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Motorcycle News, Editorials, Product Reviews and Bike Reviews

  • March 28, 2018
  • Dirck Edge
  • Chris Rubino and Dirck Edge

2018 Honda Gold Wing Tour DCT: MD Ride Review

We have now put approximately 1,500 miles on our 2018 Honda Gold Wing Tour DCT test unit. This is our final report on this model, and follows our report from the press launch, as well as an initial report on our longer-term test unit.

If you want to see all of the detailed specifications, as well as the different models offered by Honda in the Gold Wing family, take a look here. The model we tested is the “Tour” version that includes a top case with integrated passenger backrest, taller electrically adjustable windscreen, both front and rear speakers, and electrically adjustable suspension.

Our test bike also features the DCT automatic transmission, and carries the suggested U.S. retail price of $27,700. Other models in the new Gold Wing lineup include standard versions without the top case and other “Tour” features, as well as manual transmission models. Gold Wing prices range from $23,500 up to $31,500 for the airbag-equipped Tour DCT model.

Without going through all the changes for 2018, which are covered in detail in earlier articles, let’s focus on a few of the major new features. To begin with, the bikes are lighter than the outgoing models, in some cases close to 100 pounds lighter.

These are the first Gold Wings with an available 7-speed DCT automatic transmission, which includes a “walking mode” forward and reverse. The other big, new feature is the double wishbone front suspension system that replaces the traditional telescopic fork found on the older model.

Available this year is an electrically adjustable suspension system that allows the rider to scroll through four different options, including rider alone, rider + luggage, rider + passenger, and rider + passenger and luggage. A new brake system includes radial mount,  six-piston dual front brake calipers. The brakes feature ABS, of course.

A whole host of entertainment and navigation features are also built into the new Gold Wing. We won’t go through all of those, but note here that the system is compatible with Apple CarPlay, and allows Bluetooth connection with virtually any cell phone. The rider can easily set up communication/music systems to play through a Bluetooth helmet speaker system, and even integrate voice commands from a helmet microphone. Not necessarily revolutionary features, but new to the Gold Wing line. Honda has set up a web site devoted to instructional videos to train riders to use the various Gold Wing features. You may want to take a look at it here.

The engine is the familiar flat six displacing 1,833cc. The engine has been revised, however, and is nearly 14 pounds lighter when equipped with the 6-speed manual transmission, and is shorter, which allowed Honda to place it forward of the position in the prior model to improve weight distribution. Cylinder bore has been reduced, and changes made to the crankshaft and cam system. Efforts were also made to reduce friction within the engine.

Honda claims that the lighter Gold Wing, together with “enhanced vehicle aerodynamics” have improved fuel efficiency. This is a good thing, given that the fuel tank capacity is down by 1.1 gallons versus the older model (now 5.5 gallons). Although we saw north of 50 mpg while cruising on the highway, over the course of our entire test (including what we would consider very aggressive riding) we averaged 38 mpg.

We decided to test a DCT model, because our readers are certainly familiar with traditional, manual transmissions on motorcycles. The DCT installed on the Goldwing is a 7-speed unit that includes four different modes selectable by the rider, including the default Tour mode, as well as Sport, Econ and Rain modes. Our test bike included not only the top case, but integrated, non-removable saddlebags, and a small compartment above the gas tank, forward of the rider’s seat. There is also a very small compartment integrated into the right side of the fairing forward of the rider’s right knee, which is where the fuel cap access button is located.

We took several long rides on the Gold Wing, and have logged close to 1,500 miles. Our initial impression regarding seat comfort was reinforced. The rider’s seat is extremely comfortable, and supportive. Honda has found that magic balance that keeps a rider comfortable after several hours in the saddle. The ergonomics as a whole include a comfortable rider triangle with generous legroom and a relatively short reach to the upright bars. Our test rider is 5′ 11″ tall, for reference, but we expect the Gold Wing would be comfortable for riders of various heights, and this was certainly a design goal of Honda.

Nearly all of the controls, and options, are available from the hand grips. A new rider will need some time to familiarize himself with all of the features found on the new Gold Wing, but we can report that, eventually, controlling them from the hand grips is relatively easy and intuitive. The navigation system, for example, works well and allows the rider to easily input destinations, and save favorites, just like any other competent navigation system would.

The walking mode forward and reverse is also easy to select and use. Reverse comes in handy, for sure, on a motorcycle this large and heavy. We were able to reverse the Gold Wing up a steep driveway, so it offers plenty of torque for normal parking stalls, for instance.

The 6 cylinder engine is remarkable, for several reasons. First of all, it is extremely flexible – offering a broad, flat plateau of torque with good response from very low RPM levels all the way to redline at 6,000 rpm. It has power everywhere, and is largely unaffected by passenger and luggage loads. It is also extremely smooth, and vibration is never an issue for either the rider or the passenger on the new Gold Wing.

The engine offers good passing power, even at higher speeds. In the default Tour mode, the transmission seems to select taller gears for fuel economy reasons, while remaining reasonably responsive when a downshift is called for. Frankly, we wish the transmission response was a bit more consistent in Tour mode, as it seems to downshift quickly, at times, and at other times seems to be less responsive to the needs of the rider for a downshift.

Tour mode seems to work well for most circumstances, but Sport mode is where the fun is. In Sport mode, the transmission holds a gear longer, and downshifts much more quickly on corner entry, for instance. In Sport mode, you are reminded just how quick this Gold Wing engine is. Likely quicker than the older model with the weight reduction.

While in Sport mode, we rode some twisty roads with sportbike-mounted companions and had little trouble keeping up. The new Gold Wing changes directions relatively easily, and has very good grip through corners. Once you are used to the size, and mass of the bike, it can blitz through canyon roads with surprising agility, and pace.

