Test Ride: 2010 Honda Gold Wing 1800/ABS

The RV of motorcycles

If you?ve ever had the urge to hit the road taking in the many sights, sounds and historical locations while touring our glorious continent, but you?re unable to foot the bill for a humongous motor home (not to mention the exorbitant fuel costs), why not consider a way of travel that provides a lofty level of comfort along with an elevated sense of freedom and adventure blended into a much more compact package that?s considerably easier to maneuver and to park. Plus you can search out places that a traditional RV cannot negotiate at all, let alone comfortably.

Honda?s iconic Gold Wing has been around for years and has progressively evolved to become what is unquestionably the epitome of the ultimate touring motorcycle on the road today. The Gold Wing is really big, no make that huge, almost to the point of being intimidating when first laying one?s eyes upon it. It tips the scale at 928 pounds with all options and fluids ? ready to roll. It?s also not inexpensive, but as with everything else in life, you get what you pay for. In the case of the Gold Wing, you actually get even more. It has everything that you need, and probably nothing that you don?t in its role as the self proclaimed long haul king of the road.

The Gold Wing begins pricing at $22,899 and climbs to $27,999 if one goes for the model with all available options. There are four Package Options: Package Option One, with Premium Audio, Comfort, and Tire Pressure Monitoring System; Package Option Two, with Premium Audio, Comfort, TPMS, XM Radio, and Navigation; Package Option Three, featuring Premium Audio, Comfort, TPMS, XM Radio, Navigation, and Anti-Lock Braking System; and the top-of-the-line Package Option Four that comes with everything – Premium Audio, Comfort, TPMS, XM Radio, Navigation, ABS, and exclusive Airbag. You can expect to add approximately another $300 or so for dealer prep and handling, and of course, there?s still tax and license to consider.

Providing power for the Gold Wing is a 1832cc, SOHC liquid-cooled, horizontally-opposed six-cylinder, 12-valve motor with Programmed Fuel Injection and two 40mm-diameter throttle bodies delivering air to six specially designed Keihin 50-psi high-pressure programmed fuel injectors. The exhaust consists of a stainless steel 6-into-2 exhaust system, finishing with dual rectangular chrome tips. The power is metered through a five-speed sequential manual transmission?including overdrive to the final shaft drive, and there?s also a pushbutton electric reverse gear.

The Gold Wing rides on Dunlop radial tires mounted on 5-swirl-spoke alloy wheels. The suspension consists of 45mm front forks up front, housing a cartridge damper in the right leg with 5.5 inches of travel with an Anti-dive system, and a Pro Arm? Rear single side swingarm with computer- controlled adjustable hydraulic preload set by rider activated pushbutton controls with 2-position memory and Pro-Link single shock. Braking is accomplished by Dual full-floating 296mm front discs with Combined Braking System (CBS) three-piston calipers, ABS while out back is a Single ventilated 316mm rear disc with one CBS three-piston caliper and ABS.

There?s a lot of plastic and composite material incorporated into the Gold Wing?s construction, some of it chrome and some of it painted, but it all serves to pare both the weight and cost down to more manageable and affordable levels? not only that, but it also enables Honda to offer a supreme touring bike that displays incredible design elements.?

The Gold Wing is an extremely attractive bike that?s loaded with thoughtful touches and features, all of which have progressively improved from one model year to the next. The latest iteration is reflective of what the serious bike tourer would look for in a cross-country cruiser. It doesn?t try to imitate other popular cruising motorcycles, but rather marches to its own beat. In terms of its styling, it is futuristic in its approach to motorcycle design, with a contemporary metric flavor ? in essence, it is like no other touring bike on the road today.?

My test 2010 Honda Gold Wing was finished in metallic red with black, chrome and silver trim and accessories. The base price amounted to $22,899. My Gold Wing was outfitted with Package Option Four, which was all-inclusive – Premium Audio, Comfort, TPMS, XM Radio, Navigation, ABS, and exclusive Airbag, so the final price came to $27,999. before any taxes or license fees. Features that are standard Gold Wing issue included: AM/FM/XM/ CD player; CB radio kit and antenna; internal communication (helmet to helmet) connections; built-in Garmin Navigation system with voice prompt; Five-position heated seat/backrest combination with individual rider and passenger controls for optimum comfort; a Foot-warming system with lower air vents that channel engine-heated air over the rider?s feet that?s controlled by a fairing-mounted lever; heated grips; manually?adjustable windshield height; electronically controlled rear suspension preload adjustment; adjustable/closable windscreen vent; motorized, dial switch headlight?adjustment; cruise control; slow speed reverse; and 60 liters of storage capacity with an additional 5 liters of storage available if the optional CD changer is not installed. Two full-face helmets fit easily in the trunk. The saddlebags provide 40-plus liters of storage each, resulting in a total of 147 liters of storage space.

Specially designed saddlebags feature a remote-control key lock, permitting pop-open rear trunk operation; a remote lock/unlock for the trunk and saddlebags; and a horn-actuated bike locator. If remote locking is attempted while a lid is open, the emergency lights flash to alert the rider and a warning appears on screen. The instrument cluster includes analog displays for?speedometer, tachometer, coolant temperature and fuel level, plus adjustable backlighting and high-luminescence red pointers. Indicator/warning lights are provided for Reverse, Neutral, Overdrive, oil pressure, fuel injection, high beam, side stand, cruise on, cruise set and low fuel. A high-resolution LCD housed in a separate module is visible in all lighting conditions and displays the odometer, A/B tripmeter, ambient temperature, audio modes, CB, rear-suspension setting, trunk/saddlebag-open indicators and clock.

SUMMARY: If you?re a rider that relishes long road trips, the 2010 Honda Gold Wing can be loaded up with all the bells and whistles to make your journey a pleasant and comfortable one. Unfortunately, Honda does not disclose horsepower and torque ratings, but the inimitable steps up to the plate with ample portions of both on demand.

The riding position is upright with mid-located foot controls, with all switchgear conveniently located. Toggle and rocker switches, as well as pushbuttons for various functions are easily operable with gloves on. Pegs are provided for the rider, while the passenger has folding floorboards. The bars are positioned for optimum control and should one lose balance or control at low speed, there are sturdy, protective chrome bars fore and aft ready to save the bike?s bodywork, not to mention your own. If one does happen to lay the bike down, it will likely take two to get it upright again, given its mass and substantial weight.?

The one-piece seat is sculpted to give the rider lumbar support and is long enough to give the passenger enough space to avoid crowding the rider. Incidentally, the electronic rear suspension adjustment smooths the ride compliance according to payload and features memory settings. The height adjustable windshield allows riders of varying heights to properly control air flow, and has a louvered vent near its base for fresh air without buffeting.

The built-in NAV screen is legible even in bright sunlight and has a split-screen feature that can display information for more than one function. There are also dual trip meters, a temperature readout and digital clock.

The 2010 Honda Gold Wing is dream for cruising about town, or for touring the open road. Low speed or stationary balance might possibly be an issue for vertically challenged riders, especially when stopping on an incline.

Yes, the Gold Wing costs more than many cars, but it?s definitely less expensive than an RV, while also serving up more freedom and fun, with lower operating costs. The exhaust note isn?t likely to offend anyone either like some competitive touring bikes.

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