Honda Goldwing Luxury – Motorbikes Reviews, News & Advice –

13 Jan 2015 | Author: | Comments Off on Honda Goldwing Luxury – Motorbikes Reviews, News & Advice –
Honda Goldwing prototype M1

Honda Goldwing Luxury

The ultimate in road presence, and still with a flair for the occasion


Can it get anymore relaxing?

Reverse gear

Even my mother-in-law finally took an interest in my job

Stately ship par excellence


The mother-in-law wanted a ride

Chrome-plated plastic

Occasionally jumped out of fourth gear

Lag on cruise control


Just think about it: the venerable Honda Goldwing grand tourer has now been a production motorcycle for over five decades. Now its 35th year in fact, and it’s built up a lot of credit points during that time.

The GL legend began with a prototype developed way back in 1972 by a chap called Soichiro Irimajiri, who had previously directed the design of Honda’s five and six-cylinder road racing engines of the 1960s. Obviously, he was after a change of pace.

After all of Irimajiri-san’s hard yakka, the first flat-four GL1000 Goldwing went on sale in 1975 and, far from giving it the cold shoulder, punters took to the massive piece of kit en masse. Long-distance motorcycling – in absolute comfort – was met with widespread acclaim. For a big motorcycle, it certainly bolted from the blocks.

Of course, the Goldwing has continued to evolve, with the first model followed up by 1100cc, 1200cc, 1500cc and now 1800cc versions. The GL1500 marked the debut of the flat-six engine to replace the four, bringing even more trailer-pulling torque into the equation.

The GL1800, first released in 2001, saw Honda patent 20 technological innovations, with a focus to build a bike that would keep 80 percent of the touring capability, while adding a ‘fun factor’ by giving it the kind of acceleration and handling people would normally associate with sporting machines.

Meanwhile, probably the biggest news in the past year for the Goldwing is that the last example of the model has been produced in the States.

The Goldwing has always proudly worn its ‘Made in America’ moniker, but production has now moved across to Japan now that Honda has closed its motorcycle plant in Marysville, Ohio.

The 330,000 square feet facility in Ohio produced the Gold Wing since 1981, with over a million units packed into (oversized) crates – and I reckon I’ve seen most of them at the Ulysses AGMs in Australia…


Locally, there are two versions of the GL1800: ‘Luxury’ and ‘Standard’.

The Standard now serves as the well-equipped base model that includes heated grips and seats plus ABS for $37,990 plus ORC, while the luxury version, which the Bikesales Network rode, scores an upgraded sound system, CD stacker, sat-nav and airbag for $43,990.

As mentioned, the straight-six engine replaced the four-cylinder unit when it reached 1500cc in 1988, and the current capacity of the fuel-injected SOHC mill is 1832cc, with a bore and stroke of 74mm x 71mm. It meets Euro 3 emission standards.

The GL1800 has a five-speed gearbox, with the final cog an overdrive. For those who leap from continent to continent on their shaft-driven Goldwing, it’s definitely a plus. By the way, fuel capacity is 25lt.

Honda claims 117hp (87kW) at 5500rpm and 167Nm at 4000rpm for the GL1800, which certainly makes life entertaining enough. Redline is 6000rpm – and if that’s not enough to give you a tingle perhaps a sportstourer is a better option.

The Goldwing is suspended on 45mm air-assisted non-adjustable telescopic forks, with the rear featuring Honda’s signature Pro-Link with electronically controlled spring preload adjustment. There’s a decent amount of travel at both ends, too.

With the adoption of airbag technology, all the audio and CB controls have been moved to a left-hand side console, and on the other side of the bike are the buttons for the navigation system. Both set-ups are ridiculously easy to use, and it all became routine after a few days in the saddle.

You like your heating? Well, the Goldwing certainly obliges – both for the rider and pillion. And there are fog lights, too.

Braking, as you’d expect, is a linked set-up, with ABS to complete the picture. Colours are blue or silver.


Really, we’re taking about a niche motorcycle here. The Goldwing certainly isn’t a commuter and it doesn’t dismantle every twisty road in its path – although it’s bloody good fun trying.

However, for a grand tourer it’s beyond reproach – and its decorated 35-year career shows no signs of slowing down. And depreciation is minimal, which is a comforting when you’ve just coughed up $45K.

The Goldwing is big. That basically goes without saying, and that message would even be more sobering if you had to wheel it out of the garage regularly. But that’s not going to happen, as there’s an electric motor to take care of reversing duties.