As we stated earlier, the saddlebags are not removable. The trunk is not removable, either. The size and shape of these luggage compartments is generous, compared to most classes of motorcycle, but falls behind some of the recent luxury tourers we have tested. With a little effort, we were able to fit two large full face helmets in the trunk, however  (see picture). We doubt you could fit any size full face helmet in either side case. We were not able to do so.

The stereo system, which included two front speakers and two rear speakers on our Tour model, has a very large range of volume adjustments, and was able to pick up radio signals in our area that we found too weak for some of the automobiles we drive, surprisingly. The rear speakers allow your passenger to enjoy the entertainment.

Passenger seat accommodations are generous and comfortable, although the seat is a bit slippery, and some passengers may find the integrated hand grips below the seat in a less-than-ideal position when riding with an aggressive pilot.

The brakes are simply phenomenal. Given the size and weight of the motorcycle, the front brake, in particular, offers a surprising level of power and feel. The large tires, and correspondingly large contact patches, certainly come into play here, but we can’t imagine a more effective braking system on a large, luxury tourer than the system found on the new Gold Wing.

Frankly, we wanted to like, and recommend, the DCT transmission on the new Gold Wing, but come away a bit ambivalent. Having experienced a DCT transmission on other Honda models, we know that several generations of this system have shown improvement. On the Gold Wing, it is a bit of a mixed bag.

Low-speed handling on a big luxury tourer is always important, particularly when a passenger and luggage are part of the equation. The DCT transmission, particularly in Sport mode, can be a bit abrupt when you open the throttle at very low speeds. As an example, when making a tight u-turn, the bike can jump a bit, and it can be difficult for the rider to smooth things out without a clutch.

Once moving at a speed above 5 miles-per-hour, or so, the DCT is pretty smooth when opening the throttle in Tour mode, but can still feel a bit jumpy in Sport mode until higher speeds.

The Econ and Rain modes soften throttle response significantly, and, frankly, we didn’t do a lot of testing in these modes. We can say that Econ mode certainly keeps rpm levels low, although acceleration can be a bit sluggish because the bike becomes very reluctant to downshift.

Suspension compliance is close to perfect. The new fork responds to small and large bumps, and hard edges, as well as any fork we can recall. The shock also seems to respond well, and balance the bike properly with the new fork. The feel from the front end can be a bit strange, at first, for riders used to telescopic forks, but it is something we quickly became accustomed to and posed no issues, handling or otherwise.

The new fork resists diving under heavy braking, and this contributes to the high rating we give to the braking system, as a whole. Suspension balance on the Gold Wing, front-to-rear, is important to low-speed handling, so a rider should be prepared to experiment with the four, available suspension settings on the electronically adjustable models. Our 210 pound test rider preferred to ride solo with the suspension set in the rider + luggage mode (even though the luggage compartments were empty).

So Honda has redesigned the Gold Wing and improved an outstanding luxury touring machine in nearly every way. Comfort, suspension compliance, handling and fuel economy have all been raised to a new level. The new, electrically adjustable wind screen can create a quiet, buffet-free helmet zone for most riders. Luggage capacity should be sufficient for most experienced tourers, including with a passenger. If you need even more space, one of the many accessories Honda offers is an attractive rack for the top of the trunk (see picture).

We are not sure we would recommend the DCT over the manual transmission at this point. Although convenient, and appreciated, at most speeds, low-speed throttle response, and thus handling, posed some issues for us. We expect Honda will continue to refine the DCT in future model years.

Take a look at Honda’s web site for additional details, specifications, color options, and available Gold Wing accessories.


  1. Skully93 says:

    I’ve put 24k miles on the CTX with no trouble. The battery got low once, and that screwed up the DCT shifting. Replaced battery, no problems since. Makes commuting a breeze.

    There are times I wish for a clutch, but then again the ctx700 is a 50hp bike, not the Goldwing.

    Test rode the new wing with the DCT, and I was impressed.

  2. Richard Joash Tan says:

    At least I am stuck with the DCT anyway because it beats a human feathering a clutch

  3. Hans d. says:

    Well, I read through all of these messages, I begin to wonder why the complaints. I just bought the 2018 Goldwing DCT (with all of the accessories) and am looking forward to my rides. I currently own two bikes: a 2004 VTX1800N 804 lbs and 5.3 gals. The Fury at 663 lbs with 3.4 gallons.

    I am trading in my 1800, as at my age, I am having trouble backing up out of parking spots. The Fury is for those days I feel like just riding alone.

    Common guys, there are enough gas stations around and the distance is just fine. Also most REAL touring couples pull a trailer thus you have storage to spare, if you are in a location where you think you may have a gas problem, I would give up my extra pants and what ever it took for a spare fuel tank in the side compartment. But I find a rest stop about every 100k along the freeway. If you are a back road type of ryder, they appear to be more plentiful. PLAN YOUR TRIP. I will use the NEW GPS to ensure there is a gas station on the way. I have NEVER ran out of gas on ANY bike all the way back to my Honda 90 in the 70’s Of course then I plan ahead.

    It appears people who are unable to afford the fully decked version are looking for complaints about the model and attempting to force themselves to believe their own complaints. I have drivin a motorcycle for over 50 years, and I am impressed with the reviews as well. I will also admit, I regret selling my 2001 Goldwing when I bought my VTX1800 but the old lady would not let me keep both.

    In closing, I had the same type of complaints when they shortened the length of the Corvette. I love the lines and length of my 1997 C5, and I too can complain, but I will admit, if I had the 150,000 to replace my aging machine, I would. But until that day, I guess I too will complain that the shortened it. LOL.

  4. Buzzard says:

    5 of us just went to carpinteria Sunday, came back 33 and again noticeable difference in handling. Just want to let anyone who’s on the fence there is a big difference. The older 1800’s are great motorcycles. The new ones are that much better. Kind of like comparing 1500 vs 1800. Ride one! You’ll see. Thank you.

