- Testing of DCT and mechanical gearbox versions
- After five years of waiting, the Honda road flagship is completely reinventing itself. Aesthetics, mechanics, electronics and dynamic behavior propels the GoldWing into the third millennium. A philosophical continuum in global physical rupture. From then on, the novelty proves to be…
- In the saddle
- In the city
- Motorway and expressways
- Comfort / Duo
- The Honda GL1800 GoldWing video test
Testing of DCT and mechanical gearbox versions
After five years of waiting, the Honda road flagship is completely reinventing itself. Aesthetics, mechanics, electronics and dynamic behavior propels the GoldWing into the third millennium. A philosophical continuum in global physical rupture. From then on, the novelty proves to be undeniably attractive and…. different.
Become a benchmark and icon of superlative road cars, almost a brand in its own right, the GoldWing has been synonymous with comfortable travel and extraordinary mechanical amenities for more than 30 years..
Designed for the American market, the GoldWing saga began in 1974/1975, in the form of a mega-roadster with a 1,000 cc 4-cylinder boxer engine, the GL 1000. Honda’s first water-cooled model with a shaft transmission. gimbal, the Honda GL also featured other innovations. Thus, its false tank housed an expansion tank and a chest. The real bottle was located under the saddle and was associated with a fuel pump, a device not very common on a motorcycle at the time. Absence of overturning torque and a primary reduction gearbox already generated unrivaled smoothness..
These aspects of innovations in the service of comfort and mechanical softness will be the hallmarks of successive models. Le Repaire des Motards has made a detailed reminder that we invite you to consult (follow the proposals for related articles at the bottom of the test).
Designed in the ancient millennium and overhauled many times from 2001 to 2017, the GL 1800 completely reinvents itself, without denying any of its essential qualities as a luxury traveler. Obviously, it is in the USA, where the Gold is an institution, in Austin – Texas, that Honda invited us to test its new flagship. On the program, two days of driving on the roads of Uncle Sam to better discover the winged traveler.
According to Mr. Yutaka Nakanishi, responsible for the development of the GL1800 GoldWing 2018, the key word of this major development is compactness, lightness, to remain the showcase of general excellence of the brand (comfort, mechanics, technology). On a common engine and chassis basis, the new Gold Wing offers 2 specific versions: Standard "Bagger" type with integrated side cases and a "Tour" version, with cases and streamlined top-case and its large backrest. On the French market, this GL1800 Gold Wing Tour will only be available in a DCT / Airbag version. We are testing the GoldWing Tour DCT and mechanical gearbox versions.
It is an understatement to say that the new opus transfigures its line. No more superlative limousines, welcome to the super GT. A wind of dynamism blows on its volumes and its style, bringing a welcome elegance. The opulent road car becomes a sharp traveler, abandoning the curves for a more chiseled physique. Undoubtedly the Gold has slimmed down and exercised. Taut lines and marked contrast between the different elements gives it a certain sportiness and the idea of dynamic performance claimed. The general fluidity is sensitive and we sometimes find elements of style common to the late CTX 1300, aesthetic machine if ever there was one..
Here, the fairing, seat, engine and exhaust assert their presence, each being reinforced by highlighting the other. The front face is thus dressed in angles and complex surfaces with aerodynamic flats. The front optics, wide and tapered, sign this modernized bow, fully lined with LEDs, like all the lighting. The lower part of each front element includes 5 small lenses generating an original visual signature while the upper part of the optics is reserved for high beams.
Replacing the large windshield of its predecessor, a more compact screen is now and finally, electrically adjustable in height and inclination at the left stalk. Ditto for the bagger version. Note that, with the ignition off, the screen goes back down to the low position so as not to harm the compact aesthetics of the road…. ! As an option, a larger screen, adjustable deflectors for the arms and upper body as well as fixed deflectors for the legs and feet will satisfy the most demanding. The whole is framed by mirrors much better integrated into the machine and the most modern design. They always include turn signals, which are automatically recalled after calculating the wheel rotation differential or a period of time..
The volumes narrow at the sides, spinning above the iconic 6-cylinder flat, now widely put forward, finally revealing all its aesthetic power. In the upper part, the sides are indented, forming a flat across the entire width, dominated by a stylish central plate flying over the management. This console now only receives a few buttons and a multi-directional wheel. Below, a small central safe, electrically lockable, will accommodate your smartphone to connect it to the machine. In the DCT / Airbag version, i.e. the French version, the inflatable cushion takes over ….
