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2024 Honda Transalp XL 750: Buying and ownership experience so far

People don't notice the bike much. If this is an issue for you, then you might want to look at other wider motorcycles like the Triumph Tiger 850 or the BMW F 850 GS.

BHPian the_90s_car_guy recently shared this with other enthusiasts.

I realised that no one has yet shared their Transalp delivery experience here, so I've decided to take the leap and be the one to do it.

Background:

I have been looking for an adventure bike for a while now. My key requirements were:

  • Good travel suspension for a comfortable ride
  • Decent ground clearance for those annoyingly tall speed breakers
  • Good wind protection so I can stay inside my bubble of calm
  • Good power for those highway overtakes

I also didn't prefer the bigger full-size adventure bikes, both for their immense weight and their higher price tag. That meant something in the mid-size segment.

I also wanted enough space to mount some extra luggage (soft panniers on the sides), so this ruled out most sport-tourers.

When Honda and Suzuki launched their Transalp 750 and V-Strom 800 DE at the 2022 EICMA event in Milan, I was super excited. I saw in them two models that had the right power output (for me), a manageable weight and seat height and above all, the legendary Japanese reliability and the peace of mind that comes with it. Once some Indian journos who covered the event and visited both the stalls confirmed that these models are slated to be launched in India, I decided that I'd own either one - whichever becomes available first.

Fast forward an entire year with no further updates from either manufacturer; Honda threw a surprise by launching the Transalp in India out of the blue. The "introductory" price tag of ₹10.99L ex-showroom seemed to be along expected lines. Until that day, I was praying that Honda wouldn't mess up by pricing it much higher or closer to the more capable Tiger 900 or 850 GS. I guess that prayer was answered by the Japanese gods!

With spy shots of the V-Strom 800 being tested in India making the rounds the past few months, I was waiting for its launch as well to then decide between the two. However, after almost a month and with no commitment from Suzuki India as to the exact launch date, I decided to visit and take a look at the Transalp in the first week of December 2023 at the Chennai Topline dealership.

Boy, seeing it in person certainly blew my mind. The bike looked substantially bigger in person despite being in a darker shade of Matt grey. The one on display was ostensibly a customer's vehicle awaiting TN RTO formalities for new vehicles. Starting the engine up sealed the deal for me as it was most lively and spirited and almost "un" Honda-like in its tune - both, in its youthfulness and sound profile. Some of the comments from foreign YouTubers about Transalp's smaller TFT screen and other items didn't seem to be an issue when seen in person. However, I do concur with them that the Transalp missing out on an adjustable suspension (like the V-Strom 800) and lack of cruise control (despite the presence of ride-by-wire tech) are valid points.

So, I checked my finances (I had been preparing to buy one for almost a year so things were fairly ready on that front) and decided to book a white Transalp that very week by paying a booking amount of ₹50,000.

At that time (December 1st week), I was assured of a delivery by Jan (2024) end. Since I had plans to go on a bike ride during the long weekend of Jan 26th - 28th, I had requested that they try and speed up the allotment by a week - which they agreed to. Closer to the second week, though, the dealer claimed that there are two bikes available - both black - that he's trying to ship to Chennai. He said he wasn't sure when a white one would be available, so, with a certain amount of disappointment, I agreed to take a black one if it became available. A week later - after follow-ups only from my side - I was told that those bikes were instead sent to other dealerships with a higher demand!

Come February, with no follow-ups from the dealer side, I sent a complaint to the Honda India HQ in the first week of February, asking them to clarify the delivery dates because the dealer didn't seem to have a clue. 48 hours later, I received a confirmation SMS that my complaint had been registered! In the weeks that followed, not a SINGLE phone call or email/SMS follow-up was done by Honda folks to find out more about my complaint. I guess it was simply forwarded to the very dealership I was having trouble with - because the sales manager later casually mentioned it.

Late in February, the Chennai dealer assured me that a white Transalp would definitely be delivered by March. I then proceeded to order accessories for the vehicle that were already out of stock. Many more follow-ups later, my Transalp reached the showroom in the first week of May—a full 150+ days after paying the booking amount!

On the day of the PDI, though, the excitement of owning my first big bike slowly crept in. There were two bikes delivered to Chennai - both white - including one for another customer who had only booked his in March!

Some images from the PDI day:

The PDI experience was definitely good. The chief mechanic (who is supposedly specially trained on big bikes like Africa Twin, CBR650s and 1000s) went through a company-issued checklist that was more exhaustive than the one I had (and which I silently discarded). They went through every item on the list and read out if it was okay or not okay - which was then recorded on the sheet by another junior technician. Fuel was added for the first time, and I was given the opportunity to start the vehicle for the first time!

Every aspect of the bike - the switch gear, seats, fastenings, etc. - felt top-notch. Other BHPians have made similar observations here, so I will spare you the trouble of reading them again.

I decided to avail myself of the dealer-provided insurance (Oriental) because it was only 3-4% more than the ICICI Lombard option I could find. Plus, I was able to avail myself of 100% of the ex-showroom price as the vehicle's IDV (as against 90-95% usually) with nil-dep and return-to-invoice addons.

On May 11th 2024, I was invited to take delivery of my new bike. It was wrapped up in a black satin cloth and towered over all other bikes in its immediate vicinity. Some pictures from the delivery day, below:

After so many delays and poor coordination, the dealer delivered a splendid delivery experience. There was the usual cake-cutting and key-handover ceremony. I was also provided with a very detailed overview of the vehicle, its features, service intervals etc., I rode the bike for the first time through heavy evening time traffic in Chennai's unusually (even for Chennai!) heat. It felt great and made the long wait worth it!

