Harley-Davidson Road Glide | Honda Gold Wing F6B | Dissimilar Metals

Two Modern Baggers, Worlds Apart

By Kevin Smith, Photography by Kevin Wing

Off the Record

Marc Cook
Age: 49
Height: 5’9”
Weight: 195 lbs.
Inseam: 32 in.

One simple ergonomic tweak—replacing the deep-pocket touring saddle with this so-called gunfighter model—totally makes the F6B for me. I’ve always appreciated what the Gold Wing can do, but have never felt physically comfortable on one. Permit me to scoot back, get out of the “Gold Wing slouch,” and I’m happy. But not in love. Perhaps I’m just a sucker for charisma or seduced by too much summertime bratwurst, but the Road Glide appeals to me on a lot of levels, one of which involves my “inner fixer.” I feel the wind turbulence and think, “Man, with another inch or two on that windscreen...” On the receiving end of a pavement-induced mule kick, I’m quick to say, “Man, people make perfectly good shocks for this thing. I bet that’d help a lot...” For me, it’s part of the charm.

Zack Courts
Age: 29
Height: 6’2”
Weight: 185 lbs.
Inseam: 34 in.

Wow, what an eye-opener. I don’t think I have ever ridden two bikes that looked so similar but felt so different. The difference in the powerplants is just the tip of the iceberg. Beyond that, the F6B has modern, powerful brakes and effective suspension. The Harley, well, it doesn’t. Then again, the Harley sounds like a motorcycle should, and the Honda sounds like…nothing. The truth is, neither one of these baggers really does it for me. If I wanted to get a Gold Wing I’d quit kidding myself and get one with a proper windshield. And if I were to get a Harley it wouldn’t have a windshield at all, or any of the other doo-dads for that matter. Leave the stereo behind; what I want to hear is the wind in my face and 103 cubic inches of baseball and apple pie thundering down the road.

Thomas Kinzer
Age: 45
Height: 5’7”
Weight: 175 lbs.
Inseam: 34 in.

First of all, I share Zack’s view on listening to music on motorcycles. I just hope that someday Zack can come to appreciate the irony level of listening to “Hey There, Lonely Girl” at a volume setting of 11 while at a stoplight. Real baggers are customs the owner has built to his or her tastes. Obviously, the H-D is a more traditional and common platform to build a true custom on and that’s unlikely to change any time soon. I confess, I’m one of those guys who secretly like (actually riding) Gold Wings, but am too vain to ever really consider buying one. The F6B just might have the styling push I need to put it on the radar. True, the eyebrow shield could use a couple more inches to make it a great tour bike, and, unfortunately, Honda only offers a near-standard-size accessory windshield. Fortunately, I have a Sawzall.

By Kevin Smith
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Now all Honda needs to do is remove 2 cylinders and 250 lbs to have a great light-heavy weight bagger for the masses. Do that and I'm first in line with cash. Sorry Honda, still too big and heavy.
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