2018 GL1800 Test Ride Report


Information and questions on GL1800 Goldwings (2018+)
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Lee Ving
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2018 GL1800 Test Ride Report

Post by Lee Ving » Wed May 02, 2018 11:26 pm



Spent some time at the GP races in Austin and had a chance to do some test rides. It rained a bit on Saturday so I had a chance to check out the new Gold Wing(s) in interesting conditions. I was looking forward to checking out the new bikes after reading so much about them. It was on these very test rides that I found out about the F6B we rode there from northern TX. What a great time! We spent the following week or so going through the 3 sisters circuit and then (the marvelous) Big Bend.
The test rides this year were sans BMW and Polaris, I suspect a testament to the state of the industry. I spent the most time on the Honda and Yamaha rides, riding the new Wings and Venture/Eluder.
Admittedly, I was most curious about the new Wings.I wanted to try it out for myself kind of hoping for some insight beyond the reviews and the outward appearance and for a comparison to my F6B.
The new Wing in person is quite a nice looking bike, the new colors and paint are really (really) sweet. The metal flakes are really something to behold in sunlight. The flat colors I fail to understand. There seems to be a great deal more complexity to the bodywork and lines in the lower portions of the bikes. I suspect the new bike is harder yet to work on than the previous gen, certainly it will be harder to keep clean with the new contours and crevices.
Sitting on the bikes, yes they are smaller and seem quite compact in comparison to the previous gen. The bikes reminded me of my Concours 14, or FJR, but much heavier. The Tour maintains a heavy feel, and a layout leaning toward sport tourer. I was expecting the reduced mass to enhance the feel of the motorcycle, but I found I missed the frontal area and the roominess of the old bike more than I felt benefit from reduced mass. You sit more on top of the bike rather than "in" the old one, and the frontal are is quite different. Again, more like a sport bike. There is less seat and less room, and my wife noted less seat and less space in back. She noted "no comparison" between the previous gen passenger accommodations and the new. The passenger is closer to the rider on the new bike. It is easier to push around.
Honda did a really nice job cleaning up the controls of the bike. There are a bunch of functions to fiddle with, but the layout is commendably clean for all the stuff going on. The tactile and cosmetic quality of the buttons and hinges and switches is a step down for Honda.
The bags are smaller that I thought they'd be. The saddlebags almost uselessly so for a touring bike. The bags lacked a quality feel.
Starting the bikes yielded a big surprise on the new motor, it quite far removed from the old mill. It felt to me more like an inline 4. It revs with an urgency that is not adequately described by any review I have yet read. It has lost the smoothness of the old engine and feels unrefined in comparison. It is a torque monster to 4000 revs, and the rear can actually break loose with a heavy hand at low speeds. The engine signs off at 4k. It is louder, yes, but not just by exhaust note - it is mechanically louder. The previous engine had a turbine like character to its mechanical presence that the new motor just does not. The throttle has a similar character to the BMW K bikes where it lacks the feel of being connected to the the engine. At lower revs it is pretty good, but past half throttle there is no more feel of increasing torque or power. The ride modes sport and tour just seemed to move the throttle effect around in the rotation of the grip rather than changing power. The rain mode made quite a difference, and in the rain it made it to where you can just about pay no attention whatsoever to throttle control.
The new clutch is very different on the std transmission, The friction zone is not deep like before, engagement on the bikes I rode is in the last portions of lever travel. The gearing is well selected and 6th is tall. The new gearbox is a bit lighter in actuation and throw than the old bike, but not a change in kind. The drivetrain lash on the bikes I rode is about the same as the old bike, not a strong point on either. The DCT I personally didn't "get". I did not like the shift points the computer chooses, and I found the shifting considerably more abrupt and noisier than what I can achieve manually. I resorted to shifting manually on the DCT, but I was not able to achieve smooth operations at low speeds. The DCT drags the engine through every gear as you come to a stop with a good bit of banging around. There is no coasting with the DCT, the engine is always connected to the ground.
The brakes are MUCH improved, but still not great. The new bikes have real brakes and do away with the anti dive nonsense. The ABS works pretty well, engaging and recovering fairly smoothly. (not a fan of ABS on motorcycles, but the new gen stuff is genuinely getting better.)
The fairing and windshields are fantastic, they are solidly mounted on the adjustable rails and of a high optical quality. Again the frontal area, I got wet riding in the rain on the new bike. The hand protection is mostly gone from before, my arms and shoulders got wet. Only my feet get wet when moving in the rain on my F6.
As the previous gen Wing, the suspension is quite a mess on the Tour, less so on the Gold Wing. The suspension is not quite as ridiculous as the previous Wing, but it is still on that spectrum. It IS plush and does a good job isolating you from what the wheels are doing until you bottom out (often). The front end is more rigid in all directions and feels "substantial". Bars don't waggle around in your hands like before! I noted no changes to suspension in the different ride modes.
I could go on, but those are a collection of impressions of the new platform. The bike is an impressive effort for sure, but I think it suffers from an identity crisis. It lacks the overall quality feel that Honda have always been so good at, and it is not a machine I would want to spend all day on. Wife agrees.
Opinion:
The bike is a great ST1800. It has a bit of edge ( rough by Honda standards ) and has a positively stomping amount of torque, which is fun. However, the new bikes to me (and wife) abandon a bunch of the major points that made the Gold Wing brilliant. The new bike seems to me to have been engineered expertly, and it sure has the electronics. It seems to me to not be the wisely designed product it was, as it falls somewhere in a me too crowd where competitors bikes all do what the new Wings attempt. That wisdom made the Gold Wing great, and that seems missing in the new bike. Honda had no real competition in that space for a long time, because the engineers were wise. I hope some of that is brought into the new bikes as they evolve.



