2018 Honda Gold Wing Tour DCT Review | Two-Up in Texas Hill Country
We have now ridden the new 2018 Honda Gold Wing Tour two-up for almost 500 miles through the Texas Hill Country. During our two-day ride we were able to swap back and forth with the previous generation Gold Wing as a direct comparison.In the process we experienced a wide variety of riding conditions. The Texas roads included straights and twisties, up hills and down dales. We rode on some good surfaces, while others were bumpy and in less than perfect condition. The weather varied from cold and wet, to warm and dry—and a lot in between.
Here’s what you need to know about the 2018 Honda Gold Wing Tour DCT:1. There are two new 2018 Honda Gold Wing editions—we tested the Gold Wing Tour. The standard 2018 Gold Wing is a bagger-style machine that replaces the F6B, while the Gold Wing Tour replaces the fully dressed luxury of the previous Gold Wing. Both the Gold Wing and Gold Wing Tour are available with a six-speed manual transmission, or the seven-speed Dual Clutch Transmission (DCT). There’s also a Gold Wing Tour Airbag DCT model.2. The new Gold Wing Tour DCT glides. It is elegantly smooth, and very comfortable for both rider and passenger. For the rider, it is precise and gives great feedback. The DCT version we rode is easy to manage and maneuver, even at very low speed.3. The new double-wishbone front suspension is a quantum leap improvement. Sporting a conventional fork, the previous model was noticeably susceptible to road vibration and shudder coming through the handlebars to the rider. The new suspension isolates the rider from all of that, making the feel at the grips completely smooth. While the old forked model worked well enough, the new Gold Wing Tour suspension is simply in a different class.4. Different spring-preload settings on the suspension can be easily selected via the menu system, although the motorcycle has to be at a standstill to do it. Changes are noticeable, and take the suspension from softly sprung (maximum cushiness) to sporting-level firmness. Even on the firmest setting, the suspension is very reactive and never feels harsh. Ultimately, we opted for the medium softest setting as the handling was not compromised in any way.5. The steering is incredibly light, so parking lot and low-speed maneuvers, such as pulling away from a stop, is super easy. The downside is that the front wheel can react a little more to vagaries in the road surface—tar snakes, for example—than the old Wing. Still, the 2018 Honda Gold Wing Tour feels solid and always stayed on line. Increasing the suspension spring-preload reduces the effect at the front tire.6. The new Gold Wing Tour is far more agile, and the handling is beautifully neutral. It turns in easily, belying its overall weight. The 90-pound weight saving from the previous edition definitely helps, while the new chassis and suspension setup play their part as well. Honda created more than 100 prototypes(!) in the process of getting to this new chassis and front end, and that unrelenting effort has definitely paid off.7. Steering is more precise than its predecessor. The old Gold Wing felt large and comfortable; the couch-on-wheels description is pretty accurate. The new one however is firmer, and the rider feels much more connected to the road; however this is accomplished without sacrificing the luxurious ride. Like the previous version, the new Gold Wing Tour will hold a line just as steadily, yet it is also faster turning. I am able to change line mid-corner more easily when needed, even when braking.8. The linked brakes are very powerful and have excellent feel. Even with the Honda Gold Wing Tour DCT fully laden, I never experienced any fade. The double wishbone suspension ensures the motorcycle doesn’t stand up if you have to brake mid-corner—a huge benefit. ABS, as you would expect, comes as standard and flawless.9. The 2018 Honda Gold Wing is equipped with Bridgestone Excedra tires that grip well in both the wet and dry. 10. The new Unicam motor feels very similar to the old one, but it is more efficient. The new generation flat-6 motor is as smooth as ever, and it is a little more responsive in the midrange. Torque is strong, right from idle. At no point does the engine ever feel wanting.11. Four riding modes change the aggressiveness of the power delivery and impact the DCT gear selection as well. Modes can be changed on the fly. Toggling through the choices couldn’t be easier using the pull switch on the right handlebar to select, and then closing the throttle to confirm the selection.12. Tour mode is the perfect compromise between smoothness and performance. On the odd occasion when a burst of acceleration is going to be needed, then a left thumb tap on the downshift button changes into a lower gear for long enough that you are ready to snap accelerate. Otherwise, Tour mode was always in the perfect gear for the variety of conditions we experienced.13. Econ and Rain modes are both fairly sluggish, and put the transmission into top gear as quickly as possible. If you are taking advantage of the Gold Wing Tour’s amazing handling, they’ll be too slow responding for you.14. Sport mode is much more aggressive. One-up and sport riders will love it. For two-up riding, it proved to be more difficult to stay smooth enough on the throttle for my passenger’s best comfort.15. The throttle connection is incredible. It is absolutely precise, and very forgiving. During slow-speed maneuvers, as well as high-speed corner exits, it smoothly produces exactly the amount of power demanded by the rider. No more, no less, and there is no jerk or snatch whatsoever.16. The Gold Wing Tour’s traction control works very well. Pulling out of a right hand turn on to one straight stretch, the road was slick with rain and must have had something else on the surface. As I accelerated away, the TC cut in very strongly and yet I stayed in control. I was caught off guard, and was extremely relieved to have the TC take charge for a few moments.17. The reduced luggage capacity of the 2018 Honda Gold Wing Tour didn’t make any difference to us. We carried everything we needed for two days—including laptops and camera equipment. A couple can always use more luggage space, but we really didn’t feel the new Gold Wing Tour’s luggage capacity was a handicap.18. The luggage is top quality. Damped luggage lids are a nice touch—they open and close elegantly, fit well, and have a good seal. If you walk more than about 15 feet away from the bike, the remote key fob automatically locks the luggage. The Gold Wing Tour then unlocks the luggage when the key fob is back within range.19. A separate helmet lock attachment is clever, but a little fiddly. Functionally, it gives you an alternate way of locking two helmets to the bike if the trunk is