Rather than flying from Southern California to Tennessee to catch a flight to Vietnam, how about riding a touring bike there in comfort? The prospect of riding the 2022 Honda Gold Wing Tour Automatic DCT on the journey made the choice easier. While I had to convince the wife that it’d be fine in the likely wet and cold weather of November and December, most of all, I had to convince myself. I have never ridden that many highway miles on one trip, and certainly not that close to winter.
Being a primarily fair-weather off-road rider in Southern California, I didn’t have the gear for it. However, I understand the need to be prepared. Without the proper inclement weather clothing, I couldn’t do it—I don’t like being cold and wet.
My street experience—much of it on adventure bikes—has given me other realized needs, such as avoiding fatigue in the neck and shoulders, fighting wind buffering, and poor riding posture for ten hours a day.
Making the transcontinental trek on the fully dressed 2022 Honda Gold Wing Tour just made sense, with its excellent wind protection. To keep me warm and dry, I grabbed a full complement of Tourmaster riding, rain, heated gear, Noru base layers, and a Shoei Neotec II modular helmet. Now let’s do this!
Picking up a test bike typically requires a ride out of the Los Angeles metropolitan sprawl to my rural home two hours north. This time, it’s a 116-mile trip from American Honda in Torrance. Quickly getting familiar with a bike is a must in the heavy traffic of surface streets and the jammed San Diego Freeway.
The beautiful engineering of the drivetrain of the Gold Wing makes it user-friendly. At the same time, the automatic transmission frees your left limbs and eliminates the additional work to shift and clutch. Getting a feel for it took an instant. The power output is linear and abundant—I was never left wanting. And the driveshaft delivery is motorcycle magic.
Unlike other large long-distance motorcycles, the Gold Wing Tour feels light, nimble, and easy to maneuver. The center of gravity is low, and it’s comfortable once seated. The flat-six motor and smooth automatic seven-speed transmission are tucked in tight, while the 5.5-gallon fuel tank is kept low.
The ride home from a fleet center provides time to get familiar with the controls and various functions—and the Gold Wing Tour has a lot of them.
Among the turn signal switch, which has the wonderful ability to turn off automatically, are the various performance modes—Tour, Sport, Rain, and Eco. Tour mode was utilized pretty much most of the trip. Sport, with later shift points, was used around town. My favorite bar control is the Walking mode, with a slow reverse and forward to get out of tight spaces.
A week was spent preparing the Gold Wing Tour for powering a cell phone, Garmin Tread GPS, and Tourmaster Synergy Bluetooth Pro-Plus 12-volt heated clothing. Between the Gold Wing navigation and my smartphone, I didn’t need a GPS—I just brought the Garmin unit for backup and because I love the screen.
Another week was spent preparing the clothing, storage, and the Cardo Packtalk Bold helmet intercom unit. I set the Cardo up to communicate with my Samsung smartphone and the Honda Connect app, including my Spotify music catalog. An SAE cable was routed from the battery to the handlebar for a power source to the heated clothing and accessory USB charging, something not provided externally.
I didn’t have much luck with helmet communications devices in the 1990s, and had given up on them. The jump to the Cardo Packtalk Bold is a huge one. I spent time understanding the unit’s capabilities and functions because I couldn’t ride without my music and perhaps taking a few voice-commanded calls. The other goal was to record audio from my helmet to a voice recorder and video app on my Samsung phone using Bluetooth connectivity.
A testament to modern technology, it all went smoothly. The Cardo voice commands include volume control and answering or ignoring phone calls while automatically shutting the music down.
I took off from my home in Tehachapi on Halloween for an 80-mile due-east run on California State Route 58 to Barstow, a couple of miles on Interstate 15, and then a straight shot across the country on Interstate 40.
I concentrated on my riding and the Honda Gold Wing Tour’s many functions and traits as I left California and climbed into the mountainous Arizona High Country. I didn’t plan my overnight stop, playing it by ear as the sun set and my comfort zone shrunk in the darkness.
