Top test Honda Transalp ABS

Top test Honda Transalp ABS

Top test Honda Transalp ABS

The new old one

Two spark plugs fewer, two more valves, a new look and a 19-inch bike – the top test clarifies how much the new Transalp has in common with the old one. That fiddling again. As with all new Honda. The ignition key just doesn’t want anything to me, nothing to slip into the lock.

Especially when you’re in a hurry. And speed is of the essence. Because in order to sound out the travel qualities of the new 680er Transalp, in addition to the elaborate top test procedure, around 1700 kilometers should be unwound in three days.

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Top test Honda Transalp ABS

Top test Honda Transalp ABS
The new old one

Transalp is ready to go in the Honda Germany parking lot in Offenbach. With a virgin odometer reading: 396 kilometers. Enter the first destination in the Honda navigation system (surcharge: 880 euros): Krämerbrücke in Erfurt. Calculated arrival time: 6:50 p.m., distance 259 kilometers. The operation of the device produced by the GPS specialist Garmin (identical to the Zumo 550) is foolproof and intuitive.

Next task: stow luggage. A case system was not available at the time of the test, but will be available soon. According to the sticker, the plastic luggage rack can only carry nine kilograms. After all, it has integrated pillion grab handles, is painted and made of “temperature-friendly plastic” and is therefore particularly passenger-friendly. Because, according to Honda, it shouldn’t feel so cold in winter. The only question is who has a passenger who rides without gloves. Lashing the baggage roll is a matter for experienced travelers, as the hooks of the rubber transporters hardly find a hold. 15 minutes later. The evening rush hour traffic rolls north on the A5. The 680 is great for a stroll. The thin tubular steel handlebar without a central strut lies comfortably in the hand, the bench exudes a pampering aroma, and the knee angle is still okay, even for a 1.90 meter person. Let’s see if the good feeling lasts in the long term.


Altenau im Harz: fire water advertising along the way.

However, one thing is noticeable right from the start: the machine follows every longitudinal groove and drives slightly indifferently. Flat foot? Off to the gas station, check the air pressure. But the driving behavior does not change even if the rear tire is inflated with the 2.8 bar prescribed for pillion ride instead of 2.0 bar. It’s the tires. Here at Honda, a new path has been taken without breaking the Transalp tradition. The Bridgestone Trailwing 101/152 are classically roughly profiled to allow occasional gravel excursions. But instead of the 90 / 90-21 and 120 / 90-17 in diagonal construction previously used, the new one rolls on 100 / 90-19 and 130 / 90-17. And the rear one is now a radial tire. The 76 kilogram higher tire load capacity enabled Honda to increase the gross vehicle weight by 27 to 419 kilograms. Including integral ABS and a navigation system, the new Transalp weighs 221 kilos. Makes a decent payload of 198 kilograms. For comparison: the BMW R 1200 GS weighs 195 kilos.

The goal is far from in sight


Friday 10 p.m., Port of Hamburg: The hairstyle is right, the bottom is sweating.

Somehow it’s pulling into your jacket. Briefly hands off the handlebars to check the zipper. Oops, the handlebars begin to swing badly? Shimmy. Vibrations that are excited by the tire. This may be due to the load. Okay, drop off your luggage at a rest stop without trying it out. The shimmy is still partially there, but the weight on the luggage rack clearly increases it. Unpack, go on. 600 total kilometers are now on the speedometer ?? The V2 has not yet run in. So wait with full throttle.
Yes, the engine. He’s an old acquaintance with the 2008 model too. In its basic features, with a cylinder angle of 52 degrees and a crankshaft offset of 76 degrees, it corresponds to the VT 500 two-cylinder from the early eighties. In 1987, the Vau was revised for use in the first Transe, had 50 hp in Germany and 55 hp abroad due to the cheaper insurance class. With a full tank of 187 kilograms at that time, the result was a power-to-weight ratio of 3.4 kg / hp with 55 hp. Today it is 3.68 kg / hp. The new engine offers its maximum output of 60 hp at 7600 rpm, the maximum torque of 60 Nm is available at 6000 rpm. The compression ratio was increased from 9.2 to 10 to 1. Nevertheless, the 680 is satisfied with regular gasoline. Overall, the engine feels much more lively than its direct predecessor with 650 cubic meters. On the one hand, this is due to the fact that, despite the bore that has been enlarged by two millimeters to 81 millimeters, weight has also been saved on the oscillating masses: both connecting rods and pistons weigh less. On the other hand to the electronic brownies, the injection and a four-valve head. The Vau revs up more freely and energetically than ever before. The tough, chewing gum-like appearance of all previous Transalp engines has disappeared. While the old one provides its maximum output at almost the same speed as the new one, but then continues to turn indefinitely and phlegmatically up to 9500 rpm, the rev limiter now ends the lively hustle and bustle around 1500 tours earlier. And the V2 has now quickly reached its maximum speed. It was evening. The speedometer shows 658 total kilometers. At a constant driving speed of 130 km / h, the Transalp only allowed 4.6 liters per 100 kilometers.


