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All-new 2018 Honda Gold Wing: five shades of ultimate tourer

All-new 2018 Honda Gold Wing: five shades of ultimate tourer

2018-Honda-Gold-Wing-Review-by-Chicago-NewsWhen you think about longer trips on two wheels or daily commuting that takes more than an hour one way, you think about Honda Gold Wing. The new generation has been redesigned from the ground up to bring you more technology, comfort, and necessary upgrades.

You can pick and choose five different trim levels and just a few colors. It all starts from $23,5K MSRP price tag and you can easily option one to $35K, which would include dual clutch transmission and airbags. Honda Gold Wing is powered by a liquid-cooled 1833cc 6-cylinder engine that’s producing 118HP and 123 lb-ft of torque.

2018-Honda-Gold-Wing-Review-by-Chicago-News4Looks: touring, yet sophisticated

In my opinion, styling-wise the Honda Gold Wing looks absolutely unique because of the Honda/Acura style headlights that we all know from the manufacturer’s four-wheel lineup. Plus, the Gold Wing has the most beautiful taillights! Our test bike, 2018 Honda Gold Wing Tour with DCT, was presented in the beautiful Candy Ardent Red.

Located on the perfect spot even for taller riders, side mirrors help you to understand how much space you need to fit in between the lines with your saddlebags while you’re lane-splitting. A lot of thought has been put into aerodynamics, and with the taller adjustable windscreen, you can ride 70 MPH with an open wiser. A very major change has been done to the front fork that almost completely eliminates “nose dive-in” on the newer models thanks to the new double-wishbone front suspension.

Being mostly on sports bikes before, my first thought while riding a bike without the clutch lever was, “Is there something missing? Broken?!” Until you try one, you won’t understand why the whole world has been “broken.” Just think about it: this dual-clutch 7-speed transmission makes your life easier, allowing you to stop at the red light and let your hands off the handlebars. The bike won’t go anywhere. No need to hold the brake. No need to shift to neutral or try to quickly get to first gear when someone behind you feels they’re on a drag strip.  You can enjoy the world without the clutch lever because you’re riding a touring bike that’s been built for comfort, and DCT in this case delivers.

With 118 horsepower, 2018 Honda Gold Wing has got enough up its sleeve to keep you excited. It’s properly quick and very responsive. Honda-like power delivery won’t let you down no matter how much experience on two wheels you have.

2018-Honda-Gold-Wing-Review-by-Chicago-News3Tech: Apple CarPlay is just the beginning

As you get on the all-new Gold Wing, you spot the very car-like dash with huge navigation screen on the middle and two smaller screens left and right. Giant tach and speedo upfront, which are easy to read even if you catch sunlight behind your back. 

If you’re an iPhone user, you’ve got absolutely lucky since you can use Apple CarPlay and avoid the slow-loading built-in navigation. Open the top pocket and plug/charge your cell phone. Don’t forget that Honda wants your iPhone to be comfy so they invented this plush foam where you can store almost any cell phone without bouncing it around. Using Bluetooth, you can still stream your music from any device and take calls through built-in speakers and microphone. I really liked the fact that the music automatically gets louder when you go fast and even when you’ve got easy-to-use controls on the left, it’s still rare that you have to be worried about loud playing sounds when you stop at the red light.

ABS works like a charm. Squeeze the brakes as hard as you can and stop two times faster than you would even anticipate on a bike that weighs over 830 lbs. The Gold Wing goes straight when you brake hard, giving you a lot of confidence when you need it. Traction control, on the other side, is a bit sluggish. When you’re pulling from the side of the road (gravel or wet surface), it does take a second for traction to understand that your rear slipped, and cut the power.

The feature we absolutely loved was keyless. No ignition. You will never forget your bike with the key in it. Just come by with your key fob and all the bags/trunk will be open, so as soon as you twist the knob – it’s ready to roll. You stop, pull the “handbrake,” twist the “ignition knob,” and your steering gets locked. You haven’t ridden the bike enough if you never left yours with the key in it at least once, so keyless is an absolute must-have on any bike.

2018-Honda-Gold-Wing-Review-by-Chicago-News6Two more features that put the Gold Wing aside as the true ultimate tourer are heated seats and heated grips. You have a separate heater with six settings for the grips, as well as the one for the seats for you and your passenger. With Honda Gold Wing, you can enjoy those “beautiful Chicago winters” properly. It makes so much heat that with the proper tires and gear you can ride in any weather conditions. The only minor issue that we found material quality-wise is that our test unit had a little “wiggle” on the throttle grip.

Turn signal auto-cancel doesn’t sound like a hi-tech feature but works well and deserves to be mentioned. There are also four ride modes available: Tour, Sport, Rain, and Econ. We found that most of them are useless since the bike feels right all day / any day on the Tour mode unless you’re planning “to take off” using the Sport mode. You can further customize your riding experience with the settings menu on the main screen, and pick rear suspension preload using four different modes: Rider, Rider+Cargo, Rider+Passenger, Rider+Passenger+Cargo).

2018-Honda-Gold-Wing-Review-by-Chicago-News7Usability: all you get with a car, plus a fresh air

When your mother-in-law tells you that going for weekly grocery shopping on two wheels is a bad idea you tell her “it’s a cargo machine” and to prove it, take her with you. Backrest-trunk can take up to “20 pounds” and you can even fit (if you try a bit harder) two full-size helmets there.  Going grocery shopping we’ve ended up with $100 spent on different food items, having one saddlebag and top trunk packed with groceries. Look at the photographic evidence – I know it’s hard to believe how much we were able to fit in. It was even harder to believe when we approached the bike with the full shopping cart. But hey, it wasn’t the maximum load for this bike by any stretch, which means that your potential here is almost unlimited.

2018-Honda-Gold-Wing-Review-by-Chicago-News5Ride like you mean it!

The all-new Honda Gold Wing doesn’t only handle great, it’s fun to ride, too. Having 200/55-16 on the rear allows you to lean more than your foot pegs would typically let you. Every corner you go faster and faster. My main excuse, “I was working on my chicken stripes.” In reality, though, I was simply having a blast because Honda Gold Wing is so good that it’s not only able to handle long distances but also likes to be on the twisty roads whenever you want it.

The only one minor issue we found through all the time we spent with the bike is that the clutch had a “glitch” that could even stall the bike or award you with the “punch.” It happened only a few times during our 1000-mile ride, mostly on the parking lot when you’re approaching a complete stop, and right before your wheels stop spinning you twist your throttle and get it. It could be an issue of the test unit, or it could be DCT programming that gets “confused” for a second. But it’s there and we hope this minor thing would be completely eliminated in the next year or two.

Confession

At first, I was skeptical about riding the bike with DCT, and after 1000 miles that we’ve put during three weeks we spent with the Gold Wing I have to confess it’s been only enjoyment that did change my “grandpa-stereotypes” about cruisers.

We did really enjoy having butter-smooth forward/reverse mode, which doesn’t let the bike go fast when you’re backing up on a driveway, allowing you to easily maneuver. Very well done and thought-out – features like this make your everyday life easier, especially when you’re talking about a bigger cruiser. 

To sum up, the 2018 Honda Gold Wing is the ultimate touring machine that allows you to change your everyday-on-two-wheels habits and even might easily replace your car. Yes, it’s getting to the point where it can cost more than an “average small sedan,” but at the same time, it also gives you so much more fun and excitement that it’s definitely worth it. The all-new Honda Gold Wing makes even routine everyday tasks something that you can truly enjoy.