Pros: The BEST tour bike EVER made
Cons: Heavy, minor quarks
How best to describe the Honda Goldwing? Incredible, flawless, perfect? Nothing in real life is ever perfect, but this bike comes as close to perfection as a motorcycle can come. I have been riding for over 20 years and have been an active semiprofessional racer for the last ten. I have owned three different full dress tour bikes, a 1988 Kawasaki Voyager, 1996 BMW K1200RT and a 1999 Goldwing GL1500. The last Goldwing had 77,000 miles on it when I sold it. Additionally I took a 2700-mile trip with my wife on a friends 2003 Harley Electra Glide while my tour bike was being repaired after being hit by a car. A word about the crash worthiness of the GL1800; A BMW 740i hit my Honda in a parking lot. The bike was knocked over on the right side. There were numerous scratches, missing right mirror, collapsed left luggage bag. All in all my first thought was that the bike would be totaled out. Total cost of repairs is $3600.00. Much less than I first thought. I just cant wait until I can get it back. Since purchasing the big Honda in March 㤋 I have put 3100 miles on it.
So how is the Goldwing? Big. That about sums it up. Its a big bike. Honda says it weighs around 740 lbs, but I think it should be more like 850lbs. Luggage is great. All the tops are lockable; the tops also have a gasket to keep out water. They shut smoothly and evenly; no deformation or pounding on them to click shut is necessary. They do not come with a lamp, but the dealer can install one for about $50.00. The seats are well padded; give good lower back support and are plush. I am pretty short (5'6") and I have some problems reaching the ground. It does not bother me though. The back support for the driver I have found a little bothersome after long hours, and the seat gets a little hard after seven or eight hours of riding. Nothing too substantial to detract from the overall comfort of the bike. The controls are simple and easy to read. Amazingly enough the gas gage is accurate! The center console on the tank has all the controls for stereo, CB, and intercom. I had a GPS unit installed, MiniDisc player, and cell phone adapter (these are all aftermarket adaptations that a Honda dealer can do). The inside of the fairing has several pockets for wallet, glasses, CD's, and junk. Two are lockable.
The transmission is flawless, smooth shifting and positive. Clutch pull is a little tight but nothing like the Harley Electra Glide. Brakes come in two types; Honda linked braking with or without ABS. I hate the LBS system that Honda has been trying to push off on the public for something like 15 years now. Basically what it does is by pulling on the front brake handle you actuate both the front and rear brakes. The same is true by pushing on the rear brake pedal. I don't like ABS on bikes so I didn't purchase that option. If it were practical to remove the Honda LBS I would. Aside from that gripe about Honda's LBS the brakes are fantastic.
The 1800cc engine is wonderful. My GL1500 felt slow and sluggish compared to this one. Lots of low-end torque, enough to enable heart-stopping wheelies on a $20,000 bike. You do have to clutch it up in first, which was somewhat disappointing, but it's the first Goldwing that I have ever owned that would do a wheelie. I don't recommend anyone ever try this. Cruising down the highway at 100 mph is a breeze. The engine noise is completely imperceptible. The ride is smooth as glass and the bike will do it as long as there is gas in the tank. Passing cars on two lane roads doesn't require a downshift, but I do it anyway to wind the big motor up. Cruise control is spot on, keeping your speed steady within two or three MPH. I ran it up to the top end and saw 133 on the GPS and 135 MPH indicated. Not too bad for an 800 lb bike. For cruising I feel most comfortable around 85-95 MPH. It gets around 40 MPG with an average speed of 90MPH. Pretty good in my book.
Stereo is adequate, mine came with a 6 disk CD. There are controls on the left handle bar for it's operation and I had remote controls for radio and CD/MD installed for my wife in the back. The back seat is as good as the front. My wife is able to see over my head from her perch and is quite comfortable. She has commented that the back does get some extra wind. The speakers are pretty weak so don't bother with them. Get good helmets and put earphones in them, you will be much happier with that arrangement.
How does it handle? Amazingly enough it handles like a sport bike. Yah, it weighs in at over 800lbs but man does that bike handle well. Hairpins, switchbacks, doesnt matter this bike will take them in stride. You cannot fault the way this bike handles. Honda really did come up with the proper combination of weight bias, and steering geometry when they designed this bike. Every time I get on it and go for a ride I am thoroughly floored by how well this bike handles twisty roads. Of course when going in a straight line it does just as well I have been considering taking it out on the racetrack for a spin to see what kind of times it will do. Should be pretty interesting.
What is wrong with it? Aside from the weight not very much. When the bike was knocked over it took 3 people to get it back up again. Some of the plastic flashing is pretty cheesy. I hate the Honda LBS with a passion but I am able to get around it. Humm, if it had an air conditioner I guess it would be a car? My wife has commented that she would like to see a little more storage for the passenger and a little better wind protection. Overall it is one of the best motorcycles ever built. There is a huge group of American Goldwing owners and it is quite obvious that it will continue to grow.