant. Very little wind at highway speeds. I can go a good fuel tank before I need to rest.
It's a Honda V-twin. You'll get power but you gotta beg for it to let you run faster.
Very good build quality and quite an astonishing reliability. The frame can take some punishment but don't toss it around like an F650GS.
It has a fuel gauge. That alone is awesome. The thermo on mine is a bit off but that probably has something to do with age.
Annual servicing cost: £150
Light, agile, economical and brilliant at touring.
Effortless all day comfy with brakes that do the job brillantly but probably not up to a track-day-jockey's expectations! On the road and in the mountains the brakes and great and last well too.
Faultless engine performance and even better with iridium spark plugs and a KnN air filter but it could do with a 6th gear on the motorway, still, for the purpose it was dessigned it is great and pulls well in every gear, even in the Alps where the air is thinner.
Bullit proof, but it is worth checking that they have been properly serviced....not just oil and filter as they benefit from comprehensive servicing including front and rear suspension and most people and dealers don't bother. I found one with it all done and it is like a new bike. Pay your insurance, fuel it up and it will go round Europe effortlessly.
Cheap to insure, light on tyres and fuel and nothing much to go wrong. Probably the best value for money bike I've owned, shame they don't make them like this anymore.
I added a 12v socket and Oxford heated grips and Givi pannier system and that has made it into a realy decent tourer.
Buying experience: Watch out - there and lots of badly maintained examples and the front and rear suspension service is expensive if done properly. Check that the brake and antifreeze fluids have been changed regularly as most people don't seem to bother and the dealers I visited who had them for sale weren't interested in doing this work on a 10 year old bike so I bought one privately from a nice chap who had a heap of receipts for proper servicing.
I am likely overly harsh when rating the bike overall, partly due to my requirements for a bike that would be positioned distinctly more in the off-road / 'scrambling' space than the Transalp was ever designed or intended for.
A very good all rounder. With the right tyres (I run a continental KTC80 on front and a Mitas E07 on the back (130 wide) I believe it delivers great handling on tar bends and maneuvering at reasonable speeds (140km/hr through to 160 km/hr), and offers good overall dirt handling on varied terrain including slower mountainous terrain (40 to 50 km/hr speeds) or good solid gravel and mild sand roads (130 to 155 km/hr speeds) - Brakes as standard are nothing special but do the job if you remain aware of there rather average delivery - Seat is right up there on the comfort scale for an enduro / adventure type bike - Overall range is slightly low for real hard core riding into Arica
For a 650 enduro the engine is great - Good power and torque with reasonable responsiveness - Vibrations are not at all excessive with the twin - Durability if great and valve clearances hold firm for long durations (less need to constant maintenance) - I thing the gearing per se is THE BEST/SPOT ON, with 3rd gear offering you a range of 40km/hr throught to 120 km/hr if you happy to let the revs range a bit
Its rugged, tough, robust and easy to work on. I believe there is a price to pay for the 'solid' build in the bikes total weight and tendency (particularly in old models like mine) to sit heavy and low [sometimes feel like I'm riding a tank] - A little corrosion occurring on the frame close to the battery in the last 4 years. - The speedo/odo tends to fail periodically due to geared part situated in the front wheel axle/hub mechanism - this particular part wearing too easily and appears to be made of some plastic composite.
I cant give an annual number above as it really depends on how much riding i am doing. I think the costs are reasonable and particularly good value if you are willing to fit aftermarket non-genuine Honda parts for the most which I am.
All in all happy with most aspects Front shocks (and probably suspension overall) is not quite what I think it should be particulalry if you wish to ride the bike hard offroad. Original tyres are poor in my view
Wonderfully easy to ride, if a little underpowered midrange I bought this bike 2yrs ago as a workhorse/commuter (150mils+ aweek main roads/town). My other bike is a '94' GSXR1100WP (you see why I needed a commuter) and I didn't expect to 'love' this bike...but I do! I guess I'm a bit criticall of the power delivery as I'm used to the 'rush' of the GSXR putting 156bhp down at the wheel, but this little Honda has me smiling for all the right reasons. Its solid, reliable, and cheap to run, all ive done in 18000 miles is basic servicing, chain and sprockets and a clutch, it never misses a beat, but one small critisiem would be that even though my version has the 'better headlight' it's rubbish, I live in a rural area, national speedlimit roads, high banks and no lighting, and the Honda is no where near the GSXR in the hedlamp area...but I guess a couple of after market spotlamps on the engine bars, is a small price to pay.
Breaks can feel a little less 'sharp' than I would like
Plenty of power and reliable, but no'rush'..but then thats not what its built for
V twin Honda....enough said
The ability to switch the lights off would be good, but equipment levels are atcually very good.
I bought this Transalp as a daily commute bike. it replaces my XJ900 diversion which I hated from day one. but wow, commuting became fun now! enough power for the motorway, excellent in town and on rural backroads and I even have the option of taking a part off-road route on my way to work now! corners real easy, sits comfy and makes the ride a pleasant thing to do! only thing I dislike is the sound and looks of the standard exhaust...
Brakes are a bit poor...
check the cdi's placement on early models!
I've added a centerstand, heated grips and different windscreen. I would've like a little clock in the dash too...
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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? :)
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.
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.
I'm 5 foot ten and could just touch the floor, on the standard seat, although a lower seat is available. I test rode one in high wind and I did not even notice it, for a high bike, just a bit of head buffeting at 80mph. Tall screen available. It's a very easy bike to ride, very comfy, very solid ride. Felt light on the move, they say power is week, but I found it very quick and responsive and I'm 15 stone! Corners very well even with the dual purpose tyres. A bit lumpy when in slow moving traffic. Same as most big bikes. Good view allround. Very effective brakes, bike slows down very quickly when accelorator shut, all round a very nice bike to work rest and play on. Strengths: Easy ride, strong solid feel, new fairing, fuel consumption good. Weaknesses: Pegs a bit small and buttons also a bit small fidley.