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From here (2004 - he's in Australia, I think)

Now that the dust has settled on the new 650 Tranny, these are my observations and experiences thus far.
The engine is feeling less tight and more willing at this point. Torque is low for a V twin but acceptable. Useable power seems to be between the 4500 and 7000rpm range. Redline in top gear is achievable, 160kph at 7500rpm sitting bolt upright, 175kph at 8200rpm when tucked in. Cruising at 110 to 120kph is pleasant, the engine whilst spinning at 5000+ feels smooth. Engine will pull cleanly from 2500rpm on the flat if careful in 5th gear, I try to keep it spinning above 3000rpm at all times. There is vibration between 3000 and 3400rpm which is made apparent only by the smoothness throughout the rest of the operable range. Barely worth mentioning.

A mate of mine made an interesting observation with regard to my feelings of a lack of power. He said, with a Transalp you are the master of the bike, you can thrash it and have fun without getting into too much trouble, whereas with twice the horsepower the bike is your master. Works for me, I'm only an average rider.

There is a ticking sound at lower rpm and when cold ( much like a loose tappet ) which has been present since new. I know of another with the same noise, again since new and has travelled over 25,000ks. Clutch also makes a liitle noise on disengagement, barely noticeable. Can't be a problem, too many other TA and AT owners have said they have the same noise with 1000s of miles on them. There is also geartrain noise at 80kph in 5th gear, the cause of which I can't pinpoint at this time. I suspect this is normal.

Stock exhaust from sub chamber back has been replaced with a Staintune 400mm oval muffler rejigged to fit with larger diameter pipe from subchamber to muffler. Staintune report a 5hp increase with their system, buggered if I can feel it with the seat of the pants dyno. It is however 2kg lighter than stock, easy to clean and produces a pleasant note.

Fuel consumption varies from 14kpl ( cruising at 130ks plus top speed runs ) to 19kpl ( 100kph and city traffic with minimal throttle ). Unleaded fuel used, no premium needed. Safe fuel range seems to be approx 270ks, no doubt over 300 achievable if a long way between drinks. UPDATE Just travelled 320ks on a tank, still nearly a litre remaining. A heavy 38 litre fibreglass tank is available from German specialist Africa Queens ( big $ ), 24 litres as fitted to the Africa Twin would've been better.

Servicing is easy ( if time consuming ) apart from the tappet adjustment which is ridiculously difficult for the front exhaust. A special bent feeler gauge as available from MotionPro makes the job marginally easier. Removal of the side fairings, screen, instrument cover, tank, aircleaner assy sucks up the time. Spark plugs are accessible ( just ), there are four of the critters, only two are readily visible. Carb synching is possible only after removing the tank - ridiculous IMHO. Fortunately the tappet adjusting caper is only required every 12,000ks, though checking is part of the 1st service schedule.

It's worth buying the genuine Honda oil filter kit with removal tool ( Honda part number 15010-MWO-000 ) for an extra $6 over the price of a filter only if changing oil yourself. Uses no oil that I can measure, no oil leaks or weeps. The first oil change at 1000ks revealed a couple of minor metallic particles. Oil replaced with Fuchs Titan Performance Plus 15w - 40w, synthetic fortified ( whatever that moothful means ! ) A thorough draining allowed 2.6 litres on refill. Chain has required one adjustment, looks like it is of decent quality. Aircleaner elements are $112, worth sending off to Unifilter for modification to reuseable 2 stage foam for half the price.
120ml of distilled water added at 1st service, none used since.

Both wheels are easily removeable for servicing. Spokes required adjustment at 1st service which is to be expected.
A copy ( yes only a copy ) of the genuine Honda service manual is available for $120, the Haynes equivalent is about half that and includes a colour wiring diagram. The information contained in the factory manual is far more comprehensive than the Haynes and well laid out.UPDATE The official workshop manual copy I have is missing pages 1-24 through 1-29 which is the chapter on Wiring Harness Routing. My friendly Honda dealer also has those pages missing from their manual - very strange !

Suspension front and rear has become more compliant, no issues other than difficulty in changing rear spring preload if required. Why there is an adjustable compression damping screw is beyond my comprehension, rebound damping I could understand. Adding a pillion makes the suspension decidedly soft. Handling though doesn't feel overly compromised. Stability is excellent when loaded with gear. Stock Bridgestone Trailwing tyres are diabolical in the wet, decent in the dry and on dirt roads. Rear tyre is better than half worn at this time, front looks fine with no cupping. Final chicken strip knobs intact on rear, but bloody close. Pirelli Scorpions will be the replacement tyre in about 2000ks.

