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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
I was favored this past Saturday – after sending my Indian Chieftain to winter storage at my dealership – with a test ride of the 2018 Honda Gold Wing DCT. Thank you to the dealership for allowing me to close my 2019 riding season with a treat.

Although I ride a heavy bagger, and the non-Tour version of the Gold Wing DCT is both heavy (803 lbs wet) and a bagger, the Gold Wing and my Indian Chieftain are far from sisters under the skin. Even discounting the Gold Wing’s dual-clutch transmission (about which more, below), they speak to different aspects of the motorcyclist’s character.

Where the Chieftain plays the nostalgia card, the Gold Wing is oriented relentlessly toward the future. Though refined as air-cooled American bikes go, the Chieftain maintains a strong dose of vibrational, V-twin character. Meanwhile, the Gold Wing delivers an almost electric car-like smoothness from its liquid-cooled, horizontally-opposed six-cylinder engine.

Although starting with the engine, the Gold Wing’s smoothness is augmented further by its double-wishbone suspension—cleverly designed to keep the vertical forces imparted by (say) going over a bump from becoming lateral forces that jar the handlebar and compress the front wheel toward the engine. To the dyed-in-the-wool V-twin rider, the Gold Wing can feel disconnected from the road. To the serious transcontinental tourer, that disconnectedness likely makes completing an Iron Butt a (relative) breeze.

An obvious observation to make and then quickly leave: the Gold Wing is the _only_ bike for transcontinental touring. It is so purpose-built that to choose anything else for the task is an affectation (“I simply _must_ have an American V-twin!”, “I can't ride a rice rocket!”, "Only European pedigree will do!", etc.), not down to any on-paper or in-implementation shortcoming of the Gold Wing.

Particular riding impressions are many and jumbled:


  1. The Gold Wing DCT is the easiest and happiest bike to ride slowly, ever. It is also an effortlessly fast bike. Running like a Swiss watch, it is almost silent when cruising, but gets turbine-like when you operate the throttle more insistently.

  2. The Gold Wing feels counterintuitive at first in parking-lot and turning-from-a-stop maneuvers. This is probably down to its double-wishbone steering setup and its very long wheelbase (a full inch longer than the already-long-ass Chieftain’s).

  3. Handling (e.g., in curves) seemed a bit wonky—probably down to the rider sitting further forward and above (not behind) the engine. (This is likely a get-used-to-and-adapt thing rather than a defect. Those not coming from big American V-twins may not experience the Gold Wing that way.) In the straights, it has a scooter-like quality that is not down simply to the automatic DCT. The bike’s center of gravity is down-there-on-the-pavement low (just like a scooter’s). The Gold Wing proved easy to ride in the U-turn “box” that tests rider skills in the MSF course, but not easy to keep _within_ the box—I managed it only once in about eight tries. (This is down to the long wheelbase and more practice would likely keep me within the box more consistently.)

  4. The DCT, like the double-wishbone suspension, is at once a thing of technical beauty and yet source of a nagging sense that one is being buffered from the full motorcycle experience. Set to shift automatically, the DCT is smarter and better than all but the most expert of riders. In manual mode, it’s loads of fun. Paddle shifting is unfamiliar at first and seems clunky, but becomes easy after a few shifts. Downshifts going into turns are sublime. I found the lack of a clutch lever messed with my braking to a panic stop (which I simulated on the dealership's MSF course range)—it’s a one-handed operation, not two, and that just struck me wrong. Not deal-breakingly wrong, mind you; just I-need-to-form-new-habits wrong.

  5. Comfort is, for me, simply unmatched. The combination of mid pegs and a higher-than-Harley seat yields a seating position that is natural, upright, and easy to maintain. It’s the only bike I've ever dismounted and not felt like I've just been riding a bike (and I mean that in a _good_ way).

Would I buy one? Unsure. It’s obviously not a flat no, but neither is it a slam-dunk yes. Were I a rider whose journeys ran _routinely_ to the transcontinental, it would be a slam dunk—two-handed, backboard-shattering, in fact. For other kinds of riding, however, some of the refinement that makes the Gold Wing the world’s finest transcontinental touring bike makes me worry that shorter-distance riding may feel a trifle uninvolving. That, like much else that is unfamiliar in the Gold Wing, may dissipate with experience, of course. And it's an experience I'd like to have again.

