The Honda Transalp

In 1989 I wanted one of these things so bad I would have given up just about anything to have it. Honda had just brought to the US the NX series bikes and the Transalp- dual sport bikes with a tendency toward pavement rather than dirt. I liked what they stood for. I liked what they looked like, and I especially liked the name, adding a bit of European flair by suggesting it was made for the mountains.

I never had one. And though I had a friend who owned an NX250, I never knew someone who had one until a couple of years ago. Long after Honda stopped importing the Transalp, I know 4 people with one. One of them even has two. Of course now that motorcycling and technology has come so far, by today’s standards the Transalp is outdated, slow, and in need of modification to really perform it’s intended purpose. Yet suddenly there’s a local cult following…

Powered by a 600cc V-Twin making 45 horsepower, it lacks top end on the open highway and weighing 390 pounds dry, it’s a behemoth on the dirt. Yet everyone I know who has one says it’s great. Maybe I should ride one and find out what I missed.

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