My first impressions were typical – it's a Honda afterall… It feels very easy, very sorted. There isn't much to fault the Transalp for, except the usual lack of character.
However, stay with this bike beyond the initial impression forming in your mind, and the involving engine starts to make you think differently.
Being what it is, a 755cc parallel twin, with a 270-degree firing order, it's a useful and flexible powerplant you don't have to rev much to get a response from. But spin it a bit harder and the rewards in terms of extra pace and excitement make it worthwhile.
In the twisting hills of the Portuguese test route, the Honda was great fun when you put some more effort in with the gearbox. And it feels really safe when you ask more of it. Suspension's soft, but well controlled, and though the Metzeler Karoo Road tyres aren't sticky sports rubber, both combine to help give the bike a really secure and predictable feel. It feels as well-balanced and sorted at high speeds as it does at walking pace.
Lots of electronics governing power, traction control, engine braking and ABS help you dial in just what you prefer from your riding.
Our off-road stint was very slippery on a recently moistened dirt track, with the bikes on just road tyres. Proper, more focused rubber would make a massive difference, but this isn't a dirt bike. On the right routes, and with the right ability, you can explore off-road routes happily. Just remember that this is a big, relatively heavy, and easy to devalue (via a crash) adventure bike.
All in all though, I really enjoyed riding the Honda, especially as its engine helped give it some un-Honda-like levels of appeal.
Full review coming soon…
Words: Chris Moss
Photos: Honda and Chris Moss