Since its debut in 1975 as the GL1000, the Gold Wing has been acknowledged as the pinnacle of two-up motorcycling, a machine with the power, refinement and reliability to tour even the most far-flung destinations in complete comfort. The name "Gold Wing" has become synonymous with long-haul power and touring sophistication. Whilst undergoing continuous refinements, from stereo systems through warm-air ventilation to airbag technology, the Gold Wing has never lost sight of the fact that big-distance riders demand big-hearted performance.
Launched in 2001 after eight years of intensive research and development, the GL1800 added real dynamic ability and riding enjoyment to the Gold Wing's repertoire. The bike's box-section aluminium frame delivered stability and accurate steering at speed. It also worked with the unique flat-six engine to keep the centre of gravity low - a key factor in the bike's surprising low-speed balance and agility, which made twisting mountain roads and even busy city streets a pleasure to negotiate.
But it is on the open road that the true luxury motorcycle has always been in its element. The Gold Wing's unique fuel-injected flat-six engine delivers tireless performance together with incredible smoothness and absence of noise. Just as the engine enjoys a legendary reputation for reliability, so the rest of the machine is finished to the very highest standards, with outstanding build quality and paint finish. Meanwhile, the wind-deflecting fairing, huge carrying capacity and user-friendly features such as antilock brakes and the new, improved audio system are clear evidence of the effort and passion behind the latest evolution of this most advanced and full-featured touring motorcycle.
Honda's desire to make people's lives more convenient, joyful and fun through advances in engineering and technology has lead to the new evolution of the GL1800. The original luxury touring motorcycle has evolved in anticipation of a new generation of customers, boasting sharper exterior surface design along with the latest audio and navigation systems.
The core appeal of the Gold Wing remains its unique ability to make long-distance travel a truly rewarding and enjoyable experience. Comfort, engine performance and a stable, responsive chassis all play their part. Now, under the styling concept of "majestic aggression", the vitality and excitement of the bike's handling and performance are reflected in looks that are at once elegant, imposing and dynamic. At the same time the bike's ability to effortlessly cover ground day-in, day-out has been enhanced by greater luggage capacity. In the words of Development Project Leader, Yutaka Nakanishi, "For a leader of the GL1800 development, there is no greater happiness than the rider spending time with the new GL1800, a best friend allowing them to discover new worlds together with the passenger".
More dynamic exterior styling NEW
As befits the Gold Wing's status as an aerodynamically refined touring powerhouse, the new model has revised exterior styling. Bold, integrated lines better link the front and rear of the machine, communicating its elegance and performance with sharp, dynamic forms. The re-shaped rear light further adds to the distinctive new look.
Improved wind protection NEW
Months of both wind tunnel tests and Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) research have helped create a new front fairing with increased wind and weather protection.
Enhanced chassis stability and improved ride quality NEW
Changes to the shape of the rear bodywork include air vents that help to reduce the area of negative pressure that forms at the back of the bike, improving stability at speed. At the same time, adjustments to the suspension front and rear give a superb ride quality without sacrificing control.
Increased luggage capacity NEW
Larger panniers mean the Gold Wing's total luggage capacity is now over 150 litres.
Surround sound audio system with iPod connectivity NEW
The adoption of a new 6-speaker 80W SRS surround-sound system offers superb sound presence and quality. Riders can now play MP3, WMA and AAC music files on the move by connecting an iPod, iPhone or USB stick. The result is easy access to any track you wish to hear.
Navigation system (installed only on models with airbag) NEW
The new, fully-integrated system with brighter screen includes a next-generation receiver for greater reception sensitivity for more reliable navigation.
Unique 1832cc flat-six engine
Smooth, strong power is guaranteed, while the HECS3 oxygen-sensing catalytic converter keeps harmful exhaust gas emissions to levels approximately half of the limits needed for EURO-3 compliance.
Responsive handling in any situation
A lightweight and rigid twin-spar aluminium frame and single-sided Pro-Arm swingarm delivers stability and neutral, responsive handling. The low centre of gravity ensures good low-speed balance and stability.