Extravagant: curved rear light and luggage hook, which could, however, offer a better hold.

Now she is parked in front of the 120 meter long Krämerbrücke, the only continuously inhabited bridge in Europe. The thermometer shows minus two degrees. Not an ideal value for the night stage to Göttingen. No matter. 170 kilometers of country roads have to be mastered. Into the night. The light is good, but not optimal. The edges of the road are well lit, but the low beam is a bit spotty and the high beam that is switched on does not scatter far enough. The illumination is not particularly satisfactory in tight left-hand bends. Positive: Due to the tighter tuning of the fork, the front doesn’t nod as much? the cone of light is where it should be. 11:15 p.m., somewhere in the Thuringian outback near Heiligenstadt, on a third-order country road: the stern bounces and jerks? You can’t call that comfort. How good that the shock absorber is adjustable in compression and spring preload. But no chance here in the dark. The adjusting screw of the damper is eight centimeters behind the panel. And it has a tiny hole that you have to poke through with a screwdriver. So go to a gas station again. Two minutes of fiddling under diffuse light. Then the pressure level is fully turned up. The two thick knurled nuts for the spring base, on the other hand, are not used because they are installed between the ABS pressure modulator and the battery. So back to the icy night. Now the shock absorber works a little better, but short, hard hits are still passed on to the driver. At one at night? the speedometer shows around 820 kilometers ?? the driver falls into bed in his old home.

On the highway


The rear loop is firmly welded to the frame, the handles for the pillion are much too wide.

The following day his obligatory home route is on the program: 250 kilometers around the Harz. When starting in the morning, the V2 runs briefly with increased idle gas to 1800 tours and immediately takes up the gas. A little later, the Transalp is in its element. It is still an ideal country road and touring motorcycle that integrates its rider very well. The larger front wheel is not missed. She turns in easily, is agile, but wants to drive a slightly larger radius than planned in very narrow passages. Grinding marks? The lean angle is good. And it can also be explored well. The Bridgestone are a bit indifferent, but you can get used to their peculiarities. And there are definitely good ones. Keyword offroad. Or the tire grip limit: The Bridgestone announce them with a slight rub, react anything but sneaky and are good-natured on the last groove. However, caution is advised in the wet. The braking system is superior to almost all situations. The composite brake with ABS controls sensitively; when the rear stopper is actuated, a piston of the left three-piston caliper is also actuated at the front. The brake is easy to dose and powerful enough, without on the other hand frightening beginners with excessive effect. The only real minus point turns out to be the shock absorber. It is unable to absorb hard hits or hits in rapid succession, and the pilot is badly shaken. The rebound stage is overdamped, the damper is tuned too hard overall, the spring is rather soft. The fork’s tuning is also tight, but it works satisfactorily. The tank is refilled after 230 kilometers: 5.6 liters per 100 kilometers is the 680 ?? if you squeeze them on the country road.


Tidy and clear: the cockpit provides reliable information, only an outside temperature display is missing.

4 p.m., packing bag back on and off on the autobahn towards Hamburg. The engine is now run in. Here we go. The swing arm has even been extended by ten millimeters for better straight-line stability. At the end of the straight, the speedometer shows 183 km / h. Then the Vau rotates around 8000 rpm and the governor ends the propulsion gently. Downhill he even turns 400 / min? according to the speedometer 189 km / h. The MOTORRAD measurement five days later certifies 177 real km / h. The Transalp is not completely stable, but it is far from uncomfortable commuting. Vibrations can be felt, but never annoying or uncomfortable. What is noticeable, however, is that on stretches of the autobahn you are looking for the next gear at 130 km / h (5600 rpm). But there is no longer any. Although the secondary gear ratio of the newer is 47 to 15 compared to the 650, the improved performance tempts to shift gears earlier. The wind protection is neat, turbulence is limited and does not look uncomfortable. Hamburg has been reached. A co-driver is ready. One who likes to drive herself. For their 1.58 meters, the low seat (90 euros) offered by Honda as an original accessory is available, with which the seat height can be lowered from 830 to 810 millimeters. Two people criss-cross the 1.7 million city. The passenger praised the knee angle and criticized the thick handles. The bench should also be a little better padded. The driver has not had any problems so far. And can check it again the next day. Because he has to unwind the approximately 700 kilometers to Stuttgart in one go. After seven hours with three breaks, he gets out of the saddle: no comfort problem. Last refueling and start. Again, the ignition key can only be inserted into the lock with a hook. Honda explains that the procedure is sometimes fiddly because the keys with their integrated electric immobilizer H.I.S.S. are particularly safe. The ignition keys are longer than those of the competition.