The whole plunges towards a large one-piece seat, always distinguishing the pilot seat from the passenger seat. Under this element, the tank is always placed at the lowest. Its capacity of 21.1 L is 4 units less than that of the old model. But, significantly lighter and, as we have seen, more aerodynamic, fuel consumption should improve by 20% (5.6 l / 100). Thus, the autonomy would therefore be unchanged…. To confirm.
Originally designed to generate a real "calm zone" around the crew by large fairings, the new design changes the approach without denying this comfort. It rationalizes shapes and reduces volumes by channeling air flows around the pilot and his passenger. A point to which we will be attentive during the test. This study also took into account the management of calories released by the engine block, now much freer from the fairings..
This reduction in general volume is logically accompanied by that of the load capacity. Honda is reassuring, arguing that its consumer studies showed that the majority of users do not leave more than 2 or 3 days, with little luggage. The top case of the "Tower" version, illuminated internally by an LED, modernizes its volumes by flaring upwards. It is now removable and a hood then finalizes the stern. Its 50 liters still house 2 full-face helmets – we have verified – but of medium size and of course not of the modular type. With the side cases, it has a loading capacity of 110 liters. It is suddenly 40 liters less (-25%) than the previous model and those who left with the lady for more than a week will find the cure pushed too far. Optionally, it is possible to install a luggage rack on the topcase and specific travel bags are also available.
On the Gold Wing Tour, the passenger seat is nestled in a large top-case / padded backrest. Both Golds feature large side cases, continuing the streamlined / beveled rear aesthetic of the old model. Finally, the stern ends with a large double rear light but abandons those fitted to the top-case, which have become optional..
This assembly is based on a large section rear aluminum frame, welded at four points to the main frame, double diamond-type aluminum spar, in die-cast aluminum and clearly narrow. A remarkable novelty, this structure is paired with a new double wishbone front suspension. Separating the damping and guiding functions, it provides geometric stability when braking and allows the 40 mm steering gear to be brought closer to the legendary 6-cylinder block.
The latter, completely overhauled, above all has a modified bore / stroke ratio (73 x 73 mm against 74 x 71) which further promotes engine torque at all times. If the value does not vary, 17 da.Nm, the maximum is now obtained 500 turns higher (4,500 rpm). No worries at low revs, on the contrary, the force curve is noticeably optimized at each end, starting and ending higher than before. This guarantees an ever greater availability of mechanical leviathan…. The power improves little, passing to 124 hp (against 118) at 5,500 rpm. But, combined with so much torque, the blast effect will be even more addicting.
Main new features: the Ride by Wire electronic throttle grip offers 4 engine modes that manage the response of the 6 cylinders and also adjust damping, torque control and DCBS (double coupled ABS) braking. Combined with the DCT double-clutch transmission, the stop & start system and hill start assist optimize daily driving comfort. Likewise, the valves are angled.
The technical characteristics, very numerous, are to be found in the appropriate section.
Finally, let us recall the lightening of many elements, engine, chassis, ABS…. Depending on the version chosen, up to nearly 48 kg have been gained compared to the older generation. Thus, the previous GoldWing had a weight of 413 kg in running order. The novelty proudly displays 365 kilos, ready to go in the bagger version and 379 kg for the "Tour" version, comparable to the old opus, ie 34 less. Finally, the "Tour DCT / Airbag" version is announced for 383 kg in running order. As standard, the central stand easily parks the machine.
And, in addition, the center of gravity has been lowered by 32 mm, from 524 to 492 mm. Another point of importance, the geometry is also evolving: 30.5 ° for hunting (+ 1.35 °) and 109 mm for drag, with a wheelbase of 1,695 mm (+ 5 mm). The stability should therefore be optimal.
Always more shiny, the Diva of the roads also takes care of her dress. thus, the paints consist of an even finer and shinier base coat. A second layer, also optimized, clearer, provides increased depth. Finally, a varnish protects these shimmering surfaces…
In the saddle
Life aboard the Gold Wing Tour also witnessed profound changes, transforming the Honda from the limousine to the GT. The comfort of a cozy lounge with a club chair seems to have been revisited by a contemporary designer, certainly talented, but bringing many changes. At a saddle height of 745 mm, barely up (+5), the maxi road combines a smaller leg arch, optimizing accessibility. No more encompassing custom-type backsplash which limited movement during maneuvering. The new seat, always so attractive, allows more ease. It retains, however, at the end of the pilot’s seat, a short lumbar support. However, more rigid, this flange is less pleasant in the long run..
