Every Honda Adventure Bike, Ranked By Power - SUV VEHICLE

Every Honda Adventure Bike, Ranked By Power

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Summary

  • Honda’s adventure motorcycles boast user-friendly power delivery and low seat heights, perfect for all kinds of riders.
  • From the entry-level CB500X to the legendary Africa Twin, Honda offers adventure bikes suitable for both on and off-road terrain.
  • The Africa Twin Adventure Sports ES features electronic suspension, a large fuel tank, and compatibility with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.



In its near 75-year-life, we’ve gotten quite a few classics from Honda. The Super Cub was the biggest surprise for the US market; a tiny toy-like, almost bicycle that captured the hearts of people with its great advertising campaign. Honda also helped us understand what a ‘superbike’ was with the CB750 Super Four (it was desirable, fast, powerful, and reliable, who knew?) and then made us rethink what a flagship supersport could be with the CBR Fireblade. In the same way, it also has a great history of off-road motorcycles, with the first being the CR125M from 1973. Of course, then came the Transalp in 1986, and the big one – the Africa Twin – in 1988.


Today, it has a variety of motorcycles in its lineup here. From mini motos to six-cylinder tourers, you’ll get everything from Honda. But our focus today is going to be on the last category mentioned above: adventure bikes. Big Red has only five adventure models in its US lineup, but they are interesting models. After all, Honda does take its own sweet time to launch a model, but when it does, it usually gets it almost perfect from the get-go.

To ensure accuracy, the information compiled in this article was sourced from the manufacturer, as well as other authoritative sources such as Visordown.com, Motorcycle.com, Motorcyclenews.com, and Cycleworld.com. The motorcycles on this list have been arranged by power figure, from the lowest to the highest

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The Japanese manufacturer has options from as low as 150cc right up to the 650cc category.

5 Honda CB500X

Power: 46.9 horsepower

A rider sitting astride a red 2023 Honda CB500X
Honda


The baby of Honda’s adventure range is the CB500X. Its brief seems to be simple: introduce riders to the world of adventure touring and be the opposite of intimidating about it. This includes the power delivery, the seat height, the handling, and the cost of maintenance. Honda has achieved this by using the CB500F platform and giving it a bit of a twist to suit the on/off-road usage that the CB500X is intended for.

As such, it gets the frame and engine from the naked with 46.9 horsepower and 31.7 pound-feet of torque. But it couples these with long travel suspension, a 19-inch front wheel, and a windscreen as a nod to its highway aspirations. There is dual-channel ABS (but it isn’t switchable), there aren’t any ride modes, and the suspension has the most basic adjustment in the form of rear preload. When originally launched, it had just one front brake disc, but has been updated to two recently.

Red 2023 Honda CB500X cruising through a meadow
Honda


What the CB500X does have is linear power delivery and gobs of torque at low revs, meaning it can haul weight around and hike up hills without you having to work the six-speed gearbox much. The friendly power delivery and peak figure also mean that there is no need for ride modes, as things aren’t intimidating. It also has quite a low seat, at under 33 inches, which makes it somewhat approachable for short riders and beginners. Finally, the shared platform means that costs of ownership remain fairly low, and this is the appeal of the CB500X: it makes for a fantastic introductory machine to the segment.

Engine Type

Parallel twin,

Displacement

471 cc

Max Power

46.9 HP @ 8,600 RPM

Max Torque

31.7 LB-FT @ 6,500 RPM


4 Honda NC750X

Power: 57.8 horsepower

2022 Honda NC750X left 3/4 front shot
Honda

The NC750X is the next most powerful motorcycle available in Honda’s on/off-road lineup. Like the CB500X, it is biased towards tarmac rather than dirt. In fact, it is unashamedly an asphalt warrior – it gets a 17-inch front rim, and its party trick is the DCT dual-clutch automatic gearbox. It is available elsewhere in the world with a six-speed manual as well, but in the US market, it is offered only with the automatic.


We suspect it has something to do with its price being so close to the Transalp’s, and Honda wanting to differentiate between the two so that they don’t cannibalize sales from each other. It, however, does try to be as unintimidating as possible. The peak power figure of 57.8 horsepower is available at a mere 6,750 RPM, and the torque peak is even lower at 4,750 RPM. Honda decided on a long-stroke engine for the low-end torque delivery and paired with the DCT gearbox, it should feel extremely tractable.

2024-Honda-NC750X
Honda

We do find it very interesting that it gets only a single front disc brake when even the CB500X has now switched to a dual front disc setup. But with the amount of electronics available, the stopping power is good enough. Other interesting features include a storage compartment where the fuel tank usually is, four levels of Honda Selectable Torque Control (traction control) including ‘off’, and four rider modes for the engine thanks to the ride-by-wire throttle. Like the 500, this is still an approachable motorcycle despite the near-750 cc displacement.


