HONDA GL1800 GOLDWING (2018 - on) Review
- More luggage space
- Extra pillion comfort
- Louder stereo
At a glance
|Owners' reliability rating:|
|Annual servicing cost:||£270|
Overall ratingNext up: Ride & brakes
Usually, the new model is a 10% improvement or less, but the new Gold Wing is light years ahead of the old model, with significantly improved handling, ease-of-use, and fun. The level of comfort, specification and smoothness is class-leading. The only down side is the price, close to £30,000, which is considerably more than the competition.
If cost is a consideration for you though, the new base version (announced in April 2019) is arguably better still. Its lighter looks and subtle connection to the surroundings from the smaller screen encourage you to get stuck in on open roads.
Yes, it’s ruddy big and there’s a limit to what you can get away with, but that limit is higher than you think. Crucially, however, it still overflows with high-comfort Honda-ness. There’s still nothing quite like a Wing.
Honda Goldwing updates for 2021
Extra luggage space and pillion comfort for the 2021 model are welcome additions to the new Honda, as is its louder stereo is an improvement, too, although it’s more aimed at lower speed highway cruising in the States than the faster motorways here.
Elsewhere it’s still the same Gold Wing we’ve come to know and love - outrageously OTT, unapologetically expensive, delightfully built, finished and loaded with toys. Some of the gadgets aren’t at the forefront of tech anymore, but still work beautifully. But beneath the Wing’s glitz and glamour it’s still a magnificent tourer, that’s surprisingly sporty and keeps getting better the longer you ride.
Ride quality & brakesNext up: Engine
The chassis is completely new, too. The twin-spar frame is 2kg lighter and for the first time in Honda’s history features a double-wishbone front suspension unit. The front is controlled by a single shock, rather than conventional forks. There’s a conventional Showa single shock on the rear, both are controlled electronically but are not semi-active.
Through the bends the new Honda shone and showed how poor the old bike was by modern standards. The new six-piston linked brakes are eye-poppingly strong. Considering they’re stopping 378kg, they’re really impressive, the big Wing remains stable and the ABS isn’t too intrusive. Some might not like the linked brakes are very effective on the big Wing.
Once away from the motorway the difference between the modes are more noticeable. There’s less sag and wallowing in the Sports mode. Even in the soft Touring mode the handling is impressive and far superior to the old model. The big Wing has lost a huge amount of weight and is now a bike again. The old bike was a comfortable method of getting from A to B, but now it’s actually a fun bike, which can be used and enjoyed.
Unexpected abilities from the standard machine
Yes, you’re aware this bike weighs 365kg (that’s 90kg more than a BMW R1250RT) and is as long as a canal boat. It’s no CBR650R. Yet the 1800 turns, holds lines and deals with spirited use with unprecedented ease.
With another 11 kilos lopped off compared to the Tour, the way the chassis flows down a fast, rolling A-road is glorious. The double-wishbone front end separates braking, suspension and steering forces, allowing full use of the strong front stoppers over a rippled surface without affecting the bike’s poise or ability to turn-in.
With weight carried low, it’s super-stable too. Ride quality in Tour mode is high, though with a definite sense of control, it’s the opposite of mushy. Switch to Sport and things become surprisingly... well, sporty.
2021 changes for Honda Goldwing
Its huge pillion perch looks armchair-comfy, but when we tested the ’18 model on the MCN250 with MCN’s Office Manager, Alison Silcox along for the ride, it wasn’t the case and a few hours sat bolt upright took its toll on her lower back.
For 2021 the passenger backrest is set at a more relaxed 23-degree, rather than 16-degree recline. We used the ‘21 Wing as a camera bike in London recently with a photographer on the back and his only qualm was the beginnings of a sore bum after four hours, but no back pain. Both seats are now trimmed with synthetic leather/suede.
EngineNext up: Reliability
Capacity has remained the same at 1833cc, but that is where the similarities end – it’s a completely new bike. There hasn’t been a huge hike in power, which some had expected. Instead it’s more compact, lighter and smoother than ever. In total 48kg has been saved from the bike and the engine alone is 6.2kg lighter. Just removing the old starter motor in favour of an Integrated Starter Generator system (ISG) saved 2.4kg.
The new engine is available as either a conventional 6-speed manual or 7-speed DCT (Dual Clutch Transmission), which automatically changes gear or gives you the option to change gear electronically without a clutch.
The Wing’s 125bhp 1833cc motor and chassis remain untouched for 2021, so you can still waft from A to B in a cocoon of quietness and high-speed luxury.
The steering is nicely weighted, brakes are strong it can easily turn from lazy Lincoln Continental, purring at 2200rpm at motorway speeds to a frothing flat six-pot Porsche 911 when the mood takes you.