  5. Fox Fader says:

    With a DCT and tight U-turns, I hold the throttle open a bit and ride the rear brake modulating it for control. Works perfectly.

  6. Buzzard says:

    I just purchased a 2018 Goldwing and it is incredible. I owned a F6B for 5 years no issues at all. This motorcycle is lighter, quicker, more agile. Now you have cruise control, navigation,electronic suspension and 90 lbs less. The new suspension is awesome quick response. Seems slightly taller more lean angle, less scraping. I ride it through twisty canyon roads and keep up with Ducati’s and other sport bikes. I just hope before anyone says anything negative to ride this new designed motorcycle . Honda really hit a home run.

  7. Jack says:

    I would think the DCT transmission as good as it doesn’t necessarily shine in the new Wing. A motor with a mile wide power band and locomotive type torque is not the best scenario to showcase the benefits of the DCT. The manual bike can be left in 4th gear around town and lugged below 1000 rpm easily. The point being, a bike that barely needs to be shifted isn’t the best place to stick a 1300 dollar transmission that shifts for you. In economy the thing upshifts to 7th gear below 30 miles per hour. Is it really necessary with the 1800 to make 6 gear changes in that timespan? I think not. I believe there are many applications that would better showcase the DCT.

  8. Jim says:

    My DCT broke on my Africa, stopped downshifting. That means once I stopped I couldn’t move forward again, and once I turned off the engine I couldn’t restart it. It has to be in first and neutral, respectively to accomplish these functions. While I really liked the performance of the DCT, this breakdown has made me appreciate the simplicity of a manual transmission.

    • mickey says:

      lol tell that to my son who’s manual transmission on his Ducati Monster locked up while he was out riding one day. It wouldn’t roll, couldn’t shift to neutral. Had to go home and pick up a trailer, and hold the clutch in while pushing it up the ramp onto the trailer.

      But I hear what you are saying.. DCT’s, CVT’s and manual transmissions are all great when they are working, and not so great when they aren’t.

      • Jack says:

        I had the same thing happen to my Monster. It was a 16 dollar spring that could be accessed by removing the cover plate. Pretty sure you’ll be into a lot more repairing the DCT

        • mickey says:

          yea the mechanic at the Duc shop said it wasn’t common, but wasn’t exactly rare either.

    • ApriliaRST says:

      Your anecdote is interesting, Jim, but that’s all it is unless there is a significant number of incidents indicating a design problem. Honda has a reputation it will act to protect, which for you means a quick resolution and a working bike. Best of luck to you.

    • Austin ZZR 1200 says:

      If I could count the times that has happened to me…

  9. slipjoint says:

    Certainly a beautiful and well designed machine, I wouldn’t have been interested in the DCT anyway. I just can’t get past $25k+ for part time transportation. I may look for reduced prices on the used models of the previous generation. Excellent work by the motor company.

  10. Grover says:

    Nothing beats a human being feathering a clutch at low speeds. Robots need not apply.

  11. mickey says:

    I’ve test ridden the new wing (6 speed version) and it’s a very nice motorcycle. I consider myself a long distance touring rider, having ridden 42 US states 2 provinces of Canada and 5 countries in Europe and would have no issues with the gas capacity or luggage situation on this new wing. My wife and I know how to pack, and when touring there are no time limits so no problem stopping for gas every 200 miles. I have been in every state in the west and haven’t run out of gas yet. Can’t say about South America, or western Canada, or the UK, but where ever you find populations of people living, you will find gas stations close by. Heck we used to tour on bikes that held way less than 6 gallons. I started touring in 1969 on a CB 350 that certainly didn’t hold 6 gallons of gas. My wife and I started touring together on an RD 350 in 1973 that held like 3 gallons. Never ran out of gas on it either. Or our XS 650 Yamaha that held like 3 gallons. Our 77 Kaw held like 5 1/2 and our 81 GS 850 held a whopping 5.8 gallons…and no factory hard luggage of ANY capacity on any of those. Luggage racks, duffle bags and bungie cords. We even carried camping gear back then. Now all we need for a good nights sleep is a credit card.All you really need to pack is a few outfits to wear.

    I think back to my dads cars that had trunks that would seem to hold a baby grand piano, while carrying a full size spare and 25 or 30 gallon gas tanks. Certainly made it easy to pack and travel the country. Then I think about today’s cars with their small trunks, mini spares and 14 gallon gas tanks, and somehow families still manage to make it all the way across the country.How in the world do they manage?

    If there is a will, there is a way. If you want to ride across the country with a bike with less than a 6 gallon tank, you certainly can. As far as luggage, leave some stuff at home.If you find out you need something, there are Walmart’s everywhere.

    • beasty says:

      Excellent post! Gracias.

    • VLJ says:

      mickey, while I agree with nearly everything you wrote there, to be fair, most of those bikes you described with small tanks that still had sufficient range were relatively tiny bikes with very fuel-efficient, low-power motors. Of course a 350 or a single-cylinder 650 can get away with having a small tank, while still achieving decent fuel range.

      Compared to an 1800cc, six-cylinder behemoth like the Gold Wing, it’s not a fair comparison. Obviously, the Gold Wing will require a much larger fuel tank to manage equivalent range.

      • regan says:

        Mickeys Cb350 may have been somewhat fuel efficient. But his Rd350 2stroke even though it had reed valve intake was not fuel efficient at all. The Rd also made a lot of power for its size. And I think all older 4stroke vehicles without CV carbs weren’t very fuel efficient either.

      • mickey says:

        The Goldwing I rode at 70 mph in 6 th gear was only turning 2500 rpms. That’s just loafing along hardly sucking any gas at all. It may take some fuel to get rolling from a dead stop, but once up to speed it’s sucking fuel thru a small straw.

        I’m guessing I could get a lot better mileage out of the wing than dirck did, and 200 miles between fills would not be an issue at all.

