The Gold Wing has often been called the Cadillac of motorcycles. Riding on the back seat recently I could see why. The Gold Wing is the smoothest motorcycle Ive ever had the pleasure of riding. Having spent 4,000 miles in the front seat of a Gold Wing piloting it on a two-week trip two years ago, I was anxious to see what it would feel like perched on the back seat for this test ride.
As my riding partner engaged the throttle and the Wing glided effortlessly down the road, for a moment I longed to be a passenger full-time. I could get use to all this comfort while the rider does all the “driving.” The large, cushy seat enveloped me. I felt quite safe and secure in it. The passenger floorboards are very large, nearly the length of my size 9 boots.
The seating position is just high enough to see past the rider, but not too high where the passenger is subjected to excessive wind buffeting. Theres also plenty of room between the passenger and rider. I wasnt smooshed up against his back. You may have heard jokes about Gold Wing passengers being able to doze off while the bike is in motion; I could definitely see myself doing that on a long ride. The bike tracks so smoothly and the seating position is that ergonomically friendly.
Comfort aside, the reason for this review is to evaluate the amazing new accessories available on the 2006 model. The top-of-the-line Gold Wing has a new satellite navigation system, a new stereo system, new heated seats, and an airbag.
First, the radio. Rear speakers are new on the 06 Gold Wing. Only problem is theyre placed right where the passenger rests her arms. A pair of front tweeter speakers have been added, too, along with an 80-watt per channel power amplifier giving the whole stereo system a big boost in sound clarity for 2006. I asked my riding partner to turn up the volume so I could check it out. He hesitated to crank it up loud while in stop-and-go in-town traffic for fear of blasting out the cars beside us. The guy riding me around was Steve Paulos, an engineer involved in the development of this Gold Wing. I suspected he knew what he was talking about so I waited patiently until we were out on the open road. Once we were, he turned up the volume and oh my goodness! I felt like I was in a surround-sound audio chamber. There is music all around you. All other sounds are blocked out. Its a pretty cool feeling. A six-disc CD changer is an optional item that I think would be great to have on a long trip.
The next fun thing on the Wing is the Satellite Linked Navigation system. I peered over Steves shoulder as he showed me the finer points of this GPS unit. It works much like other GPS units Im told. I personally have not had that much experience using global positioning systems. Some of the neat features, I thought, was that the large color navigation screen lets you know what intersection you are approaching about a quarter mile before you get there. This way you dont have to guess when you need to switch lanes because your turn is coming up. If you dont want to take your eyes off the road to look at the dash-mounted screen, there is a voice prompt through the speakers or through a headset you install in your helmet. On screen pop-up menus provide additional information you may need like pre-installed points of interest: gas stations, restaurants and Honda dealers.
The 06 Wing comes with new heated handgrips, a heated seat and a heated foot area. Unfortunately, I didnt have a chance to test these items as it wasnt a cold enough day. However, I can tell you the heated handgrips come with five different settings; same with the heated seats/backrest yes the backrest is heated. The front and back seat are controlled independently. Thats good. Im a big fan of heated seats in a car. I always have mine on high in the winter when my significant other has his on low. The foot warming system is nothing fancy. Its just a vent that channels engine heat over the riders feet controlled by a fairing mounted lever.
The last cool feature on the top-of-the-line Gold Wing is the new airbag, an industry first. I didnt test this feature either; Ill take Hondas word that the air bag is in there and it does what they say it does. Heres what Honda says it does: “Data from Japan, the U.S. and Europe all indicate that frontal collisions account for more than half of all collisions. It also has been confirmed that many injuries result from the riders impact with vehicles or the road surface. In view of these facts, Honda engineers sought to reduce the incidence and severity of injuries by absorbing the energy of an impact and reducing the riders forward velocity. To achieve this objective, Honda decided to develop a motorcycle airbag. In the event of a frontal collision, the airbag is designed to inflate and absorb some of the riders kinetic energy. As a result, the force of impact between the rider and the vehicle or the road may be reduced, mitigating injuries.”
Sorry, no passenger airbag, but of course, what good would it do. The 2006 Gold Wing price ranges from $18,999 for the base model to $22,799 for all the bells and whistles stated above, plus ABS brakes.
Another Viewpoint: 2006 Gold Wing Passenger Seat Review
By Teri Conrad
These days most of my riding is done as a rider, not as a passenger mostly due to me learning how to ride my own motorcycle. While I enjoyed being a passenger prior to being a rider, I seem to get more satisfaction in the drivers seat until recently, that is! I had the pleasure of riding on the back seat of the new 2006 Honda Gold Wing. In addition to it being a beautiful motorcycle with amenities abound, it is probably the most comfortable ride I have ever experienced as a passenger. Immediately, I felt comfortable in the plush passenger seat, which provided a nice backrest and side support (something you cant sink into as the driver). Equally impressive was the premium audio system boasting 80-watts per channel of crisp tunes to cruise to.
But, one of the biggest issues I have as both a rider and passenger is the issue of storage. Being a woman sometimes means lugging a lot of extra stuff, so I was especially thrilled by the massive amount of storage space afforded by the Gold Wing. Not only can you fit enough clothing for a weekend getaway and more into the convenient 60-liter trunk, but once youve reached your destination and unloaded your bags, there is enough room to store two full-face helmets inside. Additionally, the 40-plus liters of storage available in the hard saddlebags make taking camera equipment or other goodies extremely easy!
The sleek design, excellent sound system, practical storage, and numerous other features make this a motorcycle that can be enjoyed by both the rider and the passenger, especially nice for couples who enjoy touring.