JAGUAR F-PACE TACK­LES THE LOWVELD

Driven - - Contents -

Dusty back­roads might be this cat’s nat­u­ral habi­tat

Honda’s Gold Wing, born as a silky-smooth shaft-driven naked 1,000 cc mo­tor­cy­cle in 1975, has over the decades evolved into the mas­sive 1.8-litre six-cylin­der icon that is to­day the Ja­panese com­pany’s flag­ship tourer. The re­cently in­tro­duced 2018 model, al­though spir­i­tu­ally the same ma­chine as last year’s of­fer­ing, shares noth­ing tan­gi­ble with its pre­de­ces­sor other than its hor­i­zon­tal­ly­op­posed cylin­der lay­out, shaft drive, and some nuts, bolts and other fas­ten­ers.

Some of the im­por­tant num­bers are the same as in the 2017 model – six cylin­ders, two wheels, one rider, and one pas­sen­ger – while oth­ers dif­fer. En­gine ca­pac­ity is now 1,833 cc ver­sus the 1,832 of the 2017 model, while fuel ca­pac­ity has been re­duced by four litres to 21, and there are now four valves per cylin­der rather than two. Honda says that the whole bike has in fact been shrunk, mak­ing it more wieldy and up to 45 kg lighter than its pre­de­ces­sor, de­pend­ing on the vari­ant. The new bike comes in two ver­sions; the stan­dard GL1800 Gold Wing Tour with a six-speed man­ual gear­box, and a DCT ver­sion with a seven-speed dual-clutch trans­mis­sion, a rider airbag and a top-box.

SMOOTH AS SILK

The en­gine of the new Gold Wing, al­though shar­ing its flat six ar­chi­tec­ture with that of the 2017 model, re­ally is all-new, in­side and out. Rel­a­tively com­pact, it is 6.2 kg lighter and 33.5 mm shorter than the old mo­tor, while the bore and stroke have been re­duced by 1 and in­creased by 3 mm re­spec­tively to make them both 73 mm. The en­gine, with just 125 hp avail­able at 5,500 from a whop­ping 1.8 litres is mas­sively un­der-stressed, while the healthy 170 Nm of torque at 4,500 r/min will come in handy for get­ting half a tonne of rider, pas­sen­ger and mo­tor­cy­cle mov­ing in a hurry. Honda says that the bike is 20% less thirsty than the out­go­ing model, thanks to the new en­gine, the weight re­duc­tion and the bike’s smaller, more svelte frame and body­work.

REA­SON FOR BE­ING

Why would Honda start with a 1,000 cc four-cylin­der tourer weigh­ing 265 kg, al­low it to grow over 43 years to a gar­gan­tuan 1,800 cc and 430 kg, only to cut its bulk back by 10% in 2018? The an­swer, says the fac­tory, is be­cause the de­sign­ers wished to at­tract a younger gen­er­a­tion of rid­ers. The aim was to bring fun back into the equa­tion as well as in­tro­duce a range of elec­tronic gad­getry, ap­pro­pri­ate for the flag­ship model of the world’s largest mo­tor­cy­cle man­u­fac­turer.

The new bike now in­cludes fea­tures like a ride-by-wire throt­tle, four ride modes, trac­tion con­trol, LED light­ing, and elec­tron­i­cally ad­justable sus­pen­sion. There’s also hill­start-as­sist and re­verse gear in the man­ual trans­mis­sion model and a creep (for­ward and back­ward) func­tion on the DCT. Look­ing in the of­fice, you’ll find a 7” TFT screen to pro­vide nav­i­ga­tion and au­dio in­for­ma­tion, and Ap­ple CarPlay al­lows iPhone users to get up close and per­sonal with the en­ter­tain­ment sys­tem. There are also tyre pres­sure mon­i­tors with the in­for­ma­tion be­ing dis­played on the screen, the elec­tri­cally-ad­justable wind­screen which has been made smaller to im­prove aero­dy­nam­ics, cruise con­trol, and lug­gage aplenty — al­though not as ca­pa­cious as be­fore. Honda says that re­search showed that most own­ers tended to en­gage on shorter two or three-day rides rather than marathon trips across Amer­ica or Europe, so the lug­gage size has been re­duced. The cases can be un­locked via the remote key, and hy­draulic dampers as­sist with smooth­ing out the open­ing and clos­ing. In­ter­est­ingly, the pas­sen­ger has au­dio con­trols sit­u­ated on top of the right lug­gage pan­nier.

LAST WORD

The Honda Gold Wing has earned an en­vi­able rep­u­ta­tion as a full-dress tour­ing mo­tor­cy­cle, but its bulk was no doubt a de­ter­rent to many buy­ers. The new model is lighter and nim­bler than its pre­de­ces­sor, as well as more so­phis­ti­cated, with elec­tronic rid­ing aids and com­fort fea­tures that are now as good as it gets. Whether it will at­tract younger rid­ers in South Africa re­mains to be seen, though. At between R367,000 and R392,000 it’s not af­ford­able for many, but it will, as al­ways, con­tinue to have a solid core of fol­low­ers who know what they want and where to get it.

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