KR TEST HONDA GOLDWING
LIVING ON A (GOLDWING) & A PRAYER WORDS: Big Dave PICS: The Co-Pilot
Honda’s latest Goldwing comes complete with an airbag and Satellite Navigation system…. providing Big Dave and the Co-pilot the perfect excuse to escape the city for a weekend. Another month, another BIG Tourer…. in this case’s Honda’s latest Sat-Nav and airbag-equipped Goldwing
aughingly, ludicrously luxurious,” said the Co-Pilot when I asked Her Highness about the throne-like passenger accommodations.
“I normally sit forward and it’s all about knees. Now I just sit back and the world tilts,’ she explained. I thought that was a great summation for the bike too. The world tilts. I like that! Cue the latest notch in our ‘Big Tourer’ belt, Honda’s latest Goldwing, a bike I found to be a unique and delightful surprise. After I got past all the ‘grandpa’ jibes I found there is a whole lot of motorcycle to enjoy. Not, of course, the Gforce-fun of a lithe sports cycle cranked over through a hairpin. And to be fair the huge bodywork and sheer bulk of the thing do leave you a little ‘detached’ from the traditional sensations of everyday motorcycling.
MOTIVE POWER Motive power comes from its liquidcooled SOHC 12-valve flat-6 cylinder engine which has a displacement of 1,832cc in a rather square 74 x 71 bore and stroke and a compression ratio of 9.8:1. It puts out 87kw (about 117hp) at 5500rpm, but that isn’t the important figure. The 167nm of torque it produces at 4000rpm is, because the wonderfully smooth and tastily torquey engine has to push some big, really big – as in 370kg dry/405kg wet – mass along. That said, the relatively nimble handling bears testament to the importance of the height of the centre of gravity in a motorcycle more than the overall mass of the machine, the engine, substantial exhaust system, drivetrain and fluids all slung low in the triple box section, twin spar frame to keep the CoG as low as possible.
It also scores ten out of ten on the Go-Go-Gadget-Dave ‘what’s this button here?’ scale.
In fact I was constantly delighted by the combination of torque, smoothness, stability and agility of the bike once it was moving. Wheeling it around the photo shoot U-turns and getting a bit too brave once or twice while dirt road adventure riding reminded me of the weight of the machine. Though punting it up a dirt track was no big deal and the bodywork didn’t rattle or misbehave.
But that’s not to forget, of course, how well it goes.
Normal manoeuvring was not as big an issue as you might imagine either,
But don’t let anyone tell you this isn’t an enjoyable motorcycle to ride. Whilst its forte is a trans-national jaunt, it doesn’t have to be a very long ride to appreciate the bike either.
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KR TEST HONDA GOLDWING
though once or twice I was glad it had a starter motor operated reverse gear. It’s a big unit. (Yes – Vege pays me for these valuable insights). The wingspan is almost a metre – mirror tip to mirror tip – and at 2665mm overall length is about two thirds that of a compact car. SITTING PRETTY When I hopped aboard, grabbed the swept back handlebars and adopted the upright riding position I found it really pleasant to chuck the bike around. I was sitting in pretty much the same position as I would be on a large Enduro or Adventure bike, but also in a lounge chair at the same time.
Big it might be but Goldwing is light on its feet courtesy low-slung boxer engine, under-seat fuel tank, sportsbike-style aluminium beam frame and surprisingly light, dynamic feel.
If there is a plusher, more comfortable seat in motorcycledom I’d like to sit on it. Dial it up with five heat settings – plus another five settings for the heated grips, open the heater vents, and sit back and laugh at the winter chills. Outstanding comfort.