Advanced safety features
Fitted with both Honda's Combined Braking System (CBS) and an Antilock Braking System (ABS), the Gold Wing offers confidence-inspiring braking in all situations and conditions, even fully loaded. The optional airbag system - a first on a production motorcycle - ensures unrivalled levels of passive safety.
SRS CS Auto 6-speaker 80W surround-sound system
Offering superb sound presence and quality, this system brings the latest advances in stereo technology to the Gold Wing. The engine room of the new system is a powerful 80-watts-per-channel amplifier capable of delivering clear, crisp sound, even at motorway speeds. The amp powers a full complement of six speakers, with two rear speakers, two front speakers and two tweeters. The result is a rich and full surround sound experience through either the speaker system or the optional headsets. In addition the RDS radio allows easy access to radio stations via the integrated handlebar controls.
The new audio system is fully compatible with iPod, iPhone and USB memory sticks, meaning riders can now play MP3, WMA and AAC music files on the go. The system is fully integrated with the motorcycle, giving full device control through the handlebars and displaying music file information on the bike's main display. Controls on the central panel take care of switching between music sources (for example radio or USB), switching displays and selecting music while at a standstill. The USB port for connecting digital music devices is in the large lockable top box, which also features an interior storage case to hold the device on the move.
Next generation Honda navigation system (installed only on models with airbag)
Effective navigation can make an enormous difference to swift travel, and the Gold Wing's updated navigation system offers faster and more accurate functionality. The new, brighter colour screen boasts a range of new functions including lane assist and junction view, while optional voice-prompting further reduces the chance of taking a wrong turn. The system also offers points of interest information, including petrol stations, Honda dealers, hotels and restaurants. Easy to use controls ensure all of these features can be accessed easily and safely.
Reception sensitivity has also been improved, allowing the system to operate effectively even in areas with a poor signal, such as on roads beneath large structures or on mountain roads.
Central storage compartment (on models without airbag)
On models not fitted with an airbag the handily placed front pocket has been increased in size from 1.2 litres to 2.8 litres. It is ideal for storing sunglasses, wallets and mobile phones while on the move.
Heated seats and handlebars; foot-warming system
With the warmth to take the sting out of even the longest winter rides, the five-position heated grips and independently adjustable heated seats make touring a year-round possibility. The
foot-warming system channels engine-heated air over the rider's feet and is controlled by a fairing-mounted lever.
The slow-speed, electric Reverse system is engaged with the simple push of the thumb control on the right handlebar.
Lightweight electronic cruise-control system utilizes a 16-bit ECU-based, motor-actuated throttle mechanism.
A simple yet ingenious ratcheting windscreen-adjustment system provides six settings over nearly 100mm of travel. Manually-operated adjustable and closeable windscreen vent routes fresh air to the rider's face or chest.
Over 150 litres of luggage capacity
Between the fairing pockets, top box and new, larger panniers, the 2012 Gold Wing boasts over 150 litres of luggage capacity. The specially-designed luggage features a remote-control key lock, permitting pop-open rear trunk operation; remote lock/unlock for the trunk and panniers; and a horn-actuated bike locator. If remote locking is attempted while a lid is open, the turn signals flash to alert the rider.
Sharp surfaces and a sophisticated layered fairing
Honda's designers have relished the challenge of updating the GL1800 Gold Wing's styling.
The new, fairing gives improved aerodynamic characteristic by changing the shape of the bottom bridge. Changes to the front axle shaft also improve the sense of stability at slow speeds. The front fairing features a strong diagonal styling element that accentuates the strong lines of the twin-spar frame, running down the sides of the bike from the revised headlights to the new pannier cases. The result is a more dynamic-looking machine with sharp surfaces and sleek forms that look ahead to a new generation of riders.
