2009 Honda GL1800 Gold Wing Road Test Rider Magazine

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Honda GL 1100 Gold Wing

2009 Honda GL1800 Wing Road Test


February 24, 2009

2009 Honda GL1800 Wing Road Test was published in the April 2009 of Rider magazine]

Two guys up the coast in search of scenic, roads. What better way to a few days? That’s just photographer Rich Cox and I did, him Rider ‘s own 2000  Gold GL1500 and me on a 2009 Honda

Rich has shot many of ‘s scenic covers and features the years, and our objective was to bring some classic images for 35th anniversary issue. Our was vague and our destination was undetermined. enjoy the ride and shoot along the way. Stay and eat well.

We did just that, and we reluctant to come home.

the Gold Wing, Rider and truly are all 35 years old. I was born in 1973 and the Gold (as a 1975 model) and Rider born in 1974. According to the zodiac, 1973 is Year of the Ox, those born in that being dependable, methodical and

And 1974 is Year of the Tiger, traits including passion, and generosity. Seem like characterizations, at least as far as the bike and are concerned.

Seating position is neutral and the seats are supportive and comfortable.

In the book Gold The First 20 Years . one word is when describing the origins and development of the GL: Passion. As Honda’s long-lived model, the Gold has been critical to the company’s particularly in the United States. Honda engineers, including Mr. himself, consider the Gold one of their greatest achievements.

It convention and demonstrated new possibilities. to author Ken Vreeke, “The Wing has an enduring, endearing the personal stamp of those who it, and those who continue to carry the Through continual improvement– . in Japanese–even the slightest imperfections in the Wing have been and addressed, cementing Honda’s for refinement and reliability.

The Gold created a new market, meeting demand for dependable, luxurious motorcycle touring. The GL’s and reliability made it easy for people to ride more Honda’snew touring customers an integral part of the design and process–a consumer-driven approach has become standard in the automotive and industries.

Top trunk holds 65 liters and side case holds over 40 liters, for a total of 147 of storage space. There are small storage compartments in the console and beside the passenger

Not long after it was introduced, the Wing developed a cultlike and owners came to be affectionately as Wing Nuts. Honda to their concerns during the of the GL line, which further their loyalty. The Gold Road Riders Association. in 1977, now has more than 800 and 80,000 members in 55 countries.

Its gathering–the Wing Ding–drew attendees in 2008. If you’ve witnessed the sheer number and of Gold Wings–model years and sidecar rigs and customized with “wing bling” that would make a rap envious–at the Wing Ding or Hoot rallies, then nodding “amen, brother” regard to the intense passion the Gold Wing incites in its

Since the model’s inception and a half decades ago, 500,000 Gold Wings been sold in the United That’s a lot of bikes ridden by a lot of who have covered countless in all sorts of conditions.

Inspired by “King of Kings” M1 prototype, the Gold Wing–the 1975 the second most powerful motorcycle at the time, runner-up to the Kawasaki Z-1. That GL set a precedent for power. And with a engine layout and liquid it also set a precedent for smooth, performance.

Responding to customer the second-generation Gold Wing–the GL1100–clearly established the GL’s design objectives: roll-on smoothness and comfort. To the surprise of engineers, touring riders willing to sacrifice top-end for better midrange performance. As the GL to evolve, peak torque rpm closer to cruising rpm.

The Gold Wing’s 1,832cc engine, which is unchanged its 2001 inception, has a 74mm and 71mm …, 9.8:1 ratio, SOHC and two valves per Six horizontally opposed cylinders perfect primary and secondary and rubber mounting mutes unpleasantness. Borrowing from automotive technology, very regimented fuel/air mixture and and ignition timing further to the motor’s unwavering civility.

