The Transalp 650 is a fantastic budget/beginner adventure bike, as I recently passed my motorbike test less than one year ago I wanted a bike that was sensible, so that I could gain some road riding experience but also a bike that is comfortable as I'm not the smallest of chaps.
The transalp is a great bike for a new rider, I was lucky enough to buy a very clean 05 model with 5500miles.I have found the bike very comfortable for a tall rider like myself and I can easily ride 200+ miles without any major aches or pains.
Having only owned the bike for around one year I cannot really comment on reliability, being a transalp I believe faults are fairly uncommon and the engine seems to be super reliable.With a current 7000 miles on the clock I would not expect any mechanical issues with my bike (so I hope), although I do believe the bike could benefit from a 6th gear as I find it revs quite high on the motorway and possibly a little more power for overtakes would benefit the bike.
Overall I am extremely happy with my Transalp. Not only is it a fantastic commuter, I have no doubt its capable of touring Europe with the bigger bikes and maybe in the future it may just do that!
I bought this bike in 2004, 3 years after it was sold the 1st time. It had done 7000 km at that time.
In the years that followed I added 181000 km, commuting all year round, doing holiday trips, often 2-up,
from Scandinavia to Morocco, and the engine never failed once! Better still, it never needed repairs at all.
To improve handling I changed springs and added risers, and to improve engine accessibilty I removed the
It's now reasonably suitable for riding tracks and rough roads as well.
I bought this bike at 3 years old for £3350. The only extra was a Givi top plate so I fitted Givi pannier racks so I could use my panniers - I wanted the bike for long distance touring. I find it very comfortable and have ridden plenty of 7 hour days with minimum fatigue. I've just returned from a 2000 mile trip to Germany and it did all I asked of it - from fast (80mph) motorways to winding country lanes. The engine is a delight; It pulls from low down and has enough performance to make German motorways a doddle. With the luggage off (at least 20kg of the stuff) it swings round bends easily and feels very secure (Avon distanzia tyres).
I've had to score it 10/10 for reliability because nothing has gone wrong with it - but I wouldn't expect it to go wrong in only 18000 miles. I've given it 5/10 for off road use because it's not an off road bike. It's capable of travelling across loose surfaces and forest roads and feels secure on hard but unmade surfaces. I wouldn't want to try it in mud. If you want to go off road buy an XR400 or some such.
If I had to criticise it I'd say petrol economy is poor. I get 52 mpg in general use and in the high forties on motorway thrashing (full luggage on it). I know the petrol consumption is rider related and I'm not the most economical of riders, I like to brake late and accelerate harder than may be necessary - but that's part of the fun of the bike. I also think it's too heavy. If it shed 15 kg it would be an absolute delight. Having said that, it compares favourably with a lot of similar bikes - so they must all be a too heavy for my taste as well.
I suspect that a valve clearance service in 3000 miles is going to be time consuming. The tank and fairing look quite bothersome to remove. So far no bulb replacement at the front of the bike has been needed - it doesn't look easy. Like a lot of modern bikes it doesn't seem to have been designed for ease of maintenance.
Would I buy another - yes, but I don't need to. I have other bikes for local use so I only do about 5000 miles a year on it. I suspect it will still be going strong in another 10 years. Like many motorcyclists I like to look at new bikes but so far they don't appeal enough to make me consider changing the XL650. The BMW GS1200 is heavier and much more expensive to buy and run. The Tiger 800 is uncomfortable because the frame tubes correspond in space with my knees. It's the same with every other sit up and beg tourer I look at - the Alp is the better choice. I also run a Kawasaki KLE500, It's a sort of poor mans Alp with less power and weaker brakes but it's significantly lighter and much better on fuel. Not as good as the Alp for touring holidays so I'll have to keep them both.
Bought my Transalp XL650 2000 at the start of the year with only 11k miles on the clock and have notched up just over 2 thousand miles via commuting and occasional trips to the coast and around the local area. It's my first adventure touring style bike and coming to this from a race bike I have to say I love riding it. The riding position, handling and the smoothness of the engine make it a pleasure to ride around the back roads of Wiltshire. Definitely more suited to the Ted Simon school of touring though, with the gearing and delivery nice and smooth up to 50mph, but above which you will find your foot checking for a 6th gear. Motorway travel and this bike are not happy partners, at least for me, it just felt like I was revving the nuts off it by 80.
I've not used it much off road yet, but even pottering around a local forest path I bottomed it out, so it's clear that ground clearance is not a strong point. I do however like the balance of the bike and the way you can yank it back into shape when the world starts tilting over in a hurry, something I'm not sure would be capable on the heavier chunks of adventure touring bikes around today.
For reliability I have scored a 10, I am sure it is not perfect, but from my experience so far I have had zero problems and nothing looks to need any work anytime soon.
Overall the engine is good, the tried and trusted Honda V-twin I think is a reasonable balance between weight, size, economy, power and reliability. I've scored it down on the lack of a cruising gear and the in-accessibility of some of the engine parts, for which many of the Haynes instructions starting with the line "remove the fairing, dashboard and fuel tank".
Value for money I scored high too, since I bought mine in great condition with 11k on the clock (verified), with FSH and Givi luggage for less than £2k.
For me, with price, fuel economy and reliability high on my check-list during these hard times, this bike has been everything I wanted. Would I keep it if I won the lottery this weekend though? .. no chance.
Review Information Motorcycles
The price, Honda reliability and simplicity.
Unconfortable seat design and no 6th gear.
Would you buy again
In one line
A good choice for a first giant traillie on a budget.