Revised front styling
A new headlight trim together with a sleek gunmetal finish to the interior of the Gold Wing's headlights help create a more impressive front face that leaves other road users in no doubt as to the machine's performance and prestige. At the same time a new front fairing shape has been developed to better protect the rider and passenger. CFD analysis helped sculpt the new fairing, which is particularly effective in reducing buffeting around the lower legs for rider and passenger, building on the Gold Wing's ability to make long distance two-up travel rewarding and enjoyable.
Revised rear bodywork
The new, larger pannier cases bring the overall luggage capacity to 150 litres, while also playing a key part in the revised rear bodywork. They are complemented by sleek new integrated rear indicators, which echo the sophisticated elegance of a luxury car. The rear of the machine has also been re-designed to actively contribute to aerodynamic stability. A vehicle moving at speed naturally creates an area of negative pressure behind it. By better managing the movement of air over and through the rear of the bike, this negative pressure has been reduced, increasing stability.
The seat is one of the most important features of a touring motorcycle and the Gold Wing's has always excelled when it comes to day-long comfort. The shape of the seat has been revised so that it almost wraps around the passenger, creating the sensation of complete comfort and security. A new urethane seat material has also been adopted to increase comfort, while the new weatherproof cover is perforated for a sportier look.
- Glint Wave Blue Metallic
- Candy Red
- Graphite Black
Unique flat-six engine configuration
The horizontally opposed six-cylinder engine is as much a part of the Gold Wing legend as the name or the sales success. Unique in motorcycling, the 1832cm³ engine is the perfect long-distance ally. Its layout minimises engine vibration and helps create a low centre of gravity, reducing rider fatigue at speed and making the bike easy to handle at a walking pace. At the same time the large displacement gives exceptional power and torque, especially in the midrange. PGM-FI fuel injection ensures a crisp throttle response and low exhaust gas emissions. Together, the fuel injection system's fine air/fuel ratio control, the three-way catalytic converter and the air injection system which encourages the oxidisation of unburned gases ensure that the Gold Wing easily meets EURO-3 emissions standards. For longer maintenance intervals, automatic adjustment for the silent cam chain has been retained.
Five-speed gearbox with overdrive, electric reverse and shaft final drive
The engine's power is transmitted to the rear wheel through a five-speed gearbox which spins the opposite way to the engine's crankshaft. This cancels out the side-to-side torque reaction effect generated by longitudinally mounted engines. The fifth gear is an overdrive, offering very low cruising revs on a long haul for optimised comfort and reduced fuel consumption. The electric reverse gear makes the Gold Wing manoeuvrable in even the tightest locations. Meanwhile, the shaft final drive means no messy chain lubrication or adjustment - just effortless riding.
Both the 45mm cartridge front telescopic forks and Pro-Link single-side swingarm rear suspension have been revised to include new low-friction bushes, with the front forks also benefitting from low-friction dust seals. Equipped with a two-position memory function, the computer-controlled, electric hydraulic-type adjustable rear suspension allows for quick adjustments to preload depending on whether or not a passenger is on the bike.
Aluminium twin-spar frame
The skeleton of the GL1800 is a bespoke twin-spar aluminium beam frame, which holds the engine as a stressed member, improving its already outstanding levels of rigidity, while the design's low weight and optimised weight distribution make the Gold Wing a joy to ride at any speed. The result is a supple, comfortable ride, especially for the passenger, while the rider benefits from all the feel and feedback required to enjoy swift, secure cornering.
CBS and ABS braking systems
The Gold Wing is fitted with both Honda's Combined Braking System (CBS) and an Antilock Braking System (ABS). CBS links the front and rear braking systems to deliver the perfect balance of front and rear braking effort, whether the rider uses the front brake lever or the rear foot brake. The result is high levels of deceleration in all situations. The ABS system monitors the Gold Wing's powerful front and rear brakes - a pair of 296mm discs and three-piston calipers at the front, and a ventilated 316mm disc and three-piston caliper at the rear. Braking effort is momentarily reduced should the system detect that a wheel is about to lock up. The result is strong, safe and secure deceleration, even in emergency situations.
In addition to the standard model, the Gold Wing is also available fitted with the fully-integrated airbag, which represented an industry-first when introduced in 2006.
