What We Love About the New 2018 Honda Gold Wing Touring Motorcycle

Smaller, lighter, and packed with features women appreciate

By Tricia Szulewski, Associate Editor

The motorcycle that literally created the touring category while making it exciting to travel long distances on two wheels gets its first major redesign after 17 years. The Honda Gold Wing GL1800 gets a complete makeover and, while the name is the same, it is essentially a new motorcycle from the ground up. Load it with gear and a passenger and it handles better than ever. Even in its previous iteration, the Wing is so easy to ride that it lays claim to being one of the top 5 touring motorcycles women are riding now.

This brand new reincarnation of the Honda Gold Wing gets more than 90 new Honda parts creating a motorcycle that is more compact, lighter, and packed with upgrades and new technology. All this brings the big tourer to a whole new level of comfort, rideability, safety, and two-wheeled excitement that both experienced and new Gold Wing riders will appreciate.

2018 honda gold wing touring motorcycle review
I tested all the 2018 Gold Wing models on a two-day several-hundred-mile press introduction in Austin, Texas. Here I’m riding the base model Gold Wing wearing Olympia Moto Sports Ranger jacket and pants.

There are five trim levels available for the 2018 Gold Wing: Gold Wing, Gold Wing DCT, Gold Wing Tour, Gold Wing Tour DCT, and Gold Wing Tour DCT Airbag. Prices range from $23,500 for the base model to $31,500 for the top-of-the-line Airbag model.

New Features Women Will Love

Here’s our list of the new features on the 2018 Gold Wing we are especially excited about for women riders. Every item listed makes the big tourer more user-friendly and easier to handle.

  • Lighter with a 90-pound weight loss
  • More compact profile
  • Center of gravity is lower and more centered
  • Hill Start Assist feature makes it easier to start on a hill
  • Walking Mode helps riders creep forward and backward in tricky parking lot scenarios. Our video later on in the story shows this cool feature in action.
  • DCT option allows for automatic shifting
  • Assist slipper clutch on manual shift models reduces clutch lever effort by 20 percent
  • Seat position brings riders 36mm closer to the bars
  • Electrically-adjustable windshield
what we love about the new 2018 honda gold wing touring motorcycle base model
The base model Gold Wing starts at $23,500. It comes with a 6 speed manual transmission, short windshield, and has no rear top case. It’s the lightest model, weighing in at 787 pounds.

The Gold Wing DCT is almost identical to the base Gold Wing, except that it has Honda’s 7-speed Dual Clutch Transmission (DCT), which adds 13 pounds and $1,200.

“DCT” stands for Dual Clutch Transmission. When this mode is engaged, it works like an automatic transmission, meaning there’s no clutch lever or shifter peg. The transmission shifts itself quickly and smoothly. This is Honda’s third generation DCT, the first 7-speed DCT, and certainly the most advanced. Passengers will appreciate this transmission because it shifts so smoothly they’ll never bump helmets with the rider again.

what we love about the new 2018 honda gold wing touring motorcycle DCT lever
You can switch the riding mode to manual and shift gears if you want on DCT models, but there’s no clutch lever; just press a button with your left thumb to downshift (located below the turn signal button). A button on the opposite side of the control switch, operated with your left forefinger, is pressed to shift up.
what we love about the new 2018 honda gold wing touring motorcycle profile
The Gold Wing Tour is a 6-speed manual, like the base model, but it has a taller windshield, a rear top case with two speakers, and many more features like a heated seat, electric preload and damping adjustment, reverse drive, and center stand. This model starts at $26,700.
what we love about the new 2018 honda gold wing touring motorcycle tricia riding
The Gold Wing Tour DCT is just like the Gold Wing Tour but comes with the DCT transmission for $1,000 more. This model starts at $27,700. Yes, it is more expensive than many cars, but it’s loaded with the latest technology and comfort features.
what we love about the new 2018 honda gold wing touring motorcycle airbag
The top of the line Gold Wing Tour DCT Airbag gets all the bells and whistles of the Tour DCT model, plus an airbag that slows the rider’s momentum forward in a frontal collision. This model costs $31,500.

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New Technology

All the new Gold Wings are powered by a completely redesigned 1,833cc horizontally opposed flat six cylinder engine that’s lighter, stronger, and sits further back in the frame. The motorcycle is also 20 percent more fuel efficient than the previous model, allowing engineers to reduce the size of the fuel tank from 6.6 to 5.5 gallons without affecting fuel consumption range.