State-of-the-art programmed fuel and computer-controlled digital ignition 3D mapping round out one very Swiss watch of a motor.

display is full-color and easy to and it integrates well with the XM radio. Airbag moves audio controls from the to left side fairing.

but readily, the GL1800 generates 101 and 106 lb-ft of torque at the rear (according to the Jett Tuning dyno). Torque climbs 90 lb-ft at 2,100 rpm and exceeds 100 at 3,200 rpm–the meat of the at today’s highway cruising The torque curve arcs up to its peak at 4,100 rpm and then downhill, whereas horsepower like a rollercoaster to its peak 700 rpm shy of

These are power characteristics of an that has progressed steadily time with sniperlike on its targets of roll-on power and The Gold Wing has a surprising of get-up-and-go for a 933-pound motorcycle. away from a stop a sportbike (well, almost), hit the gas to embarrass squids in the twisties–and do it all the stereo cranked up to 11 and the grip and heaters on MAX.

Although the has elicited widespread praise for speed and agility, the fifth-generation Wing simply did what GLs been doing all along: the model’s own standards for excellence. the beginning, with its underseat tank and low, flat-cylinder the Gold Wing has benefitted mass centralization–a design that has become de rigueur than three decades The third-generation Gold Wing–the GL1200–marked the beginning of a continuous to make the GL handle as if it were of pounds lighter than it was.

Throttle hand cruise control, reverse, headlight position and navigation

From its rigid, lightweight frame to its single-sided swingarm and brakes, the 2009 Honda Wing’s entire chassis and package handles its prodigious and weight remarkably well, at low speeds. The five-speed overdrive shifts effortlessly and the shaft drive is free of jacking. 45mm stanchions and 5.5 inches of the nonadjustable cartridge fork’s system increases compression under braking.

The Pro-Arm swingarm has a Pro-Link single with 4.1 inches of travel and spring-preload adjustment with two presets. Dual full-floating front discs and a single rear disc are each by three-piston calipers and employ Combined Braking System. ABS flawlessly, without pulsing or

Although cornering clearance is to 40 degrees of lean, spirited can push the Gold Wing to its with confidence, the only being beveled footpegs and on the belly pan (sorry, Honda). the GL1800 is capable of hot-rod that’s not how its power is typically Instead, two-up touring rely on the Gold Wing’s of grunt to carry them and a load of gear over and through valleys from sea to sea.

Even towing or propelling heavier trikes, the punches through headwinds and quick work of uphill around RVs and cement trucks.

Just as certain brand Kleenex, Gatorade–have become with their products, Wing” represents luxury touring. For each of these a market was created where previously existed. Although models were introduced by Suzuki and Yamaha, none a bite out of Honda’s dominant share.

Today, the only competitors for the Gold Wing are the BMW and Harley-Davidson Ultra Classic Glide, but these three appeal to market segments are as distinct as their countries of

The 1,832cc flat-six engine quietly but churns out arm-straightening Just ahead of brake a small duct directs engine air to the rider’s foot on left side).

With ride-all-day seats, seven compartments (six on Airbag 147 liters of storage space, 405 of carrying capacity and a list of and options that includes an premium audio system, radio, navigation system, pressure monitoring system and comfort package, the Gold is first-class luxury on two wheels. is even a key ring remote to the storage compartments, pop the rear and “call” the bike by honking the and flashing the lights. You can really go for the with dozens of dealer-installed from running lights to a CD

During this test, I my girlfriend Carrie to the wonderful of motorcycling. She was quickly put at ease by the reassuring passenger seat and rest. We plugged in Carrie’s and listened to her playlists as we rode Santa Barbara’s wine

When we encountered snow on Mountain Summit, we cranked up the heaters. However, even set on the seat and grip heaters get hot enough. And, as we’ve out before (see Rider . 2006), small or average-sized sit too far back from the rider to the full benefits of the windscreen and

Nonetheless, with her first aboard the most luxurious of motorcycles, Carrie will be with the more Spartan of other bikes.

Full-floating (two in front, one in rear) Combined Braking System calipers and well-engineered ABS provide reassuring stopping power.

The Gold Wing is called Comfort ($20,999), which six-speaker audio with an external amplifier, comfort (heated seats and grips, backrest and foot-level warm-air and–new for 2009–a tire monitoring system. For an additional the Audio Comfort Navi XM adds an integrated navigation and–also new for 2009–XM satellite

Pony up another $1,100 for ABS and for the top-of-the-line model we tested, $1,200 for an airbag. Pick an package that satisfies needs and then choose a that suits your Candy Black Cherry Pearl Yellow, Metallic Deep Blue Metallic or Titanium.

