Top test Honda GL 1800
Just like in normal life: If you want to take a seat in the executive chair, you first have to prove yourself. So also “the queen of motorcycles”, as Honda calls the Gold Wing quite immodest. That’s why the super tourer has to be put in the MOTORRAD top test.
It’s amazing how easily the GL slides off its main stand and can be jacked up again if necessary. Also top: the really ample storage space. The luggage system equipped with central locking offers, according to Honda, almost 147 liters of loading capacity, in which the tester’s sports bag and rain gear are almost lost. It’s a shame that the payload is limited to 200 kilograms. Accidentally not closing a suitcase lid properly? No problem, a warning lights up in the multifunction display. Generally very user-friendly and clearly designed, this Gold Wing.
The abundance of switches and buttons is only confusing at first, everything sits where you would expect it from a “normal” motorcycle. Except that the two thumbs have more to do than usual: the left one controls the radio and the on-board radio when necessary, the right one the reverse gear and the cruise control. Nevertheless, it is nice that the friendly Mr. Aoki insists on giving a short briefing before departure. Because of the technical subtleties, he comments. Like the spring base, which can be varied by hydraulics when the engine is running. Two settings can be saved individually in a smart chip – and called up in seconds if necessary. Reverse gear is also engaged simply at the push of a button, which is helpful and necessary for a motorcycle weighing 402 kilograms. Engage idle, then preselect the reversing aid and activate it with the starter button. In this way, the thick ship can be easily maneuvered backwards even in tricky situations.
Okay, let’s go, all right, to glide with pleasure on the Honda from Spain to Germany. First of all, exclusively by road, from Barcelona always along the coast to France. A winding mountain and valley railway with fabulous viewpoints of the Mediterranean. Now just don’t rush, roll up slowly and get used to the monumental Gold Wing. A few bends further the respect for this chunk gives way – and the driving pleasure begins. The appealing six-cylinder pushes the Honda forward with astonishing ease even in steep climbs. A feat, because already at 1600 rpm there is over 130 Newton meters of torque. The whole thing is accompanied by a bewitchingly beautiful sound that lies somewhere between the Ami V8 and the Porsche six-cylinder.
This sensual experience is only clouded by the tinny and hard-working sounding RDS radio, additional boxes in the rear cost an impressive 354 marks extra. So switch off the dingling, prefer to enjoy the boxer sound and the low-vibration engine – all prejudices about Gold Wing driving fly overboard as if by themselves.
Such a thing is only good for driving straight ahead, wobbles through curves like a lamb’s tail and hits brutally hard at the slightest lean angle. Quite a few pals from the sports faction say this or similar about the super tourer. Pah, friends, why not take a test drive, over 100 friendly Honda dealers have demonstration machines ready. And take your better half with you, because they will simply be delighted with the seating comfort in the rear. Only then can you have a say. But be careful, maybe you want to terminate your home loan and savings contract afterwards, because you would rather invest in a GL now – almost 50,000 marks cost price is probably the only deterrent after the test drive.
It is really amazing what kind of motorcycle Mr. Aoki and colleagues have put on the wheels, how skilfully the huge mass is concealed when driving. The handling is above average for a super tourer in this weight class. Lean angle changes can be initiated easily and without great effort, whereby it goes without saying that the Honda does not want to be thrashed from one curve to the next in a sporty manner. She prefers a forward-looking, round driving style with constant pull on the rear wheel, disturbing reactions of the cardan drive are not noticeable. The thick ship shines with a largely neutral steering behavior and a surprisingly large lean angle. Even in very tight bends, it stays on course and does not annoy with pronounced self-steering. But even in faster corners, the accuracy and stability are convincing. A slight agitation is only noticeable in fast and undulating motorway curves over 160 km / h. Tempi that like to put its predecessor, the GL 1500, into a worrying lurch. In return, the richly undamped “old woman” drives much more comfortably over bumpy roads. The more tightly tuned GL 1800 does not react so sensitively to impacts and road edges, which is also due to the specially developed Bridgestone tires. Because of the enormous weight of the Gold Wing and the significantly better driving performance, the tire developers had no choice but to choose a front tire with a particularly stiff carcass construction. Big plus point of the GL 1800: The composite brake system together with a finely regulating ABS ensures good and fade-free deceleration, but the brake requires very high manual forces. The use of the foot brake is also essential for effective braking, as not all pistons on the front and rear wheels of the Honda composite brake are actuated with the handbrake lever. Very beneficial, because the mechanical-hydraulic anti-dive system of the fork, activated via the left brake caliper, has a stabilizing effect when braking.
