In the 80’s I rode Kawasaki’s, GPZ’s. I used to take 2-3 day weekend trips to Michigan, 700 miles round trip, several times a year. I used a duffel bag strapped to the seat. I never seemed to have enough room. I used to see if I could make the trip in 5 hours, never could. I remember when Kawasaki Concours, it seemed like the answer but nothing rivaled the Honda Goldwing GL1500 when it first came out. I was thinking of switching loyalty, but back then, I could never afford one. I racked up 100k+ miles going back and forth until I suffered an accident crushing my ankle, ending motorcycling at the time. It’s fused today, you really can’t tell, but the dexterity to up-shift is not there.
Two years ago, in September, I had a late tax return burning a hole in my pocket when I ran into a deal for a used 1996 GL1500se, which I blindly purchased with quickness ending a thirty year hiatus. I had my dream bike finally. It was cosmetically in good shape but had lots of mileage, still a healthy machine. After insuring working condition per Honda’s user manual, I took it for out. My first impressions were not good.
• Insanely heavy, very top heavy
• Redlines immediately
• Unable to corner, need to force it into turns
• Unstable, buffeting at highway speed
• Unable to turn in a tight but reasonable circle
What a hunk of junk. As I started to ride it more I got the feel for the bandwidth, but still felt like I was short shifting all the time, absolutely a waste of gearing, so I thought. Then the bike died while taking on a short trip to the store. Turns out that was a blessing because it forced me to search the internet for fix/repairs. I joined Goldwing Docs and the North American Goldwings Community and fixed the bike myself with everyone’s advice, thank you all again. I went to a “meet and greet” hosted by NAGF and the guys provided me with real Goldwing rider advice such as to forgo the Honda manual spec of 33lbs tire pressure and set it to 41/40. Which I did and the cornering improved and the buffeting was reduced and no more cupped tires. During the winter I took the time to go over the entire bike checking and/or replacing every bearing, bushing, or consumable on the bike. I then addressed the areas where I thought the bike was lacking.
• Weak headlights
• Melted dash due to sun and a tall Tulsa windscreen
• Soft suspension
• No USB charging ports
• No Aux Music iPod port
• No Bluetooth ready anything
• No Navigation system
• Inconsistent low gas notification
• Lack of wind cooling behind Tulsa windscreen
So, I replace the headlights with LED’s, replaced the dash bezel and all dash lights with LED’s, and replaced all handlebar controls, radio, and CB lights with LED’s. I installed progressive fork springs, installed a fuse block and added USB charging ports, added an Aux port to the radio, installed SENA Freewire, mounted a ram mount for my iPhone and NAV app, and installed a float switch in the gas tank for low fuel LED. Installed Baker’s wings to direct air flow. Everything was awesome, it was doable for touring in my mind, so, I took a trip to the Smokey Mountains Blue Ridge Parkway. Whereas I found out that fully loaded, it was more than insanely top heavy making it harder to due tight circles. I dropped the bike a few times and broke the clutch handle. Driving at highway speed was unsettling at times due to buffeting. All in all a great trip and a great time. What I learned was, coming from the flat lands of Illinois I see the benefit to opening the throttle and just powering up a hill without downshifting, just fantastic engine torque out of the Goldwing, that’s what that short bandwidth is all about I figure. I found that I over packed for that two week trip, I didn’t use half of what I packed. Also I needed to give wide berth when turning when on inclines or you will capsize. There are quite a few gas stations to get gas so no real need to carry another gallon of gas. It gets hot, very hot, and although I installed Bakers wings, there was never enough wind flow to stay comfortable even in a mesh suit. I also noted something while on my trip, several times I met up with other bikers that were touring, yet they were on very light bikes with metal removable panniers; groups from Canada, New York and from North Carolina and well as several others. They didn’t seem dismayed about the size of their cycles or the storage space they had, yet were out there touring. That appeared to be the new trend. As the riding season was coming to a close, I got an email from one of the forum guys to take a ride, I obliged, and took a five hour tour, but upon returning home, I became fatigued and had an accident which totaled my Goldwing. At first I thought well, that was that. I did not want to go and redo up a bike again so my biking days are done. I had put 22k+ miles on that bike in less than a year and though I had had my fill. As cold weather set in, I came to grips that I had to drive the car to work again and my cycling days were over.
And now the long drawn out point…
Then enters the 2018 Goldwing Tour DCT. At first, I said no I’m done. Then I came up with every reason why it was a bad bike, fueled by the forums. Yet, I was bikeless and the motivation still burned inside. So I decided to examine the cons of the new GL1800D. Turns out a lot of cons seem to be pros or no big loss for me.
• Bluetooth ready vs cabling; that’s a win for me
• Gas mileage vs fuel capacity; alleged same travel distance, that’s a win for going to work
• Small trunks, well, who would want more; that’s a con but I over packed anyway
• No increase in engine power; I thought the 1500 was overpowered
• Not comfortable 2-up; I currently ride alone; that’s a push
• Noisy pipes; not a big deal to me; that’s a push
• Smaller windscreen; after the Tulsa, I desire the wind through my helmet ports; that’s a win
• No highway pegs; I took mine off, never used them; that’s a push
• No tip-over bars; that’s a con but it’s mitigated with the weight loss (reason below)
• No shifter; my fused ankle makes that a win
• No Android; I use an iPhone
• Price; well that’s a con, but at the moment I can afford it
From the forum, I think that’s all the negatives, now for the positives that I see as positive.
• Handling; alleged to be better, I sat on one, seemed soft suspension wise, a ride will tell
• Weight; I straddled a DTC and tossed it side to side using my legs to keep it from tipping over and I got to tell you it’s night and day. The overall weight is so low that the tip-over bars might not be needed. It’s such a huge difference the 1500 would be on its side way before this bike.
• 7-speed transmission, no foot shifter, walking mode forward and reverse, and hopefully a cruise control that will go over 75mph.
• Reduced wind buffeting, introducing wind flow behind the fairing, Adjustable height windscreen.
• Fancy FOB keyless start thing-a-ma-bob, lost key code starting procedure
• Specialized phone compartment with USB charging and Apple Carplay integration, USB charging, Bluetooth ready, and NAVI system, jog dial on the handlebars
• LED lighting, Homelink garage opener, TMPS built-in, outside air temp gauge
• Factory heated handgrips and seat
For me Honda has hit the mark, a sporty, non-shifter, technology loaded bike, with bags ample for weekend trips for one, that I can afford and at 55 I’m at the 21% ownership range per viewtopic.php?t=17196
and I still get to stay in the Goldwing community. Sorry to be selfish but Honda seems to have made a great bike for me. I get mine in June.