By Trevor Hedge

Honda’s stripped out Gold Wing based bagger has arrived. Dubbed the F6B (Flat 6 Bagger), it marries the excellent chassis and powerplant of Honda’s premium luxury flagship, with less trinkets and a slimmer profile.

The result is lighter handling along with better acceleration and braking but the kindest cut of all is to the price: at $24,990 the cruiser-styled F6B undercuts the Gold Wing by more than $10,000!

Gone is the Gold Wing’s air-bag, cruise control, reverse gear, rear speakers, satellite navigation, illuminated switchgear and self-cancelling indicators. On the road not much of that is missed, however, the crude blanking plug on the huge right hand switch-block where the cruise control buttons have been removed was an eye sore that grated.

The good stuff carried over from the Wing includes goodies like integrated panniers, four-speaker iPod and USB compatible stereo system, handy centre storage compartment in place of the Gold Wing’s air-bag, powerful brakes, proper suspension, a well proven shaft-drive system and a colossal 1832cc flat-six engine that, despite being largely unchanged since its introduction in 2001, still provides epic turbine-like momentum.

And that donk is indeed epic, but in a very different way than its twin-cylinder contemporaries in this bagger segment of the market.

The differences can be felt at start up without even needing to hit the road. Where the big twins will stir lazily into life the Gold Wing starts with clinical precision and smoothness. That relative feel continues from the engagement of first gear, to pulling away from a standstill. The Gold Wing leaps forward off the throttle with a startling level of acceleration while the big twins lope forward with each stroke of their huge pistons clearly felt by the rider.  First gear is a little shorter than I would prefer, especially considering the massive grunt available from idle.

Each approach certainly has its relative merits and for a lot of riders the big twins, despite offering much less power and torque everywhere, will still win favour thanks to their comparatively relaxed thudding characteristics. That is not to say the F6B’s big six ever feels hurried – it only revs to 6000rpm, it just doesn’t thud away underneath you like a big twin.

However, don’t let the relative lack of theatre from the Honda fool you, it carries a very big stick and smashes the big twins out of the ballpark for torque right from idle. Leaving any big twin pilot sucking its exhaust fumes from standstill at the traffic lights, or on the exit of any bend. The F6B just rockets towards the horizon.

It doesn’t have that big twin exhaust note, yet still sounds pretty good when you get up it; think Porsche 911 if you are a Europhile or 265 Hemi Six-Pack Charger if you’re a bogan, like me.

Despite the same claimed chassis geometry and 125mm ground clearance I did get the (possibly mistaken) impression that the F6B touched its undercarriage down earlier than I remember the Gold Wing reaching scrape angles. I believe the quicker steering of the F6B, thanks to the weight that has been shed from up high in comparison to the Wing, brought me to that fallacious conclusion. The F6B really does lean into a turn quite eagerly and lures you into riding fast, and thus carrying more lean angle as a result. While on many of the opposition you would be throwing sparks ten-degrees earlier and wobbling towards the bushes…

Clearly, the handling abilities of the F6B and the Gold Wing do not even deserve the insult of being compared to the cruiser derived baggers on the market. The Honda’s steering, handling and dynamic capabilities are far beyond the cruiser based competition, which feel like compromised sleds by comparison.

Ride quality is another huge positive standout for the Honda thanks to its Gold Wing derived chassis. Pillion accommodations are also vastly better than most of the F6B’s competition which – married with the incomparable ability of the F6B’s rear suspension to cope with sharp bumps – make the F6B by far the better choice for two-up touring. Shorter folk will also appreciate the marginally lower 725mm seat height of the F6B compared to the Gold Wing.

The Honda’s short screen (a larger screen is an optional extra) really helps distinguish the F6B from its Gold Wing roots but the price is paid by the rider through the increased amount of wind buffeting. It is not adjustable either, which is a shame. Especially considering the fantastic seat and long distance touring potential provided by the generous 25-litre fuel tank.

Still, those few bugbears aside, dynamically in every way, the F6B really does set a new standard in the bagger segment. And at a price point that shames the competition.