full, but it does require some futzing to put it into place.20. Honda’s DCT is simply a must have. No matter how good of a rider you are with a conventional transmission, there is simply no comparison. The DCT gearchanges are so slick they are nearly imperceptible, and that results in a ride that is incredibly smooth, especially for the passenger. Swapping ratios mid-corner doesn’t upset the chassis one iota. Manual downshifts under power on DCT can occasionally be less than smooth, but they are still less clunky than on a manual gearshift. DCT naysayers will need about four hours of riding to adjust, and I predict they will be converted!21. DCT shines at walking-pace speeds. Parking lot maneuvers and pulling up to stops are much more controlled with DCT. The DCT automated system couples with the flawless throttle balance to slip the clutch much better than using a conventional hand-operated clutch lever.22. The 2018 Honda Gold Wing Tour is a little taller than the old model. To mitigate that, the seat is narrower at the front so I was able to flat-foot the new one just as easily when stopped.23. The passenger sits more upright and the airflow is better managed. My passenger liked the old Gold Wing, but prefers the slightly more upright passenger position of the new model. The improved airflow didn’t catch under her HJC RPHA 70 ST helmet and cause neck strain as happened on the old model, so the new bike was less fatiguing for her on a long ride. As the rider, on the new model I was more comfortable with less eddying wind pushing on my back, as the air flow now passes over the top of us both.24. The armrests are welcome, but they should be a little longer. We recommend fitting the Honda accessory armrest extenders immediately. Although a relatively short addition, the extenders make all the difference to passenger comfort.25. The passenger floorboards are a little higher and further back than the old model. This meant my passenger’s legs were not quite as comfortable as on the previous Gold Wing. In contrast, the seat is narrower, so her legs were less splayed, and that was more comfortable.26. The passenger grab handles are far too low down and essentially unusable. The grab handles are only needed under hard braking, but they should be easily accessed and clearly need extending.27. The new seat is less plush than the old one and the rider’s seat doesn’t have the bucket-like backrest of the older version. However, the 2018 Honda Gold Wing Tour’s seat is perfectly comfortable and we had no issues at all with either perch. Honda does offer an accessory luxury seat, though you’d have to be a serious long-distance rider to need that.28. Overall, the new passenger accommodations make for a more secure ride than before. My passenger was very impressed with how solid the backrest feels and how the armrests wrap nicely around. She reported feeling very much safer and more secure on the ride, as well as more comfortable. 29. The 2018 Honda Gold Wing Tour handlebars are a little higher and a little farther forwards than before. It’s fine comfort-wise, but on balance I prefer the slightly more relaxed previous generation position.30. The infotainment system and electronics user interface are very well thought out, easy to read and understand, and intuitive to use. The whole system feels integrated and is a big improvement over the confusing plethora of buttons and switches that covered the previous model’s cockpit and handlebars. It feels like this is now a well thought-out and carefully evolved system of control, rather than just adding a series of add-ons over multiple years as it did with the previous model.31. Apple CarPlay works well, and I had no problem linking my iPhone 7 to the 2018 Honda Gold Wing Tour system. Car Play only works if you have a Bluetooth headset on your helmet; it does not work through the onboard amp/speaker system. One irritation is that each time the ignition is switched off, the phone then has to be unplugged and then reconnected (last) to restart CarPlay again—the phone has to be the final connection in the sequence when initiating CarPlay. Hopefully Honda may be able to address this with a firmware upgrade at some point.32. The electrically adjustable windshield makes a big difference to the rider, as well as the passenger. The old non-adjustable screen didn’t manage airflow well, and its top edge ran right through the middle of my field of view. The electric adjustability of the new windshield is an enormous improvement. 33. The new self-canceling turn signals are welcome, but need fine-tuning. They cancel too early, and often I found I had to restart the signal again before reaching my turn—sometimes twice.34. The new 2018 Honda Gold Wing Tour DCT is a significant improvement over its highly evolved predecessor. The old model works very well, and although I had little to complain about with it, it now feels dated and overweight by comparison. The smoother, leaner, more agile new Gold Wing Tour motorcycle is a much better riding machine all around, even if you only ever go in a straight line. The superb suspension, improved aerodynamics, amazing DCT gearbox, and the latest in on-board electronics, all combine to catapult the Gold Wing brand into the modern era.Photography by Brian J. Nelson and Kevin WingRIDING STYLERIDER
Hello everyone and welcome once again to Ultimate Motorcycling’s weekly Podcast—Motos and Friends.
My name is Arthur Coldwells.
This week’s Podcast is brought to you by Yamaha motorcycles. Discover how the YZF-R7 provides the perfect balance of rider comfort and true supersport performance by checking it out at YamahaMotorsports.com, or see it for yourself at your local dealer.
This week’s episode features Senior Editor Nic de Sena’s impressions of the beautiful new Harley-Davidson Low Rider ST that is loosely based around the original FXRT Sport Glide from the 1980s. Hailing from The Golden State, these cult-status performance machines became known as West Coast style, with sportier suspension, increased horsepower, and niceties including creature comforts such as a tidy fairing and sporty luggage.
In past episodes you might have heard us mention my best friend, Daniel Schoenewald, and in the second segment I chat with him about some of the really special machines in his 170 or so—and growing—motorcycle collection. He’s always said to me that he doesn’t consider himself the owner, merely the curator of the motorcycles for the next generation.
Yet Daniel is not just a collector, but I can attest a really skilled rider. His bikes are not trailer queens, they’re ridden, and they’re ridden pretty hard. Actually, we have had many, many memorable rides on pretty much all of the machines in the collection at one time or another.
From all of us here at Ultimate Motorcycling, we hope you enjoy this episode!