Latest posts by Warren (see all)

I like bikes in the tourer category but there are very few left due to everyone jumping on the ADV bike craze.

I’ve looked at the BMW K1600 series but it’s said the cost of valve checks will bankrupt you. I was never a fan of BMW’s boxer engine so the R1250RT was not on my radar (update – however after riding a new 1250GS my mind was changed) and then we have the new Gold Wing which every review says is superb so I decided I had to try one.

Alas I booked a DCT model but got a base model manual so I cannot talk about DCT or walking modes or reverse gears. But actually the manual gear box proved a good choice for me – more on that later.

Lets get right to the stuff everyone thinks is bad. Weight. Yes it feels heavy lifting off side stand but the weight is positioned low – it is more balanced and easy to control at low speed than you might think. No worse than my Yamaha FJR1300 with a full 25 litres of fuel onboard. The high COG of my FJR got the better of me a couple of times. Nothing even close to that on the Gold Wing with it’s lower COG.

Size. It feels much smaller the moment you sit on it. Most of the bike is low, the bars are much better positioned then my FJR’s were. I had to raise the FJR bars and bring them backwards as they were too far away. Once under way the Gold Wing size and weight shrinks. Underway it soon felt only marginally bigger or heavier than my FJR1300 when full of fuel.

Handling. It handles remarkably well. This is one of my biggest surprises. It does not wallow at all like a heavy bike. Less ground clearance but I never scraped so still ample for most public road riding but you cannot this lean like a FJR1300 or an R1250RT. Very planted in any radius and I rode 1000’s on this bike including the Tail of the Dragon. This is a big bike yet it went round corners confidently and always held whatever radius I chose. I was aware not to be entering corners too fast but my pace now days fits this bike anyway.

Honda have developed a special double wishbone front end unlike anything I have ever ridden before and it is amazing. The rear suspension is conventional but worked as good as any bike I have ridden never showing the true weight. It always was so settled arriving at corners and riding through corners. Yes naturally you need to think about tipping in earlier with more bar input and of course it is heavy and does not flick in like a ADV bike but as a luxury tourer ridden at my current pace I thought it was good.

With such a long wheelbase it has initial understeer that falls into oversteer as the bike is leaned over, exactly same as my FJR but it remains a constant that you adjust to. With the FJR this effect was more pronounced when it had full 25 litres fuel and then much less when near empty. With the Gold Wing its same all the time, full tank makes no difference as the fuel is all sitting low.

As I mentioned my rental was supposed to be a DCT but I got a manual. I actually think the manual might be the better choice in some ways because the engine is so monumentally good. The 1800cc flat six is the best motorcycle engine I have ever experienced. It has so much torque. Just off idle you get maximum torque. That is insanely good. Then from 3000rpm the engine changes to this awesome sound like a Porsche. I found myself running a lower gear than needed then gassing the bike out of every corner into the 3000-4000 rpm range to hear the Porsche growl on the Blue Ridge Parkway. And you can enjoy this all the time at road legal speeds unlike hyper power bikes that you can only get to their sweet rpm spot if risking heavy fines or jail.

If I had one myself even if it was a DCT I would have to use the bike in manual shift so I could let the engine run up in the revs from the lights and run into the growl zone in between curves. I watched all the YouTuber videos and the DCT shifts up very low rpm and would not work for me. Also downshifting the flat six I was blipping the throttle because it sounded so awesome. I have not been entertained by a engine like this since the 90’s.

About now I guess readers are thinking ‘yeah sure Warren’ so take five and watch a video of someone ride the Gold Wing. (I’d like to have seen him use bike in manual mode with paddle shifters)

See how the DCT rarely does throttle blip on downshifts and no fast upshift with exhaust pop like DCT/DSG equipped sports cars do. Honda could have made the sports mode do more of this but chose not to. I tried the sport engine map and the throttle response is horrible. Throttle opening is nothing to strong acceleration with just a millimeter or two of movement, very hard to use but the throttle roll off is even worse. If you roll off even a hairs width amount it goes to fully closed throttle which leads to a very jerky throttle application with shaft drive.

Honda have known about this for 5 years and stubbornly done no software update so I doubt owners are ever going to get a decent sports mode which is disappointing. Perhaps there is an aftermarket tune that could be added? The Econ engine mode however does work well, on two occasions when low on fuel I switched to this and my remaining range countdown in the computer slowed then range left increased.

My base model did not come with the hill hold or walking mode or the reverse. The walking mode I never needed because being a manual I can do that with clutch but the reverse I think should be mandatory on this bike. Even just slightly sloping away from you pushing this bike back with feet is difficult.

The tour model with trunk gets seat heaters and air bag and electronic preload adjust. For what is the ultimate luxury tourer I can see no reason these should be omitted from the bagger version.

The dash is beautiful as you can see. USA models have built in GPS navigation which is great. Australia gets no navigator just Apple CarPlay Android Auto which in my experience is not so good in areas where you have no cell phone towers. The button array to me are a mess, the centre buttons are replicated on the bars and make mounting anything difficult but if I owned one I would not need to mount a GPS anyway and soon get used to the buttons.

