1000 mile review and comparison. - Honda Goldwing Forums
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post #1 of 21 (permalink) Old 04-24-2017, 08:19 AM Thread Starter
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1000 mile review and comparison.

So I'm just under 1000 miles on my 1017 Audio Comfort. I've seen reviews from other new Wing owners and thought I'd add my own.

Being I've come from a decade of riding HD baggers, I'm also going to give my honest comparison of several areas between the two.

I'm not a "brand guy" so any comparison will be unbiased and not meant to compliment or demean either brand. Nor is it meant to flame any arguments of why one is better. Its just my view.

Also....disclaimer....every bike I've bought since 2005 has been brand new. The reason I mention that is many of the comparisons I've heard about the Wing vs HD is power, comfort and most importantly, vibration. They are also comparing Wings (in many cases) to pre-2009 HD models. The 09 had major improvements and a much better bike.

At that time we lived in Illinois but then we moved back to Colorado and when we got settled....and started riding again....it was basically winter which means riding the gradual hills of the front range (south of Denver). Which once again, the HD handles just fine.

Once the weather allowed us to start riding in the Eastern Rockies, it didn't take long to discover that (imo) the HD riding 2-up ascending 3-5 mile mountain passes struggled. The thinner air also seemed to make what was a nice sweet throbbing of engine, was now a 3rd gear scream (and a definite change of tone....annoyingly so). We needed a change.

We took a 2017 Audio Comfort for a test ride. Went about 45 miles round trip taking a quick run out in the mountains. That was enough for us. We traded off the 2013 and rode the Wing home.

APPEARANCE
Neither the Wing or the HD have had a major change in appearance in many years. That being said, the 2017 Goldwing has a very modern flow and great lines. Between the lines of the bike and the color scheme chosen, its got a very sexy look to it. Between the two bikes it really comes down to personal preference I guess. I like them both. The HD really hasn't changed their basic design in decades while the Wing has gone thru a few transformations. The Wing has come a long way and I hear they are ripe for a new model update. I'm excited to see that.

SIZE

Standing next to it I was amazed that it seemed a lot smaller than I thought. I sat on it and it felt comfortable. Different....but comfy. A pleasant surprise.

RIDE
There are areas that are comparable and areas where its no contest.

Power......hands down Goldwing. Not even comparable. Except for the sport-touring BMW, nothing else comes close. The smooth 6 cyl handles it all. And it does it with smoothness and composure. 4th gear cruising at 2-lane highway speeds is quiet, smooth and it has a good roll-on without downshifting. But kick down to 3rd gear and it will smoke an HD on these mountain roads. And in doing so....I can hear the radio clear as crystal. From a stop it takes off in 2nd gear quite nicely and 2nd is the Wing's best gear IMO. Its got great power.....but not stupid power. Hauling 1300 lbs of rider/passenger/gear is pretty effortless. This was the area where the HD struggles in the mountains.

Handling.....This is a wash for me. They both do things well and they both have strengths. The thing with the HD (that even many HD riders don't do anything with) is the air suspension. On a HD they should include a suspension pump (kind of like a bike pump) with the bike but they nail you for $70 to get theirs. But many don't so they don't adjust their suspension so it eventually leaks out and you're at 0 psi. A properly adjusted suspension on an HD bagger is key. If adjusted....they both handle great. I have no issue with either.

What I will compare is the Harley seemed easier to flick back and forth in twisties. Maybe its the added heft of the full fairing on the Wing. That being said, once IN the turn, the Goldwing seemed more fluid. It takes a little more work to put the Wing into a turn, but its easier to hold the Wing thru the turn.

That could be an effect of aerodynamics as well. Speaking of which, I read a comparo of the Wing, the Ultra and the Indian Roadmaster where they claim the HD had the best overall wind coverage. I strongly disagree. I think bar none the Wing has the most wind protection in its class. To the point I get almost too warm on cooler days. Additionally, the full fairing of the Goldwing is also a weakness in a heavy crosswind. The HD has plenty of pass thru for heavy crosswinds to roll thru you more effectively. The solidness of the Goldwing can really push the bike around during heavy crosswinds. This is one area I give to HD.

