HONDA SPREADS ITS WINGS

A more stream­lined Gold Wing mo­tor­cy­cle does not mean slimmed-down per­for­mance

Gulf Business - - DRIVE - By Tarak Parekh

BODY

Per­for­mance and lux­ury are not mu­tu­ally ex­clu­sive, and although the lat­est it­er­a­tion of the Honda Gold Wing has shrunk in size, it still de­liv­ers both in per­fect har­mony.

It's smaller. Yes, you heard it right. It's smaller than its pre­de­ces­sor. But even be­ing 90 pounds lighter, the 2018 Gold Wing is the model's usual sharp and fo­cused self, re­tain­ing all the tra­di­tional com­fort and con­ve­nience that Honda's flag­ship tourer is known for.

The first thing you no­tice is how slim the new edi­tion looks when put next to the out­go­ing 2017 model. Gone is the mus­cu­lar body of a WWE wrestler and in comes the finely chis­elled physique of a mar­tial arts master. It has kept the same flat-six en­gine con­fig­u­ra­tion, but ev­ery­thing else has been rad­i­cally changed. There are two ver­sions to choose from – the Gold Wing Tour (full op­tion with DCT) and the Gold Wing bag­ger edi­tion, sans the rear trunk. Our test ride was with the 2018 Gold Wing Tour DCT model with airbag in ‘candy ar­dent red' and I was keen to find out whether the Wing could not only re­tain its ul­ti­mate touring ti­tle, but also if it could be used as an ev­ery­day work­horse for com­mut­ing.

Up­front, the Wing look stun­ning, with the wing-shaped ar­ray of 10 LED head­lights and the beau­ti­fully placed mul­ti­lens LEDs that don't in­trude in the rear trunk. The turn sig­nals have an auto-can­cel fea­ture, but while rid­ing I found they turn off early – well be­fore I take the turn. At times I had to restart the sig­nal as I reached for the turn.

ELEC­TRON­ICS

The Gold Wing has a sin­gle smart-start but­ton on the key, which brings the all-new 1833cc Uni­cam mo­tor to life. The bike is fit­ted with Honda's Dual Clutch Trans­mis­sion (DCT), which has su­per rider con­trol, seam­less gear changes and a per­fect gear ra­tio. Thanks to the seven-speed gear­box, I had all the power to ac­cel­er­ate when the lights turned green. The fuel-filler pocket in the front also has an ac­ces­si­ble USB con­nec­tion point to charge var­i­ous gad­gets such as smart­phones, GoPros, Scalas, and the like: A big plus in my opin­ion.

Crit­i­cal bike info such as fuel lev­els, dis­tance trav­elled, and so on, is listed in a sep­a­rate LCD screen that is easy to view even in day­light. Pair­ing my smart­phone and my Cardo Scala Pack­talk with the on-board com­mu­ni­ca­tions sys­tem was a

Gone is the mus­cu­lar body of a WWE wrestler and in comes the finely-chis­eled body of a mar­tial arts master.

breeze, while Honda also wins points for manag­ing to re­duce the but­ton clut­ter that lit­tered pre­vi­ous mod­els. Other elec­tronic func­tions in­clude cruise con­trol which, thanks to ride-by-wire, can be man­aged more pre­cisely – es­pe­cially on my up­hill climb of Ja­bel Hafeet and Al Jais.

The 2018 Wing also al­lows for elec­tronic wind­shield ad­just­ment. -This meant I could change the height to match mine for bet­ter air­flow over my head, while the pop-up vent chan­nelled some air onto my face and body.

RIDE

As this was my first ride on a DCT bike, it was bit awk­ward find­ing the gear pedal and clutch lever. But as I set­tled into a com­fort­able rid­ing po­si­tion it was ac­tu­ally much eas­ier and more pre­dictable than feath­er­ing the clutch as I'm tra­di­tion­ally used to do­ing. One can still use the man­ual gears on the DCT, but then what's the point in buy­ing a DCT ver­sion? Not only was it easy to ne­go­ti­ate the twisty and scenic moun­tain roads but also park­ing the Wing with the help of the walk mode was no prob­lem de­spite the slopes.

There are four rid­ing modes that af­fect the ride dif­fer­ently – tour be­ing the de­fault mode, along­side sport, eco and rain. On my daily com­mute to the of­fice, I pre­ferred the sport and eco mode. How­ever, for longer week­end ides I shifted to the tour mode. My pas­sen­ger found the seats to be very com­fort­able as her legs were less spread out­wards. In the city, the slim­mer frame also made it eas­ier to squeeze be­tween the cars on Sheikh Zayed Road and whizz past the usual traf­fic.

SUS­PEN­SION

In the sus­pen­sion de­part­ment, the 2018 Wing is equipped with a dou­ble wish­bone sys­tem front sus­pen­sion, known for its su­pe­rior per­for­mance, rigid­ness and re­duced dive un­der brak­ing. This is clearly vis­i­ble through the han­dle­bars, which re­main com­pletely in­su­lated from the bounc­ing ac­tiv­ity below. The sus­pen­sion also comes with var­i­ous pre-load set­tings, which can change the rid­ing height, but one needs to come to a halt in order to change it.

LUG­GAGE

With the over­all change in size, the Wing's sad­dle­bags have also got smaller; down from 140 litres to 100 litres. To com­pen­sate, the Wing has a sep­a­rate T-bar de­vice that can lock two full-face hel­mets to the bike us­ing their D-rings. This in turn leaves more space in the trunk for lug­gage. My fel­low bik­ers con­sid­ered it a sin to re­duce the lug­gage space, but there was still plenty of space to pack for a three-day road trip.

With­out even go­ing into the tech­ni­cal de­tails of the 2018 Gold Wing, my im­pres­sion post-test ride is that Honda has man­aged to strike the ideal bal­ance be­tween com­fort and per­for­mance.

Con­trary to the per­cep­tion of some rid­ers, I found it to be a great tourer as well as a sturdy ev­ery­day bike. Mean­ing it should not only re­tain the loy­alty of ex­ist­ing Wing rid­ers, but also at­tract a new crop.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UAE

© PressReader. All rights reserved.