Honda Transalp XL650V 2001

Spain 2012

Motor 52 degree V-twin liquid cooled fourstroke; SOHC; 3 valves, two sparkplugs per cylinder
bore x stroke 79 x 66 mm; capacity 647 cc; compression ratio 9,2 : 1; 55bhp, 56,2 Nm
Tyres front: 90/90-21, rear: 120/90-17
Dimenions wheelbase: 1501 mm, length: 2257 mm, width: 922 mm, hight: 1318 mm
ground clearance: 192 mm, weight: 191kg, max.load: 180kg
Misc. Gasoline: unleaded 91 octane or higher, fuel capacity 19 liters.

November 2015. I've owned the TA for 11 years now and it clocked 224.000 km, a small percentage of it as a commuter. I'm surprised it's so comfortable to ride (the saddle has improved much after a rebuild).
It gets along on the motorways, is excellent whilst lanesplitting, is usable on rough paths, doesn't use much petrol (better than 1 litre/20 km on average) and is fun to ride/race on small paved roads. Quite a versatile bike. At first I decided to have it serviced each 10.000km instead of the 6.000km as advised. I reckoned that as I don't use it on short rides often and don't really push the engine that would be OK. After finding out how good a bike it really is I switched back to the 6K service interval to give it more TLC.

Tyres. I started with Metzeler Tourances, later switched to Michelin Anakees and Michelin TKC80 tyres. The Tourances were good tyres, lasting long and performing very good on road. The Anakees that became available later were even better. The TKC's don't last that long but are confidence inspiring on unpaved roads. These days (> 2013) I ride with a TKC80 up front and a Mefo Explorer on the back rim.

So, no cons? Yes, one major one: the bike is a nightmare to work on. Removing the plastic parts is a drag and even more so is the rebuild of them. It's hard to get to the valves and sparkplugs, fortunately it doesn't have to be worked on frequently. The second worry is it's vulnerability: on rough roads it's dropped now and then and both the plastic and subframe are easily damaged. To address both weaknesses I replaced the fairing with an aluminium tophalf. It's more sturdy now, looks better and is easier to work on.

Update: in the winter of 2014-2015 the engine was replaced by one that I bought years ago. The reason: at 213.000 km it used oil, one litre every 4000 km, like a new BMW! Removed was the PAIR system giving the bike some extra grunt. I hope to ride it for yet many years and kilometers!

I have real trust in the bike, as world traveller Sean Kelly said:

"Best advice I could give on what to take? Well, as I sit here back in Bangkok waiting for my second stripped cylinder head stud to be repaired - take a Honda! Every Beemer we've come across has had some sort of problem whilst every Transalp or Africa Twin has had none."


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