For straight line, slow speed handling, I give that to the HD. Your mileage may vary on that but thats my opinion.

The Wing also wins out in engine heat. That big V-twin with the chrome exhaust coming down by your legs is no doubt a very hot venture. Better at speed. The Wing generates more heat than I thought, but no where near the blistering heat the HD gives off....especially on a hot day.

Both have clunky transmissions but I have found the Wing to be a little more temperamental. Not bad.....but I give the transmissions a wash. I still wish the Wing had one more gear.

RIDING POSTURE

This is such a subjective area because everyone is comfortable in their own way. I find the Goldwing a nice, solid upright riding position. The seat is plush, but a little firm with only 1000 miles on it. I like it that my weight is on my BUTT and not my tailbone like it is with the HD. Its a very comfortable position with my legs at a nice square position. On the HD its a bit more kick back with your feet further in front and more weight on the tailbone. That being said, the saddle of the HD and the rider floorboards do make shifting around and somewhat changing your seating position easier. While the Wing has an overall more comfortable ride, the highback rider seat and foot pegs...as well as the fairing being right in front of your feet....changing seating positions on the Wing is definitely more restrictive. That and with the wide fairing of the Wing, highway pegs spread my legs out further to use them. I need to play with the highway pegs but I have a feeling thats how its going to be. Not annoying....but the HD does have a more comfortable highway peg position with its lower fairings.

Speaking of the fairings this is another area Honda needs to improve. HD has upper and lower wind diverters/deflectors. In Honda's design to bring cool air to the engine, they should have some sort of diversion in the fairing to provide some more air for the rider. The single windshield vent is nice, but in the protective saddle of the Wing, I'd like some more air on those hot days.

My wife loves the full backrest over the HD's upper backrest and lower pad. She also is digging the heated seats. I've tried the seats and I cant say it wasn't nice. It was. The stock heated grips work well.

CREATURE COMFORTS
Hands down, the stock stereo on the Audio Comfort is by far the better stereo. The full fairing allows for fantastic bass production and crystal clear audio. You can get there with an HD, but it takes stereo and speaker upgrades. But with the HD's small bat-wing front end, they have no chance with the stock system to reproduce the sound the Wing does. 30mph....80mph. Unless you're in heavy winds, the goldwing sounds awesome. Wings have their music USB in the trunk....which is fine, but I can't stand that it doesn't have some kind of random setting for playback. That seems to me something that should be pretty brainless.

At first I'm like "All these buttons!!!" But they're easy to operate. Although I will say the handlebar controls for pretty much everything is easier to use on the HD. Everything is right within thumbs reach and on the new HD I understand its even better. While the buttons on the Wing are nice and big and easy to use with gloves, they are also spread out more and more difficult to reach. But I do like the mute button on the Wing.

One thing we noticed is there is more room between the rider/passenger. Thats good and bad. Good in that we both have more room....especially my wife. But its harder to communicate with each other especially now that we've ditched the 1/2 helmets in favor of open faced and what will probably turn into modular. We are definitely getting more into protecting ourselves more. The Colorado roads are some of the best in the country. But there are a lot of idiots on these canyon roads with blind corners.

I don't know if the new HD's have adjustable windscreens but I do like the ability to change heights. Like everyone else I think the Wing should be adjustable on the fly electronically like the BMW, but the Wing is the heaviest bike in its class. I cant imagine stuffing a windscreen motor is anything they want to do unless they can shed weight elsewhere.

