MotorcycleDaily.com – Motorcycle News, Editorials, Product Reviews and Bike Reviews

Motorcycle News, Editorials, Product Reviews and Bike Reviews

  • March 25, 2013
  • Dirck Edge
  • Chris Rubino / Willy Ivins
  • 66 Comments

MD Ride Review: 2013 Honda Gold Wing F6B

Several months ago, I was at a Honda event involving the unveiling of several new models, including the trio of new 500cc twins. One of the bikes rolled out that night was the bike you see here, Honda’s 2013 Gold Wing F6B. Quite frankly, my reaction was very negative when I saw the bike. I couldn’t understand what Honda was trying to do by taking a Gold Wing platform, chopping the windshield, dropping the rear trunk, and giving the chassis a blacked-out treatment. The styling seemed all wrong, and I couldn’t imagine what customer base Honda was aiming at.

Now that I have ridden the F6B for a few weeks, parked it and watched the reaction of onlookers, and reminded myself of the almost physics-deifying combination of this engine and chassis (enhanced by the lighter weight and lower center of gravity versus the standard Gold Wing) my attitude has changed significantly.

The 1832cc six-cylinder Gold Wing engine found in the F6B represents a benchmark in motorcycling. If you have never experienced the seamless, turbine-like power output of this marvel, you are missing a unique and important piece of the motorcycling experience. The engine configuration is entirely unique in motorcycling (a flat, opposed six), but it is more than that. The huge displacement and uncanny smoothness combine to deliver an effortlessness in acceleration unlike anything else on the market. No, it is not as fast through the quarter-mile as a modern sport bike (even a 600), but it has that mountain moving torque found in a big turbo diesel truck that shrugs off just about any amount of weight placed on it.

The placement of the engine low in the chassis, with the crank configured longitudinally, contributes to the remarkable handling the Gold Wing is well known for. Removing the high-placed weight of the trunk and passenger backrest structure only increases the nimble nature of the machine,

The F6B, of course, also comes with that amazing rider and passenger seat refined by Honda over decades to complement long-distance touring. I can’t think of a more comfortable rider seat, and two separate passengers fell in love with the rear seat accommodations (only asking for the optional backrest, which is standard on the Deluxe model). Again, not a surprise given the origin of this platform.

What is a surprise is styling. That cut-down windscreen and low-slung rear end completely change the character of the Gold Wing into something … well … something. You are now piloting a bike that Harley-Davidson riders will wave at, and sport bike riders will ignore. That sort of something.

But you are also piloting a machine that will leave traditional v-twin cruisers for dead, certainly in a straight line, and more often than not through the corners, as well.

Either 62 pounds or 91 pounds lighter than the full-dress Gold Wing (depending on which Gold Wing model you are comparing it to), the F6B is still a massive and heavy machine at a claimed curb weight of 842 pounds. Together with an extraordinarily long wheelbase, that surprisingly nimble handling is coupled with freight-train like stability in a straight line.

The suspension is just as refined as the seating. Only rear preload is adjustable, but the big brute soaks up bumps in a way few other motorcycles can, without feeling too soft when being pushed hard through corners.

The transmission is a five-speed, with an overdrive. If ever a motorcycle needed only five speeds, this is it. You could probably get by with three speeds. Power builds swiftly and smoothly from just above idle, and long, winding country roads are frequently a one-gear affair.

Instrumentation is thorough and legible, but the audio controls on the backside of the left fairing are dated, and not easily accessible once underway. The bike does come with MP3/iPod connectivity.

The integrated saddlebags are very large, although we could only get a large, full face helmet into the left bag. The bags are also waterproof. A glove box to the left of the instrument panel is included.

We tested the standard F6B, but it is also available in a Deluxe model that includes a passenger backrest, center stand, self-canceling turn signals and heated grips. Neither model includes a reverse gear, unlike the full-dress Gold Wing, so be careful where you park.

The styling of the bike is self-evident, and includes blacked-out chassis and fairing panels, complemented by either black or red bodywork. The cut-down windscreen is also an important styling element/statement. It is also a functional compromise.

