Getting Technical With The 2018 Honda Gold Wing

What did Honda have to change to improve their new tourer? Everything.

2018 Honda Gold Wing
A lighter, slimmer, faster tourerMotorcyclist Staff

Honda's first Gold Wing, in 1975, was engineered as a large-displacement sportbike. It wasn't until years later that Honda determined customers were using the Gold Wing to rack up massive miles. The realization changed the bike's design direction, cementing its destiny as a legendary touring machine. Not only did "The Wing" become a symbol of touring comfort, but it also became one of the most forward-thinking and technologically advanced motorcycles on the market.

Forty years and six generations later, we see Honda reinventing the legend again. The goal was a faster, more capable motorcycle loaded with enough tech to last another decade.

Timeline

The last seismic change to the Gold Wing came in 2001. In 2012 the shape and appearance of the Wing’s bodywork was updated—then development started on the new generation. “The development period cannot be answered from a confidential point of view,” said Yutaka Nakanishi, large project lead for the Gold Wing. “However, it took lots of time to develop compared with other models.”

Design

Honda is trying to move away from a “La-Z-Boy on wheels” image. Slimming things up with an emphasis on the smooth line from the bottom of the tank to the back of the saddlebags makes for a flowing and cohesive design.

Fork in the Road

Honda claims its dual wishbone front suspension provides more efficient damping than telescoping forks while offering a lighter-feeling ride. Because of the more vertical movement of the front wheel during compression, the suspension requires less room to operate, enabling engineers to move the rider 36mm (1.4 inches) farther forward on the bike.

Packaging

New models are 80 pounds lighter than the bike they replace. Shedding that weight demanded some concessions. The 2018 wing has significantly less cargo space and carries one gallon less gas.

Challenges

Thinning down the bike to draw in new customers while not alienating the Gold Wing’s core rider meant Honda had to get creative. “To summarize, it was balance,” Nakanishi said. “Lightweight, compact, Gold Wing’s unique comfort, and quality, to show the pleasure of owning and riding a Gold Wing.”

Tech

Apple CarPlay-equipped infotainment and navigation are displayed on a 7-inch screen. Lean-angle-sensitive ride modes and linked ABS, optional dual-clutch transmission, cruise control, electronic suspension adjustments, and Hill Start Assist make the ride less strenuous and safer. Luxury features—heated seats, keyless ignition, and a quality speaker system—help maintain the Wing’s fancy feel.