Well, the rumors were true. Honda has updated the Gold Wing for 2018 – and the makeover is an impressive one! While we’re pretty sure that some of the nuts and bolts used in the previous generation made the transition, the rest of the motorcycle is brand spanking new. Honda’s stated goal for the upgrade was to use the restyle and improved performance to attract more than just the Gold Wing faithful and put to rest the myth that Wings are just for old riders. Well, the styling is certainly more aggressive, and the bike looks decidedly more swoopy. Losing eight inches of front-facing width can do that for a motorcycle. There’s so much that’s changed on the Gold Wing that we thought we should make a cheat sheet for you to peruse.
What used to be a single model has become a line – or family – with the announcement of the 2018 models. The traditional Wing with a trunk has become the Gold Wing Tour, while the trunkless F6B is now the standard Gold Wing. Aside from the trunk, there are some other differences. The standard is blacked out for a sportier look, and the Tour gets more chrome. Functionally, the Tour also has electronic suspension adjustment, where the standard makes do with manual adjustments.
All the Gold Wing’s electronics were updated. The switchgear is back-lit and has been rethought. The dash is a completely new layout with a 7-inch TFT display as its centerpiece. Just sitting in the cockpit will impress you with how well laid out the controls are for operation while on the move. The Gold Wing is also the first motorcycle to incorporate Apple’s CarPlay system, while Android Auto is in the works. Riders who like to communicate with their passengers can now do so via Bluetooth – so no more dangly wires! Riders who use CB radios will be happy to know that a CB is a factory option.
All Gold Wing models come with GPS units as standard equipment. However, folks who have dealt with the expense of GPS map upgrades will be stoked when they learn that Honda will provide 10 years of GPS map updates with every Gold Wing. Now, your trips will be able to include the latest additions to our country’s road systems.
With keyless operation, you no longer have to fumble into your pockets after you’ve got your gloves on. Just walk up to the Gold Wing and turn the ignition knob. There’s not even a key slot for the ignition! The luggage opens electronically at the push of a button if the key fob is within range. The key fob also has a clever on/off feature that allows you to turn it off when situations require that you be within range but you want to make sure nobody can open the bags or start the engine. Finally, there’s a physical key inside the fob that will allow you to unlock the bags via a secret key slot hidden on the bike. After that, you can input a code to start the engine should the fob ever fail you while you are out on the road.
Honda spent tons of time improving the flow of air over the rider and passenger. One way this was accomplished was by moving the rider closer to the windscreen – which allows for the use of a smaller screen to offer wind protection. Second, airflow ducts assist in the flow of air into the cockpit. The windscreen is now electrically adjustable, allowing for riders to alter wind protection as the riding environment changes. The end result is a bike that has its aerodynamic drag improved by 11.8%.
Honda thinks everyone would benefit from using the third-generation Dual Clutch Transmission (DCT), but not everyone agrees with the engineers. So, riders are given a choice of a 6-speed manual transmission or a 7-speed DCT. Both have the same final drive ratio, allowing the Wing’s engine to loaf along at highway speeds. However, in addition to the smoother shifting, the 7-speed DCT should give more spirited acceleration – thanks to more closely spaced gears. Also, the DCT has a new forward and reverse Walking Mode to make maneuvering into and out of parking spaces much easier. Non-DCT Wings offer electrically assisted reverse.
With a claimed weight of 833 pounds for the Gold Wing Tour, the motorcycle isn’t light, but in the development of the new Gold Wing, 90 pounds of weight vanished! (To be fair, though, about 7 lbs. comes from the 1.1 gallons less fuel that the Wing carries in 2018, so the weight loss is closer to 80 pounds.) For example, the starter and generator are included in the same unit for compact packaging and weight savings. Mass centralization also helped to move the weight bias more forward on the chassis to improve the Wing’s handling.
The GL1800 now displaces 1833cc, but that bump in displacement and the additional 5 hp Honda claims the engine makes aren’t the whole story. The engine now has just one 50mm throttle body and features four-valve heads. So, while Honda hasn’t specified particulars, we expect the bottom-end and mid-range to be more responsive to throttle inputs, which will affect the bulk of the time riders spend in the saddle and not just when they twist the throttle to the stop. The greater fuel efficiency of the engine means that Honda could reduce the tank size to 5.5 gallons (down 1.1 gal.) and maintain the same range as with the larger fuel cell.
The Gold Wing’s front suspension is now handled by a double-wishbone suspension instead of a traditional telescopic fork. Consequently, front-end dive will be greatly reduced while braking. Additionally, the double-wishbone design eliminates much of the stiction of a telescopic fork, making road irregularities transfer a claimed 30% less force to the grips. Honda also claims that a 40% reduction in inertial mass of the components translates into easier steering. Finally, since bumps are now absorbed in an up and down fashion instead of up and back towards the chassis, as with a telescopic fork, the engine was moved closer to the front wheel further improving the weight bias.
How many of us can say that we perform better than ever after 43 years of existence? Well, although we haven’t sampled the new Gold Wings, we expect the new models to be a significant improvement in performance, comfort, and fuel economy from the previous generation. The Gold Wing is still Honda’s flagship model, and the newest iteration looks to be the best yet and worthy of carrying the name into the foreseeable future.