    • ApriliaRST says:

      >Heck we used to tour on bikes that held way less than 6 gallons.

      Not really disagreeing with you, but in the days you recall, gas stations were more plentiful because cars were less reliable, needing tune-ups at regular intervals and every town had several shops… all of which sold gas. Stations today are farther apart. I think I could live with a 200 mile range, though.

      • mickey says:

        there are a laundry list of motorcycles that won’t go 200 miles on a tank. They get gas somewhere to keep ongoing.

        for some reason “200 miles on a tank” has become a bench mark …like riding “500 mile days” and running “80 mph all day long” lol

        • mickey says:

          Look I’m not saying the new wing wouldn’t have been better with a 7 or 8 gallon tank, but it doesn’t, so you make do and live with it. It would certainly not be a deal breaker for me. I would be better off with a 31″ inseam instead of a 26″ inseam, but I don’t so I make do and live with it.

          The deal breaker on the new wing for me is still it’s large size for a small person like myself. My ST at 717 pounds is feeling real heavy these days to this diminutive 67 year old, and I’d much have a motorcycle that’s 90 pounds lighter in weight than the one I currently have, than one that’s 90 pounds heavier. Like I said I test rode one, and it’s still a big beast for me. A nice beast, but still too much. I can get just as much use out of a new FJR that’s a couple hundred pounds lighter. I don’t care for the radio and stuff anyway, wouldn’t even use it if I had it, but I would use heated grips, cruise, ABS and adjustable suspension (if it really worked), all of which the FJR has.

          I can tell you a few of the guys on the ST 1300 froum have altready bought the new wings and have nicknamed them ST 1800s lol.

    • 5229 says:

      Well said Mickey! and don’t forget the Dollar generals are everywhere too! Plenty of storage in the new Wing.

  12. ATBScott says:

    That’s IT!!! The small tank is part of a nefarious scheme between Honda North America and small towns across the Southwest: Make the riders have to stop more often for gas, and to keep to the speed limit (meaning it is more likely that they’ll be hungry). This could increase small-town incomes by a huge margin! 🙂

  13. WSHart says:

    The range of the Goldwing is such that touring will soon be replaced with two-wheeled Tourette’s. In other words, there shall be a cacophony of the weeping and nashing of dentures.

    Oh wait, Honda isn’t going after people with “disposable income”, instead they’ve chosen to pursue folks that are fApple customers. The kind of young people that would rather stare at a 7 inch screen filled with the imitation of life that is YouTube rather than a wide open landscape through a windshield that shows the real world unfolding before them.

    The bike is farcical in it’s attempts at being a pretender to it’s own history. Having stated the obvious I shall finish with this – There is definite room for improvement on the new Goldwing.

    Alas that there is (currently) no room for luggage or fuel capacity. But hey, the bike weighs less so that should suit the intended fraudience.

    • stuki Moi says:

      Dayumm, dude! Cheer up!

      How hard can it be to strap some fuel bladders or Rotopax’ to the tail rack or passenger seat? For those times when you anticipate needing greater fuel capacity? While leaving them home when you don’t?

      I have an Africa Twin, and the sheer height of that bike makes full vs empty tank very noticeable as it is. A larger tank wouldn’t always be bad, but it would be bad most of the time. For the rest of the time there’s Rotopax….

      Not saying you’re wrong for wanting a bigger bike with more space for luggage and fuel. But there’s plenty of those to go around as it is. Doubly so considering the target market for them is aging out of motorcycling in the US. That brand new Yamaha tourer, looks flat out awesome for a real, old school, full sized bike. One with every conceivable modern amenity included. And it has luggage boxes large enough to overnight in, along with a proper sized tank for a continent crosser. So it’s not as if Honda positioning the ‘Wing a bit differently, is some sort of the end of motorcycle touring.

      • WSHart says:

        Nicely stated! 🙂 One could also say that if the weight of fuel was a problem with a larger tank, you could just not fill it up when you knew you didn’t need it all.

        Many people seem to prefer to forget that fact, LOL!

        Me? I prefer to be able to stop when I want to smell the roses and not the fumes of an empty tank. 😉

      • MGNorge says:

        🙂 You say it right! Not as though anyone is twisting anyone’s arm. My guess is Honda knew what they were doing, it’s a calculated risk that only time will tell.

  14. red says:

    for me just the -100# and the new look more than makes up for the other shortcomings. The luggage space is still ample. The 200-ish mile fuel range is a bummer that I could live with. Everything else is a go!

    DCT performance matters not since I don’t want a motorcycle with dct. That’s now and forever, take it to the bank. Even if opposite were true that it weighed and cost less with DCT.. I just don’t want it. Someone may have asked that question, but it sure wasn’t me. /rant

  15. CrazyJoe says:

    I remember reading reviews of the original Goldwings. It was to big, not any good in the canyons, fast but not fast enough, suspension not long enough and oh yeah no wind protection. Why after 50 odd years haven’t they built the perfect Goldwing for “me” or at least Californians? Besides a few misgivings about range and the front end if I was looking for a heavy Flagg ship tourer this would be it. Reliability and resale are very good.

    They do build the st 1300 and the stx 1300 which comes closer answering most questions people have here.

  16. WSHart says:

    It sounds as if the majority of responses this time around agree with my original assessment that the new ‘Wing misses the mark. Storage is down, fuel capacity is down and given that one of the bikes I own is a GL1800 and regularly delivers 45 mpg overall, range is down. Honda claims that fuel economy was going to be 20% better? Better than what, an F350?


    The gentleman that spoke of the excellent range of his Moto Guzzi Stelvio knows exactly what he he’s talking about. Range on a touring rig is important. Weight? I would wager most Wingers could lighten their load by losing weight themselves. You don’t carry the bike, it carries you! I suppose the bike being nearly 100 lbs. lighter will come in handy when you have to push it because you ran out of fuel in the middle of nowhere in spite of the claimed 20% better mpg?

