’18 Honda Gold Wing Tour
What do you get when you put a 50-year-old on a great motorcycle? One extremely happy young man!
This was the case when Roy from Honda Wing Umhlanga called to offer me a two-day stint on the “from the wheels up” new Honda Gold Wing Tour. I haven’t been this excited and amped up in a very long time. But first I wanted to ride the previous model to really identify and ultimately appreciate the improvements Honda presented in this 2018 model. And boy, are the major in every way!
Enter, the Ultimate Performance Touring Machine – the all-new Honda Gold Wing Tour
What lies over the horizon? Beyond our town or city, our province? Beyond the predictable, the expected? And what’s the best way to experience it?
We ride motorcycles because they’re such engaging, active, and personal machines. Travel the same roads in a car and on a bike, eat at the same restaurants, see the same sights, and then tell us which trip is the most memorable.
Honda’s 2018 Gold Wing Tour is an all-new motorcycle this time around, designed to put you more in touch with the essential experience of riding. Changing a bike as good and as refined as a Gold Wing Tour isn’t something you undertake lightly. So, the folks at Honda set out to improve the newest model in every category:
Engineering. Handling. Technology. Comfort. Performance. The new Gold Wing Tour is lighter, more powerful, nimbler, and more engaging. It’s a better motorcycle in every way.
What lies beyond? Why not ride there and find out…
The new Gold standards of Motorcycling
The Honda Gold Wing is probably the best-known bike in all of motorcycling, a machine that single-handedly defines what a touring bike should be. But now it’s time to forget just about everything you thought you knew this bike was because the new 2018 Gold Wing Tour is designed for the way we ride today. Maybe in high school or varsity sports, you had a coach who taught you something called the athletic stance. Poised, balanced, feet spread about shoulder’s width apart, leaning forward slightly. It’s the way you stood on a netball court, on a rugby field, or ready to rush the net on a tennis court. It’s the same with motorcycling. The new Gold Wing Tour is designed to be more athletic, more engaging, to give you a greater sense of being one with your bike. The difference between the two? The Gold Wing Tour has a taller windscreen, a top-box (or boot), and a full complement of touring-bike features.
The new 2018 Gold Wings still use a horizontally opposed six-cylinder engine, but that’s where all similarity ends. The new bikes feature a new bore and stroke, and a displacement punched out to 1833cc. Even more important, they’re the first Gold Wings to use four valves per cylinder, a design based off our high-performance Unicam® head design. The new engine also features aluminium cylinder sleeves and a shorter, stiffer crank. The engine is more compact front-to-back, and that lets you and your passenger move forward in the cockpit for more comfort, better handling, and a more connected feel with the bike’s steering. Other innovations include integrating the starter and
alternator into one unit. The overall effect is ground-breaking: a Gold Wing that’s still a long-distance champion, but one that offers a degree of engaged, a sporting performance that all motorcyclists live for.
Aluminum Cylinder Sleeves
High-strength aluminium cylinder sleeves help reduce weight, increase cooling efficiency, and reduce engine length. The 73mm cylinder bore and short, high-strength crankshaft also help make the engine more compact.
Unicam Cylinder Head Design
The new engine uses four-valve, Unicam® cylinder head design. That improves engine performance and power and contributes to the engine’s weight reduction. The four-valve per cylinder design is also a big part of the new Gold Wing’s improved fuel efficiency.
7-Speed Automatic DCT Transmission: This is huge news for 2018. For the first time ever, both the Gold Wing and the Gold Wing Tour are available with a brand new 7-Speed Automatic DCT. If you’re not familiar with it, think of the paddle-shift gearboxes Formula 1 cars use.
DCT stands for Dual-Clutch Transmission. Inside, the transmission looks like a normal manual, with strong, efficient, constant-mesh steel gears. But there’s no shift lever and no clutch lever—all your shifting is controlled by buttons on the handlebar, or you can let the DCT function fully automatically, and the bike will upshift and downshift effortlessly. The twin clutch packs, one for odd
gears, one for even, making shifting quick and seamless. The DCT has been a big hit on many Honda motorcycles, and our Africa Twin® has proven it’s tough enough for fully loaded off-road travel. But the 2018 Gold Wing Tour has the best DCT Honda has ever offered and the first with seven speeds. Even better, our DCT models offer a special low-speed “Walking” mode, in addition, to reverse (see our Models and Options chart for more information). It’s a huge help when manoeuvring into or out of parking spaces with a passenger on the back.
6-Speed Manual Transmission: Many Gold Wing riders still prefer a traditional manual transmission. Fear not – Honda has you covered. You can opt for a conventional gearbox on both the Gold Wing and Gold Wing Tour models. But they’ve gone ahead and made it even better for 2018, by adding a sixth speed. Closing up the gearbox ratios makes it easier to pick the perfect gear for sportier riding, yet the overdrive sixth still serves up relaxed top-gear cruising.
Honda has given the new Gold Wing’s with manual transmissions a slipper clutch, just like our premium sportbikes. It only makes sense—the 1833cc engine delivers tons of power, and the new chassis lets you ride this Gold Wing like a sportbike. Twisty roads? Bring ’em on!
Exhaust Double Wall Pipes
You may think this is just for cosmetics, but on a hot day single-wall exhaust pipes can throw off a lot of heat. The new Gold Wing’s twin-wall design keeps things cooler. Plus, this is the best sounding Gold Wing they’ve ever built!
Because the 2018 Gold Wing is lighter, you’d expect it to be more fuel efficient. But lighter weight is just the start. Combined with the new engine, new intake system, and new four-valve design, estimated fuel economy is up 22%. Want to really squeeze the last mile out of every drop? Try the “Econ” ride mode setting.
