2012 Honda Gold Wing | First Look

The tourer that started it all gets a makeover

By Aaron Frank, Photography by Honda

If there’s ever been a serious challenge to the Honda Gold Wing’s claim of long-distance supremacy, it’s BMW’s K1600GTL. Perhaps anticipating the appearance of this new rival, Honda has given its line-leading touring bike the first significant update since 2001. Although the flat-six engine and chassis remain essentially unchanged, the luggage and infotainment features are improved to make the GL1800 even more convenient and entertaining to ride.

You’ll spot small styling differences, most obviously the saddlebags, which have been re-contoured with a more square-edged shape that increases capacity and makes them easier to load. New two-tone color combinations emphasize the alloy frame spars and give the Gold Wing, now entering its 37th year in production, a surprisingly retro look.

Electronic amenities are all-new for 2012, debuting multiple innovations such as a GPS navigation system that uses secure digital functionality so you can plan (or share) ride routes on your PC, and transfer these to the bike using an SD card. The audio system features a built-in MP3/iPod interface and new SRS CS surround-sound. Suspension settings have been recalibrated, and a full suite of options—including the aforementioned nav package, as well as ABS and Honda’s exclusive on-board airbag—only further the Gold Wing’s legacy as the leading luxury-tourer.

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