Honda USA have released the first in a series of five videos in the build up to a new product release on Tuesday, October 24. Honda don’t officially say what the model is, other than it being an “important 2018 motorcycle” but we think it’s pretty clear: it’s a new Gold Wing.
The first video, which you can watch below, shows a few different guys and girls riding the open road on some Hondas. It features all sorts of adventure undertones and there’s a voice over telling us “we know home, but what we don't know is what lies beyond”, before closing with the #whatliesbeyond hashtag. But did you notice the odd one out? As everyone rides around having fun in a sort of modern interpretation of ‘You meet the nicest people on a Honda’, there’s a bike that doesn’t quite fit in among the modern machines: a GL1000 - the original Gold Wing.
We’ve known that there’s a new Gold Wing coming for some time (the GL1800 has been on sale for 16 years at this point), so it seems like a bit too much of a coincidence for us. Our contacts at Honda have been doing some digging, so here’s a rundown of what we’re expecting from the new bike.
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 common place, the ingredients are all there for a complete reinvention of the legendary tourer.
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.
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.