Scooter sales are going through the roof at the moment. But now there’s some bigger and more expensive versions to test the loyalty of the twist and go set. And Honda’s new Silver Wing is one such example of this new breed of superscoots.
The bigger-engined scooters have virtually all the benefits of their smaller brothers, but have the distinct advantage of being able to venture out of town and cover longer distances with good speed and comfort. Don´t believe it? Chris Moss has ridden one back home all the way from Barcelona.
The comprehensive test of the Silver Wing started with an urban test round the congested streets of Barcelona. The Wing isn´t quite as agile and manageable through the maze of traffic as some smaller scooters, due to it’s size and weight. But in saying that it was preferable to any of the conventional motorcycles that Honda had also given us for our day out in town.
And not only was it better at dealing with the urban chaos than either the CBR600 and Super Blackbird we had the chance to ride alongside the Wing, it wasn´t that much slower than them away from the lights!
That shouldn´t have been too much of a surprise really, given the size of its motor. The 47bhp fuel-injected 600cc parallel twin provides an impressive turn of speed when you wind it up, and acceleration is strong enough to stay respectably close to the sportier tackle up to around 50mph. Give it time and, as our run into the city along the motorway showed, and it´ll soon register over a hundred miles per hour on the speedo. Absolute maximum is around 110mph, and cruising at the ton is easily possible. With this sort of performance, suddenly the prospect of riding around 1200 miles didn´t seem so daunting after all.
Sure enough, after just a couple of hours into the massive journey the following day the Wing proved there was no need to worry about its ability to do the job, and do it in fine style.
Flashing car drivers to get them out of the outside lane at over the ton showed it certainly had the speed. And the startled look on their faces as you went past certainly made keeping the Wing´s throttle open worthwhile.
The entertainment value of the scoot was underlined further when we left the motorway to tackle some twistier and more interesting roads. Powering down backroads, past the beautiful mountains in the Monserrat region of Spain at high speed was easy on the Wing. Good suspension, strong and progressive linked brakes, and grippy rubber combine to keep the scooter in shape and make it capable of some pretty rapid cornering.
Now a word of warning here. Although the Wing can, in the right hands, handle well enough to embarrass even some sports bikes, care is needed at times. If you´re not careful how you set it up before you change direction, or are a bit sudden when you do, the Wing can start to weave gently. This can get a bit serious when you´re flat out, and would make the inexperienced rider feel a bit nervous.
Honda is aware of the handling quirk and is looking into finding a solution. I personally think it´s suspension related and shouldn´t pose too much of a problem to sort out.
Ironically a full blown race on some very tight and twisty roads in the mountains with some of the others in the group produced no such worries. When everything is under pressure the Wing does what you ask of it and can get over to some serious angles.
Stability in these circumstances is fine, and the linked brakes do a great job of knocking off speed as soon as you need to. Only the left hand lever links front and rear discs, the one on the right hand bar powers the front caliper only. It´s a good arrangement and one that Honda might be advised to fit on their CBS-equipped sportsbikes. It might stem some of the criticism from riders who want a bit more control of the front and rear brake bias, rather than having a system to do it for them.
As the day wore on and we headed for Andorra the light started to fail making views of the superb scenery in this area hard to appreciate. But that couldn´t be said of the road ahead, and highlighted the brilliance of the scoot´s headlight. Maintaining the loony pace at night wasn´t a problem such was the power of the searchlight-standard lighting.
Arriving at the tax haven of Andorra gave us a chance to stock up on cheap booze and fags at a fuel stop. And the quarter price produce wasn´t difficult to carry with all the luggage space on offer.
The amount of fuel the Wing was using was slightly alarming though. Returning mpg figures in the high thirties, giving a range of around 120 miles didn´t impress too much. Though it should be noted that we weren´t riding them in a manner most buyers will. And backing off from continual full throttle will undoubtedly reduce the rate of consumption to as much as 50mpg.
The long ride to Andorra hadn´t damaged the body as much as the wallet though, and I felt as fresh as I when I´d started as I checked in to the hotel. The roomy riding position which allows you to move your legs from the conventional to a feet forward position. The protection for the fairing and screen. And the ultra plush sofa-like king and queen seat obviously had done a great job at keeping any aches and pains at bay.
The following days travelling gave just as much satisfaction and helped form the opinion that the Wing really can be used for long distance touring with ease. And a quick blat round Paris again underlined the many virtues it has in town.
Overall the Honda Silverwing has to be regarded as one of the very best all-rounders on the market. It can do what most bikes can do, but is much more practical, comfortable and easier to use (especially in town) than any of them.
It´s only real arguable handicap is its price. Over £6000 is a hell of a lot of money to shell out for a scooter. But though it probably won´t appeal to your average biker, car drivers fed up with time wasting traffic jams, who need more speed than your average scooter to commute from a little further out of town, could be converted. Certainly a run from somewhere like Guildford to the City would suit the Silver Wing perfectly. It would be a great choice for the emergency services or couriers.
Only time will tell if this new breed of superscoot will catch on – it certainly deserves to. Far more people could take advantage of the Silver Wing than they´d expect. It´s a great machine which you need to try to fully appreciate. I´m glad I did.
Get Honda motorbike insurance for the honda silverwing.
Engine……….Liquid-cooled DOHC parallel twin, 8 valve four-stroke, cc 582
Claimed power (bhp)……….47bhp @ 7,500 rpm
Transmission……….V-Matic belt drive
Front suspension……….41mm telescopic forks, no adjustment
Rear suspension……….twin telescopic shocks, adjustable for pre-load
Front brake……….single 256mm disc, three-piston CBS caliper
Rear brake……….single 220mm disc, twin piston caliper
Top speed……….110 mph
Fuel capacity……….16 litres
Current price……….£6245 (otr)