The new tire pressure system (TPMS), standard on all alerts the rider to underinflated Not intended as a substitute for regularly tire pressure, the TPMS is to help riders avoid should tires lose while riding. An amber on the dash begins to flash if pressure falls 10-20 below recommended levels (36 psi 41 psi rear), and the light stays on if pressure falls more 20 percent below normal.

Honda GL 1100 Gold Wing
Honda GL 1100 Gold Wing

The pattern should be reversed–steady for percent too low and flashing for more 20 percent too low–since a flashing is more likely to get your Adding an alarm would be more effective. The pressure in both wheels run on batteries are good for 10 years, and dealers can test the system during changes.

2009 Honda Wing Motorcycle Review Shot

Based on the system in the Honda Accord, the Gold satellite-linked navigation package well, but has some rather features. First, you must 10 seconds for a liability screen to on before you can program the system. the full-color display, which is front-and-center and is easy to read, is by buttons on the lower-right side of the

Being an addicted iPhone I desperately wanted a touch-screen (the system can only be when the bike is parked, so fingers would not be an issue). punching buttons to move a keyboard is time consuming. And I can’t watch the screen and my at the same time, I would hit the wrong button and have to over.

Admittedly, I’m an impatient but the user interface could be easier to use. Once I got my programmed, I found the displays and commands to be elegant and helpful, of which integrate well the audio system.

The other new for 2009, and the one that I got absolutely on, is XM satellite radio. Sirius and XM in the summer of 2008, so listeners now an even wider range of to choose from. Depending on my I’d groove to ’80s hits, out to heavy metal or laugh at routines.

Gold Wing who select a model with XM receive a free 90-day but must pay a monthly subscription fee Subscribing to NavTraffic and NavWeather provides access to real-time and weather updates. Traffic and maps can be displayed on the navigation and when the Navi system is in use prompts alert you to traffic or inclement weather.

However, I was slowing down for brake or was being rained on when the voice started to warn me.

in 2006, the airbag is an option only Honda offers, and on the Gold Wing. It is designed to in a frontal impact, either a vehicle or an object. As with an airbag, the purpose is to safely down the rider when he or she is forward upon impact and (hopefully) reduce the risk or of injuries or ….

It is not designed to the passenger, but if it slows down the then it could very slow down the passenger the rider. Mercifully, all of this is theoretical to us; we’re willing to Honda’s word for it.

Given all of features–bells-’n’-whistles, so to speak–getting familiar the buttons, controls and functions practice. But the Gold Wing with a detailed owner’s and a user-friendly, fold-out “getting guide. Soon I became at changing channels on the satellite toggling through various options and using the navigation

The Gold Wing makes it and easy to burn miles, what you would expect the luxury touring market After more than miles on the 2009 Gold in wind, rain, fog, and cold and on pavement that from brand-new to crumbling, we passed the test. The GL1800 was exciting and oh-so comfortable, and I a believer.

I’m now a Wing Nut wannabe.


2009 Honda Wing DYNO Chart

35 years of evolution under its the Gold Wing represents the of high-class motorcycle touring. bikes are faster or more but none bring together a vast array of well-designed, features. Since the GL1800 was in 2001, features have added (airbag, navigation satellite radio, etc.) but the has not been changed mechanically or

Thirteen years elapsed the introduction of the GL1500 and the GL1800, so Honda is planning a major to coincide with its 40th in 2014. The most obvious would be a larger engine more power, as well as styling. Items on my wish would include push-button adjustment for the windscreen, a gear-position a touch-screen navigation display and load capacity.

Given track record with the Wing, one thing is certain: The GL will surpass its own golden

2009 Honda GL1800 Wing Review Specifications

Type: Liquid-cooled, longitudinal flat six

Bore x Stroke: x 71.0mm

Compression Ratio:

Honda GL 1100 Gold Wing
Honda GL 1100 Gold Wing
Honda GL 1100 Gold Wing
Honda GL 1100 Gold Wing
Honda GL 1100 Gold Wing
Honda GL 1100 Gold Wing
Honda GL 1100 Gold Wing
Honda GL 1100 Gold Wing

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