Data Honda Transalp ABS

Water-cooled two-cylinder four-stroke 52-degree V-engine, two overhead, chain-driven camshafts, four valves per cylinder, rocker arm, wet sump lubrication, injection Ø 40 mm, regulated catalytic converter, alternator W 396, battery 12 V / 11 Ah, mechanical actuated, multi-disc oil bath clutch, five-speed gearbox, O-ring chain, secondary ratio 47 to 15.

Bore x stroke 81.0 x 66.0 mm

Cubic capacity 680 cm³

Compression ratio 10: 1
Rated output 44.1 kW (60 hp) at 7750 rpm

Max. Torque 60 Nm at 6000 rpm

landing gear
Single-loop frame made of steel, telescopic fork, Ø 41 mm, two-arm swing arm, made of steel, central spring strut with lever system, adjustable spring base and compression damping, double disc brake at the front, Ø 256 mm, three-piston floating calipers, disc brake at the rear, Ø 240 mm, single-piston floating caliper, composite brake with ABS.
Spoked wheels with aluminum rims 2.15 x 19; 3.50 x 17

Tire100 / 90-19; 130 / 80-17

Bridgestone Trailwing 101/152 tires tested

mass and weight
Wheelbase 1515 mm, steering head angle 61.9 degrees, caster 106 mm, spring travel f / r 177/173 mm, permissible total weight 419 kg, tank capacity / reserve 17.0 / 3.0 liters.

Service data
Service intervals every 6000 km
Oil and filter change every 6000 km / 2.1l

Engine oil SAE 10 W 40

Spark plugs NGK CPR8EA-9 or Denso U24EPR9

Idle speed 1200 ± 100 / min

Tire pressure solo (with pillion passenger)

front / rear 2.0 / 2.0 (2.0 / 2.8) bar

Warranty two years

Colors: yellow, red, blue, gray metallic

Price 7690 euros

Price test machine 8570 euros

Additional costs 170 euros


Gear diagram
Just before the rev limiter takes effect, the 680 reaches its top performance. In practice, on the other hand, at 8000 rpm you already have the feeling that the Transalp is no longer turning. The secondary transmission is one tooth longer than the old Transalp. In conjunction with the engine’s more powerful performance characteristics, there is a desire for a longer fifth gear.

Delay diagram
The ABS has to regulate twice (1, 2), the deceleration briefly falls from over 10 m / s² to below eight. The average deceleration of 9.4 m / s² is a very good value with regard to the coarse tires.

MOTORCYCLE measurements

Top speed * 172 km / h


0 – 100 km / h 5.1 sec

0 ?? 140 km / h 10.0 sec


60 ?? 100 km / h5.6 sec

100 ?? 140 km / h6.8 sec

Speedometer deviation

Effective (display 50/100) 48/97 km / h

Tachometer deviation

Display red area 8000 rpm

Effective 7900 rpm

Consumption in the test

at 130 km / h 4.6 l / 100 km

Country road 4.7 l / 100 km

Theor. Range 362 km

Fuel type Normal

mass and weight

L / W / H 2250/950/1390 mm

Seat height 830 mm

Handlebar height 1110 mm

Turning circle 5000 mm

Weight with full tank 221 kg

Payload198 kg

Wheel load distribution v / h 47/54%
Driving dynamics 1
Brake measurement
Braking distance from 100 km / h 41.1 m
Average deceleration 9.4 m / s²
Comments: Thanks to the sensitive ABS, the Transalp comes to a standstill after around 41 meters despite the somewhat coarse tires. The only downer is the high leverage.

Handling course I (fast slalom)
Lap time 21.0 sec
vmax at the measuring point 102.6 km / h
Note: At the turning point, you have to brake a little earlier, because the Transalp cannot be turned precisely in connection with the foot brake. Good time for a motorcycle of this category.

Handling Parcour II (slow slalom)
Lap time29.1 sec
vmax at the measuring point 54.6 km / h
Remarks: Once it is tilted, the Honda can be driven confidently through the course using the wide handlebars. Footrests and front fairing sit on, prevent faster times.

Orbit Ø 46 meters
Lap time 10.9 sec
vmax at the measuring point 53.1 km / h
Comments: Due to the shock absorber, which is overdamped in the rebound stage, the Transalp sits in the springs and therefore remains stable even when crossing the parting line.

