We simply completed driving the 2018 Honda Gold Wing Tour in Austin, Texas – a day early I’d add…as a result of it’s snowing…in Texas. Nonetheless, clocking near 200 miles on Honda’s sixth era of this venerable touring machine has supplied us with some fascinating insights into the subsequent Wing.
A motorcycle designed for long-distance driving, we’ve got gathered our ideas on the brand new Honda Gold Wing Tour, in a brief and candy format, so you possibly can sound knowledgeable at your subsequent bike night time or web discussion board.
General, the all-new Honda Gold Wing Tour is a brilliant replace to an iconic bike, and it brings the Gold Wing identify inline with the present state of expertise.
As we discovered on the street, the brand new Gold Wing is an enchancment over its predecessor, however that comes with a caveat. There could be some deal-breakers right here for contemporary touring riders, as Honda shifts its focus to “youthful” riders. Let me clarify.
2017 vs. 2018
It’s straightforward to overlook that the Honda Gold Wing was final up to date on the flip of the millennium (as a 2001 mannequin yr machine), however you might be jarringly reminded of this truth the second you sit within the 2018 Honda Gold Wing cockpit.
Roughly 20 buttons are lacking from the earlier mannequin, a vivid TFT show has been put in, the mass between your legs is roughly 90 lbs lighter, and the listing of modifications goes on and on. Nonetheless, when you get shifting on the street, the lineage between the 2 bikes is instantly obvious.
That is nonetheless very a lot a Gold Wing, for higher or worse.
Honda was form sufficient to offer us an opportunity to experience the 2017 version bike back-to-back with the 2018, and the outcomes are what you’ll anticipate – in any case, an 800 lbs bike isn’t that a lot totally different than a 900 lbs bike.
The engines are remarkably related in attribute, clean with out vibration and linear in energy supply. The 2018 motor is an all-new design, and it packs loads of energy (torque, really), whereas simply sipping gasoline. This has allowed Honda to cut back the gas tank measurement by a gallon, whereas maintaining vary the identical.
After all, what everybody desires to speak about is the chassis with its (don’t name it a Hossack) “double wishbone” entrance suspension setup.
The design is each the most effective and worst a part of the brand new Gold Wing. It helps create a extra compact chassis, which helps within the general weight discount of the machine. And whereas it handles the bumpy and mangled roads of Texas fairly properly, the suggestions to the rider is equally muted.
A parallelogram design dwelling in a telescopic fork’s world, skilled motorcyclists are going to overlook the suggestions that they’ve grown accustomed to with conventional front-end designs on bikes.
When speaking to colleagues, we had a tough time agreeing on the precise subject, whereas a few of us describe as understeer – sluggish and imprecise when tipping right into a flip – others would complain about in points as soon as the bike was leaned over. It’s each, and it’s neither.
The truth is that the front-end of the Honda Gold Wing is absolutely good at muting a few of the noise and chatter that comes from the street, particularly when it’s bumpy terrain.
Dive throughout braking has virtually been eliminated (Honda engineered somewhat dive into the system, simply so we wouldn’t fully freak out), which is an fascinating balancing act contemplating how potent the brand new dual-six piston radial caliper are of their perform.
However, these good points have come at the price of much less suggestions, which is complicated even to probably the most veteran of riders. The extra miles you experience although, the extra that the language of the brand new Honda Gold Wing begins to make sense. Maybe even fluency is attainable.
It takes some time to achieve belief within the 2018 bike’s cornering capacity although, however the extra we demanded of the bike in tight corners, the extra it responded in form.
As one colleague informed me, the front-end is ok for a touring bike…he simply didn’t wish to see it one on a superbike anytime quickly. I might are likely to agree.
Different fast variations to level out is that the 2018 seat look visually greater, and is a little more stiff, although we most well-liked the earlier era’s contour and form, which felt extra comfy.
The driving place continues to be very upright and cozy, although the 2018 bike is way smoother when it comes to vibrations, particularly at greater engine rotations.
Six generations deep on the Gold Wing design transient, and for probably the most half our Honda Gold Wing Tour confirmed the refinements of its age.
DCT or Handbook?
The 2018 Honda Gold Wing debuts the third-generation of Honda’s dual-clutch transmission (DCT), which has quite a lot of enhancements, each within the mechanics of the way it works, and in how the software program runs it.
Extra apparently although is the truth that the DCT-equipped editions of the Honda Gold Wing sport a seventh gear, which drastically overdrives the 1,833cc six-cylinder engine.
Coupled to a slipper/help clutch, and the entire package deal is designed to be very clean, which is one thing you need on a touring bike, particularly when there’s a passenger on the again.
Right here is the one subject although: it’s actually not that clean…a minimum of not throughout deceleration, and that is the place I actually choose the handbook gearbox.
For well-traveled riders, the flexibility to rev-match gear modifications and feather the clutch vastly outpaces what the DCT field can do, which likes to tug the gears as you slowdown for one thing like at a cease mild.
This not solely creates its personal form of momentum lurch, however it is usually unnerving, especial when you’re laden with one other rider and baggage, and as you strategy practically 1,000 lbs of mass.
Equally throughout low-speed maneuvers, the lack to modulate the facility with the clutch turns into a problem with the moment torque that the Gold Wing throttle supplies, which makes low-speed car parking zone actions a bit furry, particularly through the honeymoon interval of studying the machine.