Stock gearing is good, 16t front sprocket is available to lower the revs by about 400rpms in 5th gear. First gear is tall, so be aware if thinking of changing sprockets that slow dirt road work is likely to involve judicious clutch slipping. I've just changed out the sprocket to the 16t today, can't say I'm all that impressed, more torque really would be better. It is slightly more sluggish up hills, requiring more downchanging ( I'm a lazy rider ). If you're into wringing its neck, stick with the stock gearing, otherwise, in retrospect it feels more relaxed on the highway. A smaller front sprocket would help in the slow going. Ratio changes are as follows:

15t front 48t rear 3.20:1
16t front 48t rear 3.00:1

Within the plastic sprocket cover is a metal band which is supposed to protect the cover in some way, this needs to be relieved when fitting the 16t sprocket. As a point of interest, there is 0.3mm of endfloat in the output shaft, no shims employed according to the manual and also no specification for endfloat in the otherwise comprehensive workshop manual. Even more endfloat in the shift lever shaft, again no spec. suggested in the manual.

Shifting is smooth with little lever travel other than the familiar clunk into first gear.
Handling is stable at all speeds, no bum puckering moments so far. The ride is soft for the most part, potholed dirt roads can give you a jolt but at no time does the bike feel like it's going to spit you off. Initial compression damping of the front fork is ordinary. The spec. of the front fork has changed little ( if at all ) from the first model 600TA introduced in '87. Better tyres should make gravel and dirt roads even easier, the Bridgestone Trailwings don't inspire confidence.

Brakes are effective, front feels spongy and there is considerable dive on harder application, no stability problems when forks are compressed. Could be improved with Race Tech gold valve emulators, perhaps later. Rear brake works very well with good feel.

Lighting is good at night, instruments legible at a momentary glance, odometer is accurate. Unsure about speedometer accuracy, probably close to the mark. Fuel gauge is a guide only, doesn't move off full until approx 160ks travelled, then quickly moves to empty over the next 100ks. There is no reserve tap. You can travel for a further 60ks with the pointer in the red zone. Temp gauge hasn't moved to even halfway even in stop start traffic, fan hasn't been activated. Choke operation can be fiddly with gloves on but effective.

The plastic rack fitted has a load rating of 10kg ( 20lbs ) which is great and the integrated grab handles are handy. Downside is the painted finish which scratches easily and the securing points are shaped poorly for occy straps.
Note : This is the first new bike I've owned in 20+ years, so the lights oughta be a bloody improvement Seriously though, they're better than the R1100GS I used to own and better than my old R80 G/S PD.

Seat is comfortable is soft, comfortable for my 95kg for a couple of hours at a stretch. A factory low seat is on order ( $188 ) to accommodate my short legs. UPDATE The low seat arrived today, it feels better and my short little legs are nearly flat on the gorund. The seats profile is an improvement for those challenged in the inseam length dept. The low seat is now on the bike, slightly different profile, works for me
Handlebars work well for me ergo wise, others have converted to Renthals or other fat bars. Renthal Dakar high or Enduro High seem to be the bar of choice.

Clutch and brake operation is easy and light. Handguards are okay, not as good protection wise as some others ( BMW ). Blinker switch operation requires moving your hand a little from the grip, other switch operations are good. Mirrors provide good rearwards vision and are vibration free at all speeds - bloody brilliant. Seat to footpeg distance perfect, especially good for pillion. Plastic rear rack scraches easily, moulded hooks only useful in some situations. The built in handrails are useful for a pillion. Stock screen works well for me at 5'10" ( 176cm ? ), no buffeting, but helmet noise is increased. Effective in rain at keeping water off your chest area. Handguards are okay only in this situation. Helmet holding tangs under seat are typically average. A proper lock ala BMW GS is something most manufacturers could employ.

Paint finish is ordinary and thin. Decals are applied over the paint top coat. All welds on the frame decidedly reminiscent of the '70s, spatter everywhere and painted over. Being assembled in Spain it's not up to Honda Japans high standards. The engine is assembled by Honda Japan. Bike is easy to wash and clean ( especially the wheels ), no polishing is required. Underseat space is generous by any standards, with room under the tailpiece for a few small items. Toolkit is comprehensive for most operations, quality is cheesy.