Verdict: another test ride, please!
 

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that is the question.........



I use mine as a daily commuter....even in below freezing temps.....to me it’s a “no brainer ” no matter how far you ride.

JMHO
 

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Very interesting review. I also ride mine daily for commuting, with long rides thrown in as many times a year as I can get away with. As a 10 year Wing rider I have been looking at the new model. I'm not sure if I'll get the DCT or manual clutch model.
 

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Very insightful post, thank you for that. However, comparing a Goldwing to a big "American" v-twin is apples and oranges. I've been there and back so I totally get it. Two different and vastly opposite machines really. The "vagueness" you mention I feel is a bit of a miss on the handling of a more thoroughbred bike compared to a more lumbering ox of a bike. Not dissing the big twin at all, just a personal comparison from one who has been there before. Again, two totally different machines. Both do essentially the same thing but in different ways.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Very insightful post, thank you for that. However, comparing a Goldwing to a big "American" v-twin is apples and oranges. . . . Again, two totally different machines. Both do essentially the same thing but in different ways.
I agree. As I said above, they may both be big baggers, but they're not sisters under the skin.

The more I test-ride motorcycles, the more I'm convinced the main purpose of the test ride is to help clarify for the rider who the rider is and what the rider seeks. My verdict is (on the positive side of) ambiguous because the Gold Wing DCT presents me a different way to be a motorcyclist and to view and value the experience. I'm unsure right now whether I'll take the invitation because my trajectory as a rider is unclear.
 

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that is the question.........



I use mine as a daily commuter....even in below freezing temps.....to me it’s a “no brainer ” no matter how far you ride.

JMHO
Mine is my daily rider as well! I really don't like driving a cage. I love my big ass suburban and I loved my muscle cars too. But my bike is what choose no matter the temperature. It really is a love I have for my bikes! The new 2020 DCT does look intriguing but I'll have to wait a few years for that.

Sent from my LG-H872 using Tapatalk
 

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Well written assessment of Goldwing and why you would own one.

I have big GMC Denali XL so that I can all the grandchildren and their stuff in one vehicle. That does not happen often but when it does I am glad I purchased.

Not equating Goldwing to a one type use m/c but I bet somewhere in most motorcyclist’s minds is desire to be on open road multi-day long distance trip?

The DCT May take away of the feel of motorcycling but it could be argued one can pay attention to safety issues more.
 
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I was favored this past Saturday – after sending my Indian Chieftain to winter storage at my dealership – with a test ride of the 2018 Honda Gold Wing DCT. Thank you to the dealership for allowing me to close my 2019 riding season with a treat.

Although I ride a heavy bagger, and the non-Tour version of the Gold Wing DCT is both heavy (803 lbs wet) and a bagger, the Gold Wing and my Indian Chieftain are far from sisters under the skin. Even discounting the Gold Wing’s dual-clutch transmission (about which more, below), they speak to different aspects of the motorcyclist’s character.

Where the Chieftain plays the nostalgia card, the Gold Wing is oriented relentlessly toward the future. Though refined as air-cooled American bikes go, the Chieftain maintains a strong dose of vibrational, V-twin character. Meanwhile, the Gold Wing delivers an almost electric car-like smoothness from its liquid-cooled, horizontally-opposed six-cylinder engine.

Although starting with the engine, the Gold Wing’s smoothness is augmented further by its double-wishbone suspension—cleverly designed to keep the vertical forces imparted by (say) going over a bump from becoming lateral forces that jar the handlebar and compress the front wheel toward the engine. To the dyed-in-the-wool V-twin rider, the Gold Wing can feel disconnected from the road. To the serious transcontinental tourer, that disconnectedness likely makes completing an Iron Butt a (relative) breeze.