    Within a year or two there will be an updated Goldwing (just like they did with the Africa Twin) that has a much larger fuel tank. If Honda has half a brain among them then they will also increase the size of the bags and trunk at the same time. If not, there’s plenty of leftover 2017 and earlier ‘Wings out there to be had. And those come with a centerstand, standard.

    Too often people want something “new and improved” and buy before they think about what it is they’re getting. And with the new GL1800 what many of them will be getting is buyer’s remorse. Just ask first year Africa Twin owners how it feels to have Honda short them in only one year by making a “special edition” version of their bike with a larger tank. Talk about getting screwed without the happy ending…

    Honda’s once mighty flagship is now at half mast and they did it to themselves.

    • Random says:

      “Talk about getting screwed without the happy ending…” Huh? When they bought the bike they knew (or should) its capabilities, if it wasn’t enough why buy? Do you also want more recent versions to be worse than previous ones? As always time (and sales) will tell, but if range and load capacity increases were primary purchase factors (and we can be sure market research was done in a multimillion $ design program) wouldn’t they be done?

      • WSHart says:

        Why buy? Really? Are you unaware of the impulsive behavior of people or what? Regardless of price many people will buy something without giving it much more thought than “It’s new, therefore it must be better and I must have it!”

        Market research has failed before and in the case of this new ‘Wing, it may have failed this time. As to your suppositions, well suffice to say they are without merit and you knew that prior to axing them. Yet still you did. Why? Because you seek to deflect objectivity from the discussion? Maybe. Maybe not.

        Not a problem with it because it has been exposed for what it is. Silly. Buy the new GL1800 if you wish.

        In doing so you are settling for less being presented as more. This is a common trait among a great many motorcyclists during new model introductions. Buyer’s remorse awaits more than a few of them.

      • Fred M. says:

        Random, I agree with you completely. The notion that many buyers are spending upward of $30K on a touring bike without being aware of its capabilities is laughable.

        If someone’s primary concerns are range and load capacity, and weight be damned, Buick likely makes some SUVs that would make them far happier than this, or any, touring bike.

    • Fred M. says:

      “It sounds as if the majority of responses this time around agree with my original assessment that the new ‘Wing misses the mark. ”

      The majority of responses on just about any bike here are negative. That said, I see plenty of positive responses to this bike, here and elsewhere, including in the hands of people paid to review bikes for a living.

      “Weight? I would wager most Wingers could lighten their load by losing weight themselves. You don’t carry the bike, it carries you!”

      This bike is not designed for elderly lard asses who just want to rest their beer belly on the tank and go in a straight line. It was designed for riders who want a touring bike that handles well. That’s why the cornering clearance is up and the weight is down — and shifted forward. It’s why the front suspension has gone to a “double wishbone” design that provides anti-dive. It’s why the pegs have been moved back and the handlebar slid forward.

      Ari Henning at Cycle World “was impressed with how light and precise the steering was and surprised by how far over you could bank the big bike before hard parts began to drag.” That’s what Honda was aiming for. If that’s not important to you in a touring bike, then buy a different one.

    • Zip326 says:

      If you think the New Goldwing is a step backwards and you want more range, more storage, and more. Then maybe you should buy an RV. Having worked in the industry for over 30 years. In the last 5 years the Goldwing has been a very poor seller. For two main reasons; one lack of features like Bluetooth, power windshield, traction control, and more; second the buyer was aging out. My self personally would not have consider a Goldwing until now. It handles the way I want it too. The styling is better and sportier looking. At the end of this year and the years to follow when Honda has increased their sales, I think you will have to agree that the Touring Flagship is a home run.

      • WSHart says:

        I’ve owned an RV before and don’t want another one. I don’t see this as being a huge seller for Honda but who knows, it could be.

        The bike is still quite heavy. I’ve looked at the majority of the target buyers and they’re not really interested in motorcycles in general and many don’t yet make the dosh to afford something like a Goldwing.

        Bluetooth makes sense but I’ve got Bluetooth devices to go with Bluetooth helmets so reality is I don’t really need it on a bike. Nice to have, but not needed.

        A power windshield is unnecessary for me because I set my shield years ago where I wanted it and left it there. Most bikes already handle better than most riders can use, especially so on the public roads. Most of the Wing’s stuff is to keep up with HD and BMW as well as for bragging rights. Nothing wrong with that and it’s about time too.

        The Goldwing is a nice bike. It’s just not the right bike for many of us who have the money and the leisure time to use it as it was intended. For those that don’t yet have the money, it will give them something to shoot for if that’s what they want. For those that do have the finances and want one, fine.

        Buy it.

        I’d sooner own the new GL1800 than either of those hideous Yamaha Star pigs. And yeah, I just damned the new Wing with faint praise. I suppose that’s better than nothing.

      • Fred M. says:

        “…second the buyer was aging out.”

        An astute observation. Honda doesn’t want to find themselves in the position of Harley Davidson, having to introduce trikes for an aging customer base no longer confident in their ability to hold a motorcycle upright.

        “My self personally would not have consider a Goldwing until now. ”

        Agreed. I could see moving from my BMW R1150RT to the new Gold Wing and not feeling like I was buying my last bike before going into a “senior living” facility.

        I agree with WSHart regarding the load capacity of ~420 pounds. That is unrealistically low for two-up touring with luggage in the American market. It’s a far cry from BMW’s R 1200 RT, which is rated for 483 pounds, or the Kawasaki Concours 14 ABS, which is rated for 503 pounds. The Gold Wing’s load capacity is only slightly more than the 406 pound capacity of a BMW C 650 GT scooter.

        I wish that the DOT would require that the load capacity be displayed on a sticker on top of the fuel tank. After enough lost sales from riders who see it and do the math, the dealers might pressure the manufacturers to either increase the capacity or offer a kit for dealers to install to increase load capacity (e.g. stiffer shock springs, higher weight capacity tires, bigger brakes, etc.).

