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Honda's new Gold Wing: Lighter, leaner, more powerful

Honda's new Gold Wing: Lighter, leaner, more powerful
Honda's 2018 Gold Wing features a number of weight-saving design changes and a sleeker, new look. Entry level versions will begin at $23,500. (American Honda)

Honda has finally taken the wraps off the long-awaited modern update to its venerable Gold Wing supercruiser. At first glance, the technologically advanced Wing, which features a new engine, new chassis and 21st century electronics, is likely to attract great sales activity.

The new machine, unveiled at an invitation-only event at Santa Barbara’s Museum of Exploration and Innovation on Tuesday evening, is still powered by a six-cylinder engine. But new materials and technology have cut the engine weight dramatically and overall weight by more than 80 pounds.

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The 1833cc liquid cooled engine can be mated to either a traditional six-speed transmission or Honda’s newly-developed DCT transmission, which eliminates the need for a clutch lever or shift lever. As on the current models, power is transferred to the rear wheel through a shaft drive.

The new Gold Wing features four ride modes — for touring, sport riding, fuel economy and inclement weather — and certain models feature adjustable torque control. All models are equipped with cruise control, keyless ignition and a hill start function.

All are also equipped with tire pressure monitoring systems, and are Apple CarPlay compatible. Honda calls this an “industry first.”

DCT models include a “walking mode” for super slow speed maneuvering in tight spaces or on uncertain terrain.

Touring models can be equipped with Honda’s air bag protection system, which deploys in the event of a front-end crash and can prevent serious injury in certain situations.

The top of the line Gold Wing Touring DCT Airbag will retail from $31,500, plus considerably extra for some accessories pictured here.
The top of the line Gold Wing Touring DCT Airbag will retail from $31,500, plus considerably extra for some accessories pictured here. (Dave Folks / American Honda)

Honda’s presenters said the new engine is 20% more fuel efficient, which allowed the bike’s designers to reduce the fuel capacity by 1.1 gallons while not sacrificing range.

The chassis is lighter as well but supports a wide variety of improved accessories, including as much as 110 liters of storage in two side cases and a top case — which should enable some serious touring.

Also making long distance riding more comfortable are sumptuous rear passenger seating and an electronically adjustable windscreen.

Honda’s Gold Wing is now in its 43rd year, and has been a perennial top seller for the Japanese motorcycle giant. The 1975 model year original cost $2,899.

The new machine will be easy for Honda fans to identify, because it doesn’t look like a Gold Wing. New styling, which includes leaner lines and a more aerodynamic profile, give it more the feel of a large Harley-Davidson, Indian or BMW cruiser.

But the Gold Wing will cost less than many of its American or European counterparts.

The 2018 models will be priced from $23,500 for the entry level units to $31,500 for the top touring model fitted with air bags, plus destination charges. Those numbers represent no increase over comparable 2017 models.

Honda presenters said the new machines will be on dealer floors by February.

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