Pre-owned bike review

Flight of the Honda Goldwing

When you talk about a cruiser or touring motorcycle, the first thing that comes to mind are the huge American machines with a rough and tough stigma attached. You are greeted by patches and, in SA anyway, seem to have to ride in single file. Now don’t get us wrong, there is a huge following for this kind of thing, but for some it is quite hard to understand. Motorcycles are about being individual or unique aren’t they?

Within this school boy routine there are a few manufacturers who have taken the idea of big bad ass bikes and made them more gentlemen-like and individual.

So the question is “What is it like to not follow the single file routine and go your own way?”

We put our Kyle to task with this. From riding the new 890 Adventure on Monday to the polar opposite on Tuesday, to figure out what cruising is all about.

Goldwing: The beginning.

The Goldwing started its journey in 1972. The idea was to find a new Flagship model for Honda because – after the success of the CB750, Honda wanted a bigger market share.

The Goldwing was originally developed as a large sports motorcycle but Honda soon found out that their target market for this bike was all about racking up the miles – rather than racing around a track. 

This forced them to introduce the Goldwing as a long distance touring bike. The build and development was guided by the man who, in the 60s developed the multi cylinder MotoGP engines and their Formula1 V12 engine, Shoichiro Irimajiri.


The first prototype was born in 1972, the M1. This bike did not have the run of the mill transverse motor with a chain, rather a longitudinal motor suitable for a shaft drive. The engine was a 1460cc flat six that was designed for more low down torque and a top speed of around 220 kmh. This is where the introduction of the beautiful flat six comes from. But the M1 had issues. It was not comfortable, and thus, remained a prototype…


Jump a few decades ahead and we are left with the latest rendition, the GL1800.The current Goldwing also has a Flat Six motor, now 1800cc, shaft drive, a comfortable couch for your rear and more.

The ride:

This bike is built for a holiday to the Cape or a weekend in ET. With our time constraints, We did the next best thing and spent a great day cruising through the Suikerbosrand and surrounding areas. 

First stop was in Heidelberg town. Every time we ride through here we say that we need to stop off at some of the little coffee shops and interesting hoekies.

Some of the old houses have been turned into businesses and have been completely refurbished. The old church, standing proud, in the middle of town definitely gives you an old school feel to it. The Train museum has become a favourite stop for us, offering a hot coffee stop on the ride. 


We made our way out of town into the Suikerbos mountains towards Henley on Klip, a really cool spot. Lunch was at the Italian restaurant 1904. Great wood fired pizza and a couple of coolies. The food is always fresh and the staff welcome you with open arms. The prices are not bad at all. But enough about that, what’s the bike like?



This one is a proper head turner. Coated in what Honda calls Candy Ardent red, in the sun it looks like a master spray painter has done a custom job. She is beautiful. Fitted with huge led lights in the front with accented driving lights and small pin stripes on the side.


She’s a big girl too! We were asked to maneuver it out of the shop past a few of the cars. At first we were worried about the size of the bike vs the size of the gap to get out of. 

Actually, this bike is very easy to move around when you consider that she weighs close to 400kgs. That monster flat six motor sits so low down that it gives the bike a great center of gravity. The Wing does not feel top heavy at all. You can move around without worrying that it is going to fall and do damage. 


With some touring bikes, you get the feeling of tallness, but this is not the case. The comfortable seats are normally very broad which in turn makes you open your legs more, taking millimeters off your height. The big test is when your pillion gets on. Do you get the feeling that the bike is too tall and you need to brace yourself? 

With this Wing, the answer is no. The bike is well balanced and you are able to hold the bike up even when you are not flat footed.



Like all cruisers, comfort is key. This bike is fitted with a seat that feels like it came from Coricraft. The pillion seat has a big wide layout with a backrest on the top box as well as arm rests. Our pillion for the day hadn’t been on a bike before and she found herself completely relaxed. On the rider’s seat there is a small backrest that is adjustable. Nice touch!

The one comment made about the seating, “There is a lot of space for both the rider and pillion.” Not once did I feel the pillion leaning against me, nor did the pillion feel that she was pushed up close to the rider.” 


The Goldwing is fitted with a ridiculous collection of creature comforts. Heated seats, heated grips and an electric windshield. This is another feature where our pillion commented on – the wind protection offered even on the rear of the Wing. When we were testing the different heights our pillion could feel the difference between the screen completely up versus completely down. With the Windscreen up we could ride with our helmet visors up and we were not worried by insects or buffeting. It all adds to the comfort of the overall ride. Alongside the windshield there are little wind flaps on the side of the bike. These flaps direct wind and allow wind into the cockpit to cool you down. Ride the bike when it’s colder and close the flaps, it’s warmer. Open the flaps and you feel the difference.