Induced by the new saddle and slightly set back footrests, the posture straightens the bust even more. Ideal, natural, the bending of the legs calls for no comment. The driving position of the rider and passenger is now 36 mm further forward. The evolution is light but sensitive, leaving the hands more resting on the half-handlebars. The latter is equipped with shorter bridges, now linked to the pivot links of the triangulated train. Dynamically, the tops of the mechanism rise and fall following the movements of the suspension, intriguing the eye during the first few meters..
At the top of the cockpit, a new retractable wind deflector allows an air flow to be directed towards the pilot when the bubble is raised. The new GL800 Gold Wing Tour pushes the boundaries of equipment, offering the same levels of trim and instrumentation as a last-generation sedan. The cockpit is a large space where a large TFT screen and two analog dials (tachometer and tachometer) coexist elegantly. These, surrounded by a large brushed metal ring, testify to a great aesthetic refinement. Backlit indexes, perfectly legible indications and discreet but stylish hands add an "artisanal" finish to the Japanese flagship. Everything is illuminated by dimmable diodes.
At the ends, two LCD windows group together the usual information: gear indicator light, fuel and oil temperature gauge, odometer, partial double, remaining range, average and instantaneous consumption, average speed, tire pressure, etc..
Placed in a central position, the 7-inch TFT active matrix color display automatically adjusts its brightness according to ambient conditions; but the pilot can also choose between 8 different levels. It brings together information from the audio and navigation systems as well as less common machine interface settings. All the functions are adjustable by controls associated with the left and right stalk switches and / or on the central console.
Completely new, backlit, they are intuitive and more compact. Note that the DCT command now only offers D and Manual mode. The engine electronics indeed control the gearbox according to four profiles and the old DCT Sport mode is therefore no longer useful. Particularly neat, the pushers are easy to handle and their operation is very high quality. However, the whole requires a "learning of the fingers" to use them without taking your eyes off the road. In addition, the multi-directional group of the left handle is redundant with that of the center console. However, when stationary, we may prefer the latter, which is easier to grasp..
Remarkably intuitive, the general ergonomics like that of the digital interface are pleasant and simple. So, having to quickly take possession of my test Gold Wing, due to a hectic journey (31h to reach my destination), I did not have the usual explanations. Despite everything, in a few kilometers, I seized the essential and even more, of the many electronic possibilities.
We will still regret several things about this new GL 1800 Gold Wing Tour, luxury showcase of the Honda brand. The absence of various equipment: adaptive lights, electrically retractable mirrors (manual only), ABS system taking into account the inclination in bends, etc. In addition, the opening / closing of the top-case is imprecise, just like the handling of the fuel tank (place of the airbag in France) and that of the head-up deflector. Pity.
In the city
Awakening a flat 6 is always a pleasure, as the chanting that emanates from it is an ode to noble mechanics. Deep and hoarse, the voice of the 6-cylinder is louder than before, already admitting a more dynamic temperament. Its smoothness is more rumbling from mid-revs and sporty on the last range of the tachometer. Likewise, the air box amplifies this sensation of titanic breathing. On my DCT version, the gearbox ensures quick and almost imperceptible gear changes. Silent-blocks placed on the selection forks as well as on the main axle and a spring shock absorber, installed between the clutch and the primary shaft, reduce any mechanical noise. With the manual gearbox, the selection is also very smooth and precise. But we quickly realize the interest of automation on such a machine. It clearly amplifies comfort and serenity on board.
Exceptionally, the availability of the block allows to evolve in agglomeration on the 5th gear. However, this smoothness is sometimes attenuated by the electronic accelerator, causing a jerk on the go-around, both in DCT gearbox and manual..
But it is the front axle that surprises the most at very low speed. More rigid, the double wishbone and return rods, associated with a more open geometry, make it lose a certain neutrality during very tight maneuvers where the steering then requires a little more effort. It also "falls" more. The pneumatic mounting in 200 mm against 180 on the old Gold does not play in favor of the novelty at this level either. But its grip also reveals less weight on the front. However, it is a (small) evil for a (big) good, we will see it later.
The new Gold Wing DCT also offers a "maneuver" mode which allows it to travel at a speed of 1.8 km / h in forward gear and 1.2 km / h in reverse. This function is accessible by a dedicated control on the left stalk. During activation, it is the double clutch gearbox that is requested. The first then drives forward, the second allows to reverse. This configuration ensures much more smoothness and precision and frees the pilot from the whine of the old electric motor which formerly provided only reverse gear..