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TWOWHEELCOWBOY
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Re: 2018 GL1800 Test Ride Report

Post by TWOWHEELCOWBOY » Fri May 04, 2018 9:46 am

It’s hard to really get a true experience on a test ride, as I did 4 of them before making my purchase. As for the DCT I felt kind of the same way you did, until I rode for a whole day. The transmission has a memory and will shift accordingly to how you ride. So when you hope on a test ride bike, the bike has had so many riders, it doesn’t know when to shift. I almost was considering purchasing the standard transmission which would of been a HUDGE MISTAKE for me as I love the DCT.
Hope this helps👍
I thank Jesus for everyday I can still throw a leg over and ride :)
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DaveO430
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Re: 2018 GL1800 Test Ride Report

Post by DaveO430 » Fri May 04, 2018 11:17 am

Lee Ving wrote:
Wed May 02, 2018 11:26 pm

Opinion:
The bike is a great ST1800. However, the new bikes to me (and wife) abandon a bunch of the major points that made the Gold Wing brilliant.
I haven't even see one in person but that is the impression I got. It is a great sport touring bike, but it's not a goldwing as we know them. I see a redesign coming soon.

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TWOWHEELCOWBOY
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Re: Test ride

Post by TWOWHEELCOWBOY » Fri May 04, 2018 4:00 pm

It isn’t for everyone, as it is tight on packing. I just packed mine for a month long trip, I travel alone so I was able to bring what I needed. I myself don’t see Honda changing anything as the dealers are selling them as soon as they get them. I think the gen2 wings will be in demand as well.
I thank Jesus for everyday I can still throw a leg over and ride :)
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Re: 2018 GL1800 Test Ride Report

Post by C-dub » Fri May 04, 2018 8:28 pm

I have seen and sat on, but not ridden, a few 2018's at the dealership where I got my brand new 2016 last summer. They are sharp looking to be sure. I like the look. , but I do not like the seat. It seems hard and narrow to me. I'm not huge at 6' and 205 lbs., but my 2016 seat was far more comfortable to me even before I bought it.

The trunk is smaller, but not terribly so, while the side bags seem quite a bit smaller.

Since I have decided I prefer my windshield all the way up and may still get an F4 Custom +4 I don't like the smaller shield on this new model.

All in all, I think Honda is going after a younger audience to bring in new riders and increase sales and will probably be successful. I'm not sure how this will play out with first time Wingers over 40 with this new bike. Given both types side by side on the showroom floor I'm not sure which one I would prefer if I had not ever ridden one before. One of the deciding factors in choosing a 2016 over a 2017 last year was price. We got a really good price on that almost 2 year old model trying to make room for the new 2018's. The next, or maybe primary factor in my wife's eyes, was the color. She didn't like any of the 2017 colors, but did like that black/charcoal 2016. Since my last bike was a Hayabusa, a sportier Wing would not have immediately been a turnoff for me nor would the smaller windshield since it still would have been huge compared to the Busa. The colors on the new bike are really nice to me.