Where do we start? The Goldwing is fitted with loads of electronics. From rider aids to a speaker system as well as a reverse gear. 


Rider aids/Modes

This Goldwing is the DCT model. If we are completely honest, our Kyle has always preferred the manual option on any bike, from the NC750 to the Africa Twin.


His words to us were…. “ I now understand the DCT”

“It’s just so easy and relaxing to ride. Open the throttle and glide away. What a cool feeling.” You can play around with the manual setting, the gear changes are a bit hard for the bike if you push her, but through town the changes are smooth and precise. 

But honestly, this bike is happier in full auto.


The bike has 4 rider modes. Touring, Sport, Eco and Rain. Touring mode is where the bike stayed most of the day. Offering a smooth pull away from the robot to a responsive burst of power when you need to overtake. That 6 cylinder motor is a beaut and just purrs effortlessly. 


Hit Sports Mode the bikes revs out for longer reaching 6000 rpm before changing gears opposed to Touring mode where it revs around 4000 rpm.  In sports mode, twist the throttle and there is lots of oomph, but no whiplash. 

Eco Mode. Well we tried that for 5 mins. She becomes very lazy and plods along. 

Rain mode?

Well luckily for us it was the one day it wasn’t raining so we didn’t play with that enough. It’s a great, safe feature for any touring machine.

The Goldwing is fitted with all of the usual rider aids like ABS and traction control. On the rear ABS I did find the rear pedal gives some feedback. It’s subtle, but it was there. This is probably due to the sheer weight of the bike with a passenger. She lets you know what’s happening beneath you. The traction control wasn’t felt at all the whole day, just quietly doing its job in the background.



The only thing missing here is a live stream of the Motogp. 

This Goldwing is fitted with a 7 inch TFT screen that shows you pretty much everything except for maps, all controlled by an instrument cluster behind the bars with sensible,  big buttons that can be pressed while wearing gloves. 

Note: there is an upgrade available for maps for all Wings 2018 onwards.

You can connect your phone and show your calls logs and who is calling you. For entertainment you can select from radio, Aux or Bluetooth. The one advantage is you don’t need to have a headset connected to get access to these functions. The bluetooth connects seamlessly and downloads all the relevant data. 

Sticking with Bluetooth, we connected our phone to the system and played music throughout our trip. The speakers on this motorcycle are by far some of the clearest we have ridden with. The sound quality is fantastic. Normally the faster you go the less you hear, but thanks to the massive windscreen, the Goldwing is a class leader in this department. But this is all thanks to the huge electronic screen in front pushing the wind away.


The engine

There are some big punchy motors out there but nothing compares to a flat six motor. It has a very iconic sound. It has a very unique pitch and tends to roar at you until you open it up. I’d go as far as saying that it beats listening to any station on the sound system.

1800cc of torque, what’s it like? The bike feels easy and laid back, however it has so much bottom end beneath the 2000 rpm rev range. Open her up, she drops a gear and takes off. And it’s so deceptive, you don’t actually realize how fast you are going until you look at the speedo. It’s all very smooth and user-friendly.




As we mentioned this bike is big, but with its lower center of gravity it is easy to maneuver around. With some of the other brands we have ridden, cornering can be exciting. The Goldwing is surprisingly good around the bends. The suspension soaks up everything and there is very little flex in the long 1.6m frame. The front end feels planted with good feedback from the front wheel coming from the double wishbone suspension. It is something to get used to because you can see the suspension dancing under the display. The rear electronic suspension is easy to set via a switch and doesn’t bounce around. We simply set the bike to Pillion mode and off we went. There are other options – single rider and so-on, you’ll need to fiddle with it all.



There is a lot of storage space. While packing we noticed a lot of space but the boxes are not very deep. Meaning the amount you can pack vs the amount the bike can take will differ. Gents would need to pack Jocks and socks with the rest for your girlfriend.




I never understood the whole cruiser vibe. The day before this test I was racing around on an 890 Adventure and enjoyed every second. When I found myself riding this bike I started to fall in love. Considering I have never ridden a Goldwing before, it definitely won’t be the last time I ride one. This bike has DCT and on a bike like this it does make sense. It weighs almost 400kgs, it has an Airbag, let’s get one thing straight. I am in no rush to try it out so please forgive me for my lack of knowledge regarding this subject. The bike is easy to ride and more importantly fun to ride even though you are just cruising along. 


If this is what it is like to go my own way, I’m sold. 

I don’t need a badge, all I want  is the open road and to follow the sun and this will be the bike to take me there. 


This one from Honda Wing East Rand Mall (011) 826-4444

R399 999


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