I've never owned a Transalp but have rented the XL600V model a couple of times in the Philippines, for a total of 2+ weeks of riding time, mostly 2-up.
-Nice, smooth motor if you're comfortable with modest power and time your passes accordingly. Speeds up to 75-80 mph are reasonable but don't expect to feel comfortable at anything faster. The transmission does it's job without any complaints, although I have a habit of looking for a 6th gear that isn't there.
-Suspension was pretty soft with a lot of brake dive. Could be addressed with upgraded suspension.
-The weight and size of the bike are easy to manage, on everything from expressways to easy single track to lane-splitting through the extremely congested streets of Manila. The bike feels more compact than a V-Strom, for example.
- The brakes are weak, especially 2-up. Plan your stops accordingly.
-The stock headlight is very weak. Without upgraded lighting, avoid riding after dark if at all possible.
-The stock seat is horrrible after a couple of hours and a passenger will be constantly sliding forward. Easily fixed by the aftermarket.
-The ergonomics for me are perfect, at 5'9'', 170 lbs and a 30" inseam, without bar risers or other mods. With a very petite passenger (100-110) lbs and a top case, 2-up is comfortable, aside from the bad seat. On one trip with a larger companion at probably 130-140 lbs, seat space was crowded.
In general, I like the bike within it's limitations. I love my 2012 DL650, though! Compared to a Transalp, the new gen Wee Strom is a rocketship, with passing power, brakes, suspension, handling, seating and lighting that are miles ahead. The Wee's super-smooth shifting 6 speed transmission is great. Also, more room for 2-up riding in comparison. A little heavier than the TA, with less ground clearance, but there are always trade-offs.
A TA may not have all the attributes of more recent designs but will always have a coolness factor that modern bikes may lack..
For another modern (and economical) option, a Kawasaki Versys looks like it would make a very nice fire road capable bike in a reasonably light and compact size. The mods people have done with 19" front tires appear to make it a very fun dual-sport.
I hope these impressions are helpful.
Rackemcrackem screwed with this post 02-06-2013 at 02:56 PM
Reason: speeling and a couple more details