        • mickey says:

          Honda always has ridculously low load capacity ratings. I think on my ST 1300 just my wife and I exceed the load rating before we add any luggage at all and we are not large people. I think it’s rated at something like 360 pounds. It has never been an issue for us though. I think Hondas corporate lawyers are afraid of everything and give themselves outs in case of accidents.

          • Zip326 says:

            Mickey has it right….

            Fred: “I agree with WSHart regarding the load capacity of ~420 pounds. That is unrealistically low for two-up touring with luggage in the American market. It’s a far cry from BMW’s R 1200 RT, which is rated for 483 pounds, or the Kawasaki Concours 14 ABS, which is rated for 503 pounds. The Gold Wing’s load capacity is only slightly more than the 406 pound capacity of a BMW C 650 GT scooter.”

            Our dealership sells both Honda and BMW. Honda is very conservative with their numbers. For example, Honda Foreman towing capacity is about 800 pounds. Our store has used this ATV for 25 years and regularly tow twice that (1,600 pounds). The motor, transmission, suspension, and so on has never been rebuilt.

            We have also had customer on many Honda motorcycles load them past the weight limit and again rarely a problem. We certainly see more repairs with BMW then with Honda. And as a past HD dealer as well, I think Honda reliability is set in stone.

      • ApriliaRST says:

        WSHart wailed:
        > the new ‘Wing misses the mark. Storage is down, fuel capacity is down

        FredM correctly replied:
        > This bike is not designed for elderly lard asses who just want to rest their beer belly on the tank and go in a straight line.

        I think there’s merit to the idea this bike is an attempt to recapture buyers who are a constantly moving target. A certain American brand is notably wrestling with that same issue, and their every attempt is met with weeping, wailing and (again) gnashing of dentures.

        FredM’s comment reminds me of a ride I was on with a group of mainly GW riders. One of the women complained she needed a new leather motorcycle jacket, but no one stocked one large enough for her. I thought, but did not say, someone should just skin a cow and install a zipper in the hide, which would fit perfectly.

  17. Greg Breneman says:

    I own a BMW 1600GT and a KTM 1290 super adventure. I will take the 270 and 320 mile range respectively thanks along with the cargo capability and removable bags. I cannot believe Honda has made a poor touring bike and a machine that cannot match the power or cornering of the BMW either so exactly what is it? As a side note if you sit on one open the fuel filler door and the little storage door in front of that. You can take the door edges and with no effort twist the whole assembly back and forth because the plastic is so thin. I picture many broken doors because the plastic is so thin.

    • WSHart says:

      Excellent point. The plastic of the newest GL1800 is “plasticky”, i.e., cheap crap. Thin and flimsy also come to mind.

      • P Harris says:

        Plasticky? Have you looked at the BMW 1600GT – tupperware on parade. Only BMW could make an i6 boring and invisible.

      • stuki Moi says:

        That’s what adding lightness to solid, non-hollow parts begets. The new CBR has fairings seemingly made of wax paper as well. Honda claims the new materials are ultimately as durable as the older ones, despite being thinner, lighter and more flexible. They’ll flex more, but at the same time tolerate more flex without breaking.

        Honda did manage to lop 100 lbs off this iteration. With the acres of plastics on a Gold Wing, that probably couldn’t be done without making the panels thinner.

        It’s not as if Honda doesn’t know how to do old fashioned, hunk of solid. Just look at the CB1100. Which is a small, naked roadster. That manages to weigh almost (slight exaggeration, but still….) as much as the new ‘Wing….. A ‘Wing built like that CB, down to the metal fenders, would certainly be a nice heirloom bike. But hardly the lightweight, sporty tourer Honda was going for with this ‘Wing.

        • Fred M. says:

          Everyone wants light weight, but few people are willing to pay for carbon fiber body parts.

          “Honda did manage to lop 100 lbs off this iteration.”

          You’d think that would result in a lot more load capacity, but no.

  18. Fastship says:

    I was disappointed at EICMA when Moto Guzzi failed again to show up with a proper tour model but was very impressed with the new Wing, thinking it a more coherent design than BMW’s big Six. I bought a Multistrada S though and will take delivery on Saturday.
    Since EICMA, more has become known about the ‘wing and it really does not bear close scrutiny. Range is unacceptable; here in the UK petrol stations are now few and far between, it’s worse in the remoter parts of Europe – exactly where’ you take such a bike. Ditto storage – I couldn’t fit my lid in the top box – maybe I have a big head! But there’s too little room to go camping for a week on this bike.
    Prospective buyers should check out Max McAllister’s (Traxxion Dynamics) youtube videos where he forensically takes apart the suspension of the ‘wing and explains it’s workings. Contrary to your rider’s preference on settings, Max demonstrates that in rider + luggage mode – there is in fact, no difference between that setting and the previous one. Honda’s other claim that this bike has electronic suspension is at best a misrepresentation as Max shows the travel of the damping needle is 1.25 mm and can have little to no valving effect. Further, the shocks are buried so deep in the bike that they necessitate the remote (electronic) pre loader. The Multistrada, does have genuine, electronic suspension.
    The ‘wings shocks are crude in design and execution and the front with 58mm stroke of which 39mm or 60% of that travel is the bump stop! Perhaps your test riders need to brush up on suspension theory?

    In disassembling the ‘wing to install new shocks, you see the ‘wing is a marrass of shonky plastic with all the integrity of a Revell model kit! More alarmingly were the several cases of awfall and potentially dangerous build quality with incorrect steering assembly from the factory.