A big leap forward for 2018: The new Gold Wing DCT models feature “Walking Mode,” which lets you creep forward under power at a walking pace. Think how easy it will be to get in and out of tight parking spots with a fully loaded bike.
Of course, the new Gold Wing still features cruise control, and with our new throttle-by-wire system it’s better than ever.
One of the first things any rider will notice about the 2018 Gold Wing Tour is the radical new double wishbone front suspension. Gone is the familiar telescopic fork, replaced with a strong, twin-leg structure, a pair of “A” arms and a single shock and spring. Why? The innovative, Honda-engineered design changes the path the wheel follows through the suspension’s travel, making it more of a vertical movement. That lets us move both the engine and the rider/passenger closer to the front wheel for improved handling.
A hundred years ago, cars had hand-cranked engines, motorcycles had manual spark advances, and your telephone—if you had one—was a wooden box screwed to the wall. Who wants to go back to that? Technology is part of our lives today, and the smart motorcyclist embraces it. So, do the new Gold Wings. They offer a suite of technologic/electronic features that make planning and riding easier, freeing you up to enjoy the parts of riding where you really want to pay attention. A large, bright seven-inch LCD/TFT display is front and centre, giving you all the information, you want.
Electronics can frustrate you, or they make your life easier. Some systems require you to scroll through layer after layer of non-intuitive commands, pushing a button once, twice, or three times—a recipe for getting lost.
The new Gold Wing Tour takes a different path: a series of dedicated, easy-to-use controls mounted on the handlebar or centre console. Controls like these just make sense on a motorcycle; they’re tactile, positive, and you can use them while wearing gloves. Best of all, they take the frustration level down to about zero. All your electronics should be so user-friendly
Throttle by Wire: The 2018 Gold Wing’s throttle-by-wire system enables features like our exclusive Honda Selectable Torque Control (HSTC), which you’ll find on all our Gold Wing Tour models.
Electronic Preload Suspension: The new Gold Wing Tour’s suspension features four modes for varying loads. You can select (1) Rider, (2) Rider with loaded bags, (3) Rider and passenger, and (4) Rider and passenger with loaded bags.
Ride Modes: Gold Wing engines offer a wide range of user-friendly power, but now you can even choose between four ride modes (Tour, Sport, Rain, and Economy). Each mode varies the bike’s power delivery. On the Gold Wing Tour models, it also changes suspension damping, and on the DCT models, changing modes also alter your bike’s shift points.
Hill Start Assist: This feature momentarily holds your motorcycle’s position on inclines when the brakes are released and before you apply the throttle, eliminating any roll-back drama. It’s a great convenience when starting from a stop on a hill.
Smart Key: Your new Gold Wing features an electronic smart key. When the key is in close proximity (say, in your jacket pocket), you can just hop on, press a button, and ride off. An “answer back” feature lets you find your bike in the dark or in crowded rally parking.
Suspension Modes: When you select a riding mode (Touring, Sport, Rain, Economy), in addition to tailoring the engine’s power character, the mode also changes your suspension’s damping characteristics, automatically controlling the oil flow in the front and rear shocks. This helps optimize the bike’s manoeuvrability and ride under changing road conditions.
Modern motorcycle electronics let the new Gold Wings offer a collection of features impossible to imagine just a few years ago, and the stuff of science-fiction movies when the first Gold Wing appeared. Some are convenience features, some rider aids. Together, they make your new Gold Wing more fun and more enjoyable to ride.
How you sit on a motorcycle determines how you’ll perform. A well-designed office chair or the pilot’s seat in a fighter jet are designed to keep you alert, active, and engaged for an entire day. That’s the philosophy behind the new 2018 Gold Wing Tour. An added plus: you’ll find your new Gold Wing is just as much fun for shorter, around-town rides as it is on long trips.
Built for the Long Haul
Before the 1980 Gold Wing Interstate, if you wanted a touring bike, you had to add a windscreen and fairing yourself. This time Honda radically rethought the Gold Wing Tour’s fairing and luggage system. The bike still offers excellent wind- and weather protection for both rider and passenger, but it’s leaner now, with a taller windscreen and more of the frame exposed. It’s narrower too, making it more fun to ride on twisty roads. All the luggage opens remotely and features integral dampers.
Fairing: The new Gold Wing’s fairing offers excellent wind and weather protection yet is trimmer and more aerodynamic than our previous models. It also flows more air through new ducting, helping keep you cooler on hot summer days.
Electric Windscreen: You’ll notice a couple of things about the new Gold Wing Tour’s windscreen. First, it’s electrically controlled, moving both up and down over a 120mm range as well as changing its angle as it raises and lowers. Plus, it automatically remembers the last setting.
Luggage: All Gold Wings feature integrated panniers or hard luggage, designed to hold enough for most weekend trips.
The boxes open electrically with the push of a button and lock and unlock remotely with the smart key. They’re hydraulically damped for smooth operation, too.
LED Lighting: All 2018 Gold Wing models feature a complete LED lighting package. All illumination is LED: the headlights, the tail lights, the turn indicators, and every bit of instrumentation.
Seats: The seats use a new material that makes it easier to move around for both rider and passenger, and the front portion of the rider’s seat is narrower, making it easier to reach the ground. The rider can enjoy an optional backrest.
Paints: Even the new Gold Wing’s paint is high tech, using BASF’s nanotechnology. The darks look darker, and the lights look brighter. The paint itself has a luxurious wet appearance.
I trust I’ve given you more than enough to make that golden decision – the Honda Gold Wing decision. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to find the next great machine to ride; a mammoth challenge indeed.