Honda’s decision to introduce the next Gold Wing at the Wolf Museum of Exploration and Innovation (MOXI) was a not-so-subtle hint about what the next bike is all about. My personal highlights? The newest Wing is full of technology and it weighs 90 pounds less than the last model. Read on for the details.
When it boils down to it, there are ~265k Gold Wings still out on the road right now. Honda’s got a loyal fanbase, they’ve made changes that make sense, and they’re going to sell a bunch as soon as they’re available in February 2018. I’m not cool enough to get seat time on one yet (Honda’s only got pre-production examples at the moment) but they shared an absolute ton of information. It’s a little inside baseball, but I need to take a moment to commend Honda for providing the most information I’ve ever received after an event like this. There’s almost too much, and I don’t want to just regurgitate 500 pages of press release specifications that you could find on Honda’s site. With that in mind, here are my highlights. I tried to answer all of your questions in the comments of my “What Do You Want To Know” post, but if the below triggers additional questions then just ask away!
Bye Bye, F6B
The split between bagger and dresser lives on but Honda is changing up the nomenclature for this generation. What used to be the F6B (shorter windscreen, no trunk) is now the Gold Wing. What used to be the Gold Wing is the now the Gold Wing Tour. In addition to the trunk with built in speakers and the taller windscreen, stepping up to the Tour gets you automatic preload adjustment, electric damping-adjust, center stand, heated grips, and HSTC (Honda Selectable Torque Control, or what normal people call traction control).
In total, there are 5 models, 2 Gold Wings and 3 Gold Wing Tours:
– Gold Wing: $23,500 – $23,800
– Gold Wing DCT: $24,700 – $25,000
The Gold Wing is available in Candy Ardent Red, Matte Majestic Silver, or Pearl Stallion Brown:
– Gold Wing Tour: $26,700 – $27,200
– Gold Wing Tour DCT: $27,700 – $28,200
– Gold Wing Tour DCT Airbag: $31,500. Note that you cannot get the airbag with a manual transmission.
The Gold Wing Tour is available in Candy Ardent Red, Pearl White, or Pearl Hawkseye Blue. The Airbag variant is only available in Candy Ardent Red/Black:
Make a Wish
Previous generations of the big Wing have had issues with steering head bearings. That won’t be a problem any more because Honda’s now using a double-wishbone suspension up front – so now fancier things can break! On a serious note, this yields plenty of advantages – fork dive while braking is significantly reduced, impact forces are better absorbed (Honda says you’ll feel 30% less of the impact now), and there’s less inertial mass of components controlled by the handlebars (Honda claims a 40% reduction) so you don’t need to put as much effort in to manipulate the bars.
Another bonus is that the new system ensures that the suspension stroke is entirely vertical (as opposed to up and in). Because of that, Honda has been able to move the drivetrain forward. The rider and passenger are now 36mm forward as well, and all of that means more weight over the front wheel and improved handling.
The rear suspension is more conventional: Honda’s Pro-Link system is paired with a Showa shock. On the Gold Wing Tour, front and rear damping are electronically controlled and linked to one of four ride modes (Rain, Econ, Tour, Sport). Preload is also electrically-adjustable and it corresponds to another four settings (Rider, Rider with Luggage, Rider and Passenger, Rider and Passenger with Luggage). On the base Gold Wing, you’ll have to do it by yourself, you pleb.
Thanks to a long list of updates, Honda has put the Gold Wing on a 90 pound diet. Colin Chapman would be proud. Well, sort of proud – it still weighs 833 pounds (The Airbag model is 842 and the base Gold Wing is 787). They were able to shave weight out of some major components:
– The starter motor and associated wiring have been eliminated, which saves 5.3 pounds. Honda has somehow been able to combine the starter and generator into an ISG (Integrated Starter Generator). It leads to the quietest starting procedure I’ve heard on a ICE motor.
– The ABS system lost 2.9 pounds.
– The engine is 13.7 pounds lighter. It’s still a flat 6 that displaces about 1,800cc (1,833 to be exact), but don’t think this is the same engine. A smaller bore (73mm), new crankshaft, and Unicam valve train with 4 valves per cylinder mean fuel economy is improved by 20%. It makes similar output numbers as the previous gen but all I’ve seen so far is a dyno chart which shows a slight power bump and a flatter torque curve. Spurgeon from RevZilla spoke with a Honda employee who said that the new motor makes about 6 additional peak horsepower.
Your transmission options are a 6-speed manual or the newest generation of Honda’s DCT – in this application it has 7 speeds. Both options get reverse, but the DCT has a Walking Mode that can go forward or reverse.
In the grand scheme of things, the reduced fuel capacity isn’t really a big deal. A potentially bigger (or in this case, “smaller”) problem for those of you that like to tour 2-up is the luggage. In the process of making the bike slimmer, Honda has reduced the total luggage capacity to 110 liters (from 150). The two saddlebags are 30 liters each and the top trunk is 50 liters. There’s also a small pocket in the fairing and an empty space where the airbag would go if you don’t get the top of the line model.
Honda themselves admit that they “may have lost some customers in the past due to [a lack of] technology.” That will no longer be the case, because the list of included tech this time around is borderline madness.
A lot of it is just playing catch up to the rest of the market – throttle-by-wire, electronic cruise control, LED lighting, smart key, 4 riding maps, traction control, Hill Start Assist, assist/slipper clutch (20% lighter pull), electric-assist windscreen, tire pressure monitor system, and a 7″ TFT display with embedded navigation and 10 years of free updates. Don’t worry – a CB radio is still optional. Seeing as people joke that the Gold Wing might as well be a car, it seems only fitting that this is the first motorcycle to incorporate Apple’s CarPlay. Looks like Apple’s going to have to change the name! For those of you with an iPhone (and a bluetooth headset), this means you have an integrated way to listen to your music, get navigation information, or use Siri.
Back in June, Honda announced their plan for the next decade with their “2030 Vision.” It came up again when Honda’s project lead for the Gold Wing shared his thoughts on his creation, and he summed it up as “using technology to help people in their daily lives.” The new Gold Wing sure is packed with features to keep the next several years of buyers happy – but the world of motorcycling technology moves quickly and Honda won’t be able to wait another 18 years to release the next generation if they want their bike to stay relevant.
So, what does it all mean?
My biggest takeaway from the night was that Honda is trying to attract younger buyers to the Gold Wing family. They told us as much several times during the launch event, but I think the best example is what Honda plans on showing the world. Here’s one of the ads that you’ll be seeing soon – I apologize in advance for the music:
Honda’s targeting 3 categories of motorcyclists this time around – the quarter-million existing Gold Wing owners, returning owners who “maybe got tired of waiting for something new”, and experienced riders that are new to touring and have a “preconceived notion of what a Gold Wing is.” In fact, Honda was so concerned about attracting new riders and shedding the ‘land yacht’ reputation that they apparently considered not using the Gold Wing name this time around.
On paper, I think the new Gold Wing is a winner. I’m hoping Honda will send one my way in the next couple of months so that I can add riding impressions to the above thoughts. Until then, we’ll just have to chat among ourselves, so I’ll start it off: what surprised you most? Are you considering buying one?
Photos from Honda and Kevin Wing. Cover photo by Spurgeon Dunbar.