Changes in detail

Space for U-lock under the bench
When the fuel indicator starts to flash, you can still unwind between 50 and 70 kilometers, depending on your driving style
Handguards as standard

Luggage rack very susceptible to scratches
Switch a little harder to use than on the previous models
Mirrors fill with water
Noticeable: the navigation device always shows 10 km / h less than the speedometer
Visibility above 6000 rpm in the mirrors slightly distorted by fine vibrations
Clutch lever not adjustable
Rear silencer not made of stainless steel
Luggage is limited to a maximum of 22 kilograms (case plus topcase)

Interview about the new Honda Transalp – seven questions for Honda product planner Klaus Bescher

Why didn’t you donate the proven 750 V2 from the Africa Twin a four-valve head plus catalytic converter and installed it in the Transalp??
The new Transalp engine achieves the same performance as the Africa Twin with four kilograms lower engine weight and without the need for an oil cooler. This corresponds to the concept of the Transalp, in which the compactest possible appearance and low weight enjoy high priority. A 750 engine with a four-valve head would have increased the weight even further.

60 HP from 680 cm³ ?? this corresponds to a liter output of around 88 hp. The competition offers a little more. Has the basic concept of the proven Transalp engine reached its limits in terms of performance?
Although a higher performance is nice to look at in the brochure, we understand that Transalp customers do not value the highest possible top speed, but rather a strong torque in the medium speed range. With the new engine we were able to achieve both ?? a significantly higher power and a better torque with almost the same top speed.

What are the development specifications for the mileage of your V2 engines that were used in the Transalp models?
Honda does not have different criteria for the mileage of different motorcycles. All have to be more reliable than our competitors.

So far the engines have been assembled in Japan. This will happen in Spain with the start of production of the new model. Where do the components come from, what exactly is manufactured in Europe?
Our Spanish factory is very experienced in assembling engines on the previous Transalp and other models. Most of the engine parts and some electrical parts come from Japan, the chassis with the plastic parts is mainly produced in Europe. The European added value is around 65 percent.

According to which specifications was the shock absorber tuned?
The suspension strut coordination is intended to support the improved handling characteristics and cover the most varied of load conditions from solo trips to trips with a passenger and luggage.

To change the spring base on the shock absorber, you have to unscrew the right side cover and remove the battery. Unskilled craftsmen have to go to the workshop especially for this.
Due to the long spring travel and the basic tuning of the shock absorber, it has never been possible to adjust the spring preload since the introduction of the Transalp in 1987. Since we hardly had any inquiries from customers about this, the system basically remained the same. The damping in the compression stage can be changed externally for different loads and road conditions.

See the Transalp in direct competition with the soon to be launched BMW F 800 GS?
Our Transalp was never in competition with BMW because of the unique concept with the world’s first faired enduro. We also know from our research that so far only very few Transalp buyers have considered a BMW in their purchase considerations.

Rating Honda Transalp ABS

A healthy average: the new 680 is the best transalp engine ever. It runs smoothly and works like a wellness massage, has a pleasant performance characteristic and is stronger and more agile than its predecessor in all areas. The shift paths are a bit long, but the gears lock exactly. Overall, the V2 is in a good, healthy average. And that is also reflected in the score.

landing gear
The tuning of the shock absorber is certainly a failure. Absolutely overdamped and equipped with a soft spring, the stern sags completely in two-person operation, the spring travel is used up and cannot be used. It also responds very badly. Despite the longer wheelbase, the Transalp does not run in an extremely stable straight line, but can be encouraged to pendulum lightly with leg pressure. The coarse tires should be responsible for this.

everyday life
As always, its real strength lies in everyday operations. The light is better compared to its predecessor, the wind protection a little worse. Consumption has been reduced, but the range has not been increased because the tank is smaller. Workmanship and luggage storage could be better, and the on-board tools could be more extensive. What ultimately remains is the coming home effect: sit on it and feel good? actually priceless.

The ABS, which is offered as an option, is a big win. It works foolproof and therefore fits the machine perfectly. The 15 centimeters floor clearance is due to the low-positioned front silencer ?? that’s enough on-road. And even enables subdued off-road excursions.

More power with reduced consumption? well done. The inspection costs have increased somewhat compared to the old ones, and the maintenance has also increased due to the more expensive tires.

Overall rating
A good two in the report. Unfortunately, the true virtues of the Transalp are not recorded in numbers and measurements: it remains a friend for life.


The Transalp has become more dynamic, but in return has not lost any of its touring qualities except for the shock absorber. The engine has become more powerful, more agile and at the same time more economical and cleaner. The CBS-ABS is also an asset. The Transalp remains what it always was: a versatile, undemanding, easy-to-ride touring motorcycle.

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