    I got to test a ‘wing recently though. In short, I thought that the DCT was superb and if BMW can copy that I’d buy one! It’s awkward at first, muscle memory makes you go for the none existent clutch lever but I loved it. Engine – very underwhelming; from the Honda that made the mighty CBX? Brakes – I’m not used to such a heavy bike but I wasn’t confident with them at first. The nav system is a ‘90’s throw back; it did not recognise a landmark that has stood for 900 years and comically on the reciprocal got the address of the dealer wrong!

    This bike is a true modern Honda, it fully reflects a once great company that in each area of its activities is in decline and has no future. I think Japan is now totally irrelevant to the future of motor bikes and I would not even bother looking at a jap bike in future.

    • Ricardo says:

      Plus $27k for the bike makes it out of reach for a lot of us mortals…good review.

      • Fastship says:

        You make the point I neglected to mention; here in the UK this is the most expensive bike on sale. In fact, it is more expensive than most of Honda’s cars as well as most other new cars on sale.

        Where you are wrong is in the price. In point of fact, this astonishigly over priced, poor value for money bike is priced at £30,000 or $42,000.

        • HalfBaked says:

          Japan in your opinion is irrelevant to the future of motorcycles. I guess you would know since it is an established fact that Great Britain is completely irrelevant to the future of anything.

    • paul says:

      Most interesting, indeed.

      Luckily I’m immune to any of these large touring bikes. I’ll stick with the much smaller bikes, much more fun on two wheels.

      If I want open air touring I’ll instead buy an MX-5 our 124 roadster and possibly combine that with a tiny motorcycle luggage trailer. No helmets required, get to sit beside my passenger and share the scenes and sites together and when it does rain the top will go up. I’m trying to be a smart-azz, this is just how I see it.

      • mickey says:

        Dedicated long distance motorcyclists, like those that would buy this new wing, accept the fact that we may get rained on once in awhile, or get snowed on for that matter, or sun baked or wind blown around. It’s an accepted part of the game.

        No dedicated long distance rider I know would accept a Miata as a substitute for his motorcycle

        • paul says:

          I am obviously not a dedicated long distance rider and I’m comfortable with that… and there is nothing wrong with that, either.

          I’m only speaking for myself, of course.

          • WSHart says:

            Your words ring true for more than a few people. Bikes are not inexpensive at all. Maintenance and tires are outrageous when compared to cars and as ridiculous as it seems, fuel economy ain’t all that great either.

            You may speak for yourself but it is fact that what you say is true. A Miata is not a motorcycle but then a Goldwing ain’t a Miata, now is it? The 124 Spyder is a nice looking alternative too. Both are fine alternatives to a touring rig.

            I would rather own either than any triked ‘Wing and would have zero problem buying one over this latest GL1800, but then I am not an impulse buyer.

            Around here they’re mostly impulse typists. Again, there’s nothing really wrong with the new ‘Wing that putting some actual thought into the design could have prevented. As it currently sits, I will just let it sit. I have the money but the bike does not motivate me enough to spend it. Those that claim otherwise, knock yourself out and buy the thing!

    • P Harris says:

      Scary – not the bike – you.

  19. stuki Moi says:

    The priority changes evident on this model, makes me wonder if even this “most American of all models” model, is being recast in light of a global motorcycle market where North American is playing an ever shrinking part. Not that it’s not still a great touring bike (for many the greatest) for North Americans, but I have a hard time imagining market research indicated US Gold Wing riders and intenders, were pining for a smaller bike with less fuel and luggage.

  20. bmbktmracer says:

    Suggestion box: After new or seriously updated models hit the market, it’d be nice to have 1 and 2 year follow-ups on sales numbers. We all have our take on things, but I’d sure like to know where the numbers land.

  21. VLJ says:

    Dirck does a very good job with his reviews.

    And water is wet.

    I’d forego all the DCT nonsense, save some money, reduce complexity, and get the manual tranny. It’s a Flat-Six motor, which is a glorious thing. I want to play with it. I want to hear it. I want to feel it respond to my inputs.

    Short of having a severe case of rheumatoid arthritis that might make operating even a Slip-Assist clutch difficult, who really needs an automatic tranny? Presumably a Gold Winger is a very experienced rider. As such, he’s operated clutches his entire life, and the manual on this latest Honda is sure to be as butter-smooth as all get out.

    Just get the manual and enjoy your motorcycle as God and Soichiro intended.

    Otherwise, yes, this seems like a perfect luxury-tourer, but for the reduced fuel range and luggage capacity. If there are two things most Wingers prioritize above all else, it’s the ability to carry tons of crap comfortably over very long distances. Had Honda added 1.1 gallons of capacity instead of reducing it by that amount, and had they kept the storage capacity the same as that of the previous model, they would still have a lighter, more agile bike than the last one, and there would be absolutely nothing to gripe about. It’d be an unqualifed success, with no ifs, ands, or butts. Certainly, there would be no deal-breakers. There isn’t a Winger alive who would have said, “I was going to buy the new Wing, but only if it lost ninety pounds, not this paltry seventy pounds.”

    Nope, they would be doing backflips over the still-reduced size and weight. Lacking those two complaints, they would be free to love every other great thing about this new model, and that’d be that.

    Instead, they get to go all forum participant, and tell us how they were this-close to buying the new Wing, until they learned of the reduced capacities of the fuel tank and storage compartments.

    Target missed. Still a great update on a classic, but a bullseye was well within Honda’s reach here, and they missed it due to a very uncharacteristic unforced error.

    • WSHart says:

      Well stated, sir. Most of the typists here (this particular thread is a welcome exception to that norm) just seem to “love” every new model but reality is they don’t buy every new model.

      I think it’s because they’re children at heart and Motorcycledaily is kinda like Christmas for them. They get to open every package without having to actually pay to do so. Virtual tire-kickers.

      On top of that, the new plastics on this bike look very poorly made. Cheap comes to mind.

      When Honda decided to go after a younger market they in effect, screwed the paunch.

  22. Northof Missoula says:

    Great write up Dirk. It is nice to see Honda pull up their socks on this and other models.