An obvious observation to make and then quickly leave: the Gold Wing is the _only_ bike for transcontinental touring. It is so purpose-built that to choose anything else for the task is an affectation (“I simply _must_ have an American V-twin!”, “I can't ride a rice rocket!”, "Only European pedigree will do!", etc.), not down to any on-paper or in-implementation shortcoming of the Gold Wing.

Particular riding impressions are many and jumbled:


  1. The Gold Wing DCT is the easiest and happiest bike to ride slowly, ever. It is also an effortlessly fast bike. Running like a Swiss watch, it is almost silent when cruising, but gets turbine-like when you operate the throttle more insistently.

  2. The Gold Wing feels counterintuitive at first in parking-lot and turning-from-a-stop maneuvers. This is probably down to its double-wishbone steering setup and its very long wheelbase (a full inch longer than the already-long-ass Chieftain’s).

  3. Handling (e.g., in curves) seemed a bit wonky—probably down to the rider sitting further forward and above (not behind) the engine. (This is likely a get-used-to-and-adapt thing rather than a defect. Those not coming from big American V-twins may not experience the Gold Wing that way.) In the straights, it has a scooter-like quality that is not down simply to the automatic DCT. The bike’s center of gravity is down-there-on-the-pavement low (just like a scooter’s). The Gold Wing proved easy to ride in the U-turn “box” that tests rider skills in the MSF course, but not easy to keep _within_ the box—I managed it only once in about eight tries. (This is down to the long wheelbase and more practice would likely keep me within the box more consistently.)

  4. The DCT, like the double-wishbone suspension, is at once a thing of technical beauty and yet source of a nagging sense that one is being buffered from the full motorcycle experience. Set to shift automatically, the DCT is smarter and better than all but the most expert of riders. In manual mode, it’s loads of fun. Paddle shifting is unfamiliar at first and seems clunky, but becomes easy after a few shifts. Downshifts going into turns are sublime. I found the lack of a clutch lever messed with my braking to a panic stop (which I simulated on the dealership's MSF course range)—it’s a one-handed operation, not two, and that just struck me wrong. Not deal-breakingly wrong, mind you; just I-need-to-form-new-habits wrong.

  5. Comfort is, for me, simply unmatched. The combination of mid pegs and a higher-than-Harley seat yields a seating position that is natural, upright, and easy to maintain. It’s the only bike I've ever dismounted and not felt like I've just been riding a bike (and I mean that in a _good_ way).

Would I buy one? Unsure. It’s obviously not a flat no, but neither is it a slam-dunk yes. Were I a rider whose journeys ran _routinely_ to the transcontinental, it would be a slam dunk—two-handed, backboard-shattering, in fact. For other kinds of riding, however, some of the refinement that makes the Gold Wing the world’s finest transcontinental touring bike makes me worry that shorter-distance riding may feel a trifle uninvolving. That, like much else that is unfamiliar in the Gold Wing, may dissipate with experience, of course. And it's an experience I'd like to have again.

Verdict: another test ride, please!

A couple test ride did nothing for me but confirm I didn't like the mushy suspension, owning it was really the only way to see what a game changer the DCT Tour is at least for me.
 
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Very interesting review. I also ride mine daily for commuting, with long rides thrown in as many times a year as I can get away with. As a 10 year Wing rider I have been looking at the new model. I'm not sure if I'll get the DCT or manual clutch model.
I felt the same way. I came for a 2017 Indian Roadmaster. Big hot and noisy. I decided to give the DCT a go. I picked this bike up in the Middle of Aug. Two months later, and after almost 6K miles, I'm loving it. I took a trip with a friend he rides a Heritage Clasic and he joked about it looking kind of scooterish. Most of the trip he was looking at the rear end of this scooter becuse it's a rocket, next to his sluggy beast. It is a little different of a ride but it really is a no fuss kind of ride. Jump on, push the button and go. Comfortable on distance, handle conners like a champ, and power to blast off when you need to.
 

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I have ridden both and I found your post both enlightening and on the money. For looks (let us face it the Indian is sexy) I would go with the Indian but after many years on wings I would not give up the comfort and reliability plus my wife would never speak to me again. Test rode both the Indian Chieftain and the new wing, I loved both but Mom did not like either. Remember if Mom isn't happy no one's happy.
 
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