Engine Type

Parallel twin

Displacement

745 cc

Max Power

57.8 HP @ 6,750 RPM

Max Torque

50.9 LB-FT @ 4,750 RPM

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3 Honda Transalp

Power: 90.5 horsepower

Honda XL750_Transalp 5
Honda

The Transalp is a beloved name among fans of adventure bikes. It went on sale in 1986 globally and debuted in the US market in 1989. At the time, it was powered by a 52-degree V twin with three valves per cylinder. The current Transalp XL750 runs a parallel twin engine which confusingly displaces just 10 cc more than the engine in the NC750X. But it is completely different. Its short-stroke nature gives it a 50 percent higher power output and all of the peaks are so much higher, the torque peak is beyond the redline of the NC’s engine!


The Transalp offers ride modes, a two-way quickshifter as standard, great suspension hardware from Showa at both ends, a large 4.5-gallon fuel tank, a standard integrated rear carrier, self-canceling indicators, and a TFT color display for the instrumentation. On the options list is a lower seat that lowers seat height by 1.1 inches, and you can choose from one of four accessory packages that, depending on the package, will add different footpegs, a skid plate, a center stand, hand guards, panniers, and a tall windscreen. Or heated grips, a top case, guards for the engine, radiator, and upper fairing… the list goes on.

Honda XL750_Transalp 7
Honda


There is no definite word on whether you can cherry-pick the accessories you want, which would have made the Transalp a true modular motorcycle for anyone and everyone. If you were wondering whether Honda dropped the ball with the NC750X and wanted something more suited to traversing long distances off the beaten path, this is the answer. A truly off-road capable middleweight adventure tourer with a power output comparable to anything from Europe at the displacement.

Engine Type

Parallel twin

Displacement

755 cc

Max Power

90.5 HP @ 9,500 RPM

Max Torque

55.3 LB-FT @ 7,250 RPM

2 Honda Africa Twin

Power: 100 horsepower

2024 Honda Africa Twin Action
Honda
 


The Africa Twin is a legend, first being produced in 1988 as a 650 cc V-twin. However, it earned its reputation with its second iteration, the 750 cc XRV750T which was based on the four-time Dakar Rally-winning motorcycle. Honda stopped producing it for a good 16 years and then brought it back as a full-size 1000 cc adventure touring motorcycle.

The current generation, the CRF1100L, has two distinct versions. The first is the ‘standard’ Africa Twin. It sports what you’d expect from a big on/off-roader: a 21-inch front rim, spokes, a six-axis IMU, and fully adjustable suspension. It does offer one thing that no other motorcycle in the segment offers: a DCT automatic gearbox. The Africa Twin’s near-1100 cc engine generates only 10 percent more power than the Transalp, but that is by design. Like the NC750X, the focus has been on usable torque, and you’ll never find yourself wanting for that across the Africa Twin’s rev range. We’d opt for the optional quickshifter to extract the last ounce of performance from it.


2024 Honda Africa Twin ActionSand
Honda

Honda has also finally gotten on the spoke rim/tubeless tire bandwagon, making the Africa Twin far more usable off the beaten path. Which is good, because the Africa Twin feels like a large dirt bike off-road. Its electronics and torque delivery make it quite suitable for situations where other big ADVs would give up and go home.

The DCT does take some getting used to at walking speeds, although Honda has kept refining it to the point where it might actually be a good alternative to a manual for an experienced rider. In the US market, Honda has chosen to differentiate its Africa Twin offerings into one off-road-biased variant, and one touring variant more suited to long miles on tarmac. We’ll take a closer look at that one next.


Engine Type

Parallel twin

Displacement

1083 cc

Max Power

100 HP @ 7,500 RPM

Max Torque

76 LB-FT @ 6,000 RPM

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1 Honda Africa Twin Adventure Sports ES

Power: 100 horsepower

2024 Honda Africa Twin Adventure Sports ES static profile shot
Honda

Let’s get the common things out of the way quickly: the Africa Twin and the Africa Twin Adventure Sports ES have the same engine, gearbox, frame, and swingarm. They look almost identical as well. But here’s where the Sports ES is different (other than being a mouthful to say):


The ‘ES’ in the name stands for ‘Electronic Suspension’. No, you can’t have that on a bog-standard Africa Twin anymore, because this suspension is different. It has less travel for one. It also lacks a self-leveling function like the BMW equivalent, but it gets the job done. Oh, and you can’t have an Africa Twin Adventure Sports without the ES in the US market.

2024 Honda Africa Twin Adventure Sports Pearl White Action
Honda

This model also gets a 19-inch front rim and a huge 6.5-gallon tank that should take you well beyond 300 miles between fill-ups – neither of these features is an option on the standard Africa Twin. You also get a lower seat, which in the low position goes all the way down to 33.5 inches. To put that into perspective, a Ducati Scrambler’s seat height is 33.8 inches. This is a combination of the smaller rim, suspension with less travel, and lower seat mounting, all of which make the Africa Twin accessible to a much larger audience.


Also widening the audience is its compatibility with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. Couple the features it has with the now-great DCT automatic gearbox, and you’ve got a mile muncher with rock-solid reliability priced the same as offerings from Europe with a manual gearbox. What’s not to like?

Engine Type

Parallel twin

Displacement

1083 cc

Max Power

100 HP @ 7,500 RPM

Max Torque

76 LB-FT @ 6,000 RPM

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