Overall we are extremely pleased with our purchase. I'm not hating on HD at all as I still love the brand and the iconic history and design. The thing I'm tired about HD is their marketing. The name dropping.....the 10 million t-shirts at every dealer. Yeah, every dealer is going to have overpriced merchandise with their logo plastered all over. But the vast majority of Harley riders might as will just give the. MOCO about a grand of their money for all the clothes, jewelry, hats, socks, jeans, underwear, lingerie etc etc etc.

When I bought my 110th anny Ultra they tried selling me every 110th teddy bear, jacket, shirt, watch, hat.....etc etc etc.

They weren't getting from me even tho I told them that I don't care about the 110th gear. I didn't even care about the 110th bike. We loved the color. Yeah....thats how we roll. Hahaha.

So we love the bike. Most things it simply does better for our style of riding.

But I still have an HD and I still love it. But the Wing will be our two-up touring bike for many many years to come.

2017 Goldwing Audio Comfort - "Bruiser"
2017 Kawasaki Ninja 1000ABS - "Damien"
2016 Kaw KLR560 - "Dusty"
2009 HD Ultra Classic - "Gem"
I'm about the ride...not the brand.

Last edited by DonRubicon; 04-24-2017 at 09:16 AM.
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post #2 of 21 (permalink) Old 04-24-2017, 09:52 AM
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Nice evaluation Don, and I heartily concur with several of your points. The non-powered screen has been a bone of contention for me since the beginning of the 1800 series Wing. I know the space inside the fairing is very cramped with tons of other wiring and controls and I think (more-so than weight) that is why it isn't there (yet?). I'm not a fan of the front forks/suspension and although I'm a dealer I'm not afraid to say that it's the premiere two up tourer on the road with the most crude and outdated fork out there. Let me share this: the front fork on my RC51 track bike is far more compliant and effective than my Goldwing. Yes there's 600# of difference, but if my RC51 fork is smoother, all I can say is: why? As for handling, the Wing is not a bike you can muscle around or be ham fisted with. But if you are smooth and sure in your inputs, the Wing will respond like the spirited ballroom dancer she is, but with a Flamenco flair. I've embarrassed more than one sport bike rider in the twisties while two up, let alone solo. I'm not one to shy away from scraping parts on the road surface LOL. Low speed however takes practice and you really have to learn to let the bike do what it is capable of and again, not muscle it. The biggest mistake many GL riders make is grabbing the brake lever in a parking lot or driveway entry and that just spells a turn in tip-over looking to happen. Great review.
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post #3 of 21 (permalink) Old 04-24-2017, 11:00 AM
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post #4 of 21 (permalink) Old 04-24-2017, 02:12 PM
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A great write up. I think that we understand the short comings but still chose the Goldwing. A bit like the other brand riders. They chose that brand but understand the short comings. Honda has to improve it's bike or it will get left behind. So I guess we will need to wait to see the next Goldwing to see just what they have come up with.

When all else fails.......... use a hammer!
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post #5 of 21 (permalink) Old 04-24-2017, 03:36 PM
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Good review, Don.

You mention the windshield vent not doing enough for you. Most of us have Baker Hand Wings, a small shield that mounts to the bottom of the mirrors. Close them for winter, open 'em for summer. They even help to reduce buffeting for the passenger. You can also add Baker lower wings. These attach to the forward fairing in front of you knees and give even more wind management. Then you'll be more comfortable when come for a ride in the Texas heat.

You also mentioned with the increased room between the pilot and passenger comes more difficulty communicating. Are you using the intercom with some type of headset?

And on the push button controls....push them often. Especially the radio mute, cruise control, hazard flashers, CB transmit lever, and reverse switch. Many riders make a practice of pushing those a few times at the end of each day just to keep the lube fluid. Eventually the lube will dry out and the switch will stick. You can spray contact cleaner in there to help, but that's really just temporary. The mechanic at the dealer I go to opens my housings each winter and gives the contacts a thorough cleaning and new lube.
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post #6 of 21 (permalink) Old 04-24-2017, 06:10 PM Thread Starter
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We don't have a comms system yet but we have one on order.