We quickly appreciate this feature during U-turns or other parking maneuvers.
Finally, wide and clear, the mirrors return an excellent rear-view image and are completely free of vibration, whatever the look..
Placing the Gold Wing Tour in Texas traffic is no problem. Obvious, the super GT is heading to the eye. More compact and placing its pilot less "in" the machine, it provides greater ease in moving in an urban environment. However, on his handlebars, we impatiently wait to cross the great spaces cut to his measure..
Motorway and expressways
Evidence of reduced inertia, the block is more lively and propels the Gold effortlessly on our first "highway". Not very obvious at first glance, the turn signal control lets me insert myself without witnesses. The hand then naturally learns the position of the controls. We "cruise" then serenely, speed regulator engaged, behind the adjustable screen protecting even the largest. At the legal motorway, the ample mechanical buzzes at 2,700 rpm. More present, this new sound signature resonates more and could interfere on long journeys. Always available, the block is appreciated more in automatic transmission, relaunching the crew with ease at any speed. Less demonstrative in manual gearbox, the staging of the selection in 6th requires to enter a report if one wants more enthusiasm. At 150 km / h, the flat 6 took only 500 laps…. and everything is calm on board, the stability is excellent. Ditto if we still go up to very high speeds. Nothing disturbs the balance of the winged long haul. The much higher rigidity of the new opus, optimized air flow and better damping reinforce the dynamic pleasure on expressways. Good news for lovers of fast cruises.
But, again, the new definition of the Honda spacecraft proves a more dynamic GT orientation. Low temperatures (3 to 8 ° C) emphasize the presence of previously less noticeable air flows. At the level of the hands, the sides of the pilot and the external parts of the legs, the cold is more sensitive. With its more compact design, the machine admits less protection but overall satisfactory. Thus, a light rain does not invite itself on board. In addition, the passenger is now much better off, the deflection generated by the bubble ensures much more comfort..
We could therefore fall asleep on the asphalt spinning towards the American West. To gauge its agility, we take the Gold on "roller coaster" style roads ….
On the secondary US network, it is time to use the different modes managing the mood of the mega GT; "Economical" will appeal to calculators and other followers of reasoned driving. In use, "Touring" is the most homogeneous, letting the gearbox give the best of the flat 6, without being too sharp. This outlaw side of the roads is devoted to the "Sport" profile, transforming the Gold Wing into a shock cruiser. Maintained by the DCT box on a high engine range, the unit reveals ever better health up to the red zone (6,000 rpm). Roaring like a speedboat, the novelty surfs on the meanders of the asphalt, martyring its Dunlop D243 compounds on severe revivals. The breath of the 6-cylinder is always Dantesque, propelling the Honda flagship from turn to turn. Intuitive, the Gold presents a more sporty face, delivering increased precision. Although the rear tire increases to 200 mm (against 180 before), agility hardly suffers in dynamics and the 17 da.Nm of torque pass even better on the ground. On wet roads, the anti-skidding is watchful, effective although a little long to give back control. But in Sport configuration, the rear slips are more permissive…. advice to amateurs, 379 kg crosswise always has a small effect.
Lowered center of gravity, more rigid chassis and suspensions automatically adjusted to this dynamic always give more pleasure when driving engaged. In addition, the new fork gives optimal control of the front end and the suspension tuning allows daring without thrill. However, we must keep in mind the respectable weight of the Gold as well as its unchanged and therefore limited ground clearance. But the driver’s enthusiasm is under the excellent control of the double coupled braking, whatever the mode chosen. And ABS, perfectly tuned, can save your day time and time again. Take my word for it ….
It is also an opportunity to fully enjoy mechanical music. Airbox and exhaust make up a most intoxicating major "six" hymn, making you forget the buzz of the motorway. On the other hand, the "Rain" profile is very soft and will leave the most timid crew calm on wet asphalt. Each of the modes show real contrast and really meet different needs.
The same goes for adjusting suspensions. If the engine profiles intervene on the hydraulic adjustment, the spring preload is also modified according to four variables: pilot alone, pilot and top-case loaded, pilot and passenger and full crew with luggage. The differences in damping are noticeable, contributing to optimum machine performance at all times. Only regret, these parameters are only accessible when stopped.