The very next day, I would take the bike on a 230 km (round trip) breakfast ride to Tindivanam, near Chennai. You could see the bike was almost the same height as the 850 GS it was parked next to.

Some observations:

  • The vehicle's height means that you can see over the roof of most cars on the road ahead of you. This greatly helps in predictive braking as you can see the same obstacle the car ahead of you does.
  • The seat has exactly the right cushioning - neither too hard nor too soft - and is super comfortable for long and short rides.
  • I am exactly 5'10" and the seat height of 850mm seemed daunting on paper at first. However, the rear suspension is a bit soft and sags quite well, allowing me to flat foot if I wear a nice pair of motorcycle boots.
  • The non-adjustable windscreen provides wind protection up to 95 kmph. Post 100, you can hear loud wind noise and buffeting. I initially decided against getting the accessory tall windscreen so I could get some air to cool down, but it looks like it'd get noisy at highway speeds without one.
  • I was promised a highway mileage of 23 kmpl and would've been happy even if I got 20ish kmpl. But to my surprise, I have been getting 24kmpl!
  • The TFT is nice and crisp, and once you download the Honda Ride Sync app, you can see turn-by-turn navigation and see who's calling or texting. While I have a separate RAM mount installed, those without one can have their phones in their pockets (to prevent them from being grabbed and stolen) and still use navigation. There's also an under-seat storage with a USB-C port to house your phone and keep it fully charged. I reckon this will be useful during rainy days.
  • The throttle is nice and precise. I didn't feel any noticeable vibrations up to 130 kmph.
  • The clutch is one of the lightest I have ever seen! Your wrist will thank you for it during stop-and-go traffic!
  • Heat management is excellent in general. As long as you're continuously moving, the engine temperature stays less than 85° C and you feel no heat whatsoever on your legs or anywhere else. However, once the temperature gauge goes above 100°C in heavy traffic, you'll start feeling the heat quite a bit. Once the vehicle goes past 30 kmph, the heat very quickly drops and the gauge shows a quick cooldown.
  • Rearview mirrors have really wide visibility and do not protrude too much.
  • The vehicle remembers which riding mode you last left it at, and continues from there even after the keys have been removed overnight.
  • Exhaust note is mesmerising!

Some Cons:

  • The headlight is a joke. Some scooters have better throw than this.
  • An adjustable windscreen would've solved the abovementioned problems concerning airflow at different speeds.
  • The front end dives quite a bit under moderate braking itself. You'll get used to it over time though.
  • The fuel tank's lid sits quite tall, making it difficult for some fuel station attendants of both genders not to see into the tank to regulate the fuel flow. I had to take the fuel gun from them and do it myself!
  • The rear section of the vehicle is, erm... boring? It almost feels like the designers got tired when they reached the end and just gave up.
  • While it does grab eyeballs because of its sheer size and bright white colour, it also doesn't stand out much. Except for the loud exhaust, I've noticed that most folks don't notice the bike much. It also has a very narrow front and read section, adding to this problem. If you're someone for whom this will be a bother, you might want to look at wider vehicles like the Tiger 850 or the F 850 GS.
  • The tubed tyres deserve their own post because of what I went through in under 10 days of taking delivery.

A week after taking delivery, we decided to have breakfast at a place in Vellore (~150 km from Chennai). On the way back, somewhere near Sriperumbudur (60 km from Chennai and an industrial township), I suddenly felt a loss of power and realised it was a possible puncture. I got down, and a visual inspection quickly confirmed it. A huge, bent nail was the culprit.

Since I was unable to procure spare tubes earlier, I didn't have them handy at the time. So, I tried calling Honda's RSA, who then told me that my vehicle wasn't yet registered with them, so they couldn't assist! I tried calling the showroom to seek clarification, but no one was available since it was a Sunday morning. Left with no option and with the searing heat building up (It was past 10 AM ready), I asked the RSA guys to send me a mechanic as a paid service and agreed to pay the ₹1600 quoted. I was told the info was passed on to a local team and they'd contact me soon. Half an hour later and no calls, I called RSA again and was told the same thing - "Wait, we'll call you." Another 40 mins went by with no help.

Luckily, a couple of locals passing by asked if I needed help and provided the contact number of a puncture guy nearby. I called him, and he arrived within 15 minutes.

His vehicle was fully equipped with everything from an air compressor to spare tubes (although 18 inches, they were smaller profile ones made for RE 350 standard bikes. He quickly removed my rear tyre and then the tube - which, shockingly, had torn in half because of the nail's impact!

Some 20 mins and ₹1,200 later, the guy fixed up my tyre and inflated it. He quickly checked the rear brakes and so did I. No one from RSA still followed up.

I then had an uneventful ride back home. Although I had with me a puncture kit and a tyre inflator, they were only good for tubeless tyres. I may have the sad distinction of experiencing the first Transal puncture in India

I'm still looking for 90/90 R21 and 150/70 R18 spare tubes; any leads would be much appreciated. The showroom guys said Honda doesn't supply them with neither spare tyres or tubes and so I'm on my own, here.

I'll share my observations after completing my first service (clocked 660 km in 10 days so far). Annual service costs are estimated to be around 6k, as per the SVC guys.

Check out BHPian comments for more insights and information.

 
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