ALL THE BELLS & WHISTLES You’ve got to laugh! “Somebody steal two wheels off your car, Dave?’ was one of the assorted barbs that were thrown at the size of the Goldwing when I had it in my care. “You just ride one, Sunshine!” I countered. You’ve got to admit it though, in some ways all the protection it offers is slightly car-like. There is some detachment from that wind in your hair motorcycling ideal, you tend to sit ‘in’ the bike, but for around ‘temperate’ Auckland in midwinter, that was just what the Dr ordered. Anyway, it needs to be a massive bike with bodywork to match to haul all the luxury it has aboard, the array of buttons and controls prompting me to go and sit in a late model ‘S’ class Mercedes Benz for comparison. There aren’t many more comprehensively equipped vehicles than the S500 – or the ‘Wing. Both have a range of cruise control, communication and navigation systems built in and sitting in the driver’s seat of the Benz there are about seventy-two buttons, controls or switches available for the driver to choose from. Some of them are phone and Nav keyboards – but buttons just the same. 42 KIWI RIDER
Sitting in the rider’s chair on the Goldwing there are fifty-two. GO-GO-GADGET DAVE I didn’t use the built-in CB Radio at all. I don’t know any ‘breakers’, but if you were travelling with a bunch of other Goldies or similarly equipped vehicles I’d imagine it would come in very handy. I know the stereo did. I love music as much as I love motorcycles and the ‘Wing combines the two with it all quite audible (apparently, officer!) up to 160km/h. I mostly had Radio Hauraki blaring when I didn’t have it switched to AUX to run my iPod playlists – via the spare input fitted inside the rider’s glove box. What a complete hoot! It’s all controlled by some of those fifty-two buttons spread around the cockpit. Volume is next to the horn. It also has all the plugs to connect a helmet-based comms system ready to go. TAKE ME TO YOUR LEADER After the music is sorted, you can then enter your destination into the Satellite Navigation system and a map and detailed instructions are displayed on the colour screen mounted in the dash. It’s all voice prompted as you roll along. Any of the buttons or functions that would take the rider’s eyes too far away
from the road are disabled when mobile, but after the data is sorted, it’s just a matter of getting the bike up to speed and if conditions are suitable, engaging the electronic cruise control. That’s just like a modern car unit too. ‘Accelerate and resume’ function which are bumped up and down with the bank of buttons on the right hand handlebar switch block. If you want to adjust the headlights or perhaps add a bit of preload to the Pro-link, Pro-arm rear suspension, there’s a button to do that too! The Goldwing is also the first production motorcycle available in this country equipped as standard with an airbag! That’s right. An airbag! The airbag module contains the airbag and inflator and is positioned in front of the rider. The airbag Electronic Control Unit (ECU) is positioned to the right of the module, its job to analyse signals from the crash sensors to determine whether or not to inflate the airbag. Four crash sensors are attached – two per side on the front fork – to detect changes in acceleration caused by frontal impacts. From the moment an impact is recognized as a collision, only 0.015 seconds elapses until the airbag inflation is activated and stops the rider slamming into the cockpit.
SPECIFICATIONS HONDA GOLDWING ENGINE Type: Liquid-cooled SOHC flat-six 4-stroke Displacement: 1832cc Compression Ratio: 9.8:1 Bore x stroke: 74 x 71mm Starting system: Electric Engine Management system: CDI Peak power: 87kW @5500rpm Peak torque: 167Nm @4000rpm Fuel system: Honda PGM-F1 electronic fuel injection Clutch: Wet multiplate Transmission: 6-speed Final drive: Shaft
If there is a plusher, more comfortable seat in motorcycledom I’d like to sit on it The acres of bodywork help too. I spent several days dodging squally showers around Auckland – but only needed my sunny weather riding gear. Tucked down behind the manually adjustable windscreen I stayed relatively dry. All this luxury and the accompanying conveyance is brought to a halt by a set of linked system, 296 x 4.5mm dual hydraulic disc brakes with combined three-piston calipers, ABS, floating rotors and sintered metal pads up front and 316 x 11mm ventilated disc with combined three-piston calliper, ABS and sintered metal pads at the rear. It’s a lot of bike to stop but the anchors do the job very nicely, with minimal squeeze necessary.
Core Goldwing values are ocean linerlike stability and thought-of-everything detailing. Fundamentals of latestgeneration model – beam-frame, boxersix engine etc etc – remain but latest model available here is also equipped with Sat-Nav and an airbag. ‘Wing was always a trend-setter and these days is the standard by which all similar fulldress touring machines are judged. Big Dave accepted the size and weight and was impressed with how dynamic and responsive such a big, stable bike can be. He also liked the luxury car-like level of creature comforts including the topshelf sound system and cruise control.
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The integrated luggage is part of the Goldwing character now. The trunk provides 65 litres of storage capacity. Two full-face helmets fit easily and the remote opener on the key ring is neat. The saddlebags provide 40-plus litres of storage each, resulting in a total of 147 litres of storage space. There are also pockets in the fairing and rear trunk for convenient, easy-access storage. The instruments and dash are very easy to live with and the headlights are as luminous as they are wide. TO SUM UP I was surprised by the Goldwing. Prior to
FRAME Type: Aluminium alloy beam-type Swingarm: Aluminium Front suspension: Telescopic fork 45mm w/air assist Rear suspension: Honda Pro-Link ProArm w/ electronically controlled spring preload adjustment Brakes: ABS-equipped 2 x 296mm rotor discs w/ 3-piston linked calipers front & 1 x 316mm rotor disc w/3-piston linked caliper rear Wheels: Cast aluminium 18 in. dia front & 16 in. dia rear Tyres: 130/70 x 18 front, 180/60 x 16 rear DIMENSIONS Wheelbase: 1690mm Rake: 29° 15´ Trail: 109mm LxWxH: 2635 x 945 x 1455mm Seat height: 740mm Kerb Weight: 405kg ready to ride Fuel tank capacity: 25l RRP: $39,995 (spec includes airbag and GPS) Test bike: Blue Wing Honda Ltd GEAR Helmet: Shoei Jacket: Arlen Ness Pants: Triumph Boots: Johnny Rebs
testing it I’d probably bought into some of that dribble about ‘Grandpa’s bike.’ In fact, it’s anything but. Manhandling it around a steep driveway is not something for the frail or a bumbler for a start. For spirited all-round recreational riding it’s nothing more or less than a grin inducing lump. And for head turning, cruising and general thumbs-uping, it not only does the business, it does it in real rock and roll style. KR