The airbag module containing the airbag and inflator is positioned in front of the rider. The ECU to the right of the module detects changes in acceleration based on information it receives from the two crash sensors (one positioned on each of the front fork legs), to determine whether or not to inflate the airbag in certain frontal impacts.
Note: all models fitted with airbag are also installed with satellite navigation.
Honda Gold Wing: evolution of a touring benchmark
1972: the beginning
A new design team is assembled under Soichiro Irimajiri, who headed up the design of Honda's five-cylinder and six-cylinder road racing engines in the 1960s. Their brief is to explore the outer limits of the Grand Touring concept. How refined and luxurious can a motorcycle be when it is designed from the outset as a machine for covering big distances? The team creates the top-secret M1 prototype. Powered by a liquid-cooled, horizontally opposed six-cylinder engine with shaft final drive - features that will subsequently find their way onto the production Gold Wing as it evolves - the M1 blends superb performance with unrivalled refinement.
1975: GL1000 Gold Wing
The first production Gold Wing is a revolution, opening up new possibilities for long-distance motorcycle travel. With world-class power from its unique 999cm³ liquid-cooled horizontally opposed four-cylinder engine, the GL1000 Gold Wing combines peerless cross-country speed with a level of refinement never before experienced on two wheels. Gold Wing customers redefine touring, riding further and faster than had been possible before, confident in a machine that from the very beginning enjoyed a legendary reputation for complete reliability. In 1976 Honda celebrates the Gold Wing's success with the stunning Gold Wing Limited Edition model, and in 1979 the first Honda of America manufacturing plant opens, reflecting the fact that 80 percent of Gold Wing production is being exported to the United States.
1980: GL1100 Gold Wing & GL1100 Gold Wing Interstate
Where the GL1000 defied categorisation with its blend of superbike power and touring comfort, the GL1100 - released after five years of intensive consumer-led development - firmly establishes the Gold Wing as a Grand Tourer par excellence. The larger 1085cm³ engine is developed for torque rather than power, while a longer wheelbase offers increased stability and more room for the rider and passenger. The air-assisted suspension sets new standards for motorcycle ride quality. At the same time the GL1100 Interstate introduces the idea of turn-key touring, with its factory-fitted fairing, panniers and top box.
1982: GL1100 Gold Wing Aspencade
The most luxurious Gold Wing to date offers an unparalleled range of standard features, from LCD instrumentation and a CB radio to an onboard air compressor.
1985: GL1200 Limited Edition
The Gold Wing's market position is underlined by the discontinuation of the standard, unfaired GL1200 and the introduction of the GL1200 Limited Edition, complete with computerised fuel injection, a four-speaker sound system, cruise control, auto-levelling rear suspension, a travel computer and metallic gold paint.
1988: GL1500 Gold Wing
The brief is exacting in the extreme: the new Gold Wing has to be quieter, smoother, faster, more comfortable and even better in the corners. The GL1500 development team evaluates 15 different machines in 60 prototype stages. The result is a six-cylinder luxury tourer so accomplished that it establishes a benchmark that goes on to dominate motorcycling for more than a decade.
2001: GL1800 Gold Wing
A full eight years in development, the GL1800 model takes the Gold Wing to previously unimaginable heights. Steered by Masanori Aoki, whose CV includes the CBR250RR, the CBR400RR and the much-lauded CBR600F3, the Gold Wing becomes a dynamic sensation. In Aoki-san's words: "My job is to add more fun factor, to build a Gold Wing with the kind of acceleration and handling people normally associate with sporting machines." Alternative engines are tested but ultimately rejected and in 2001 the GL1800 is launched. The bike's horizontally opposed six-cylinder engine is mounted in a box-section aluminium frame for superb road holding, handling and stability. In the course of the bike's development no less than 20 technological innovations are patented.
2006: Industry-first airbag
The 2006 model introduced initially in the USA featured the world's first airbag on a production motorcycle, as well as revised taillights and instrument panel.