What is it?
The Honda Gold Wing is a big touring motorcycle. It was introduced October 1974 and went on to become a popular model in North America, Western Europe and Australia. Over the course of its history, it has had numerous modifications to its design. In 1975 it had a 999 cc flat-four engine and in 2001 it was upgraded to a 1 832 cc flat-six. In 2010, the model had an adjustable wind-shield, a trunk, a backrest for the pillion rider, satellite navigation, an audio system, anti-lock braking, cruise control, electrically assisted reverse gear, and an optional airbag, none of which were present when it was introduced.
The Honda Gold Wing 2010 model, with its 1 832 cc flat-six cylinder engine delivers a very usable 88 kW. Maximum torque, 167 Nm, is reached at 4 000 r/min, while the maximum power is reached at 5 500 r/min. The bike carries its weight (a claimed 403 kg dry) very well. Power reaches the back wheel via shaft drive.
Style, instruments and equipment
The bike comes with a myriad of standard features. A factory-fitted, four-speaker surround sound system featuring FM/AM radio with RDS, a CD player and a MP3 player connection, which makes the longer trips an absolute pleasure. Heated grips and seats offer that little extra on cold morning trips, with the pillion having its own adjustment control (useful for preventing arguments with early-morning passengers). A novel feature is the heating vents, which allow the heat from the engine to be deflected to the rider, keeping the legs nice and comfy. Sadly, this feature does not extend to the passenger, who will have to be happy with just a seat warmer. The luggage carrier is large enough for the basics – a vanity case for the ladies will be catered for, with space for one or two other essentials.
A long list of optional extras is available for this bike and includes a factory-fitted GPS navigation system, voice communications system, and other goodies like an electrical screen adjust and even tyre pressure monitors. New for 2012 is the Honda airbag system, specifically designed for this bike. One of the best features on this bike is the little electric servo motor that allows a reverse gear. This comes in especially handy when parked in tight spaces and was something I used quite often.
The Honda delivers its power smoothly and without any effort. The power is generated at low revs and eliminates the need to shift down frequently. The five-speed gearbox is more than adequate and provides a positive gear shifting experience. Neutral is easy to find and changing up is effortless. One thing to note, when shifting down as one approaches a stop, some caution must be exercised, as I found that engine braking is not recommended with this bike. The rear wheel has the tendency to lock up under sudden downshifts. The brakes, both front and rear, are more than up to the task of stopping the big bike safely and quickly.
Ride and Handling
The overall ride and comfort of this bike is excellent and is the ideal weekend bike for a long ride. Very able on the twisty bits with decent handling for such a big bike. Lots of electronic goodies to keep you interested and involved (lean sensor comes on when you get too adventurous). The air-assist Telescopic forks allow 45 mm of travel and come with anti-dive technology built in, which gives a very decent stopping experience, even under heavy braking.
The seat height was a common observation point from many passers-by and at only 740 mm will suit most riders. Taller riders have commented that the seat may be uncomfortable on longer rides, with a very upright riding position. Honda would do well to look at optional foot rests as found on some of the competition’s bikes.
Like – I liked the comfort and luxury.
Dislike – Controlling the weight of the bike at slow speeds.
Verdict and Rating
A very competent machine for the open and long roads. Designed for two-up riding over vast distances. As a cruiser in a niche market this bike scores a solid 8/10.
Triumph Rocket III Touring, BMW K 1600 GTL, Harley Davidson Electra Glide, Kawasaki Vulcan 1700.
Specifications of the Honda GL 1800 Gold Wing (2011)
- Engine 1 832 cc, flat-six cylinder
- Gearbox 5-speed, sequential manual gearbox, shaft drive
- Power 88 kW @ 5 500 r/min
- Torque 167 Nm @ 4000 r/min
- Weight 403 kg dry
- Seat Height 740 mm
- Fuel Capacity 25 litres
- Fuel consumption 10 to 12 km on a litre, depending on the rider
- Tank range 300 km
- Warranty and Servicing 2-year warranty, with a 6 000 km service interval
- Price R229 900
- Review by Mukhtar Mukuddem, December 2011