  • Honda F6B Specifications
  • Engine – Liquid cooled, 12-valve, SOHC, flat-six
  • Capacity – 1832cc
  • Bore s Stroke – 74 x 71mm
  • Compression Ratio – 9.8:1
  • Claimed Power – 116hp @ 5500rpm
  • Claimed Torque – 167Nm @ 4000rpm
  • Induction – PGM fuel-injection
  • Transmission – 5-speed
  • Final Drive – Shaft
  • L x W x H – 2605 x 945 x 1455mm
  • Wheelbase – 1690mm
  • Seat Height – 725mm
  • Ground Clearance – 125mm
  • Fuel Capacity – 25 litres
  • Front Suspension – 45mm forks
  • Rear Suspension – Preload adjustable Pro-Link Pro-Arm
  • Tyres – 130/70-18 (F), 180/60-16 (R)
  • Front Brakes – 296mm twin discs with three-piston calipers, DCBS, ABS
  • Rear Brake – 316mm, three-piston caliper, DCBS, ABS
  • Frame – Diamond box section aluminium twin-spar
  • Rake – 29 degrees 15 minutes
  • Trail – 109mm
  • Kerb Weight – 385kg
  • RRP – $24,990 +ORC
  • Warranty – Two years, unlimited km

—  Trev’s Addendum: If I was spending someone else’s money, my personal preference would still point me towards a Harley Street Glide. Despite the Street Glide being slower, more uncomfortable and to be frank, fairly crap at everything in comparison to the F6B, it just floats my boat both aesthetically and from the saddle.  That’s because as far as Harley’s go, their touring line-up (Street Glide, Road Glide, Road King, Ultra Classic Electra Glide) are actually much better rides than their car-park-fashion-hero brethren (Dyna/Softail/Sporty etc.), while still providing that distinct Harley feel. And while you are cruising on towards the horizon with the tunes blaring, it’s that ‘feeling’ that you’re after. Even if your arse aches like hell after feeling every sharp edged bump in the road. Not to mention the extra hip pocket hurt to the tune of nearly ten grand more to get on a Street Glide.

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7 Response Comments

  • C. Scott  July 17, 2015 at 11:56 PM

    I’m guessing you’ve never had the privelege of riding a Harley CVO with the 110 cid engine? Trust me, your reviews are probably spot on for the SB6, however I’d line up with and SMOKE an SB6 off the line on my CVO, all day every day. My bike make 100% of it’s torque down LOW which your flat 6 DOES NOT. So hey, bring it! You’ll see a whole lot of my pretty LED tailights and my concours level gold dust flame paint job as I dust you. Other than that? have a wonderful day! Besides, Harley’s have SOUL,

    • D McGill  July 25, 2015 at 10:45 AM

      Yeah but lets be fair here. How much did your CVO cost???????

    • SteveO  November 11, 2015 at 3:38 PM

      and my Star Stratoliner would smoke your over priced CVO big time. 113 ci against your 103ci. All my friends have Harleys and none dare to race me because they know I will leave them so far behind. Oh and I paid $12,000.00 US for my Star. New.

    • Burt Mangham  January 24, 2017 at 5:41 AM

      Dear cvo owner. I have both the F6b and a HD like yours. If you would care to meet me to race for ownership of you scooter I will ride to you and we can settle the question. Just post the time and place. Down low or up high there is not a CVO on earth that can run with the F6b. I love both of these bikes but you truly do not know of what you are speaking.

  • lloyd tompkins  September 6, 2015 at 2:30 AM

    where you from scott i’ll throw my STOCK f6b against your over priced glitter bomb anyday title for title

  • MIKE  August 2, 2016 at 6:24 AM

    Fell for the HD marketing for way too many years. My F6B is light years ahead of anything on two wheels. No more numbing vibrations and defening noise. Never gonna look back because there is nothing in my mirrors!

  • M1  January 30, 2017 at 2:58 PM

    Good review, with the Honda genuine taller windscreen wind buffetting is nearly eliminated & the music can be clearly heard at 110km highway riding. I recently purchased a Honda Goldwing F6B it handles extremely well in corners & is very well balanced with low COG it balances easy even at walking speed.
    The gearbox is smooth, quiet, precise, the shaft drive is also quiet and offers no lag or take up. The brakes are the best I have experienced on a touring motorcycle, super powerful, the suspension is comfy and easily handles two up riding with ease.
    The 1832cc flat 6 cylinder engine is amazingly smooth + powerful, the flat torque curve is unbeliveable, you must experience it to understand, the Goldwing flat 6 donk is truely a masterpiece.
    Two up touring is very comfortable, with plenty of storage compartments available for overnighters.If your on the fence thinking about buying a F6B go for it, you wont be dissapointed with this brilliant touring motorcycle -10 out of 10.