Honda’s new Gold Wing has been lingering in the wings for so long that the gold might need a little buffing before it emerges at this year’s Milan show. But all the indications are that it’s going to have been worth the wait.
Traditionally considered the pinnacle in touring comfort, technology and excess, the big Wing has fallen behind its peers in recent years, but Honda are set to radically shake the market with an all-new bike for 2018.
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.
Project leader, Junichi Sakamoto, told MCN last year that: “If we were to come out with a new Gold Wing, we would like to surprise people with the amount of new technology.”
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.
More than just a fork
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.
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