Every rider that tested the F6B complained about wind buffeting at the helmet level on the freeway, which is simply something you give up in exchange for the Shorty Windshield look that has become so popular. Nevertheless, this was the bike in our test fleet that everybody wanted to ride on longer freeway trips. The power, stability, suspension compliance and overall comfort were something that no other bike we had available could compete with … short windscreen notwithstanding.

Styling is always subjective, but we were surprised by how many independent observers like the styling of this new Honda. Even some sport bike enthusiasts thought it looked cool, and certainly understood the performance advantages of the unique engine configuration that comes along with this style package.

Everything about this bike, from the brakes to the transmission, is overbuilt and designed to handle the huge loads Gold Wing owners throw at this chassis. Two-up riding with luggage while pulling a trailer? Those types of loads. On the F6B, the brakes are enormously powerful and offer good feel. This is a linked braking system, so front brake gives you a little rear brake, and vice-versa. Not surprisingly, it works seamlessly.

Although I have to admit I am still not sure who the target customer is, we had a blast riding the Gold Wing F6B, and if you like the styling, I don’t think you can find an alternative with the same level of comfort, performance and proven reliability.  We averaged 37 mpg, so the 6.6 gallon fuel tank offers plenty of range.

You can find the Gold Wing F6B at your dealer now for $19,999 or $20,999 for the Deluxe model.  Visit Honda’s web site for additional details.

66 Comments

  1. Bill says:

    Just got a red delux… Two words… Love it….

  2. Jack says:

    I would have never considered a Goldwing (my name isn’t Peepaw), until I saw this bike. Really cool!

  3. Provologna says:

    Dirk,
    Please comment vs. the inline-6 cylinder BMW: overall riding experience, motor torque/power/smoothness/effortlessness, etc.

  4. Larry says:

    So what’s the difference between this and a Miata?

  5. Mike says:

    Add this to Hondas long list of recent bikes that do not sell…..including but are not limited to: DN-01, VFR1200, VC700 that had no definable market segment……and …….the CB1100 which is only 10 years late to that market segment

    One has to applaud Honda Engineering on the F6B Goldwing variant… for finding a creative alternative on not having a push button windscreen adjustment!!!!

    Honda has so lost their way!!!!

    • Jeremy in TX says:

      I can’t think of a single manufacturer that hasn’t introduced some bonehead products into the market, though I would agree that Honda seems to produce more than most. They have also produced some of the biggest motorcycling milestones as well such as the Honda Cub, CB750, Gold Wing, CB900RR and VFR750/800. Perhaps Honda has more strikeouts than most because they swing for the fences more often looking for the next big thing. Maybe the new new 500’s will generate that same kind of market success?

      • Mike says:

        Thank you for your reply.

        My response is Honda seldom swings for the fence on any new bike since Mr. Honda died.

        Reason: Honda is now a car and home implement company ….this is the reason Hondas worldwide advertisements seldom show motorcycles. Simple as that…..

        This also explains why Honda seems to always finish closer to the bottom by intent… thanthe top of most performance bike comparison tests. One could only imagine the turmoil at Honda when a video of a stock Honda sport bike on the LA Freeway at 200mph goes viral…..ohhhh the inhumanity of it for all Honda Corporate Management and especially current and future car owners or investors.

        Your list of the five (5) Hondas motorcycle milestones spans 45 years! We all know there are a few more to add to this list…..but my view is there should be far more……..and just for the record most of the bikes on your list were started development when Mr. Honda was alive

        My view is Honda has produced more bikes that do not sell than any other company by intent and and for the reasons stated. Open my wallet for a new Honda………maybe………but not likely.

    • Provologna says:

      Have to agree with you about the CB1100, which would have been far more irresistible 10-15 years ago…

      • mickey says:

        From. What I have read so far, Honda dealers are selling every CB1100 they get, usually before it hits the floor, and in most of the country its not even riding season yet. Bet other manufacturers wish they had failures like that

  6. Bob says:

    Thats a real bike honda is going to sell and not some movie prop from the next batman movie?!

    • Mike says:

      My bet is it will not sell……and will only be offered by Honda in America for 2-3 years……..4 at the most.

      Want to give me odds on this?

  7. Tim Dawson says:

    Beautiful dream bike, but I looked at the F6B and was dismayed by the lack of cruise control. It should be std on this bike, but it’s not even available as an option. I would have purchased the deluxe version, but they took too much off. I would have liked all the items they removed as options. So, I’m still looking.