As soon as underway and on the street although, the DCT works as marketed, and the seven-speed gearbox simply smiles all day as you churn sub-2,000 rpm engine revs at freeway speeds.
My choice as you possibly can inform is for the handbook mannequin, however I can see the place less-experienced riders will discover robust worth within the “automated” transmission that comes with the DCT possibility.
Additionally, these with out a robust clutch-hand approach will most likely be much less put-off by not having that device of their motorcycling toolbox. So, your mileage might differ right here from mine. riders ought to positively attempt each choices at their native sellers earlier than making a call.
Neglect the Kitchen Sink
Once I think about transcontinental touring, I consider a Honda Gold Wing…and I consider it packed to the gills.
Honda says that the information suggests in any other case although, most journeys are weekend getaways, and as such the bags necessities that riders want are far smaller than what has been accessible previously.
This has result in a baggage quantity discount for the 2018 Honda Gold Wing, and even I used to be shocked by how little house the roomier Honda Gold Wing Tour has to supply. In actual fact, this could be the largest deal-breaker for potential 2018 homeowners. It actually offers me pause.
One helmet will match within the high field (50 liters). One customary, giant regular head helmet. Not two. Don’t even give it some thought within the panniers, which aren’t solely small (30 liters), however oddly formed.
Honda disagrees with this evaluation, and has a listing of helmets that can supposedly match. Don’t allow them to idiot on this account although.
There are alternatives for extra rack house, and there’ll seemingly be some intelligent aftermarket choices for Gold Wing riders, however for now, diehard Wingers should depart the kitchen sink at house, and maybe learn to pack a bit lighter than normal.
This might very properly be the explanation for why fifth-generation bikes gained’t be traded in for the 2018 mannequin, and it strikes me as an fascinating path for Honda to decide on with its design.
I feel Massive Crimson is in error right here, however I’ll be curious to see if the internet-hate materializes in an absence of gross sales.
Extra Tech, Much less Refinement
This brings me to my subsequent large gripe with the Honda Gold Wing, extra notably with the Honda Gold Wing Tour (which was the mannequin we spent our time on), in that the match and end of a few of the items is missing.
Any time we used a baggage case, we virtually all the time had to return and re-close it – i.e. slam it closed – so it could register as shut on the dashboard’s alert system.
The bags compartments have been very refined in how they opened, however have been downright crude in how they closed and stayed shut, which is simply odd to see.
It’s a little subject, however one which shouldn’t crop up on one thing so integral to what the Gold Wing is about…and it actually shouldn’t be the case when a $26,700 base value is hooked up to the bike.
The inverse was true of the extra pocket-sized storage areas on the Gold Wing. I don’t assume I received the cupboard space on the tank ever to open on the primary attempt, a budget and flimsy plastic latch all the time felt precisely as that, low-cost and flimsy.
I ought to add too that each painted panel had apparent orange peel within the paint high quality, which is disappointing to see on the flagship mannequin.
All that being mentioned, Honda has a accomplished an excellent job of bringing the Gold Wing into the present cutting-edge, and general the sprint’s TFT interface is intuitive and well-thought out.
Regardless of the button discount, the 2018 Honda Gold Wing Tour continues to be a bit crowded within the handlebars, however Honda has made a step in the suitable path, with good strides made in streamlining the design interface and rider interplay.
It must be famous that the 2018 Honda Gold Wing is the primary bike with Apple’s CarPlay suite, which has its personal flaws, however nonetheless brings some robust choices to bike fanatics.
My gripes listed below are extra of an Apple subject than a Honda subject, and it’s a must to give Massive Crimson credit score for realizing this rising development within the automotive house. As for enjoying with Android telephones, once more the difficulty appears to reside exterior of Honda’s fingers.
It’s refreshing to see that producers are lastly catching on that motorcyclists carry each day extra processing energy than their bikes possess, so it’s good to see them making the most of that truth with their car design. Kudos to Honda for being the primary on this house.
Nonetheless, I await the day when touchscreens and voice instructions are the de facto interface, and the one button is the “on” change.
So Would You Purchase It?
The $27,000 query after all is whether or not I might purchase a 2018 Honda Gold Wing, and I’ve to confess that after I first noticed the photographs of the brand new Honda Gold Wing and Honda Gold Wing Tour I used to be struck by its traces. This bike for grey-haired riders was interesting to my comparatively youthful self.
And whereas I’m not on the level in my bike evolution the place I might take into account an enormous touring bike, the brand new Gold Wing, particularly the Gold Wing Tour, can be on the high of my listing, with the BMW Okay1600 GTL a detailed second.
For me, the Honda wins out on being a bit lighter, and a bit simpler to manage.
BMW Motorrad most likely wins some factors within the refinement class, and that machine’s inline-six engine offers me the facility and torque that my sport-biker roots crave, however it’s simply no the entire package deal that Honda will get so near being.
As for the opposite manufacturers, they simply aren’t within the working as viable choices to my style….which might be why Honda does so properly with Gold Wing gross sales.
Hopefully it gained’t be one other 18 years earlier than we see the Honda Gold Wing line revised once more, however till that point, Honda has made a worthy successor to the model.
Slimmer, sleeker, and sportier, there’s a lot to love with the 2018 Honda Gold Wing. It can include some trade-offs and deal-breakers for sure riders, particularly the shortage of baggage house, however general the package deal is kind of potent.
In case you’re available in the market, we give the 2018 Honda Gold Wing excessive suggestions.
Photographs: Kevin Wing & Brian J. Nelson