Honda say its new GL1800 Gold Wing is a radical departure from the current bike and all-new from the ground-up, and looking at it you’d have to agree that it most certainly is.
That’s some claim for a 43-year-old icon which started back in 1975 as a naked, 1000cc tourer before building an international reputation as the world’s best long-distance tourer.
But, compared to the outgoing bike, the new Gold Wing weighs in some claimed 48kg lighter (minus its Tour model top box), features a glorious new 1833cc six-cylinder motor making 125bhp, and comes with a host of new technology including Apple Car Play for the first time ever on a motorcycle, and all-new styling and comfort.
The new Gold Wing also gets traction control, riding modes, a new double wishbone front fork, and is claimed to be an entirely smaller and lighter, more agile motorcycle.
Here’s a few things you need to know about the new Honda Gold Wing that we gleaned from tonight’s press conference.
We’ll be riding the bike over the next few days in Texas, USA, so make sure you come back and read our first full test. Got that! But for now, here’s some of the bike’s highlights.
The new Gold Wing takes on a more youthful face and is designed as a motorcycle not just for the big weekend tour, but also something that you can commute on, or just ride daily for pleasure. It was never originally designed as a touring bike when the first one landed in 1975 as a naked, flat four-cylinder 1000cc motorcycle, but riders soon started fitting aftermarket fairings to it which ultimately lead to the GL1100 and the start of the Gold Wing’s touring dynasty from to GL1200, GL1500 and the more recent GL1800, all of them representing a lifestyle that only Gold Wing riders get. See our separate history feature here!
THREE VERSIONS IN UK:
There are four versions of the new Gold Wing launched, but only three will come to the UK. The bagger style standard bike isn’t coming to the UK. Instead, we get the Gold Wing Tour and GoldWing Tour DCT. An Airbag version is also available.
AERODYNAMICS AND SEATING POSITION:
The Gold Wing is a lot narrower than the old one, and rather than the old feeling of air going over the top of the rider and pushing you forwards, the new bike uses modern aerodynamics to flow air over and above the rider, depending on the position of the screen. It’s 11.8 per cent more aerodynamically efficient and comes with an electrically adjustable screen for the first time. The handlebars are further forward, the rider sits 36mm further forward, and the footrests are further back.
Honda say research suggests most Gold Wing riders only do weekend tours, not big week-long adventures so they have cut luggage capacity down to 110 litres. There’s still enough room in the top box to get two full face helmets in. All the luggage is operated remotely.
The flat six motor makes 125bhp, has better throttle response and torque at initial throttle openings, and is lighter, smaller and now available with a 7-speed third generation DCT (Dual Clutch Transmission) for the first time on a Wing, with a walking mode, and reverse.
The motor uses a Unicam valve train (like the MX bikes), features 4-valves per cylinder and is extra efficient. The tank range is the same, but it’s 1.1 litres smaller at 21-litres.
Honda say the motor itself 13.7lb lighter thanks to thinner crankshaft, aluminium cylinder sleeves. An integrated starter motor cutting down on wiring which saves 5.3lb.
The exhausts have been tuned for a deeper exhaust note, and also add to the weight saving.
Honda’s new Gold Wing features multiple riding modes including Tour, Sport, Eco and Rain. There’s also Honda selectable torque control, hill start assist, cruise control, and ride by wire throttle.
An airbag version is available, and for the first time on a motorcycle, the dash can link with Apple’s CarPlay system so you can hook your phone in, plus make use of its music, and mapping functions through the full-colour TFT screen. Navigation is standard on the Gold Wing. It also uses keyless ignition. There are four speakers and Bluetooth connectivity as standard for the sound system.
The chassis is all-new and, yes, you guessed it, combined with the new single-sided swingarm it’s lighter than the outgoing one by 4.4lb. It’s more compact, and Honda claims the new handling and chassis improves ride quality and improves the balance between stability and manoeuvrability. There’s a new double wishbone front end which improves the reduction in shock by 30 per cent, and improves inertial mass by 40 per cent. At the rear there’s a Showa shock which, like the front, is electronically adjustable depending on load and riding style.
Like the rest of the new 2018 Gold Wing, the brakes get a serious upgrade with 320mm front brake discs and new 6-piston radially mounted calipers, some improvement from the 3-piston brakes that used to try and haul up the behemoth old bike! Of course, there’s ABS and the new lighter system saves 2.9lb from the old ABS modulator.
Riding and owning a Gold Wing is about lifestyle, making a statement and showing that your bike is your own. Because of that, the new Gold Wing features a host of accessories that upgrade the already well stacked machine. On the official accessories list there’s everything from LED fog lights, a CB radio, chrome brake caliper covers, a DCT foot shifter kit, rear rack, passenger arm rests and a chrome top box pack, to name but a few.
Stay with us as we ride the new Honda Gold Wing on tour over the next couple of days.