    I guess it will be a little while before you get your hands on the new CBR1000R?

  23. Rapier says:

    As someone who got a Stelvio last with it’s 8.5 gallon tank and preceded to be out touring for 7 weeks last year, you don’t know how nice it is to have easily 300 miles of range until you live with it. It is a great luxury. Isn’t the Wing a luxury bike? Why would Honda arguably cut the range or not increase it? Styling? 1 freaking gallon over how many hundreds of square inches! Give me a break. Weight? It’still a tank. It borders on insane.

    Especially after the disaster that is the VFR 1200 which was wrecked in my opinion by lack of range. I thought about buying one used because for what your getting they are giving them away. In part because of that range limitation I believe.
    but simply could not live with the short range.
    I doubt the range thing will suppress sales of the Wing, much, buy why even risk it? I know why I suppose. Honda builds bikes they know you need. If the market disagrees then screw them is the idea I guess. Go figure.

    • Hot Dog says:

      I’ve got a VFR 12X DCT and get 200 miles per tank. If you want 300 miles per tank, buy an Accord.

      • bartman50 says:

        You must drive the VFR like an accord to get that mileage. And maybe run it to empty. But I know a couple of owners that are hitting the pumps at 145-150 miles in regular riding( read both on off the throttle ). I completely agree with Rapier in that they should have given that big 1200 much more fuel capacity.

        • bmidd says:

          He said VFR12X, which has 42 less HP than the VFR1200 you’re thinking of. It has 5.5 gallon capacity, so I believe he could get 200 miles per tank.

        • Hot Dog says:

          LOL, no a Nissan Versa. I’ve run out of gas 4 times and I now carry an extra gallon just in case. Range is relative to right wrist and winds. I had a 04′ Wing and ran out of fuel after 135 miles. That must’ve been because I was doing 85 mph into a 40mph head wind.

          I do think that Honda should’ve given the gas tank more capacity. I’ve sat on one in a dealership and it’s definably smaller than the previous model. I think it’s a beautiful bike but….

      • Jeremy in TX says:

        Jackassery. I’d live to have a 300 mile range on my dual sport. I’d don’t like being forced to stop riding.

    • WSHart says:

      Excellent commentary, well written sir.

  24. Dino says:

    A little effort to get two large helmets in the top trunk (and don’t fit in the side bags). Read – scratches on your helmets if you try to jam them in there… with nothing else in the trunk..
    I know the bags are smaller to stay in proportion to the overall smaller size (leading to lighter weight, better performance, etc. all good things!). BUT, helmets have to be the benchmark of utility, and this seems like a big miss for Honda. I doubt a couple extra inches on the trunk dimensions would have been a deal breaker. Same for the gas tank reduction.. (don’t care about “equivalent range” claims)
    I want to like it. I just don’t know…

    • Tom R says:

      Perhaps by quirk of fate the bike’s trunk designers have XS heads and wear XS helmets….

      • Dino says:

        That thought crossed my mind, but then a designer needs to know their market. Heck, they should know there could be some riders with 2XL noggins. For their flagship model, they should have known better…

    • joe b says:

      I cant say for sure about this model, but past GW you had to have the helmets, a certain way, the other way, they would not fit.

  25. MGNorge says:

    I find it very handsome compared to other full-on touring rigs.

    • Dino says:

      Agreed.. Really like the looks, color, just about everything else.. Just that smaller tank and bags.. I could strap on extra bags to the luggage, but where to keep the extra fuel cell…

  26. Jobu says:

    “As we stated earlier, the saddlebags are not removable. The trunk is not removable, either.”

    The trunk is removable.

  27. fred says:

    what was the fuel mileage?

    • Dirck Edge says:

      The article was updated with this information.

    • Tom R says:

      38 mpg @ 5.5 gallons = running dry at 209 miles.

      How do you fuel range aficionados feel about this?

      • Sean says:

        Honestly, for a Goldwing that’s…not good. But personally, I don’t mind getting off the bike every 200 miles anyway.

      • Provologna says:

        38 was his figure only for a period including aggressive riding, not the entire 1500 miles. He got over 50 on the freeway. The average between those 2 numbers is 44.

        So 209 miles is running dry during aggressive riding, which presumably was off the freeway. Yes, I agree longer range is preferred.

        I owned 2 Guzzis, a 99 and 01. The latter blew a rod bearing for no known reason <15k. I won't touch one again. My 1984 Honda VFR700S had 97k miles, was still almost as smooth as an electric motor, still had a great finish, got high 30-low 40mpg with a Clydesdale riding it hard. Sum total non-scheduled service was a voltage regulator which I replaced in a few minutes (some burnt wire insulation increased the repair time). I bet this Wing breezes through 300k+ plus miles.

        • Tom R says:

          “I bet this Wing breezes through 300k+ plus miles.”

          With a LOT of gas stops. 🙂

        • DJFriar says:

          Except the article clearly stated it was 38mpg over the whole 1,500 miles: “Although we saw north of 50 mpg while cruising on the highway, over the course of our entire test (including what we would consider very aggressive riding) we averaged 38 mpg”

          It’s doubtful they flogged it for all 1,500 miles, so the overall is probably fairly accurate (and a quick check of Fuelly seems to confirm this mpg).

          • paquo says:

            right and if you are out west on a back rode you can avg close to 90 mph but you cant because mpgs go way down and gas stations in some places or at some times of day are few and far between-not sure i understand this

      • WSHart says:

        In the real world the new GL1800’s range will prove a major disappointment for touring riders.

        For poseurs, it will allow them to pose their flat butts off within a 150 to 200 mile radius. Depending upon fuel availability. 😉

        • Fred M. says:

          Touring riders are not long-haul truckers. Most of us get off of the bike and walk around. It’s the flat-butts who just sit there nearly motionless in the saddle for more than 200 miles at a time.

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