Absorbing all the bitumen defects with equal efficiency, the GL 1800 is endowed with one of the best behavior and equipment at this level of the range. And, always available, the Japanese block envelops its immense strength with an unusual softness. Last detail, at 80 km / h, the mechanical goldsmith wastes its verve at 1,700 rpm…. With this ultra contemplative allure, the Gold Wing Tour becomes a charming road vessel, as the fullness of Zen inhabits the crew. Turn up the volume so you don’t fall asleep, the sound system is very good up to 110 km / h. Radio, bluetooth, digital radio, Apple Car Play, the Honda is a multimedia hub.
The very rigid assembly of the new chassis (frame, swing arm, triangulated fork) transforms the chassis when the motorcycle is under stress. The generated precision is very sensitive and the heading hold improved in curves. Very flexible in pilot mode alone, the suspension deserves to be more preloaded by a value. Thus, the duo-top-case makes the machine more efficient during dynamic driving in solo-topcase. All the more powerful, the GL 1800 Gold Wing Tour also shows a welcome development. As for the cardan transmission, its smoothness matches that of the gearbox and the engine..
Perfectly suited to the machine, the DCBS system often means that only the brake pedal can be used, combined with calipers. And, when you also grab the lever, the decelerations impress with power and control. Actuated alone, it also controls the rear element, optimizing braking. Likewise, when cornering, the coupled rear brake makes it possible to refine the transition even more precisely. ABS, perfectly calibrated, adds to the feeling of safety and the machine no longer dives when braking.
Comfort / Duo
Less superlative, the protection of the pilot slows down a little at certain levels, with the benefit of redefined aerodynamics and a more acceptable physical size. In addition, the new screen greatly improves the comfort aspect of the crew and in particular the passenger. The latter will find its backrest less soft and the armrests a little low. Grabbing the grab handles will also be less obvious at first glance..
During our test of 300 kilometers and many highway, the average consumption was 5.8 liters per 100 km. With a more committed piloting, the result is 6.4 units. But you can ride much cooler than on a test of this type. The 21.1 liters of capacity of the container can therefore take the mount with the golden wings a long way..
Often an object of immoderate and sometimes blind love of their owner, the Gold engenders a marriage of passion, denying certain lacks. The news provokes a rupture of reason, more generally a source of renewal before a new relationship. This is what the new GL 1800 Gold Wing Tour offers and succeeds. Fluidity, dynamism, modernity, efficiency and performance, the Honda breaks its image to better approach the new millennium; and his admirers. For regulars, it offers more ease of handling, for future new buyers, it brings the dynamics and style that it previously lacked..
The different versions, available from April 2018, display their prices as follows: Gold Wing Standard (bagger) € 25,999, Gold Wing Tour € 32,999 and the Gold Wing Tour DCT / Airbag € 35,999.
Note that the Standard bagger version has no torque control, no electric suspension adjustment, no heated seats and is only available in manual gearbox..
The Honda has few real competitors; At BMW, the K 1600 B, a powerful 6-cylinder bagger, is priced at 23,250 € and its road counterpart K 1600 GTL 24,800 €. On the USA side, the Harley-Davidson Road Glide Special asks for € 27,290; far from Japanese technology.
More expensive than the latter and its predecessors, the GL 1800 Gold Wing Tour only increases by 2,400 € (manual gearbox) and 5,400 € for the DCT / Airbag. And, given the technological progress and part-cycle, the increase is justified. However, at this price, as we have seen, certain details (equipment, operation of the safes) should not suffer from any defects or lacks..
To choose is to renounce. With its new GL 1800 Gold Wing, Honda offers a modernized, new version of its philosophy of luxury road tourism. Dynamism is part of the journey; will you be able to take this turn ?
- Sleek aesthetics
- Technological equipment
- General ergonomics
- Character and availability of flat 6
- Triangulated fork
- Fast and precise DCT box
- On-road sound
- Comfort and protection of the bubble
- Smaller template
- Ride by Wire generating jerks in the city
- Decreasing neutrality at very low speed
- Perfectible top-case closure
- Manually retractable mirrors
- No angled valves
The technical sheet of the Honda GL 1800 GoldWing
- GL1800 Gold Wing Std: Majestic Silver
- GL1800 Gold Wing "Tour": Candy Red, Pearl White
- GL1800 Gold Wing "Tour" DCT / Airbag: Black Darkness, Two-tone Candy Red + Black
- Darkness metallic
The Honda GL1800 GoldWing video test
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