New Gold­wing

Honda gives its flag­ship tourer a mas­sive over­haul for 2018

Motorcycle News (UK) - - This Week - By Richard New­land DEPUTY EDITOR @MCNNEWS mo­tor­cy­cle­news

Hub-cen­tre steer­ing, seven gears... and a re­verse!

Honda’s new Gold Wing has been lin­ger­ing in the wings for so long that the gold might need a lit­tle buff­ing be­fore it emerges at this year’s Mi­lan show. But all the indi­ca­tions are that it’s go­ing to have been worth the wait.

Tra­di­tion­ally con­sid­ered the pin­na­cle in tour­ing com­fort, tech­nol­ogy and ex­cess, the big Wing has fallen be­hind its peers in re­cent years, but Honda are set to rad­i­cally shake the mar­ket with an all-new bike for 2018.

Trac­tion con­trol, en­gine modes, cor­ner­ing ABS, and in­te­grated in­fo­tain­ment sys­tems are base re­quire­ments now, and with the firm’s Dual Clutch Trans­mis­sion ac­count­ing for a se­ri­ous con­tri­bu­tion to their sales, and tech­nol­ogy such as semi-ac­tive sus­pen­sion now com­mon­place, the in­gre­di­ents are all there for a com­plete rein­ven­tion of the leg­endary tourer.

Project leader, Ju­nichi Sakamoto, told MCN last year that: “If we were to come out with a new Gold Wing, we would like to sur­prise peo­ple with the amount of new tech­nol­ogy.”

Hub-cen­tre steer­ing

While it’s not cer­tain which route Honda will pur­sue, their own patents re­veal two favoured front end op­tions. First is a set-up much like BMW’S Duolever front-end, us­ing a pair of wish­bones at­tached to a cast alu­minium girder via bear­ings that al­low it to steer. A sin­gle-sprung shock – cer­tain to be semi-ac­tive – would be mounted just un­der the han­dle­bars, which steer the ‘fork’ via a sim­ple link­age.

The sec­ond op­tion also uses a sin­gle shock and a lower wish­bone, but in­stead of a fork there’s a ver­ti­cal mem­ber run­ning down from the head tube to just be­hind the front wheel, and a lead­ing link from the base of this ver­ti­cal mem­ber to the front hub.

The huge ben­e­fit for a bike of this scale is the re­duc­tion in head­stock stress as brak­ing forces are trans­mit­ted to the frame in­stead, al­low­ing for a lighter, less over-en­gi­neered, front end.

More than just a fork

Be­yond in­her­ent styling al­ter­ations to drag it into a new decade, there are cer­tain to be pow­er­train con­sid­er­a­tions, too.

The straight-six – if it still ex­ists – will have to meet Euro 5 from the off, while there’s ev­ery chance that patents re­lat­ing to a four-cylin­der hy­brid ver­sion aren’t pie-in-the-sky, ei­ther.

Also pretty much guar­an­teed to make its de­but on the Wing is Honda’s hugely pop­u­lar DCT gear­box, giv­ing yet an­other level of lux­ury to the tourer. Again, patents are clear that it’s an op­tion, and even re­veal a sev­enth gear in the box, plus re­verse!

Con­trol­ling the DCT will be just one job for the an­tic­i­pated del­uge of elec­tri­onic aids and as­sists, from elec­tronic screen to con­vo­luted bar con­trols, fea­tur­ing thumb-wheels, joy­sticks and mul­ti­ple but­tons to give the rider ac­cess to all the con­trol sys­tems.

MCN’S sources in Ja­pan and Europe sug­gest it will be at the Mi­lan show this Novem­ber, and even Honda in­sti­tu­tion Neil Tuxworth says he can’t wait to ride it (see page 21).

2018 model

Ex­pect to see the cov­ers ripped off this at Mi­lan da­s­ex­pect­ex­pect­toseeanex­tremely­busy­dashEx­pect to see an ex­tremely busy dash There are two patent de­signs for hub­cen­tre steer­ing

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