Honda shrinks further expands its ultimate touring motorcycle
Honda is working on a new long-term vision plan. It’s nicknamed “Vision 2030” and reflects Honda’s aggressive pursuit of vehicle electrification and autonomous technology. These plans aren’t just for its four-wheeled vehicles, as the development of an electric scooter and a self-balancing motorcycle recently made headlines for the Japanese automaker. Even more exciting is how this technology will improve existing Honda motorcycles, including the all-new Honda Gold Wing 2018 which made its world debut last week.
According to company representatives, the 2018 Gold Wing “will serve as the flagship of our next-generation motorcycle lineup.” The company says it recognizes the important role motorcycles have played in Honda history and is committed to the powerful relationship the Gold Wing has created with so many of its customers. He also knows that the key to his future is to introduce Honda to the next generation of bikers. The new 2018 Gold Wing has two essential missions: attracting existing Gold Wing pilots while reaching out to new, younger pilots. Based on what we learned at the global launch, the combination of performance and technological pedigree of the new Gold Wing should easily bridge that gap.
Performance, as defined by a touring motorcycle like the Honda Gold Wing, isn’t limited to horsepower and acceleration figures. The Gold Wing GL 1000 was first introduced in 1975 as Honda’s Best Touring Motorcycle, and it earned that reputation by delivering a comfortable and reliable ownership experience (in addition to its performance pedigree). Heavily influenced by the American market, the Gold Wing has often debuted with Honda’s latest motorcycle technology, including a stereo intercom system, anti-dive braking, self-leveling suspension, reduction audio system. Dolby noise, anti-lock brakes, in-dash navigation, heated grips and the world’s first motorcycle airbag.
The 2018 Honda Gold Wing is the first complete model redesign in 16 years. The comprehensive nature of this redesign resulted in an improvement in every aspect of the Gold Wing spec chart. It’s lost over 80 pounds, or about 10 percent of its total curb weight, while the horizontally opposed 1,833cc six-cylinder engine benefits from a host of efficiency and performance improvements, including four valves per cylinder (instead of two) and internal friction reduction. The new engine is paired with a 6-speed manual transmission or an optional 7-speed (automatic) dual-clutch transmission (DCT). Both are lighter and more fuel efficient than last year’s Gold Wing transmissions, allowing Honda to reduce fuel capacity by 1.1 gallons without affecting the motorcycle’s total cruising range.
All of these weight reduction efforts would have improved the performance of the Gold Wing without a suspension redesign, but Honda still revamped the bike’s chassis and shocks. The new front suspension uses a unique design to reduce road shocks that travel to the handlebars by 30%. The double wishbone design reduces weight and allows the wheel to move vertically instead of the diagonal movement of most motorcycle front wheels. This design allowed engineers to bring the engine and rider closer to the front, further improving steering response and overall handling.
We haven’t used the new 2018 Gold Wing yet, but the weight reduction, advanced suspension design, and improved engine performance all suggest a drastic performance improvement. Does this mean that the Gold Wing is no longer a grand tourer? Not according to Honda reps, who told us that the bike’s lighter weight and smaller fairing didn’t reduce wind protection and rider (or passenger) comfort at all. In fact, with its new electrically adjustable damping technology, the top-of-the-line Gold Wing Tour 2018 models can quickly be placed in one of four suspension settings depending on the load (pilot, pilot + luggage, pilot + passenger, pilot + passenger + luggage). The standard Gold Wing model allows manual adjustment of the rear suspension.
These weight-oriented modes are in addition to the four driving modes which can be changed according to the expected driving conditions. Modes include Tour, Sport, Econ and Rain, each setting adjusting the Gold Wing’s cable throttle response, transmission programming (on DCT models), suspension damping (on Gold models) Wing Tour) and brake pressure. Gold Wing Tour models also feature a torque control setting to handle rear wheel slip in varying road conditions.
To ensure that the 2018 Gold Wing’s technical pedigree holds up to even the most tech-obsessed bikers and reaches this next generation of bikers, Honda has added a phalanx of advanced standard and optional features. Expected items like saddlebags, ABS and cruise control are joined by a 7 inch digital display screen with navigation, smart key, hill start assist, LED lighting, windshield electrically adjustable and Apple CarPlay (yes, it’s still called that on the Gold Wing motorcycle). These are all standard on the base model starting at $ 23,500, while the Gold Wing DCT adds the 7-speed automatic for $ 24,700.
The Gold Wing Tour starts at $ 26,700 and adds an overhead storage compartment behind the passenger seat, a taller power windshield, front and rear speakers, and electronically adjustable suspension. The DCT brings the price up to $ 27,700, and for buyers who appreciate Honda’s efforts to put airbag technology into a motorcycle, the Gold Wing Tour DCT Airbag model tops out at $ 31,500. As a motorcyclist for 35 years, I have never seen anything like the 2018 Honda Gold Wing. It has managed to move away from the bulky “two-wheeled car” design (and weight) that doesn’t mate. never really rained. This version is more like the Honda sport-touring of the 1990s (I’ve always loved this ST100), but it should offer even more comfort over long distances and more luxury equipment than previous Gold Wings. To indicate where Honda is heading, the 2018 Goldwing suggests a future of fun and Functionality.