It probably would come down to price and reliability of a tested model versus the unknown's of a brand new model and price. Yeah, I said price twice. Tough to beat a $6-$8k discount to move a 2 year old model, but still new bike.
I am not and have never been a LEO. My avatar is in honor of my friend, Dallas Police Sargent Michael Smith, who was murdered along with four other officers in Dallas on 7.7.2016.

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Re: 2018 GL1800 Test Ride Report

Post by detdrbuzzard » Sat May 05, 2018 8:26 am

I've been reading all these post saying that the new Goldwing isn't a gl1800 but an st1800. it is a gl 1800 not a st 1800. the new wing doesn't hold enough gas to be called an ST and it is still too heavy to be called an ST. it may be sporty compared to the old wing but the 1500 was sporty compared to the 1200 and the first gen 1800's were sporty compared to the 1500 wings. get back with ya' later, i'm heading to the dealer to look at another ST 1300
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Re: 2018 GL1800 Test Ride Report

Post by Stew » Sun May 06, 2018 5:19 pm

I have to admit I'm a little surprised at how many are getting the DCT. I guess I was thinking motorcycles would be the last holdout for the overwhelming majority to stay with the manuals. I wonder what the take rate percent will end up being for the DCT for this first model year of the new Goldwing.
Winging it every chance I get 8-)

19,119 miles when I got it from dad Oct 15, 2017 --- 23,128 miles and counting as of July 30, 2018!

Lee Ving
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Re: 2018 GL1800 Test Ride Report

Post by Lee Ving » Mon May 07, 2018 1:08 pm

TWOWHEELCOWBOY wrote:
Fri May 04, 2018 4:00 pm
It isn’t for everyone, as it is tight on packing. I just packed mine for a month long trip, I travel alone so I was able to bring what I needed. I myself don’t see Honda changing anything as the dealers are selling them as soon as they get them. I think the gen2 wings will be in demand as well.
I wish Honda luck, and hope they are successful. For me, seems the efforts to widen the appeal of the bike resulted in some very awkward decisions with the platform from several standpoints, not the least of which is product focus. Seems they either deliberately abandoned or failed to recognize why the Gold Wing has been the distance mount that it has been, and why it is so loved by so many. Me included! I understand Honda had some debate internally over whether to use the Gold Wing name. I understand why.
Maybe there is something in the pipeline coming that we don't know about?

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Re: 2018 GL1800 Test Ride Report

Post by WingAdmin » Fri Jun 01, 2018 10:36 am

Lee Ving wrote:
Mon May 07, 2018 1:08 pm
TWOWHEELCOWBOY wrote:
Fri May 04, 2018 4:00 pm
It isn’t for everyone, as it is tight on packing. I just packed mine for a month long trip, I travel alone so I was able to bring what I needed. I myself don’t see Honda changing anything as the dealers are selling them as soon as they get them. I think the gen2 wings will be in demand as well.
I wish Honda luck, and hope they are successful. For me, seems the efforts to widen the appeal of the bike resulted in some very awkward decisions with the platform from several standpoints, not the least of which is product focus. Seems they either deliberately abandoned or failed to recognize why the Gold Wing has been the distance mount that it has been, and why it is so loved by so many. Me included! I understand Honda had some debate internally over whether to use the Gold Wing name. I understand why.
Maybe there is something in the pipeline coming that we don't know about?
If one thing is for sure, I think you can be pretty much guaranteed that before embarking on a hundreds-of-millions R&D and factory refit project, that they spent a TON of money first doing extensive market research, to figure out (to the best of their ability) where the market is, and who is most likely to buy the next Goldwing. Honda is not in the business of losing money.

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TWOWHEELCOWBOY
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Re: 2018 GL1800 Test Ride Report

Post by TWOWHEELCOWBOY » Fri Jun 01, 2018 12:52 pm

Very well put, I couldn't agree more. Getting ready to do a 12 ride will keep this GREAT SITE, informed of outcome on new 2018 Wing Tour Air Bag model.
I thank Jesus for everyday I can still throw a leg over and ride :)
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dmers
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Re: 2018 GL1800 Test Ride Report

Post by dmers » Thu Jun 07, 2018 9:29 am

After reading the reviews here and other magazine reviews, I feel like my 2012 Gold Wing just became more valuable; especially to anyone who rides two up on long distance trips.



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