Speed records certainly aren’t set in reverse, but it’ll climb Mt Everest if you wanted it too – but then radio reception might be an issue…

There’s a contingency for that one – the CD player – but the message is simple: Honda’s designed the Goldwing so that nothing becomes a pressing issue. All bases are covered, and that’s the way it should be for such a stately ship.

It’s really a masterpiece of functionality, and the big girl handles too! I’m not talking sportsbike, knife-through-butter precision, but for simple feedback and control the Goldwing comes up trumps. And that’s all you can ask for in this type of motorcycle genre.

When you consider the massive, near-vertical handlebars are light years away from the contact patch on the road, Honda’s done a meritorious job of making sure there’s still plenty of front-end ‘feel’, which a few ´Wing afficiandos put down to the quantum leap in the suspension from the superseded GL1500 to the current.

Taking all that into account, cornering on the Goldwing does take some preparation time, but that goes without saying. But once that technique is perfected, it’s massively entertaining hustling the Goldwing through sweeping bends – but make sure you jack-up the preload first, as it can’t be done on the fly. There is certainly no oscillation through the bars or anything like that, so cornering is a directional, confidence-inspiring exercise.

And did I tell you it’s a dirt tracker too? On Boxing Day, I made a return trip from Rochester, just south of Echuca (Vic) to Albury (NSW) – a distance of about 520km.

On the way home, I thought I’d take a cheeky shortcut through some back roads that my farming father-in-law once showed me. But time had dulled my geographical senses and, ignoring the constant pleas of the GPS to make my way back to the ‘highway’, I pushed on, but soon found myself on a heavily corrugated unsealed road, with built-up sections of powder-puff dirt producing a fairly lethal off-road cocktail.

I’ll be honest, I was bracing myself for a ‘fight’, but with the smooth and non-intrusive engine just purring along it wasn’t the sphincter-puckering outcome I was expecting.

Honda Goldwing prototype M1

The flat six engine on the Goldwing is now a mainstay, and the fuel-injection is sweet – although do give it a few minutes to warm up before taking off. That’ll eliminate the prospect of stalling at low speed and dropping the bike – something that’s happened to me once on a BMW K 1200 GT.

While the drivetrain is as smooth as silk – as you’d expect from a shaft drive set-up – the gearbox occasionally lets the team down by jumping out of gear. Fourth gear appeared to be the main culprit during its stay at the Bikesales Network, but the panacea was being more forceful on gear changes.

While I’m in gripe mode, there is also a big time delay between ‘setting’ the cruise control and when it actually engages, but that’s something which isn’t too onerous to live with. After all, I could be in worse places than cruise control on a motorcycle.

Fuel consumption is excellent for such a massive package: it only consumed an average of 6.4lt/100km over a two-week period.

The brakes on the Goldwing are excellent, and could not be better suited to the job. I made a few emergency stops – one for a stray dog – and the combined ABS is faultless.

Naturally pillions love the thing, and on Christmas Day it was my nine-year-old son enjoying the delights on a sojourn from Melbourne to Echuca – and his Lady Gaga CD sounded superb through the audio system, which was a bittersweet moment. The system is quite brilliant.

While my son loved it, a few people did say that they’d rather walk than go pillion on the Goldwing, but I’m sure their posturing would change as soon as they melted into the back seat. It may not be uber-cool, but who cares when you’re sitting in absolute comfort for thousands of kilometres?

There you have it. The Goldwing is a redoubtable road warrior, but it certainly isn’t as intimidating or ungainly as many people think. In fact, it’s quite the opposite.

Go for a ride yourself, and it just might be the circuit breaker into the big time – literally.

Click on the following link to visit the Goldwing Luxury in Bike Showroom.



Type: Liquid-cooled, SOHC, 12-valve, horizontally opposed six-cylinder

Capacity: 1832cc

Bore x stroke: 74mm x 71mm

Compression ratio: 9.8:1


Type: Five-speed, and a reverse motor

Final drive: Shaft


Frame type: Multi-box-section dual-spar aluminium

Front suspension: 45mm air assist telescopic forks. 140mm travel

Rear suspension: Pro-Link Pro Arm with electronically controlled spring preload adjustment; 105mm travel

Honda Goldwing prototype M1
Honda Goldwing prototype M1
Honda Goldwing prototype M1

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