People criticize the fuel range but I was averaging about 400km to dry and I don’t ride more than about 350km in a day so frankly the range is fine. Storage is another item people criticize but I thought they were fine. Able to hold things I wanted access to like liners and my lunch cooler box and could fit all my supermarket groceries and drinks in at end of day. They are central locking and one touch release with soft opening thanks to hydraulic struts. I’d prefer to have the panniers that look integrated as these than be sticking out bulbus like some other Bagger models.

Brakes are amazing. I wonder if they are power brake booster like older BMW’s had. With one finger I could squeeze the brakes and they would strongly engage and pulled up the big bike better than almost any other I have ridden apart from the BMW Rockster I rode on my first ride in Japan – which had power boosted brakes.

Seat comfort is excellent. You can easy do 2-3 hours without a break. My bike had back rest fitted and this was great. Leg comfort is also good. The mid mount controls were initially bit odd but I adjusted in very short order and then it felt great, natural.

The bike I rented has highway pegs, these are totally unneeded. The mid controls already have you in a relaxed leg position, I tired the highway pegs but they were less comfortable and frankly felt ridiculous like I was riding a Harley.

I think the bike looks good. Better again in matt grey or black with the red highlights on engine the 2023 model has. Mine had the screen off the Tour model. I think the bagger shorter screen would be better for Australia as this one did not flow much air when fully down and did not need to be raised (electric) as already high enough.

Despite the Gold Wing handling superbly it never gave me much of that defy gravity feeling in the corners. Maybe the weight or the wheelbase or combo of both or just not leaving the bike that much. My FJR delivered less of the fun cornering than my current G310GS but for touring it is so vastly superior I would swap in an instant. So we have the usual dilemma with motorcycles.

Would I buy one? That is a tough call but I am considering this bike along with the R1250RT and the K1600B. I live a long way from the good motorcycle roads of Australia, 1500km north in the tropics so I want a mile crunching tourer and my riding for many years already has been focused on mastering the slow ride and stopping at everything of interest rather than carving corners. I’m still going to be riding many other bikes overseas, ADV bikes or sports tourers so what I buy for Australia will be just one aspect of my riding.

In closing I will just say the new Gold Wing is indeed very good – but if you have never ridden one you have no idea and probably nothing I can say will change any preconceptions or the mindset of riders who are focused on machismo.


  1. Sounds like a fun bike to ride, bit of a sleeper. Far better than you think it will be.
    Yep so many compromises with motorcycles, but we love them all the smae.

    • I really cannot emphasize enough how amazing the engine is and that is coming from a guy who is not into powerful engines and who usually is happy renting small capacity bikes.

  2. Great article Warren. Really liked following your trip. Some great ideas for bucket list rides.

  3. So I feel I did good as well not getting the DCT, I feel it would have been distracting to have to try and use the DCT in manual mode to shift vs. the decades of intuitive manual shifting I already do now. But I can’t dog on the DCT as not only have I never ridden one, most everyone who has one seems love it. Different strokes for different folks. BTW mine is the tour manual model, a 2021.

    • Hi GWRider,

      I think there is an optional foot gear shifter available for the DCT to shift in manual mode, perhaps that could be a compromise. However I do wish Honda made the DCT shift in sport mode something like a VW Golf GTI with the pop going up and auto blip going down. With the engine being so phenomenal and sounding great I want the manual but I cannot see any manuals for sale in Australia.

      • They do make a sport mode, it’s already on the bike as standard- Tour, Rain, Economy and Sport. Sport is too much for most of the time, I tend to use Tour

  4. Dont scrape that bitch!!! Lol

  5. The DCT is better once you get over the fact that it is a manual gearbox and automatic so there’s no rules, you can change gears with the finger triggers and it’s the fastest quick shifter you will ever experience. This is one truly monumental motorcycle, I have owned many over the years, this is head and shoulders above all other motorcycles

    • Only the DCT model is sold here so if I get one it will be DCT and as you say I can simply use it in manual mode to hold a certain gear which is how I enjoyed riding the GW in the BRP.
      I am renting the BMW K1600 this May to compare.

  6. Mike Salvemini

    I have a 2018 base model, manual. I have owned BMW’s since 1977. Yes the bike is long, and you can not lean it as much, but it is a fun bike to ride. I always ride in Econ mode. Plenty fast for me. Pulls like a MF. I bought it new and just turned 40K. I agree, over 3000 rpm, the intake sounds like a Porsche. Extremely stable on windy days, stays planted on the road. I bought it because I did not want to go thru life without owning one. I rented the FJR and the 2018 GW before buying the GW. Panniers are too small.

    • Hi Mike,

      It is a candidate for my next bike. I will try the BMW K1600 before and see how I like it.
      I wish Honda would do some minor updates every couple of years like BMW has down with their touring bikes.

  7. Im probably late to the party, but i love my 2018 manual. My 27th bike and the best one. It checks all my boxes. At 73, i like being pampered, and my candy ardent red looks good too. I never purchased one in the past,( before 2018) because I thought it was an old mans bike, heavy etc., but the new version is a younger old mans bike. Lucky me….Fasteddie

    • Hi Fasteddie,

      I am very likely to buy one for my retirement early 2025. That will be a DCT as there were no manuals sold in Australia but I can always shift gears myself via the paddle switch and the DCT model will come with reverse and walk mode which I think will be handy.
      I am testing the BMW K1600 next month in Spain and will post a comparison between the two six cylinder tourers after that.

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