Totally restyled from the wheels up, the new Honda Gold Wing is sharper, more compact and lighter; its monumental flat six-cylinder engine now features 4-valves per cylinder and comes equipped with Throttle By Wire, 4 riding modes, Honda Selectable Torque Control and Hill Start Assist. The new chassis features an aluminum beam frame, double wishbone front suspension and single-sided Pro-Arm – damping is electrically adjustable, as is rear spring preload. An electric screen, Smart Key and Apple CarPlay are also standard equipment. An entirely new, third generation of Honda’s unique Dual Clutch Transmission – with seven speeds – will also be available.
Since its introduction as a naked 1000cc machine in 1975, the Honda Gold Wing, has always been the ultimate in two-wheeled travel. It’s a motorcycle that’s been very much on its own journey, growing in physical size and displacement over the decades, all the while creating an enduring and unrivalled reputation for luxury, quality and comfort.
Now, in response to the evolutions of demographics and the motorcycle market, the development team, in charge of the bike’s future, has decided on a radical departure from what would be a traditional update trajectory.
So for 2018 the GL1800 Gold Wing takes a new direction and is brand new from the wheels-up. It still has an evocative, flat six-cylinder engine that delivers an avalanche of torque and power, and it still remains Honda’s flagship premium tourer, loaded with features that allow two people to ride in style. Yet it’s smaller, much lighter and much more agile – very much a true ‘rider’s motorcycle’.
As a result the new Gold Wing’s appeal is broader, reaching out to a younger generation of motorcyclists that may have overlooked – or simply not been aware of – the previous design. As happy on an urban commute as it is the open road, the Gold Wing is now a bike for all reasons, rather than just one.
Sharing a common engine and chassis platform, the new ‘Wing will be available as the base model GL1800 Gold Wing, and as a ‘Tour’ edition with top box, which will also offer a version equipped with DCT and air bag. Depending on the variant, up to 48kg has been saved compared to the previous model. The engine and chassis have been designed together, to move the riding position forward and create a much more compact motorcycle. The aluminum beam frame is constructed around the link front fork, which allows the engine to come further forward – as the front wheel moves up and down in a more vertical plane – while providing high-quality suspension control and front-end stability thanks to its stiffness and reduced friction. Suspension damping can also be adjusted electrically.
Optimized for size, the new flat six-cylinder engine has lost none of its power, torque and addictive delivery. Throttle By Wire has been added, with 4 rider modes; TOUR, SPORT, ECON and RAIN. Honda Selectable Torque Control (HSTC) maintains rear wheel traction while the suspension damping and Combined Brake System (CBS) alter depending on mode selected. Hill Start Assist (HSA) and Idling Stop add ease of use and improve fuel efficiency.
The manual transmission is now 6-speed, while the new Dual Clutch Transmission (DCT) features 7-speeds, with clutch feel, shift speed and rpm range of up/downshifts tailored specifically to each riding mode. It also features a creep forward and back function. The manual machine employs the same reverse system as the previous design. Above all, a totally new sense of freedom can be found on the 2018 Gold Wing, with a step change in sheer riding enjoyment. The performance improvement is matched by even greater levels of relaxation: the stylish, aerodynamically-efficient fairing channels air around the rider and the electric screen adjusts for preference; the seats provide all-day comfort. New features like the smart key system, Apple CarPlay and Bluetooth connectivity bring even more convenience.
Much thought went into the Gold Wing’s paint finish. The upper bodywork features deeper tone color, with thick clear-coat complemented by seats finished in high-quality, high-grain materials. The lower body is highlighted with vivid textures that make a strong visual statement. The color options available include: GL1800 Gold Wing in Candy Argent Red, GL1800 Gold Wing ‘Tour’ – in Candy Argent Red, GL1800 Gold Wing ‘Tour’ with DCT & air bag in Candy Argent Red/Darkness Black and Darkness Black metallic
From a seating perspective rider and pillion are separated, much like the old model – the rider can enjoy riding the bike, while the pillion can sit back and enjoy the ride. The rider’s seat shape is comfortable and supportive while allowing movement – to enjoy the Gold Wing’s new dynamic – and easy ground reach. All lighting is LED. The lower portion of the headlights, use 5 polished optical lenses on both sides to create a Jewel-Eye low beam light signature. Using high beam (in the upper portion) creates a stereoscopic impression. The front indicators are housed in the mirrors and the indicators also auto-cancel; the system compares front and rear wheel speed difference and calculates when to cancel the indication relative to the riding situation.
The new Gold Wing’s cruise control too has evolved; the speed that’s been set with the cruise control switch (located on the right handlebar) is now shown in the bottom left area of the speedometer. Before designing the luggage Honda took out research to see just how owners were using their Gold Wings. And that intelligence led to the decision to reduce the total luggage volume as most were ridden for shorter, 2-3 day tours, with no need to carry larger amounts.
Capacity of the fuel tank is 4 liters less at 21 liters. But as the new Gold Wing is so much lighter and more aerodynamic, improved fuel economy of 50.4 mpg means tank range is similar to the previous design. To realize the handling ambitions of the new chassis the 1,833cc engine too has been redrawn. Still as a horizontally-opposed flat six, but now with four valves per cylinder rather than two, much more compact in size and 6.2kg lighter.
Peak power of 125bhp arrives @ 5,500rpm, with peak torque of 170Nm delivered @ 4,500rpm. The bore size of 73mm (from 74mm) has been optimized to stroke of 73mm and bore pitch shortened 9mm; the left and right cylinders are offset 4mm and the cylinder sleeves are now aluminum. Compression ratio is set at 10.5:1.