Saturday, 30 September, 2023


Honda reintroduces two iconic motorcycles

Honda recently revived their Transalp adventure and Hornet naked road bike model names.

Launched at the same time, the Hornet was a bit of a surprise, as the launch was ostensibly just for the new Transalp 750. But the Hornet was snuck in at the end of the launch programme.

The Transalp name is no stranger to adventure-bike riders. The first version we saw was the XL600V. Launched internationally in 1986, it was replaced by the XL650V in 2000 and the by the odd-looking XL700V in 2008. The XL700V had a 19-inch front wheel, whereas previous – and the new version – were fitted with 21-inch front wheels.

The XL700V was discontinued in 2013, so the revival of the Transalp name comes after a silence of 10 years. The Transalp slots in between the CB500X and big brother CRF1100L African Twin.

The new XL750 Transalp shares engine specifications with the naked Hornet.

The mid-sized naked Hornet first saw the light in 1998 when it was launched as the Honda CBB600F. In 2000 the 16-inch front wheel was uprated to 17 inches and in 2003 the fuel tank was enlarged from 16 to 17 litres. In 2005 roadholding was improved by fitting upside-down forks. The Hornet name disappeared in 2014 when it was replaced by the CB650F naked bike and CB650F sports bike.

The Hornet used to have a detuned version of the CBR600RR sports bike’s engine, and the last version in 2013 used a 599cc four-cylinder engine that produced 75kW (at 12 000rpm) and 63,5Nm (at 10 500rpm).

The 2023 Transalp and Hornet have a brand new 755cc parallel twin that delivers 67,5kW (at 9 500rpm) and a very usable 75Nm (at 7250rpm). This should give the Hornet a much easier and more comfortable ride at less hysterical engine speeds.

The Unicam engine (as Honda calls it), has a bore of 87mm and stroke of 63,5mm, with compression ratio of 11:1.

Honda’s press release says the engine produces “a hard hit of top-end power accompanied by mountains of usable torque in the low to mid-engine speed range. The result is an engine that provides usable, enjoyable performance for rides of all types and all distances, and for riders of all experience levels.”

The new engine is very compact and lightweight, due in no small part to the Unicam head as used by the MX competition-ready CRF450R.

Honda says the compact dimensions are also due to clever packaging: “There is no balancer drive gear since the primary drive gear also spins the balance shaft; the water pump is tucked away inside the left-hand engine cover and there is no need for a water-cooled oil-cooler.”

According to the press release, “for razor-sharp pick-up and throttle response, patented Vortex flow ducts create a more  uniform distribution from the side scoops into the airbox, which then feeds downdraft intakes and 46mm diameter throttle bodies.”

In line with current trends, the crank has a 270-degree firing order “for a characterful, twin-cylinder pulse feeling. The exhaust note is tuned for a pleasing low-end beat and raucous top-end howl.”

The engine offers a “fly-by-wire” throttle that Honda calls Throttle By Wire (TBW).

While mechanically identical, the Transalp’s engine’s TBW settings are tuned differently to focus on engine characteristics more in keeping with the longer distance touring the Transalp would most likely be used for.

Both bikes use slipper clutches that “reduce clutch drag torque by 30%, for a lighter lever load and easier up shifts. It also manages rear wheel hop under hard braking and rapid down changes.”

Honda says fuel consumption for both bikes should be 4,35l/100km (23km/l). Claimed top speed for the Hornet is 205km/h.

The Hornet has four riding modes and four ­levels of Honda Selectable Torque Control (HSTC) with integrated Wheelie Control, as well as three levels of engine braking and power delivery.

Sport mode uses level 3 engine power and level 1 engine braking and torque control to deliver maximum performance with minimum intervention.

Standard mode is a mid-way setting that uses level-2 setting for engine power, engine braking and torque control.

Rain mode employs level 1 engine power for the least aggressive power delivery with level 2 engine braking and level 3 torque control.

The User mode allows the rider to choose between the three settings for each parameter and save the setting for future use.

The Transalp has five rider modes, four levels for engine power, three for engine braking and five for torque control with integrated wheelie control. Traction control and ABS can also be switched off. They are easily switched and managed between the left handlebar mode and TFT screen.

Sport mode offers maximum performance and uses level 4 engine power, level 2 ABS and level 1 engine braking and torque control to deliver strong acceleration with minimum intervention.

Standard mode is a midway setting for urban riding that uses level 3 engine power and torque control, with level 2 engine braking and ABS.

Rain mode is designed for challenging on-road conditions and employs level 1 engine power for the least aggressive power delivery, with level 2 engine braking and ABS and level 5 torque control.

Gravel mode features level 2 engine power, level 3 engine braking, and level 4 torque control with level 1 ABS for confident travel on rougher terrain off road.

User mode allows the rider to customise all settings and save them for future use.

Hornet accessories

A full range of accessories are also available for the Hornet, ready for personalisation to an owner’s preference and use. For aggressive sports riding, or more relaxed touring, a quickshifter offers instant, full-throttle upshifts and clutchless downshifts with auto blip function. The lever load sensitivity can be adjusted in three stages to suit preference.

The rear seat cowl adds single-seat sports appeal, while a stitched rider’s seat – a brand- new design finished in grey/black – exudes premium appeal and elevates comfort. Also new are the aluminium bar-end weights, handlebar upper clamp holder, fly screen, wheel stripes, rider foot pegs and protective skid bungs.

A tank bag and seat bag provide soft-luggage convenience, while a new rear pannier design offers hard-luggage security. For rider comfort, heated grips are also available.

Honda offers three accessory packs:
1. Sport pack – Quickshifter, fly screen, rear seat cowl and rider foot pegs.
2. Style pack – Bar-end weights, handlebar upper clamp holder, tank pad, wheel stripes and skid bungs.
3. Touring pack – Rear panniers, tank bag and seat bag.

Transalp accessories

A full range of accessories are available for the XL750 Transalp, ready for personalisation to an owner’s preference and use, including a quickshifter and low-seat option.

Honda offers five accessory options.
1. Urban pack – 50-litre topbox with pillion backrest and inner bag, tall windscreen and centre stand.
2. Touring pack – Panniers (26 litre on the right, 33 litres on the left), inner bags and heated grips.
3. Adventure pack – Side pipes, LED fog lights and radiator grill.
4. Rally pack – Quickshifter, engine guard, bash plate, off-road rally footpegs and hand guards with extensions.
5. Comfort pack – Three-litre tankbag, wind deflectors, comfort pillion footpegs and AAC charging socket.

Additional accessories include side tank pads and colour-matched wheel stripes, and all accessories are also available separately.

A five-inch colour TFT instrument display on both bikes with Honda Smartphone Voice Control (for Android and iOS devices) that shares relevant technical information, full LED lighting, auto­matic cancelling turn indicators and Emergency Stop Signal (ESS) technology round out the standard features of the new bikes.

The CB750 Hornet is available in Graphite Mat Goldfinch Yellow, or in Pearl Glare white with the frame in Metallic Red Flame.

The XL750 Transalp is available in Ross White Metallic, Matt Ballistic Black, and Iridium Grey Metallic.

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