SA Bike Festival, Kyalami - Honda has redesigned its flagship Gold Wing tourer from the ground up to make it smaller, lighter and more agile. Considering that the previous generation of the aptly nicknamed Lead Sled had ballooned to well over 400 kilograms, it was a move whose time had come.
The 2018 Wing, launched in South Africa on Friday, the first day of the SA Bike Festival at Kyalami, has a redesigned 1833cc flat-six engine with a 1mm narrower bore, aluminium sleeves and Unicam four-valve heads with forked rockers. Bore pitch has been reduced by 9mm and the crank sensor has been moved to the back of the block, making the complete engine 33.5mm shorter overall and 6.2kg lighter than its predecessor.
A single 50mm fly-by-wire throttle body with four ride modes and idle-stop function replaces the previous dual set-up, significantly improving fuel-efficiency and enabling Honda to reduce fuel capacity by four litres to 21.1 litres. Outputs are quoted as 93kW at 5500 revs and 170Nm at 4500rpm, channeled via either a six-speed manual or a new, third generation seven-speed dual clutch transmission.
The base TOUR mode gives a 1:1 ratio between twistgrip and throttle body butterfly, with default damping and front/rear brake force distribution; SPORT delivers a quick-action throttle movement for stronger acceleration, with firmer damping and more rear braking; ECON mode slows the throttle action with default damping and brake force, while RAIN dials back the power, slows throttle action even more and softens the suspension.
The engine has been moved 40mm forward in a new aluminium beam frame, moving the riding position 36mm forward to create a much more compact motorcycle, with double-wishbone front suspension replacing the traditional forks and a single-sided swing-arm.
The previous model’s barn-door screen and fairing were designed to create a large pocket of still air around the rider and pillion; the new, much smaller bodywork channels air around them while significantly reducing drag. The screen is electrically adjustable for both and angle, to provide a cooling breeze when needed, and all the lighting on the bike is by LED..
In talks with Gold Wing riders Honda discovered that most road trips are now three days or less, so it reduced total luggage capacity to only (!?) 110 litres, while still ensuring that the top box will still safely store two full-face helmets. Gas struts smooth the movements of the top box and pannier lids