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TransAlp: Tough with the smooth

2011-04-29 06:55

VERY EASY RIDER: Honda’s 2011 TransAlp, a go-anywhere (bar the really rough stuff) bike - and then its limitations would most likely be just the lack of ground clearance.

Vehicle Specs
Manufacturer Honda
Model XL700 TransAlp
Engine 680cc
Power 44.1kW @ 7750rpm
Torque 60Nm @ 5500rpm
Transmission Five-speed, foot-operated
Zero To Hundred Five seconds
Top Speed 180km/h
Fuel Tank 17.5 litres
Fuel Consumption About 7 litres/100km
ABS Yes, twin discs front, single rear
Price R86 999


There are some bikes in the market that one just can’t get along with. I won’t name them right now because that wouldn’t be fair but they are definitely few and far between.

The latest version of the Honda TransAlp (XLV700V), meanwhile, certainly doesn’t fall into that category - quite the opposite in fact. It immediately feels right, a bike ready for a trip to the shops or to the next Iron Butt Rally with its obvious appetite for grabbing horizons.

I was a little surprised to learn that the TransAlp has been around for more than 20 years, starting out as a 600cc bike back in 1987. It was given a bit more power in 2000 (650cc) and now the current version (seen above) at 700cc. A little surprisingly, perhaps, given the bike’s now longer legs, Honda has chosen to once again stick with a five-speed gearbox.


While in my care for a few days the Honda test bike remained very much a road bike, preferring to stick to the likes of the Baden Powell/Clarence Drive through to Hermanus scenario right here in the Western Cape. What was immediately obvious is just how quickly this flexible 680cc V-twin can eat up the kilometres – well, that and the fact the touring handlebars position one really comfortably behind the tallish windscreen.

Undulating roads and the occasional pothole did nothing to unsettle the TransAlp. With substantial 41mm telelevers up front and the rising-rate monoshock (with adjustable compression damping) behind, that’s hardly surprising. Factor in a massive pair of disc brakes up front with ABS/CBS callipers supported by a single disc behind and the rider has every right to feel supremely confident come emergency stop time,

If there’s one criticism of the bike it’s the heat that seems to rise from the exhaust system/back cylinder area - but only while stuck in traffic. (Trust me, when there’s a gap I’m long gone!) Yes, I know there’s a lot of engine parts there, and I’m pleased to report it never troubled me while on the move.

It’s difficult to work out any fuel consumption figures with any accuracy over such a short time spent with the bike you can safely reckon on an average of seven litres/100km.

• The best pillion passenger in the world is in the UK for a short while so I wasn’t able to gain her opinion this time around but seem to remember her saying the earlier 650cc TransAlp was very comfortable and I have a feeling that at one stage she got out her knitting!


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