The ultimate long distance luxury tourer from Honda – first produced in 1975 – that has gone on to become a legend – is the Gold Wing. The motorbike with a monumental six cylinder engine, unparalleled levels of rider and passenger comfort, imposing presence and all-round equipment and specification make it a motorcycle like none other.
Machines come and go in the motorcycling world. Times change, as do riders and their expectations but since 1975, this is the definitive bike in the Honda range that has stood the test of time – the Gold Wing. It’s evolved, of course, but just as it was originally, it remains one of the most special experiences available on two wheels. Many riders are addicted to its avalanche of turbine-like torque, or its sheer handling poise at low or high speed. Some revel in its mileage-munching ability, carrying capacity and all-day two-up comfort. But all will agree on one thing – there really is nothing else quite like a Honda Gold Wing.
The Honda Gold Wing has always stood alone. A six-cylinder, 1500cc overhaul in 1987 saw the Gold Wing once again state its intent and purpose to benchmark the ultimate touring machine. The Gold Wing GL1800 which debuted in 2001, after eight years of intensive research and development, added further dynamic ability and riding enjoyment to the Gold Wing’s repertoire. The box-section aluminum frame delivered stability and accurate steering at speed. It also worked with the unique flat-six engine to keep the center of gravity low – a key factor in the bike’s excellent low-speed balance and agility, which made twisting mountain roads or busy city streets a pleasure to negotiate.
Just as the engine enjoys a legendary reputation for reliability, so the rest of the machine is finished to the very highest standards, with outstanding build quality and paint finish. The core appeal of the Gold Wing remains its unique ability to make long-distance travel a truly rewarding and enjoyable experience. A visual update in 2011 – with improved luggage capacity – under the style concept of majestic aggression perfected a look that is at once elegant, imposing and vibrant.
The Gold Wing’s front fairing features a strong diagonal styling element that accentuates the strong lines of the twin-spar frame, running down the sides of the bike from the headlights to the pannier cases. The result is a dynamic look with sharp surfaces and sleek forms, sculpted by Computational Flow Dynamics for reduced buffeting for rider and pillion.
Total luggage capacity is 150 liters and the shape of the rear of the machine actively contributes to aerodynamic stability. A vehicle moving at speed naturally creates an area of negative pressure behind it. By better managing the movement of air over and through the rear of the bike, this negative pressure is reduced, increasing stability.
The seat is one of the most important features of a touring motorcycle and the Gold Wing’s has always excelled when it comes to day-long comfort. The shape of the seat wraps around the passenger, creating the sensation of complete comfort and security. A urethane seat material increases comfort, while the weather proof cover is perforated for a sporty look. Seat height of 740mm gives accessible ground reach.
The 2016 year model GL1800 Gold Wing is available in four color options: pearl glare white, candy prominence red, Altair silver metallic and an elegant new metallic color featuring blacked-out engine, frame, forks and rims with a two-tone heavy grey metallic.
The bike comes with a SRS CS Auto 6-speaker 80W surround-sound system offering superb sound presence and quality. This system delivers high quality stereo technology. The engine room is a powerful 80-watts-per-channel amplifier capable of delivering clear, crisp sound, even at motorway speeds. The amp powers a full complement of six speakers, with two rear speakers, two front speakers and two tweeters. The result is a rich and full surround sound experience through either the speaker system or the optional headsets. In addition the RDS radio allows easy access to radio stations via the integrated handlebar controls. The audio system is compatible with iPod, iPhone and USB memory sticks, meaning riders can play MP3, WMA and AAC music files on the go. The system is fully integrated giving full device control through the handlebars and displaying music file information on the main display.
The handily placed front pocket has 2.8 liters storage space. It is ideal for storing sunglasses, wallets and mobile phones while on the move. The bike also has five-position heated grips and independently adjustable heated seats to make touring a year-round possibility. The foot-warming system channels engine-heated air over the rider’s feet and is controlled by a fairing-mounted lever. The slow-speed, electric reverse system is engaged with the simple push of the thumb control on the right handlebar. It also offers a lightweight electronic cruise-control system utilizes a 16-bit ECU-based, motor-actuated throttle mechanism.
A simple yet ingenious ratchet windscreen-adjustment system provides six settings over nearly 100mm of travel. The manually operated adjustable and closeable windscreen vent routes fresh air to the rider’s face or chest.
The bike has a 2-valve six-cylinder engine which is unique in motorcycling and the perfect long-distance ally. Its layout minimizes engine vibration and helps create a low center of gravity, reducing rider fatigue at speed and making the bike easy to handle at walking pace. At the same time the large displacement gives exceptional power and torque, especially in the midrange. Bore and stroke is set at 74mm x 71mm, with compression ratio of 9.8:1. Peak torque of 167Nm is delivered at just 4,000rpm, with power output of 87kW @ 5,500rpm.
The engine’s power is transmitted to the rear wheel through a five-speed gearbox spinning the opposite way to the engine’s crankshaft. This cancels out the side-to-side torque reaction effect generated by longitudinally mounted engines. Fifth gear is an overdrive, offering very low cruising revs on a long haul for optimized comfort and reduced fuel consumption. Shaft final drive means no messy chain lubrication or adjustment.
The Gold Wing is fitted with Honda’s Dual Combined ABS. The Combined element of the system links the front and rear brakes to deliver the perfect balance of braking effort, whether the rider uses the front brake lever or the rear foot brake for high levels of deceleration in all situations.