It isn’t as big as it looks in pictures, but there’s no getting away from the Gold Wing’s huge bulk, which isn’t so much a problem on the move, but you feel every one of its 383kgs at low speed and filtering.
Reliability & build qualityNext up: Value
This is Honda’s flagship model and quality is impressive. The Gold Wing’s reliability is legendary, the motor is unstressed and should be capable of huge mileage.
Value vs rivalsNext up: Equipment
There is no hiding the fact the new Wing is expensive, at just shy of £30,000 it’s considerably more than its closest competition. Even if you tick every accessory possible BMW’s six-cylinder K1600GT still comes in at under £25,000 and has more top-end power. It’ll be interesting to see how it compares when we run them back-to-back.
That said, cheaper versions of the 'Wing are available, with the £22,299 standard version making arguably more financial sense than the full fat tourer.
Although you lose the 50-litre top box, you still get 30-litre side panniers, alongside the same 1833cc engine, cast aluminium frame and electronic aids like traction control. The standard bike gets no preload adjustment or centrestand though.
Where do we start, the list is huge. One of the criticisms of DCT is the lack of rider control at slow speeds, due to the lack of clutch. However, Honda have created a smart solution with a new ‘Walking mode’ that limits speeds to 1.1mph at the touch of a button. As with the old Wing, reverse comes as standard, and is easily controlled by the plus and minus buttons on the left bar.
The large screen is finally electronically adjustable, which previous Wing owners were praying for. There’s also the option of increasing the airflow to the rider and pillion by manually opening a small flap below the screen.
The bodywork and luggage are all new. Each pannier carries 30 litres of kit whereas the rear top case holds 50 litres. All the compartments can be locked via the keyless ignition and feature hydraulic dampers, which allow them to open and close with smooth, effortless ease. There are two further compartments up front; one centrally located, and the other on the right side. The old model’s rear pillion compartments don’t feature.
The cruise control via the fly-by-wire throttle can be set and adjusted on the move. Simply set your speed, adjust the screen to your required height, sit back in comfort and listen to your tunes via the four speakers. The clarity is impressive and you don’t need to have the volume cranked to the maximum at speed. The small compartment located just below the fuel cap is the perfect size for an iPhone or iPod, and comes with a USB connection.
The changeable rider modes are easy to select, and change the suspension, engine characteristics and rider aids. The changeable modes dramatically change the DCT. For example, in Sports mode the gears are held for longer and the system quickly and automatically cogs down a few gears if rapid acceleration is required. It’s the opposite in the Economical mode, it short-shifts to top gear and almost refuses to knock back a gear during aggressive throttle openings.
Apple Car Play is available for the first time, sat-nav comes as standard as does a heated seat and grips, even the pillion gets a heated seat.
Smaller screen for standard bike
The electric screen is controlled from the left switchgear and is around 40% smaller than on the Tour. It’s still big enough to almost completely remove wind noise at 70mph and generates a little negative back pressure when fully up, so you can swan about with your visor up.
What’s better with this bike is that there’s a bit of breeze in the fully-down position, which keeps the Wing feeling like a motorbike, without introducing buffeting. There’s also a pop-up spoiler to tailor airflow on top of the dash.
For its 2018 update the Gold Wing lost 37 litres of luggage space, which seemed like a backwards step, but some of it returns. For 2021 you’ll be able to carry a bigger kitchen sink now that the top box is bigger - increased from 50 litres to 61 litres, thanks to a taller lid.
The capacious compartment is easily big enough to hold two full size crash helmets, plus change and overall, there’s 121 litres of space for your trips away. Central locked, colour-coded pannier doors and top box lid have a quality, weighty feel and open via soft touch buttons when Honda’s smart-key is close by.
Honda Goldwing accessories: changes for 2021
The 2021 Gold Wing enjoys the same creature comforts as the 2018 model. In full ‘Tour DCT’ spec it has seven semi-active gears, a reverse and as well as its new pumped-up stereo, it comes with everything from heated seats to traction control, ABS, rider modes, electronically adjustable suspension, LEDs, sat nav, an electric screen and a buttery-smooth cruise control system, although it’s controlled on the right switchgear where it’s tricky to get to.
The cruise isn’t radar controlled, but it’s none the worse for it and the colour 7in colour dash, flanked by an analogue speedo and tacho is useful but lacks the sophistication and clarity of the most modern displays from BMW and Ducati.
|Engine type||24v horizontally-opposed six-cylinder|
|Frame type||Twin spar|
|Fuel capacity||21 litres|
|Front suspension||Double-wishbone front suspension|
|Rear suspension||Showa rear shock electronically-adjustable|
|Front brake||2 x 320mm discs with six-piston Nissin calipers|
|Rear brake||320mm rear disc with six-piston Nissin caliper|
|Front tyre size||130/70x18|
|Rear tyre size||200/55x16|
Mpg, costs & insurance
|Average fuel consumption||48 mpg|
|Annual road tax||£96|
|Annual service cost||£270|
|Used price||£18,000 - £27,000|
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How much to insure?
|Warranty term||Two year|
Top speed & performance
|Max power||125 bhp|
|Max torque||125 ft-lb|
|Top speed||112 mph|
|1/4 mile acceleration||12 secs|
|Tank range||220 miles|
Model history & versions
- 2001: Honda GL1800 Gold Wing introduced.
