The Honda TransAlp is an adventure motorcycle manufactured by Honda beginning in 1987, with the ’89 TransAlp being the first made available to the American Market.
As the name implies, the TransAlp was intended to be the steed of choice for moto-travelers riding the 700 mile stretch across the Alps.
Since American riders regularly enjoy rip-roasting through the Rockies and the Smoky Mountains, Honda thought the TransAlp would find a home in the states.
Adventure bikers in the US want something dirt-ready, and the TransAlp is more intended for riding paved roads with dirt detours than rolling through the mud at least half the time, a fact that left me asking myself, just how long does a Honda TransAlp last?
Here’s the Short Answer to How Long a Honda TransAlp Lasts:
It’s common for a Honda TransAlp to last over 75,000 miles. Its liquid-cooled V-twin is built to last, running off one overhead camshaft in each three-valve cylinder head. TransAlps have been on the road in Europe since 1987; a well-kept Honda TransAlp lasts for over 30 years.
How Many Miles Do You Get on a Honda TransAlp?
There are numerous examples of TransAlps still running like new with more than 75,000 miles on their odometers; its robust, Honda-engineered motor was designed to hold up against the elements encountered in the Alps.
There is a multitude of forums where TransAlp riders share stories of their bikes’ reliability, and I decided to seek out a few real-life examples of high mileage TransAlps:
- I encountered one rider in Canada with a 1987 600 TransAlp here in Canada who put 91,000 miles on the clock, noting that the bike still runs top notch.
- An American rider I heard from put 85,000 miles on a TransAlp with no problems. This Honda enthusiast made a point to boast about how the bike fires up as soon as they hit the starter. He mentioned keeping eyes on the oil, as its thirst for lubrication had increased with the mileage but reported that the bike lands 48-50 mpg.
- The previously mentioned TransAlp fanatic added that he knew a rider who had a TransAlp with 100k on her and that the engine outlasted everything else on the bike.
- A fourth example professed they passed 100,000 on an ’87 TA, saying that they still had it and it’s still running great.
What Is Considered High Mileage for These Models?
Typically, a motorcycle is labeled “high-mileage” after 50,000 miles, as it’s difficult to determine how hard its previous owners rode the bike or for what purpose.
Most people in the market for a used TransAlp aren’t troubled by the reading as much as lifespan left.
Various factors to consider when distinguishing TransAlp longevity, though; mileage might be less important than you think.
Let’s examine the more significant determinants of your Honda TransAlp’s remaining lifespan:
- The Previous Owner: A TransAlp ripped by one owner for most of its life is more alluring than, say, a TransAlp that’s been turned and burned through a series of seasonal riders who ripped-road and then flipped it. Long-term ownership means more consistent maintenance and only a single break-in period.
- Riding Etiquette. I hate to generalize, but unfortunately, generalization is the game’s name when pricing a used vehicle. For example, an older TransAlp rider might take it easier on their throttle, RPMs, and redlines than a 20-year-old speed-demon and may be more likely to put up the funds for required routine maintenance.
Please also read our article about how long the Honda Magna lasts.
How Many Years Does a Honda TransAlp Typically Last?
TransAlps can last over 30 years, a fact made evident by examples of TransAlps on the road in Europe since 1987 and in the States since 1989.
One TransAlp rider I chanced across has been on the same bike since they bought it in 1988.
He reports that the front head gasket went but lists no other signs of engine wear.
Another Honda hogger claims they roast between 400 and 800 miles a week on a ’88 TransAlp they picked up used in excellent condition.
The only significant issue they’ve had is with the valve stem seals. Their seals have worn, so the bike chugs oil at a rate of almost a gallon a month.
Is the Honda TransAlp Reliable?
Adventure bike enthusiasts widely recognize the Honda TransAlp’s motor as reliable and easy to maintain provided its well-serviced, primarily because it’s intended for heavy, dual-sport use.
Here are some design features that improve the bike’s reliability:
- The bike is kept safe by comprehensive bodywork, including a half fairing integrated into the 4.8-gallon tank.
- It’s well balanced for both street and off-road use.
- Its low, wheel-front fender, for example, is perfect for sport-roasting pavement, but an engine guard, large front wheel, and high ground clearance keep it reliable during dirt-darts up the mountain trails.
Make sure to also read our article about how long the Honda Furys last.