I eventually pulled off I-40 and had a Chinese dinner across the street from my low-budget motel about 500 miles from home. I headed out the next morning towards the nearest onramp when I realized where I was—Winslow, famous for the Jackson Browne lyrics in the Eagles’ “Take It Easy.” I assumed the town would have some location that represented the song that it made famous. Of course, it did.
I located the famous intersection and parked at the curb in the turn across from the dedicated spot of bronze figures and a flatbed Ford truck. I was “standing on a corner in Winslow, Arizona,” with the Gold Wing in the foreground and the historic spot across the street. I would continue the music theme with stops in Memphis.
On day two, I discovered that heat from the fairing vents directly hit my knees. The armor built into the Tourmaster Mariner laminated pants absorbed the heat and transferred it to my skin. It turns out the Safe-Tech CE level 2 knee armor is sewed in and not removable—not that it would be a good idea to do that anyhow.
I cooled down the more heated left knee by either swinging out both knees or dropping my legs down to dangle in the wind—moving to highway pegs is not an option, as there are none. This annoyance happened throughout each day, as the Gold Wing Tour has no deflector to direct the heat away from my knees. Dangling my feet didn’t just cure the hot knee problem. It also relieved fatigue from a constant foot position and a building sore butt syndrome. I didn’t feel the need for highway pegs—I just stretched my legs out occasionally.
The electronically adjustable windshield is there to keep other parts of the body cooler or warmer, as needed. Sometimes I preferred it lowered to increase airflow to the helmet at lower speeds.
Next to the windshield control is the music volume control for an exceptional sound system that is recognizable at highway speeds and great when cruising around town. Still, on the open road, the Cardo JBL speakers provided better sound, and the Shoei Neotec II kept the road noise down. This also provided an exceptional hands-free phone conversation.
At 61 years of age, six feet tall, and with bad knees, I thought these miles were going to hurt. Yet, the Honda Gold Wing Tour was comfortable the whole trip. Fuel stops would help get blood back in my butt, and day two ended 550 miles east of Winslow in Amarillo—maybe I should have had the Country Music genre selected or George Strait’s “Amarillo by Morning” on my playlist, but it’s not my preferred genre.
Day three to tiny Brinkley, Arkansas, was a 656-mile ride that introduced rolling hills and greenery. It was another leisurely day of comfort, beautiful views, and the additional confidence of sledding down interstate routes.
I had packed my clothing in an easy-to-grab backpack for the large top box. It held my nightly hotel items for quick removal, as the side cases and top box are not removable. A passenger seat bag from Tourmaster I had acquired from past reviews gave me easy access to camera equipment, water, and snacks, with a change of gloves, facemasks, and charging gear. The side cases held heavier cargo and a laptop.
There is a small, unlockable cubby above the fuel cap cover to keep a phone protected in a loose foam support with an available USB port for either a direct link to an iPhone or Android smartphone for charging and left-hand control. However, I prefer my phone in my face to view notifications, with quick access when I stop and take photos, and a Bluetooth connection to the Cardo headset. I also stored reading glasses there, with a notepad and pen. A Ram Mount held my phone and could be quickly removed and mounted to a selfie stick or tripod, both prepared with Ram Mounts.
One of the secrets of the 2022 Honda Gold Wing Tour is the hidden fuel cap cover release from between your legs at a latched cover under the right knee. I’m not sure if that is a good storage spot, but it is where I safely kept the fuel cap while I filled the tank. It is a fast and easy procedure once you memorize the moves, though sometimes I forgot to close it until my knee hit it.
Navigating the dashboard features is conveniently accomplished via the tank-mounted knob and push buttons, along with the left-hand controls when in motion. The handlebar grip heater button was adjusted throughout each day to keep my hands comfortable.
Day four got me to my final destination, and some better attractions. I crossed the Mississippi River into Tennessee early morning, and my first Memphis stop was at a visitor center. I needed to find good locations for photos, and this was a good choice.
Inside the visitor center are the bronze statues of B.B. King and Elvis Presley, continuing my music theme. It also chronicles the birth of early rock ’n’ roll with many photos and history of The Memphis Sound.
