The Goldwing is Honda’s touring flagship. First introduced as a naked 1000cc machine in 1975, It has always represented the ultimate in two-wheeled travel. creating an enduring and unrivalled reputation for luxury, quality and comfort.
A Goldwing isn't like other motorcycles, it's a unique experience, an event if you will. For a start, it's huge. It's long and wide, a big piece of real estate, and weighs 366 kg wet (367 kg for the DCT version).
That sounds intimidating but I can assure you it's not. If you're coming to it straight from a 125, then yes, it's a lot of bike, but if you're an experienced rider it's really just a big maxi scooter…..very big.
I grew up in Plymouth but haven't been back for quite a few years now, so thought this would be an ideal opportunity to take a road trip back to my old stomping ground.
We loaded up the Goldwing with enough clothes for 2 for a couple of nights, then jumped on and headed off.
Panniers can hold 60L between them, and open with a simple push of an electronic button. Hydraulic dampers smooth the opening and closing, it's a small detail but illustrates the quality of engineering and attention to detail that Honda has lavished on this bike.
Now, Kate is an excellent pillion but is very short, like 5' 2" short. The Goldwing is an awesome place for a pillion, it's so smooth and comfortable. The foot pegs are like plates rather than pegs. However, Kate's feet didn't really sit flat, although this wasn't an issue at all, as the seat is nice and big and extremely comfortable and the nature of the bike means it is silky smooth and reassuring for a pillion. You don't get thrown about on the back through harsh acceleration or cornering and gear changes though the DCT gearbox is almost imperceptible. She could reach the footplates, but just not flat-footed.
Visibility was good as a pillion. The rear seat is lifted which means the pillion can see ahead if they want. It was so comfortable on the back that I was worried that Kate might nod off back there. The hard luggage is integrated and looks superb. They sit just behind the pillions' legs and are not intrusive at all, and there are subtle grab handles under the pillion seat. Riding the Goldwing was a unique experience, and soon becomes very familiar. It's such a well-balanced bike, with the majority of the weight down low.
You have a manual or DCT transmission option on the Goldwing. My press bike had the DCT gearbox and I'm happy to hold my hands up and say I'm a DCT virgin.
The manual transmission is 6-speed, while DCT features 7 speeds, with clutch feel, shift speed and rpm range of up/downshifts tailored specifically to each riding mode. It also features a ‘creep’ forward and back function.
The creep function sounded like a bit of a gimmick but proved invaluable when manoeuvring the 367 kg bike. You can inch forward or backwards at a snail's pace, with a press of a button. Perfect for parking spaces.
The ride quality is superb, as you would expect. The GoldWing glides along like a Rolls Royce, isolating you from the unpleasantries that lay beneath. There are some clever reasons why the ride quality is so smooth and why the bike, despite its size, is so nimble and easy to ride.
The frame is a die-cast, aluminium twin-beam frame that allows the engine (we're getting to that bit) to sit low, offering great balance.
Front suspension is double wishbone, unlike a conventional fork set-up. Aside from moving the front wheel forward under full suspension compression, a benefit of the double-wishbone front suspension is the reduction in sliding friction (from bump deflection and steering input) that a standard telescopic fork creates.
Interestingly, with this front suspension setup, the steering input is also separated from the suspension. Steering cross tie-rods connect the handlebars to the front axle and the handlebar pivot.
The end result is a bike that turns briskly and steering that is light and easy to use, with incredible suspension feel and ride quality.
The rear end uses a single-sided Pro-Arm swingarm (sadly hidden behind the panniers), and Pro-Link set-up. Pro-Link provides progressive suspension action and comfort while spherical joints are used throughout, cancelling out torsion. The rear preload is manually adjustable. The damping force is electronically adjusted, depending on the rider mode.
Brakes are dual 320 mm disc at the front being gripped by 6-piston calipers, and at the rear you have a 316 mm disc, gripped by a 3-piston caliper. They did a great job of stopping the bike, luggage and both of us, which was no mean feat. They offer good feel and never left me wanting.