Genuine Honda centrestand is overpriced ( but very strong ) at $410, SW Motech about $100 cheaper and works better ( though is only recommended for occasional use ). Honda sidestand fouls on factory centrestand tang when deployed. Centrestand tang for deployment is woefully inadequate as is the grab/lifting handle ( supplied with the centrestand kit ) which is located too low to be good for your back. When on the stand weight bias is to the front making chain cleaning and lubing easy - chain adjustment must be done on side stand. Sidestand works well.

Honda heated handgrips at $400 are also overpriced but work well. I chose to fit Warmfit heated grips at $40 - they work just fine at a fraction of the cost. The headlamp looks an expensive piece of plastic and I've fitted a Ventura cover, cheap insurance.

There has only been one warranty issue to date, the fuel tank is rusting from underneath, noted on the first service, still waiting for a replacement, none in stock at Honda Australia at present, no drama. UPDATE : new tank fitted yesterday by my local dealer ( not the selling dealer ), rode in waited for an hour and rode out with a new tank - lovely !
In closing, the Transalp fitted me well from the beginning and required little getting used to. Excellent for a first time dual purpose mount.
A good value for money mount, especially as you can purchase one for less than the suggested recommended retail of $12,990 + on roads.
Mine was $9290 as it was a 2003 model, I'm told the 2004 models can be had for $9990 + on roads if you shop around. Any colour you like as long as it's blue ! Silver sidecovers and front guard for the 2004 models - same blue
Puchased from Redwing Honda in Melbourne ( 03 9459 5553 ). Denis Ferguson is the spares manager there, he also owns a Transalp having recently done the trip to Cape York and return ( lucky bastard ). Good bloke who goes the extra yard.

UPDATE April 5th 2005

6,000k service now completed. Honda doesn't recommend changing the oil at 6,000ks ( 2.4 litres without filter change ), done anyway as a time thing. Nothing of note in the service which is only a minor one. No crap in the fuel filter screen, spark plugs look as new. Oil consumpion = 0. Chain has not required adjustment, lubed with chain wax, then when that ran out a light smaer with ATF. Seems to work okay, not much spatter on the rear wheel.
Spokes have required adjustment each service, must be still settling in.
The front brake switch wiring terminals have come undone a couple of times, suspect the positioning of the cables and throttle cables at full lock have caused this minor problem.

Fuel consumption has dropped approx. 15% from the initial readings. Partly due to raising the gearing, the rest to freeing up of the engine. Average fuel consumption now 17.5kpl, up to 19.5kpl taking it easy. Have found flogging it mercilessly affects consumption a little ( 130 to 160kph for an hour or so ) down to 16.5kpl.
There's a sweet spot ( for me ) in the fairing protection dept. between 130 and 140kph
If you're prepared to spend the time at the fuel pump, an extra litre can be added once up to the neck, slowly does it. Best fuel range to date has been 320ks to fill up.

Top speed now an indicated 184kph at redline ( sitting bolt upright ), so the engine will handle the larger countershaft sprocket. First gear is way too tall for any low speed trail stuff and performance suffers a tad as previously mentioned.
The original Bridgestone TrailWing tyre replaced at 5,800ks. Right on the wear indicators. Fitted a Pirelli Scorpion ST 120/90/17. Far better range of 130/80/17 out there, wanted to stay with the stock size until the front wears out. Still provides good grip on the tar, less so on the dirt roads, the Pirelli is more road oriented than most.

Fitted Givi soft pannier racks and purchased a set of Ortlieb soft pannier bags from Riders Wearhouse, the Aerostich folk. Fantastic service, speedy delivery to Australia. These bags are bombproof, though not large with a stated capacity of 46 litres.
The painted plastic on the rear rack is still suffering from scratches, have had up to 20kg on the rack/rear seat. Attachment points on the rear rack are next to useless, fortunately the soft pannier racks provide extra places to strap up for the heavy loads.
Previusly mentioned, the centrestand foot tang has now been cut and rewelded, providing clearance for the sidestand.
Clock keeps perfect time requiring no adjustment, if you're into the little details.
Numb bum on the low seat comes in after 2 hours, plenty of room to move around and change position allows a full day in the saddle without major complaint.

What more can I say, the Tranny is doing the job without fuss in its efficient, unremarkable way. Maybe I should sell it and get something to give me more grief like my old Ducatis
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