Phyllis, the friendly hostess of three, offered to take photos of me throughout the near-empty center, offering some good suggestions for pose locations. I explained I rode from California on a luxurious touring motorcycle and was curious enough to come out and view the Honda Gold Wing Tour while chatting with another visitor asking about my ride. I was receiving compliments on a bike I, unfortunately, didn’t own!
Before leaving Memphis, I needed to visit the famous Sun Records for a photo. I circled the building to locate a good spot and snuck my way between buildings near the front entrance. I was surprisingly unbothered while maneuvering around the sidewalk and the street to get various angles.
After the Sun Records excursion, it was off to Nashville on the Tennessee Music Highway—a 210-mile stretch of Interstate 40—only to run into stopped traffic due to a crash further ahead. I would have been aware of the backup if I had been using Waze and its reroute suggestions, but I wasn’t paying attention to any phone apps.
Fortunately, just as the traffic came to a complete stop, an offramp was there for escape. This is where having my cell directly connected to the Gold Wing USB cable would have been seen from the Honda dashboard and the navigation app. Or even through Bluetooth and the Honda Link app.
Not following the other drivers’ detour route for a return, I ended up on the scenic Wildersville Road—a meandering narrow route into Natchez Trace State Park and a good opportunity for some photo ops. Eventually, I got back in the chase of the Interstate to reach my true destination—Maryville, just a few miles south of Knoxville’s McGhee Tyson Airport.
After 470 miles and stops, I arrived after dark elated to complete my first major journey on two wheels.
My first night ride revealed LED headlight is directed where I need it for confidence in night riding, with the brights working even better when necessary. The TFT dash becomes more illuminated for quick, easy viewing, but at times difficult to view in direct sunlight. The mirrors could be larger, but small aftermarket convex mirrors mounted in the corners would help with blind spots better.
I prefer a digital readout of my speed in larger numbers rather than the analog-style display for quicker viewing. Daily cleaning of bugs and road grime is a must, though truck stop hand squeegee is not suggested. I should have armed myself with plastic cleaners for street bikes. Also, don’t use a paper towel on the dash—it scratches the plastic.
If something unexpected crosses your path, the Honda’s exceptional braking works beyond expectation. Two 320mm discs and six-piston Nissan calipers work together with the rear brake and sophisticated ABS to get the job done—and then some. The braking works so intuitively that it’s just another thing I don’t have to think about.
Cruise control was used extensively on the longer periods of open interstate and was much appreciated. However, the 2022 Honda Gold Wing Tour surprisingly lacks the radar-informed adaptive cruise control found on top-of-the-line luxury touring bikes of today.
Over 2300 miles have been traveled, and in a few days, I’ll be in Ho Chi Minh City, riding on the back of a scooter as a passenger. I’ll return three weeks later to begin the trip back to California.
Despite the I-40 route across the Colorado Plateau, autumn storms had yet crossed my planned route, and I’d just cleared southern storms as I approached Tennessee. I had more concerns about my return trip in the first week of December, so I felt lucky to have the time to learn the bike better and build my confidence before I had to handle cross-country travel in severe conditions.
Back in Tennessee, I chose my routes toward home based on upcoming weather patterns, temperatures, and my desire to not backtrack. So, I geared up for what would be the coldest morning yet—35 degrees on December 2—and headed south towards Chattanooga.
The ride to Chattanooga was the most interesting, consisting of secondary state and county routes through small Tennessee towns before hopping on another interstate. My father was born in 1935 in Elizabethton, in the eastern part of the state. Soon, he was headed to California with his two younger siblings along Route 66. They settled in the San Fernando Valley just before the breakout of World War II for his first year in school and their first visits to California beaches. My father met my Hollywood-born mother at Canoga Park High School. Eventually, I was born in Canoga Park and spent a good portion of my life there through the years.
From Chattanooga, I rode into Alabama and through Birmingham to get on Interstate 20, which I will ride to its terminus at I-10 in Texas.