We've always talked of getting one. Part of it is being further from the passenger, part of it is we moved from 1/2 helmets to 3/4.

2017 Goldwing Audio Comfort - "Bruiser"
2017 Kawasaki Ninja 1000ABS - "Damien"
2016 Kaw KLR560 - "Dusty"
2009 HD Ultra Classic - "Gem"
I'm about the ride...not the brand.
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post #7 of 21 (permalink) Old 04-24-2017, 06:11 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Eric View Post
A great write up. I think that we understand the short comings but still chose the Goldwing. A bit like the other brand riders. They chose that brand but understand the short comings. Honda has to improve it's bike or it will get left behind. So I guess we will need to wait to see the next Goldwing to see just what they have come up with.
They all have their shortcomings. Its like everything else....a series of compromises. But the Honda does many things right and is the king of tourers.....no doubt about it.
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2017 Goldwing Audio Comfort - "Bruiser"
2017 Kawasaki Ninja 1000ABS - "Damien"
2016 Kaw KLR560 - "Dusty"
2009 HD Ultra Classic - "Gem"
I'm about the ride...not the brand.
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post #8 of 21 (permalink) Old 04-24-2017, 06:13 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by budoka View Post
Nice evaluation Don, and I heartily concur with several of your points. The non-powered screen has been a bone of contention for me since the beginning of the 1800 series Wing. I know the space inside the fairing is very cramped with tons of other wiring and controls and I think (more-so than weight) that is why it isn't there (yet?). I'm not a fan of the front forks/suspension and although I'm a dealer I'm not afraid to say that it's the premiere two up tourer on the road with the most crude and outdated fork out there. Let me share this: the front fork on my RC51 track bike is far more compliant and effective than my Goldwing. Yes there's 600# of difference, but if my RC51 fork is smoother, all I can say is: why? As for handling, the Wing is not a bike you can muscle around or be ham fisted with. But if you are smooth and sure in your inputs, the Wing will respond like the spirited ballroom dancer she is, but with a Flamenco flair. I've embarrassed more than one sport bike rider in the twisties while two up, let alone solo. I'm not one to shy away from scraping parts on the road surface LOL. Low speed however takes practice and you really have to learn to let the bike do what it is capable of and again, not muscle it. The biggest mistake many GL riders make is grabbing the brake lever in a parking lot or driveway entry and that just spells a turn in tip-over looking to happen. Great review.
On our ride yesterday we got behind two sport bikes on a real twisty road. The lead sport bike was rockin thru the turns and the guy in front of me seemed to be more concerned there was a bagger on his tail than he was on the road. He couldn't hold a line...was drifting into the opposite lane....

And we were just waiting to get around him. Hahaha!!!

I kept saying to myself.....LOOK AHEAD OF YOU....NOT IN FRONT OF YOU!!

2017 Goldwing Audio Comfort - "Bruiser"
2017 Kawasaki Ninja 1000ABS - "Damien"
2016 Kaw KLR560 - "Dusty"
2009 HD Ultra Classic - "Gem"
I'm about the ride...not the brand.
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post #9 of 21 (permalink) Old 04-24-2017, 09:50 PM
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My previous bike before my Super Tenere was the FJR1300. The motorized windshield was awesome. Summer driving the windshield was lowered. Winter time she stays up. However, for the most part, not that much maneuvering of it.

With my Tenere it is a manual shield like the GW. I do not like seeing through my windshield, but just enough on top is fine with me. I find that moving the windshield is not frequent. So it is an non-issue with me when it comes to the GW.

When I test rode the other day the position was fine. The GW does not need more bulk up front just for an electric windshield. I want to see other improvements before that is addressed!

Great review and thanks for the perspective!
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post #10 of 21 (permalink) Old 04-25-2017, 01:18 AM
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Nice writeup. Congrats on your new Wing from Oregon!


Mark & Audrey
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