Honda Patent Reveals Leading-Link Suspension For the Next Gold Wing

Up To Speed: Radical New Front End Reinvents Honda’s Icon

The next Gold Wing's bodywork will likely evolve too, probably in the style defined by the CTX line.©Motorcyclist

Honda is working on an unusual front suspension system for the bike that will replace the long-in-the-tooth Gold Wing, swapping a telescopic fork for a complex leading-link arrangement. The new design has emerged via patent in Japan, which reveals that the firm is already styling an effective front fender to suit the unusual suspension. That such details are under development hints that the mechanical part of the design is already complete.

Even with the aid of diagrams from the patent, the new suspension is mind-boggling. At a glance it looks like a leading-link of the sort usually seen on sidecar outfits or the occasional scooter, but closer inspection reveals the system to be far more complex.

The majority of the suspension movement comes from the leading link, which is attached at the back to a vertical link that comes down from the bike’s headstock. On a conventional leading-link arrangement, this vertical member would be able to swivel to provide steering input but would otherwise be rigidly attached to the bike, allowing a spring and damper unit to be attached directly between it and the leading link.

Here’s where Honda’s design differs. Its vertical element, while attaching the leading link’s pivot point to the headstock, is able to move fore and aft. That movement is controlled by a suspension wishbone attached to a single shock, rather like a BMW Telelever layout.

Patent drawings clearly show an atypical front-end design for the new Wing.©Motorcyclist

The result is a front suspension system that should be far more rigid, longitudinally and laterally, than a conventional fork while allowing a huge amount of freedom for suspension designers to tweak the way that the front wheel moves. Unlike a normal leading link there’s an element of rearward movement as the suspension compresses, mimicking the effect of conventional forks. Another linkage between the brake caliper and the vertical link will provide an element of anti-dive.

Apart from the extra strength of the system compared to a fork—an important consideration on a bike as heavy as the Gold Wing—the setup’s use of a single shock opens up more scope for electronic damping control or even variable ride height.

Text accompanying the patent specifies that the engine is a “multi-cylinder, flat, opposed-type” unit mounted longitudinally, matching and the Wing’s flat-six description. The lead stylist appears to be Kenji Tako, whose past projects have included the latest iteration of the VFR800 as well as the current CTX700 and CTX1300 tourers and the still-born VFR1200T, which should give us some clue as to the next Wing’s new shape.