After 532 miles on the 2022 Honda Gold Wing Tour, my first night on the return ride was in Vicksburg, Mississippi, a town of 24,000 located across from Louisiana on the Mississippi River.
I had received a little sprinkling of rain on the first day leaving Tennessee, and experienced no water penetration thanks to the gear I had on. I was prepped for cold temperatures with Noru Full Heat base layers—jacket and long john—and wicking Noru Standard riding socks. Over them, I had Tourmaster Synergy BT Pro-Plus 12-volt heated gear—jacket, pants, gloves, and socks in case I ran into frigid conditions. Over that was the Tourmaster Mariner pant and jacket combo, plus Tourmaster Solution Air boots and Super-Tour gloves. Finally, it was all covered by Tourmaster’s Sentry rain jacket and pants. The Tourmaster Sentry rain jacket has a thin hoodie that slips under the helmet, preventing rain from entering at my neck.
Yes, I was prepared for cold and wet. However, by the time I reached the warmer, moist areas of Mississippi, I was sweating, and there were no heavy downpours. That came later.
I woke up early on day two and headed toward the historic areas of downtown Vicksburg. I wanted some Civil War-themed photos and hoped for something over the Mississippi River.
The city is known for the Siege of Vicksburg, the last major military battle of the Civil War, which left nearly 20,000 dead. The Union Army pressured the Confederate Army for 40 days until the Confederates surrendered on July 4, 1863, the day after Gen. Robert E. Lee was defeated at Gettysburg. With that history, it has many points of interest for Civil War buffs, including the Old Court House Museum.
The morning weather was overcast, yet warm, but as soon as I hit I-20, I was getting rained on. Luckily, it didn’t last long, and I was still in my rain gear. Though I had dressed much lighter otherwise, no rain penetrated the Tourmaster Sentry rain gear.
I worked my way through Shreveport and heavily trafficked Dallas, stopping only for quick meals and fuel.
I cruised at speeds up to 85 mph on the Gold Wing Tour, utilizing the cruise control to relieve my cramping throttle hand. In the warmer, drier weather, I used a lighter-weight glove that provided a bit more comfort. I’m still dangling my legs for relief to my rear and knees, easily surviving the dreaded monkey butt. Heat from the Honda’s radiator cowls is still warming the knee armor in my pants to annoying levels, but I worked around it. Aleve at breakfast prevented any shoulder tension from my seating position. Listening to my Spotify music catalog through Cardo’s JBL helmet speakers kept me alert.
Having ridden 612 miles in over nine hours on the 2022 Honda Gold Wing Tour, I finally stopped in Colorado City, about 70 miles west of Abilene. Daylight is in short supply at this time of year, and I avoid Interstates at night if I can. Shredded truck tire treads and crossing wildlife just give me the heebie-jeebies.
Paying the same rate for a room as I did in Vicksburg, I did much better in Colorado City. I picked up a chicken dinner, brought it back to my room, and got my sleep.
The goal for day three was to get me to Tucson to visit my older brother and his family for the night—I don’t see them often enough. I decided to seek out some interesting stops along the way, rather than power through as I had the previous day. Midland has incredible activity in the energy sector, with housing and hotels built just for the crews. Those local economies are bustling with business.
Another point of interest is Pecos. Although I didn’t know the history, I recalled old stories of colorful characters named Pecos, including rustlers who caused a ruckus in Wild West stories. A little research revealed Pecos Bill, a cowboy folk hero dating back over a century, who also appeared in Disney’s 1948 animated anthology Melody Time. That must be it. Thin Lizzy’s “Cowboy Song” should have come up in my music list, but didn’t.
Interstate 20 Ts into Interstate 10 at Scroggins Draw, and 170 miles later, I’m in the vast border town of El Paso.
The weather and temperatures have been good to me, but it was becoming overcast as a storm was coming my way as I headed west into New Mexico. I had to try and keep a swift pace to avoid rain and dark. However, that wasn’t to be—I hit both.