“Travel instead of lawn” is the motto of the Gold Wing community. And that’s good. Because even at 160 km / h, the six-cylinder treats itself to a good nine liters per 100 kilometers, which severely limits the range despite the 25-liter tank. So it’s better to activate the cruise control at around 130 km / h, which enables stages of over 320 kilometers and thus overall fast progress.
Especially since the GL driver rarely has to take a break like no other two-wheeler. The summary after a good twelve hours of pure driving time, only interrupted by refueling stops: The very best doesn’t hurt, the back of the knees doesn’t pinch, the driver is awake. The comfort could even be described as fantastic, if it weren’t for the thing with the windshield. It is extremely effective in protecting against wind pressure, but at the same time it creates a negative pressure that causes turbulence in the driver‘s neck and back. In the long run, this is very uncomfortable, especially in cold temperatures, as is the lack of standard heated grips. At a basic price of almost 48,000 marks, they should actually be there, just like an electrically operated disk. The manually adjustable draft shield looks like a temporary solution.
VMaybe you kept to it quite deliberately. To be traditional. Or because the many Gold Wing fans who are planning to switch to the GL 1800 have long since come to terms with the fiddly adjustment of the windshield – and something else would be missing.
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Top test Honda GL 1800
The Gold Wing is the »queen of the super tourers«, Honda has not exaggerated. Without breaking with the GL tradition or taking away its character, the Japanese improved their flagship in all respects. However, all of this has its price: just under 48,000 marks are really not a stick.
Was there anything else?
Plus0 Effective engine protection bars0 ABS with fine control and quick reaction to jumps in the coefficient of friction0 Relatively easy turning and maneuvering in tight spaces0 Practical, centralized operation of the luggage system0 Warning display when the luggage system is not closed System) Minus0 Primitive, cumbersome height adjustment of the windscreen0 Hard tire carcass on the front wheel with very little self-damping0 Disruptive drafts in the back and neck area0 When switching quickly, the gears occasionally jump out 0 Warm air duct in the foot area with little effect0 No standard handle heating0 Removal of wheels and maintenance work made more difficult by cladding0 Clear noises Vibrations from the drive from a speed of 160 km / h Chassis adjustment No front adjustment options; Rear also in solo operation with pre-tensioning 20 good comfort and ground clearance, in pillion operation position 25, in city traffic with the lowest pre-tensioning for better maneuverability due to the 15 mm lower seat height Brake deceleration 9.4 m / s2 Comments: Stable braking behavior thanks to the anti-dive system. Good response behavior, but high operating forces are required when braking hard. ABS with fine control. Handling course I. Best lap time 25.7 sVmax. at the measuring point 71.2 km / h Comments: For this weight class surprisingly low steering forces and sufficient lean angle. Overall, unproblematic driving behavior. Handling course II. Best lap time 35.5 sVmax at the measuring point 41.4 km / h Comments: stable, predictable cornering behavior even in narrow slalom, but here the limited lean angle disturbs, crash bars set hard 13.6 sVmax at the measuring point 44.6 km / h Comments: Concept requires limited lean angle, but good-natured cornering behavior with slight understeer. All driving tests were carried out with maximum pre-tension in order to increase the lean angle and maneuverability.
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