The Gold Wing has been around for well over two decades now and in 2001 the new Gold Wing is lighter, more luxurious and a great deal more powerful than ever before.
The new 1,832cc engine delivers 118 horsepower and 125 lb./ft of torque. The cylinders are horizontally opposed (flat / boxer) and 6 in number. The engine revs freely and emits quite a nice bark through the exhaust system. With an aftermarket exhaust, I reckon it would wail a bit like an Aussie six-pack Chrysler Hemi.
Two 40mm diameter injection throttle bodies are fed from a 7 litre airbox. The injectors are Keihin high pressure units with four nozzle tips in each injector.
A little surprising is the fact that the engine has only two valves per cylinder.
As you would expect the engine is electronically controlled and has a built in knock sensor to help things along when fuel quality could be questionable. An automatic choke is fitted and works just fine.
The gearbox has 5 speeds and works very well. It would be nice if the shift was a little more positive but I suppose that is the nature of the beast with touring motorcycles.
Two side mounted radiators are employed to help keep the whole show nice and cool and is designed to direct hot air away from the rider.
Like a lot of us sportsbike fiends I have expressed my previous thoughts to Gold Wing riders like, “Why don’t you just buy a car?”. They seldom bother replying, as they probably get sick of silly comments from the uninformed.
After now travelling many hundreds of kilometres on Honda’s flagship tourer I can tell you here and now the Gold Wing is most definitely a motorcycle in every sense of the word.
It handles much better than you would imagine and is easy to change direction on. Due to the low ‘c of g’ the Gold Wing makes it easier to make changes of direction than on a hard-core sportsbike, hard to believe but true. Of course here I am talking about general changes of direction in traffic etc. and not slamming from full lean angle to full lean angle. No, the Gold Wing is not a sportsbike, and neither does it pretend to be, but I doubt a decent pilot on the Gold Wing be left too far behind on most roads.
The Wing accelerates off the line quick enough to put most sportsbike punters in their place from the traffic lights. 1st gear is good for around 65kph, and if you change to 2nd quick enough the back tyre lights up with wheelspin as the prodigious torque overcomes the amount of grip afforded by the touring rubber.
The frame is aluminium and uses the engine as a stressed member. The Pro Arm single sided swingarm suspends via a single shock with over 100mm of travel and incorporates the shaft drive system.
45mm forks are fitted up front with a cartridge damper and have 140mm of travel. They work quite well for such a large touring motorcycle and gave me no reason for concern during my time with the Gold Wing.
An all new anti-dive system utilises brake fluid pressure generated in the secondary master cylinder and is automatically activated when the brakes are applied and I feel this system does help with the sporty feel of the Gold Wing.
A new, computer controlled adjustable hydraulic rear suspension preload is easily set by the rider with push button controls and two memory settings. The adjustment is done from the same area as the motorised headlight angle adjustment is carried out. 2.5 degrees of headlight adjustment is available from this control.
Most of my time on the Gold Wing I had the stereo blaring. One particularly interesting song that seemed to come on quite often was “Bow, wow, wow,,, yippee yo yippee yay”, now I know why I don’t listen to the radio much these days…. Much better off with the optional CD stacker I reckon.
Is the stereo audible above the wind and engine noise I hear you ask? It certainly is and you can even set the volume to automatically adjust itself higher or lower in relation to what speed you are travelling. And of course there is a mouthpiece extension from the console should you wish to use the CB. Yes that’s right, a 40 channel CB is an optional accessory. Another microphone is provided for the pillion which means you also have a great intercom system.
Two 25 watt stereo speakers are fitted and you have the ability to program 12 FM and 6 AM preset stations. Searching for stations is very easy and can even be done from the left handlebar while on the move.
The optional CB can also be controlled from the handlebar along with selecting which CD from the stacker etc. Of course the normal headlight, horn and indicator switches are also found on the easy to use left controls.
On the right bar you have the controls for the cruise control system and reverse. Oh, did I forget to mention that, you heard correct, the Wing has reverse.
A powerful, 1100-watt alternator helps keep all the electrical systems well supplied and the high beam is good enough to cook small birds at fifty paces. Need to back the bike out of a tight spot and the legs a bit tired, use reverse gear, that’s right people the Gold Wing does the reversing for you.
ABS brakes are optional and work particularly well on this style of bike. Honda’s LBS (Linked Braking System) also makes an appearance and finds it’s natural home on such a motorcycle.
The discs are dual 296mm units up front with 3-piston calipers. Out back a 316mm disc is clamped by another 3-piston caliper and of course the system is all linked via Honda’s LBS.
For the uninitiated a quick explanation of LBS. A second master cylinder and a three-stage proportional control valve (PCV) to couple the three-piston calipers of the dual-front and single-rear brake discs.
Using the front brake lever activates the outer two pistons of the front right-side caliper and the centre piston of the front left-side caliper and, acting through the secondary master cylinder and an inline proportioning valve, the outer two pistons of the rear caliper.
The rear brake pedal operates the centre piston of the rear brake caliper, the centre piston of the front right-side brake caliper and the outer two pistons of the front left-side caliper. A delay valve sensitive to the rider’s pedal pressure smoothes front brake engagement. Phew, got all that? Okay let’s move on.
On the storage side of the equation the Gold Wing is more than well equipped.
The main top box provides 61 litres of storage or 66 litres if the optional CD stacker is not installed.
Two helmets fit easily in to the top box.
The side panniers provide over 40 litres of storage on each side.
The luggage lids are all hydraulic and operate from a convenient remote control.
As you would imagine comfort is unparalleled, much more comfortable than many cars. In fact, I would set off around Australian on one tomorrow given half a chance. The only problem is I haven’t got a spare $40,000 lying around to get myself one.
The seat is well designed, very supportive and reasonably easy to swing a leg over due to the reasonable 740mm seat height. One look at the picture here will tell you all you need to know in regards to comfort levels I am sure.
A new instrument cluster includes white-on-black analogue displays for speedometer, tachometer, coolant temperature and fuel level, and features adjustable backlighting and high-luminescence red pointers.
An LCD clock is located in the speedometer face. A high-resolution 110 x 254 dpi LCD, housed in a separate module, is legible in all lighting conditions and displays the odometer, A/B tripmeter, ambient temperature, audio modes, CB, rear suspension setting, and trunk-open indicator.
Indicator/warning lights are provided for reverse, neutral, overdrive, oil pressure, fuel injection, high beam, side stand, cruise on, cruise set, and low fuel. The fuel tank holds 25 litres and touring range varies from around 250 to 400 kilometres depending on how you ride.
All in all the Gold Wing is an immensely pleasurable motorcycle which I could more than cope with being in my garage. Of course I would need a crotch rocket too for scratching, but for everything else the Wing would suit me just fine. And there would be no way I would be flying to race meetings around Australia, I would be sitting my bum on this baby and covering some serious miles with “Bow wow wow, yippee yo yippee yay” on the radio. On second thoughts, I think I would have to get that optional CD stacker.