  8. Dryfly says:

    Honda, give me one with all the options that you stripped off to keep the price down and I’m a buyer. Until then, I’ll keep on look’n.

  9. marty j says:

    the reverse gear is removed, you have to pay extra for the self cancelling turn signals, centerstand, heated grips, the electronic adj rear shock preload is gone, you can not get cruise control, or navigation, the 12 volt acc plug is an extra. I am suprised that the tires are not an extra too. what a deal honda.

    • Mike says:

      Bean counters and attorneys now help manage Hondas motorcycle efforts and this is supported by all of Honda Corporate Management that views the company as a car and home implement company.

      You want most of the options you stated look elsewhere………

  10. kirk66 says:

    Honestly, I would own one. I have a KLR that I love and this would split the difference between tour and sport-tour for me. Doesn’t every rider need more than one bike?

  11. goose says:

    I’ve had a journey similar to Dirk’s and I’ve never even seen one of these things. At first I thought it was a really stupid idea and the bike was ugly. After some time and some reading I’ve decided I was wrong, it is a pretty cool idea and good job by Honda of making a minimal number of changes and producing a bike that looks and, from my reading, works very differently from the big ‘Wing.

    I hope Honda sells a ton of them. I could almost see one in my garage, almost.

    BTW, I’ve had a lot of fun chasing a Goldwing on a very tight road (Kern Canyon, California SR178). Sure, I got by him and took off but it took longer than I though it would and was way more fun than I would have thought. The same bike with less weight would be even more fun.

    Goose

  12. Doc says:

    Had a Street Glide and loved it. Alot of buffeting from the wind deflector though, so I bought a Roadking. Looked at this bike at the dealer and think it’s cool. Why? Why not! If I win the lottery I would park one of these next to my new 1100F.

  13. dabimf says:

    I had to sell my Valkyrie and hoped some day Honda would bring it back with the 1800 motor in it. I’d buy one of those in a heart beat.

    • paul246 says:

      I also had a Valkyrie, and loved it. But, I can guarantee that this bike has a far superior chassis to that of the Valkyrie. The 1800 Goldwing is an incredibly fast and agile machine… looks are VERY deceiving.

    • Eric says:

      Yeah man – I had a Valky as well.. nice ride, but a bit too sparky in the corners :-) Looks like this one may have a better lean angle for more fun up in the mountains.. Now, if I can only find a second job for my wife so I can get one :-)

  14. ducatidon says:

    The comment above about making the part they took off (passenger throne)detachable and available separately was a good idea. Then I could buy this bike now and add that later for more serious two-up tourning. A lot of Goldwind forum members complain about the disappointing front suspension (all guts in one leg only). Sharp-edged bumps were quite uncomfortable on the hands when riding my 2010.

  15. Ziggy says:

    Most of the bikes I own or favor are light hooligan style rides and admittedly I have little time or mercy for bikes outside that cannon EXCEPT for the Gold Wing, which, is truly one of the greatest motorcycles on the planet. I thought they were for flabby old farts until I rode one – no words can describe how amazing they are for any rider with an above average skill set. Thanks Honda, this is hands-down the best bike in your line up, and that’s coming from a dedicated ultralight motard fiend!

  16. Jeremy in TX says:

    This just goes to show you how hard it is to look cool in an Aerostich. :-)

  17. Harry says:

    I would like to ride this, a Y. FJ1300a and R.S. Venture S, BMW K1600GT, K. Concours 1400, S. GSX1250FA, and H. CB1100 and a T. Rocket III Series motorcycle for comparison. All 4 or 6 cyl. no 2 cyl. Next test would include all 2 cyl rides (to many to list). Then test winner from 4-6 cyl group vs. 2 cyl group. Call this the comfort shootout.

  18. Vrooom says:

    People love the Goldwing, I don’t personally get it but know quite a few who do. Every time I ride their bikes I think it handles well for a 900 lb. bike, but it doesn’t compare to a sub 500 lbs. bike, which they all seem to think it does (handles like a Ducati Panigale one of my friends likes to say). As long as it makes them happy, and it does, then that’s cool and this will sell too.

