Back in the day

RiDE (UK) - - Contents -

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

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