Scattered sprinkles fell on me as I rolled into Willcox, Arizona, for a fuel stop. As I gassed up, the sun went down, and rain began. This would be the real test of my gained confidence in the Honda Gold Wing Tour Automatic DCT, the gear, and how far I would take it. I took it to 11.
The route from the high desert into Tucson was dark, wet, and thick with white-out spray from vehicle tires. Visibility was near zero. The Gold Wing Tour’s windshield fogged up, and so did the faceshield on my Shoe Neotec II—I had neglected to bring the standard Pinlock Evo system along.
I raised the faceshield and looked around the windshield to see ahead. It was 6 p.m., the traffic was thick, the night dark, and I wove through traffic to keep making time. As I descended to the desert floor of Tucson, the conditions cleared up as I made my way to a great evening with my brother and family. It was my longest day at 700 miles, with over 10 hours in the saddle, yet I wasn’t feeling sore, fatigued, or tired.
Day four was the home stretch on familiar territory—the Sonoran and Mojave Deserts. After a casual morning conversation and pancakes, I reluctantly geared up and headed out. While the weather was no longer a threat, I still had 550 miles to conquer. I knew I would reach home after nightfall, but the routes were familiar.
A little Phoenix traffic and heavy San Bernardino congestion meant riding into Palmdale after dark. From there, it was easy—a familiar ride through the windmills groves of the Tehachapi Wind Resource Area and a mountain pass. After five weeks away, including a trip to Vietnam, it was good to return to my town and bed.
It’s difficult to imagine making the trip without adequate preparation. The 2022 Honda Gold Wing Tour Automatic DCT made it possible to collect the miles easily and in style. The unorthodox front wishbone suspension never intruded on the ride and is a perfect replacement for a traditional fork, as it absorbs bumps smoothly in all conditions. The seat (with backrest), footrests, and riding position provided a comfortable journey.
Designed specifically for touring, the Shoei Neotec II is comfortable for hours, though I should have brought the Pinlock Evo system lens insert—a rookie error. The Tourmaster outerwear was fantastic, save for the pesky heat transfer through the knee armor. The Noru base layers did a better job of keeping me warm than I expected, so the Tourmaster Synergy BT Pro-Plus heated gear didn’t get the call to duty I expected.
I guess that means it’s time for another winter excursion.
- Helmet: Shoei Neotec II
- Communications: Cardo Packtalk Bold
- Jacket and pants: Tourmaster Mariner Laminated
- Gloves: Tourmaster Super-Tour
- Boots: Tourmaster Solution Air
- Heated gear: Tourmaster Synergy BT Pro-Plus jacket, pants, gloves, and socks
- Base layers: Noru Full Heat jacket and pants
- Rainwear: Tourmaster Sentry jacket and pants; Tourmaster Deluxe rain boot covers
2022 Honda Gold Wing Tour DCT Specs
- Type: Horizontally opposed 6-cylinder
- Displacement: 1833cc
- Bore x stroke: 73 x 73mm
- Compression ratio: 10.5:1
- Valvetrain: SOHC Unicam; 4 vpc
- Transmission: 6-speed, plus electric reverse
- Final drive: Shaft
- Front suspension; travel: Non-adjustable double-wishbone w/ electronically adjustable Showa shock; 4.3 inches
- Rear suspension; travel: Linkage-assisted electronically adjustable spring-preload Showa shock; 4.1 inches
- Front tire: 130/70 x 18; Bridgestone Exedra G853
- Rear tire: 200/55 x 16; Bridgestone Exedra G852
- Front brakes: 320mm discs w/ 6-piston Nissin calipers
- Rear brake: 316mm disc w/ 3-piston Nissin caliper
- ABS: Standard w/ linked braking
DIMENSIONS and CAPACITIES
- Wheelbase: 66.9 inches
- Rake: 30.5 degrees
- Trail: 4.3 inches
- Seat height: 29.3 inches
- Fuel capacity: 5.5 gallons
- Estimated fuel consumption: 42 mpg
- Curb weight: 853 pounds
- Colors: Metallic Black; Ultra Blue Metallic
2022 Honda Gold Wing Tour DCT Price: $29,600 MSRP