    • Norm G. says:

      re: “People love the Goldwing”

      there is a whole store/dealership (or at least used to be?) dedicated to goldwings in north kackalack. i swear, i’ve been there. 12’s, 15’s, 18’s, trike conversions you name it. the only thing they were missing was an original 1000. and who knows, maybe the owner was out riding it…? :)

  19. Erol says:

    I agree with a previous comment, make the windshield electronically adjustable (similar to my ST1300) Or better yet, maybe it could slide up from within the cowling?

  20. Auphliam says:

    “I couldn’t understand what Honda was trying to do by taking a Gold Wing platform, chopping the windshield, dropping the rear trunk, and giving the chassis a blacked-out treatment. The styling seemed all wrong, and I couldn’t imagine what customer base Honda was aiming at.”

    Seriously? Had you not seen the “bagger” entries from every other big bike manufacturer over the last 2-3 years?

    I like it. Alot, actually. Speaking as somebody that owns a full on touring equipped bike (Victory CCT), one thing that was a huge selling point was the ease with which I could transform it to a more suitable short run bike. I don’t need nor do I want all the gadgets, full wind protection and a tour pack when I’m just out running a few hundred miles on some backroads.

  21. Dave G says:

    Nothing wrong with tweaking a proven platform to suit other purposes. If the bike keeps more of those loud Harley’s off the road I’m all for it..

  22. Eric says:

    I like it.. Sat on one at the local Int’l Mcy Show last month, and it was very comfortable. I’ll have to wait a few years until they come down in price (and I pay off my second Strom) ;-)

  23. takehikes says:

    Honda almost got it right…that motor is a hell of a piece now if they would unbolt all that crap…fairing, bags etc, strip it down and then you would have something very different and very interesting to me. I’ve seen a few original Wing’s done that way and they are quite the hot rod. Personally no one can get me to cough up $20k for any bike…..well except me $100 at a time on my chopper build!

    • pistoldave says:

      “if they would unbolt all that crap…fairing, bags etc, strip it down and then you would have something very different”

      I believe Honda has already done this, it was called the Valkyrie. Really cool bike imo. I always heard that Honda killed off the Valk to concentrate on their V-Twin lineup, who knows, but I sure hated to see it go.

  24. PN says:

    I don’t understand the negative comments. I think Honda hit a huge home run with this bike. The Harley bagger (the most popular H-D bike) crowd has no reason to stay with The Motor Company anymore when the GWing is so much faster, smoother, reliable, and I’ll say it, cooler. I don’t happen to ride cruisers, but this GWing looks like a lot of fun. Who wouldn’t enjoy it?

    • Norm G. says:

      re: “The Harley bagger (the most popular H-D bike) crowd has no reason to stay with The Motor Company anymore when the GWing is so much faster, smoother, reliable, and I’ll say it, cooler.”

      if one is truly in the bagger crowd…? none of the items you mention will ring true. such is the brand equity of HD.

    • Jim says:

      Couldn’t agree with you more. I think this particular model will help rejuvinate the sales of a whole lot of struggling dealerships out there. As others have commented, if Honda engineers incorporate a high-tech adjustable windshield that doesn’t compromise the looks of the bike, I think this model will find a whole lot of Harley and Victory bagger types checking out the local Honda store for their next ride.

  25. Agent55 says:

    What the s*** is Honda thinking? Oh wait, Honda stopped thinking clearly years ago.

  26. allworld says:

    It may expand the Goldwing market share, but it just isn’t my style bike. At 842lbs, I believe is less than the HD Sposter 48 and much nicer to ride. How does this compare to the BMW K1600 GT or GTL?

  27. Gronde says:

    It looks like a cross between a Victory Vision and a Harley StreetGlide. I see some folks are already wanting to raise the screen, add a reverse gear, add a top box (as I’m sure some owners will do) and then you’re back to being an ordinary Goldwing again. Just buy a StreetGlide and be done with it!

    • ovationdave says:

      But, at the end of it all, you still have a Harley. A big negative in my book. Whats not to like here? The only issue is, Harley purists won’t want it, Goldwing purists won’t want it, but who cares, some people will (I do). I know they don’t think they can win over the HD bagger crowd, but they may create their own following.

  28. Wendy says:

    $20k oh, glorious day.