- 2004: ABS model Honda GL1800 Gold Wing introduced. Power down to 116bhp from 119bhp.
- 2006: Lower emissions, new cruise control, ‘comfort pack’ available for Honda GL1800 Gold Wing.
- 2011: Honda refine range to offer only GL1800A Goldwing Deluxe
- 2018: New-from the ground-up Gold Wing featuring a new engine, chassis, brakes and double wishbone suspension. Lighter, sleeker, smoother and full of tech.
- 2021: Gold Wings gets a bigger top box, a louder stereo and a more reclined pillion seat back.
The Gold Wing Tour also comes as a (4kg lighter) six-speed manual for £28,499 and a more basic bagger-style Gold Wing model with prices starting at a £22,999.
Owners' reviews for the HONDA GL1800 GOLDWING (2018 - on)
2 owners have reviewed their HONDA GL1800 GOLDWING (2018 - on) and rated it in a number of areas. Read what they have to say and what they like and dislike about the bike below.
Summary of owners' reviews
|Ride quality & brakes:|
|Reliability & build quality:|
|Value vs rivals:|
|Annual servicing cost:||£270|
Version: dct air bag
Annual servicing cost: £270
BY SOME MARGIN, THIS IS THE EASYEST, SMOOTHEST, HANDLING BIKE I HAVE OWNED, IT RIDES THE BUMPY BRITISH ROADS BETTER THAN ANYTHING ELSE I HAVE OWNED OR RIDDEN.THE HANDLING IS SO CONFIDENCE INSPIRING THAT YOU CAN WEAR THROUGH NOT JUST THE HERO BLOBS BUT THE FOOT PEGS AS WELL WITHOUT A NERVOUS MOMENT.AS YOU MAY HAVE GUESSED I LOVE THIS BIKE ! THE ONLY SLIGHT NEGATIVE MAY BE THE MASS OF TECHNOLOGY (APPLE CAR PLAY ETC) WHICH CAN BE A BIT FRUSTRATING AT TIMES BUT GENERALY WORKS IN THE END, AND MAYBE THE SHEAR SIZE OF THE BIKE,WHICH AFTER A FEW THOUSAND MILES HAS BECOME SO NORMAL I DONT NOTICE IT ANYMORE.(I ONLY WEIGH 91/2 STONE) I WOULD THINK ANYONE BUYING THIS MODEL COULD NOT BE OTHER THAN IMPRESSED WITH THIS BIKE, THOUROULY RECOMMENDED.
THE BIKE IS BEST AT LONG JOURNIES OF COURSE, BUT ALSO A GREAT ALL ROUNDER,MAYBE NOT SO GOOD FOR YOUR PAPEROUND.
SMOOOOOOOOOOTH, AND SURPISINGLY FAST
NO ISSUES SO FAR
I PERSONALLY THINK CHARGING ME £270+ POUNDS FOR A OIL CHANGE IS A BIT ECCESSIVE CONSIDERING THE TIME AND WORK INVOLVED.
BEST FEATURE HAS TO BE THE AUTO GEARBOX,FAUTLESS. WOULD RECOMMEND THE BACKREST FOR EXTRA COMFORT, AND THE FOG LIGHTS FOR MAKING YOU MORE VISIBLE TO OTHERS.
Buying experience: BROUGHT THE BIKE FROM A DEALER,PAID THE ASKING PRICE £24995 BUT WAS OFFERED MUCH HIGHER PX VALUE ON MY BMW RT WHICH MADE IT THE BEST DEAL.
Version: Dct airbag
I would have given 5 stars but for the fact that the hill start assist is not 100%. It initialise and holds the bike for approx 5 seconds and then releases. Would be great if it holds for a long as necessary. Honda upgraded the speakers on the 2021 but I find they are not powerful enough at 45 watts per speaker. I cannot hear my music at over 90 mph. It would have been great if Honda had made the panniers deeper.
I find that I get a little tired after riding for 4 hrs or so
Absolutely 1st class engine and gearbox
I cannot comment on this as the bike is 2 months old
The drivers backrest works great. I like the Honda luggage rack with built in high rise running/brake & indicator lights.
Buying experience: The advertiser’s price was £31,690. For that it was delivered (a round trip was 300 miles), 6 months road tax and a £500 buying incentive was given.