Does a Honda TransAlp Last Longer than Other Motorcycles?
The Honda TransAlp’s engine has the potential to last as long as other motorcycles in its class on the street.
But its street-centric front-wheel setup and tendency towards early shaft-spline make some other Adventure Bikes more long-lasting on the trail.
TAs are designed explicitly for roasting across the Alps, where, whether they’re paved or not, roads are packed down.
Honda didn’t intend for the narrow space between the TransAlp’s front tire and the front fender to accommodate the chunky mud encountered by off-road riders in America.
In the Alps, off-roading is illegal; tighter, sportier clearance makes sense.
The TransAlp ridden off-road, especially in conditions that turn trails into wet-mud pits, tends to jam up the front wheel.
When gauging if a TransAlp will last you longer than other adventure motorcycles, consider what type of riding you intend to put her through.
What Typically Breaks First on a Honda TransAlp?
The splines on the Honda TransAlp’s gearbox output shaft break first due to the wear and tear the sprocket puts on them.
The owner of a 1989 TransAlp I encountered claims his splines are now nearly 2/3’s of their initial width.
The rider remedied this by applying a grip of grease to the splines. He then swapped the chain and sprockets for the new OEM set-up. He now spends an hour a month cleaning and regreasing, and the splines no longer experience wear.
If your sprocket is still well enough engaged and not shaking, try the grease first.
Another rider discovered the same problem on their ’87 TransAlp. Theirs was past the point of grease, and they had to do an entire engine strip down.
The rider claims that once they disassembled their 58,000-mile-old motor, they wanted to replace everything on it.
This tricky TransAlp owner tracked down a 20,000-mile TransAlp engine from a more recent model, equipped with the updated spline design, and loaded that puppy on their bike instead.
A third TransAlp owner with this same issue shared their short-term “solution.”
He measured that the sprocket had worn 1.5mm away from the splines, then cut some stainless steel rods 1.5mm in diameter.
He chopped it down to the exact length of the wear groove and “glued” them in place with grease with a melting point intended for work around high heat.
This TransAlp owner refitted the sprocket onto the shaft; boom, his trick reduced almost all wear.
He claims the small rods can’t come adrift as they are held in place by the sprocket. He put another 5,000 miles on the bike before replacing the splines.
If you’re bold enough to give this solution a shot, go for it. But we’d recommend replacing the worn parts to avoid the risk of causing more significant damage.
This problem of shaft spline wear-and-tear seems to persist on the earlier models, namely the 1987s through 1989.
The ’89 and later models supposedly have a different design, with updated sprockets.
At least, that’s what I thought, but then I encountered a rider of a ’98 TransAlp 400 who claimed their countershaft was worn enough to let the front drive sprocket fly right off the shaft.
It may seem serendipitous, but since a few sources have confirmed that Honda indeed updated the design, it could be unrelated to the flawed design on early models.
The cause of the countershaft problems could be the riders riding practices or setting their chain too tight.
Also read our article about how long Honda Rebels last.
15 Great Tips to Make Sure Your Honda TransAlp Will Last Long
The Honda TransAlp can last over 30 years, so it’s worth your time and effort to knock out these steps to ensure your 100,000-mile odometer is talked about next time a rider questions the TA’s longevity.
- Follow Honda’s maintenance recommendations. The best way to keep your motorcycle running longer is to schedule or perform routine maintenance according to the owner’s manual’s suggestions.
- Inspect your air filter regularly. Avoid engine gunk by checking your air filter, following your owner’s manual instructions.
- Lube your spline, especially on an older model.
- Use the suggested coolant and replace it when needed. Frequently renewing your TransAlp’s coolant leads to a longer life.
- Keep up with tire changes and keep the air in the tires. Believe it or not, riding with less-than-intended PSI strains your engine harder.
- Keep up with oil changes.
- Keep fresh gas in your TransAlp’s tank.
- Maintain your TransAlp’s brakes.
- Keep your TransAlp’s carbs set proper.
- Adjust your valves.
When buying a used TransAlp:
- Inspect the service record
- Test ride it
- Check it for physical damage and corrosion
- Look up the vehicle history report
- Have a Honda-literate mechanic check and inspect the bike.
If you keep up with the essential upkeep on your Honda TransAlp, there’s no reason why this one-of-a-kind find won’t be with you for 75,000+ miles.