  29. mugwump says:

    If, when this comes out, Honda follows the model that Kawasaki did when the C-14 came out, the quick update based on real world rider use, this could sew up this genre.

  30. Richard says:

    I think I heard it doesn’t have a reverse. Could that get you in trouble with a bike this large?

    • Max Wellian says:

      It’s not such a great idea to park bikes facing downhill without a locking kickstand anyway. There are plenty of other guys around with tanks that don’t have reverse. That would be the least of my issues. No cruise control or ABS is not impressive. Add those and make provisions to attach a trunk as needed (ala Victory Vision) and the job will be complete.

    • MGNorge says:

      The reverse was a convenience, not a necessity.

  31. kjazz says:

    Would it have been so difficult to make the windscreen electrically variable from the shown position up to an addition 6 – 8 inches….? That would be a cool thing.

    • Norm G. says:

      re: “Would it have been so difficult to make the windscreen electrically variable from the shown position up to an addition 6 – 8 inches….? That would be a cool thing.”

      but then what tall windscreen option would the dealer have to sell you from the accessories catalog…? :)

  32. Phil says:

    Great review, love the pictures, keep them coming!

  33. stinkywheels says:

    I think it looks like a Goldwing I would think about riding. Harley Streetglide comes to mind. That’s their biggest seller and Honda is gonna do well to catch some of that market. I’m still kickin’ myself for not gettin’ a Valkyre when I had the chance. I wish they’d bring that back. Even though the Wing has lots of power, I’m sure there’s more in there, easily found.

  34. Chris says:

    Though I like what I see and can attest to the abilities of the engine and platform, I would prefer the resurrection of the Valkyrie. In any case, way to go Honda.

  35. Michael H says:

    Nice job, Honda. You’ll sell a lot of these to riders who want the ‘bagger’ look, but not the v-twin configuration.

    If I could wave a wand over the design, I’d offer a brighter color choice. Think of this bike in a version of the CB1100 color scheme. Maybe add chrome wheels. It could work.

    • Norm G. says:

      re: “If I could wave a wand over the design, I’d offer a brighter color choice. Think of this bike in a version of the CB1100 color scheme. Maybe add chrome wheels. It could work.”

      prolly roll that out next model year. i think for now, the effect they’re going for is having a certain george thorogood riff pop in your head when you first lay eyes on it.

  36. Gary says:

    Pavarotti in a Speedo swim suit. He sings great but he’s still fat and unlikely to make the swim team.

  37. Larry says:

    I really want to like this model. Then I saw one in the wild. Honda design studios have finally produced something that makes the Rune look good (the Dn-01 is still the low mark). If you need to impress the Harley crowd, this will certainly do it.

  38. HotDog says:

    As my riding buddy says, “Put on a taller windshield, a tail trunk and you’d have a great touring machine!” (OK, enough boos). I put 100K+ on a 18Wing and they haul ass! The mechanical platform is solid as hell and this machine is beautiful in the flesh. Honda will sell a bunch of these.

  39. John Bryan says:

    If Honda can translate the F6B look to the CTX700 platform it would make an interesting stablemate for the stripped down Wing.

  40. ROXX says:

    The yellow and grey riding suit is very distracting from the bike.

  41. Gabe says:

    Chris Rubino takes great photos!

  42. mickey says:

    I think that would be a hoot to ride. Jay… they make highway pegs for Goldwings that would bolt right on there if you felt the need to stretch your legs out. The flat 6 1800 cc motor is unbelievable, and a proven commodity. The target audience would be guys who like the looks of a bagger, but want one with more power, civility, fuel range, and reliability than is currently available in the market. If I were in the market for a bagger, I would look no further.

  43. Jay says:

    I get a cramp in my leg just looking at the rider in the fourth photo down. The flat six blocks forward movement of the foot. After a few hundred miles, it has to hurt. How do you stretch out your legs? I don’t think you do.

    • joe b says:

      well, its like getting in a car. there is no room above your legs to lift them, and stretch them out. but it seems you never need to have that room.
      its the same with the GW or the F6B, you dont need to?
      its a non issue.

  44. Norm G. says:

    the rider should in the first pic should have a cape, huge gauntlet gloves, and a vader mask.