Transalp 2000 - first ride

During the Honda Road Show on Saturday, March,11th, I had the possibility for a short test ride. Unfortunately it did rain, and I just had 30 minutes to ride it, bad preferences for forming a judgement about a bike. Anyway.

The test bike was dark grey coloured - looked pretty nice. When sitting on it for the first time, I noticed

Ok, let's ride it. Choke, starter button are where I expect them to be, and the cold engine starts with the first hit on the button. Huh - what's that sound? I had expected to hear almost nothing from a Y2K bike - but, you hear it. The sound is deep, not loud, pleasant. Completely different from the old TA's sound, however. Sounds like an NTV now. First gear, second gear, third gear etc., gear shifting is smoothly, but exactly. The position of the gear shift lever compared to the footpeg seems to be rubbish - much too low, but that should be adjustable. Oops - red traffic lights, an opportunity to carefully test the brakes (remember, hard rain is gonna fall ...). Wow? Ok, I look for a lonesome road and test it again. Indeed, this double rotor front brake is good. I have a perfect feeling of what the front tire will do during braking, I can operate it with two fingers. On the wet road it is no problem to get the front wheel blocked. In the near I see a metal track - a little bit of mud, a little bit of gravel. "What's up, gonna go there?", I ask her. She makes a fuss. "Hey, it's dirty!", she seams to claim. Of course it's dirty, as you will be soon, baby ... Considering the Bridgestone TW48 stock tires and the hard suspension, it was acceptable. No, it was fun. Ok, let's go back along the track, a little bit faster this time ... "What did you do to me?", she asked. "I made you a bike, baby", I answered.

Engine is warm now, let's go on the highway. 50 km/h, fifth gear, and flat open now. The engine reports for work and accelerates - not better as the old one, but that's ok. Beyond 100 km/h it seems to be a little bit sluggish, but that may be caused by the just 180 km on the odo. "Not more than 5,000 rpm", the dealer had warned me. At 140 km/h I slow down, what actually is a little bit more of revs than 5,000, but less than with my old one. They seemed to have modified the gear ratios. Not even first signs of wobbling up to this speed. Wind protection seems to be ok. The helmet is in the airstream, chest up to the shoulders is pretty well protected, just as I like it. Noise level is remarkably low.

Handling? Hm, it was wet, and within 30 minutes, I can't reach the fine curves of the Weserbergland mountains. But as far as I can say, handling seems to be ok, comparable to the old one. I'll test that later.

Conclusions now? The focus of the new Transalp is street usage, even more than the old one. Have a look at gear ratios, footpegs, seat height, ground clearance and so on. Apropos footpegs - on the old footpegs you could remove the rubber (actually the first modification on my Faxe Biturbo ;-) ), and you had perfect offroad pegs. This is not possible anymore on the new ones. As I said - street usage. Seat position is good - apart from the tank bend, this is annoying. However, there was a guy being shorter than me (ca. 1.80 m), and for him it was perfect.

The pre-silencer item, another one proving the new XL650V being a street bike. It's placed just 5 cm away from rear tire, and it's completely unprotected. I asked the dealer for a protection, possibly mounted on the center stand (available as accessoire). "I don't know", he answered, "not avalibale yet." But I guess, there's a possibility to mount an aluminum plate, decreasing ground clearance, however. Mirrors are good, not vibrating, and you can see all that happens behind you.

I guess, all in all, it's a good bike, too.