Back in the day
TEN YEARS AGO RIDE asked a question: “What bike would you never buy?” Your answer was overwhelming: the Honda Gold Wing. Too big, too heavy, too close to a car, you said. So as part of our January 2008 issue, RIDE invited seven Wing-skeptics — riders who swore blind they could see no redeeming feature of the gargantuan tourer — to give one a chance. The mediator was Barry Walton, resident Gold Wing expert at Colin Appleyard Motorcycles in Keighley.
Yamaha Tdm900-riding couple Brian and Irene had concerns about the Honda’s size, but both were left impressed by a spin on the Wing. “It suits the way I ride,” discovered Brian. “It inspires you to ride 400 miles instead of 20.” Irene was delighted at the space available for the pillion too. “It’s so comfortable on the back.”
Triumph Speed Triple owner Gareth was put off by the Wing’s chrome-and-tassels image. But pushing past the preconceptions, he discovered plenty to like. “It’s really agile once moving,” he reckoned. “The engine’s tremendously strong. And it goes round corners like I really didn’t expect it to. I think I would buy one if I could afford to have it as a second bike, to take my wife away on touring holidays.”
Honda Firestorm rider John also initially doubted the Wing’s cornering prowess, claiming it would only make sense on straight roads like those in America. “It’s really good once you get going,” he enthused after his ride. “You genuinely can’t feel the weight. If I had the money, I’d definitely consider one of these as a second bike.”
Yamaha R6 owner David reckoned you might as well buy a car — until he’d had his turn. “The power, handling and the way it tips into corners genuinely surprised me. My previous conclusions on Gold Wing riders were unjust, and I now know they are truly dedicated bikers who deserve respect.”
Last but not least was Suzuki SV650 rider Andrew. “I don’t tour and I don’t take a pillion, so I don’t see the point,” he said. He was the only one of the seven to remain unconvinced after his ride. “It feels detached and clinical – you just don’t get the same sensations that you get from other bikes. I’ve given it a chance and I can still say I’d never, ever buy one.”
Well, six out of seven ain’t bad.
Seven doubtful readers try a Wing for size
A Wing and a prayer: Barry demonstrates how to pick up 400kg