As you would expect from a flagship model, the Goldwing is festooned with electronic aides. Directly in front of you is the 7-inch TFT screen, flanked on each side by a Speedo and tachometer, with additional LCD screens that show information like air temperature, available range, fuel level and so on.
The 7-inch TFT screen gives you access to gyrocompass navigation, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, audio controls for the external speakers, heated grips and a host of other features. You can also access the 4 riding modes; TOUR, SPORT, ECON and RAIN. The riding modes alter the characteristics of the fly-by-wire throttle, the DCT gear change, and also alter the damping force from the suspension.
You have at your disposal an electric screen, Hill Start Assist, two USB Type-C sockets, stop-start, cruise control, tyre pressure monitoring, ABS and more.
I said we'd get to the engine and we have. It is probably the most outrageous, marvellous demonstration of excess. What we have is a brand-new, 1,833cc horizontally-opposed flat-six engine, producing 125 bhp (93kW) @ 5,500rpm, with peak torque of 170 Nm @ 4,500rpm. It really is something to behold.
Power delivery is smoother than a cashmere codpiece. It's not fast, but power is adequate, and with the throttle wide open it sounds like a combination of a classic, straight-six American car and a luxury yacht. The velvety smooth power delivery is a distinctive and different experience.
We stayed at an AirBnB at Turnchapel, Plymouth. Described as a Cornish fishing village in Devon, Turnchapel is situated on the outskirts of Plymouth. The steep, winding streets are almost too narrow for cars, so most visitors do so on foot, exploring the nearby beaches on their way through. It’s a quaint village with two pubs, a cafe and a wharf, home to Princess Yachts. Turnchapel sits on the bank of the river Plym, where the Plym meets Plymouth Sound then finds it’s way out to sea. Our AirBnB overlooked the Marina of Plymouth Yacht Haven. Not a bad place to sit and watch the sun go down.
The streets in Turnchapel wind their way through the brightly painted cottages, and are incredibly tight and steep. Sat on top of the mighty Goldwing, two up, I was more than a little nervous. The road leading to the AirBnB was just over one car wide, very steep and doubled back on itself in a haipin. However, the combination of the creamy flat 6 engine, the DCT gearbox and the low centre of gravity meant it was a piece of cake. The throttle response is gentle and the bike so well balanced, tight and slow manouvering was no sweat.
We spent two days exploring and rediscovering Plymouth; my old haunts, my schools, the houses where i grew up, Plymouth Hoe, the Dockyard, Mutton Cove where I learned to swim, and we even ventured over to cornwall on the Torpoint ferry.
Plymouth has changed massively since my last visit. It was a somewhat cathartic experience going back, laying to rest some demons along the way, and the Goldwing was the perfect way to do it.
Type - Liquid-cooled 4-stroke 24 valve SOHC flat-6
Displacement - 1,833cc
Max. Power Output - 125 bhp/93kW@5,500rpm
Max. Torque - 170Nm@4,500rpm
CO2 emissions - 127g/km
Fuel Tank Capacity - 21.1 litres
Fuel Consumption - 5.5 litres/100km
6 speed MT (including overdrive. Plus electric reverse)
7-speed forward and reverse DCT
Type - Aluminium die-cast, twin tube
W: 925mm (DCT) / 905mm (MT)
Wheelbase - 1,695mm
Seat Height - 745mm
Kerb Weight - MT: 366kg / DCT: 367kg
Type Front - Double Wishbone
Type Rear - Pro Link
Type Front - 130/70R 18
Type Rear - 200/55R 16
System Type - Electronically-controlled combined ABS system
Type Front - 320mm x 4.5mm dual hydraulic disc with 6-piston calliper, floating rotors and sintered metal pads
Type Rear - 316mm x 11mm ventilated disc with 3-piston calliper and sintered metal pads