Didn't understand DCT, Now I do and......
Took a trip to Maryland today with three buddies to test ride the new Wings. We were able to put about 8 miles on both the DCT and manual Tour models. In that distance I was able to put the bikes in the different riding modes, use the shift paddles on the DCT, test reverse, and walking mode.
Here are my thoughts on the DCT. I couldn't get my head around an automatic motorcycle. I couldn't figure out why my buddies were so excited about it. I'm still not completely sold, mainly because I hate change, but I get it now. The DCT works extremely well. It's as smooth as an automatic Honda Accord. In a word, it's just plain fun. I had a great time on the back roads on some twisty turns. The bike seemed to know when to downshift really well when I was slowing down and going into a turn. However, accelerating out of a turn sometimes bothered me a little because depending on what mode you're in, the bike runs through the gears very quickly, and you don't feel it. If you're used to shifting, you sometimes feel like the bike has selected a gear your wouldn't necessarily have selected and I was tempted to use the paddles, which I did. I wanted to bring the bike back to the gear I wanted it in. For instance, when I went into a turn pretty hard, and was in Tour mode, I hit the brakes slightly and the bike downshifted perfectly. As I exited the turn I accelerated hard running the bike up to about 50 mph and I noticed the bike was in 6th gear already. The RPMs weren't especially where I would have liked them either. I manually shifted the bike down to 4th, which felt right, but that didn't last long as I wanted because the bike said "I'm smarter than you, and I say it should be 6th". So back to 6th it went. Now to be fair, I was in automatic mode. I could have also put the bike in manual mode and it would have held my 4th gear. I tried it and it worked flawlessly. ECON mode felt very underwhelming, but you probably only need to use that on the highway anyway. We rode in rain, so I tried the RAIN mode. The dealer said it would not be to impressive. After trying it, I find that to be rather insulting because RAIN mode feels exactly like my current 2015 Wing. I thought is was perfect. SPORT mode is a really fun. It's torquey and it can surprise your if your not ready for it. What it appears to be doing is holding the gears a lot longer than in the other modes, allowing the engine to rev higher so it really gets out there. It seemed like the difference in each mode was really the shift points and how many RPMs were allowed before DCT shifted. For instance when we pulled out onto the highway from the dealership, I felt like oncoming traffic was coming a bit fast and I gunned it. I was in Tour mode at that point. If felt and sounded like I had forgotten to shift out of 1st gear and it seemed to not take off anywhere near what I'm used to. I tried the same thing in SPORT mode and it was more impressive. I still didn't really feel it shift like a manual, but it got up and out and at 55mph, it was holding 5th gear instead of shifting to 6th. The one thing I found difficult in riding the DCT bike, was slow speed maneuvers like, tight figure 8's and stuff I learned from my one of my buddies who is a motor COP. Without being able to feather the clutch, I was struggling. It will take some relearning. I'm sure it can be done, but I kept coming out of my turns because it just didn't seem natural.
I really loved the 6 speed manual. It's smooth and not at all clunky like my bike. However, it too takes a tiny bit of getting used to because of the clutch. Everyone that got on that bike pulled the clutch all the way in and when giving the bike a little gas to take off, the thing would barely move. Everyone thought it was a problem. I finally realized that you don't need to pull that clutch all the way in. You only need to pull the clutch in about an 1 to 1.5 inches and it's fully engaged. That makes your shifts much much faster and smoother once you develop that muscle memory.
I'm leaning towards a manual, but honestly, I'm afraid I'll be kicking myself for not going with DCT. So, I'm really confused right now. I fit on the bike without any modifications. I was on my 2015 for about 2 days before I realized that stock seat was not going to work with my 32 inch inseam, and that windshield was not going to work with my short torso that wouldn't allow me to see over it. So $1600 bucks later, I was into an Ultimate King Seat and a Klockwerks windshield. When I was on the 2018, I was comfortable in the saddle and the adjustable windshield allowed me to find a comfortable position looking over it and when it started raining hard I raised the thing high to protect me. I could ride it as is. Having said that, the $999 accessory seat was really comfy and provided the best fit, but I didn't absolutely need it and since you can't put the backrest in it, I probably wouldn't buy it.
Bottom line...... I still love my 2015. It's a great riding bike. It doesn't have the electronics that the 2018 has, but it has enough. Problem is, now that I've ridden the 2018, I want one. I don't know how I'm going to do it, but I want one. The only big miss on this bike is the lack of a touch screen display for the radio and navigation. I'm guessing it will be on future model years. Honda has to know that it's competitors are all using touch screens.
To DCT or not to DCT. That is the question