An all-new lighter weight chassis features a double-wishbone front suspension. This means it’s easier to steer the new Gold Wing, and road bumps are not transmitted through the bike to the rider as much as the previous Wing. This “shock” factor has been reduced by 30 percent. What does this mean? I like to say that you can balance a cup of coffee on the handlebar while you’re riding—that’s how smooth it is!

what we love about the new 2018 honda gold wing touring motorcycle chassis
This photo compares the 2018 Gold Wing chassis (right) with the previous version (left). The new chassis is lighter, stronger, has fewer welds, and the double wishbone suspension has no fork seals to change—something many Gold Wing riders had complained about.
what we love about the new 2018 honda gold wing touring motorcycle seat height
The smaller fuel tank, more compact engine, and new chassis all work together to give the new Wing a much-improved mass centralized center of gravity. This means easier handling, from making slow maneuvers to all-around agility. The seat height for all the new Gold Wing models is 29.3 inches, fine for flat-footing my 5-foot-7-inches. Smaller riders can scoot up to the slimmer part of the saddle to place their feet on the ground more easily.
what we love about the new 2018 honda gold wing touring motorcycle two up
Back seat riders will still find plenty of room and comfort on the rear saddle. The passengers on our press ride, however, were sorry to see two things go: the large passenger grab rails and the storage compartments in the top trunk.

New electronic technology brings the 2018 Wing into the modern era with throttle-by-wire and four riding modes (Tour, Sport, Econ, Rain) that alter the engine response for specific riding conditions. On Gold Wing Tour models each mode has distinct settings that change the throttle input, torque-control settings, DCT shift maps, and suspension damping.

Tour mode is the default and offers a comfortable ride with standard throttle response. The first half of my test ride included wet roads, so changing into Rain mode offered a less touchy throttle response and softer upshifts and suspension settings designed to provide the best traction for slick conditions.

Hill Start Assist is a fantastic feature new to the Gold Wing this year. I also have it on my manual-shift Jeep Wrangler and really appreciate its benefits. On the Gold Wing, when the rider releases the brakes on a slope the ABS modulator generates hydraulic pressure on the rear brake caliper. This prevents the bike from rolling backward if the rider uses the throttle within three seconds.

Another fantastic new feature is what Honda calls Walking Mode. We’ve prepared a short video demonstrating how it works to easily move the motorcycle around at a slow rate of speed. This comes in really handy in hilly or gravel parking lots or in the garage.

what we love about the new 2018 honda gold wing touring motorcycle electric windshield
An electronic windshield is adjusted with a handlebar controller so you can get the perfect air flow.
what we love about the new 2018 honda gold wing touring motorcycle sidebag open
The top trunk and sidebags open hydraulically with dampers that allow the lids to open slowly.
what we love about the new 2018 honda gold wing touring motorcycle top trunk
The Tour’s top trunk looks noticeably smaller than its predecessor, but I was able to fit my Arai Signet-X helmet inside. Honda reps say the trunk can fit two helmets depending on the style.
what we love about the new 2018 honda gold wing touring motorcycle riding rear
The new Gold Wing gets LED lighting all around, but I do miss those extra rear lights up high on the top trunk on the Tour models. You can add a trunk to the base model, but Honda reps tell us it’s not an easy DIY install.
what we love about the new 2018 honda gold wing touring motorcycle LED front
LED is the best lighting available today. It draws the least amount of voltage while providing bright white light for better visibility.
what we love about the new 2018 honda gold wing touring motorcycle dash
The dash features a 7-inch TFT liquid crystal display with a plethora of information. An analog tachometer and speedometer surround it so they are always in easy view, although it would be even better if the 60 mph mark was positioned high in the middle of that display so you don’t have to move your eyes so far to the left to see it.
What_Wwhat we love about the new 2018 honda gold wing touring motorcycle TPMSe_Love_About_New_2018_Honda_Gold_Wing_Touring_Motorcycle_TPMS
Finally, tire pressures are displayed on the screen instead of having to crawl around on the ground to get to the valve stem to check them. Once the bike is moving and the tires are warmed, the actual reading comes up here.
what we love about the new 2018 honda gold wing touring motorcycle phone pocket
On non-airbag models, there’s a storage compartment in front of the rider’s seat where you can plug in your smartphone. The new Gold Wing is set up with Apple Carplay, the first of any motorcycle.

Testing all the new infotainment features required connecting my Sena 20S Bluetooth headset with the motorcycle. The pairing process is a little complicated, but once it’s set up it takes about a day to play with all the settings and buttons to feel comfortable. 

With my helmet mounted headset connected I was able to use the Apple CarPlay to listen to my music or an app like Pandora, receive and send verbal text messages, make phone calls, use the iPhone’s map app, and more. But, then again, I’d always done that with my Sena 20S anyway. But paired to the bike, I’m able to visually see a graphic and list of what is playing or being sent to the headset on the screen. So there are advantages to the system.

what we love about the new 2018 honda gold wing touring motorcycle Apple car play
It’s nice having a visual to see when doing things on the fly such as making a phone call or sending a text message.
what we love about the new 2018 honda gold wing touring motorcycle GPS
If you don’t have a Bluetooth headset or a smartphone, you can still listen to the radio and use the bike’s GPS.

While the Honda Gold Wing has been a longtime favorite motorcycle of mine, this new version has me especially jazzed. I can live with losing some cargo space because everything else is so vastly improved. The slimmer design makes it easier to maneuver around in the garage, and riding the heck out of it is just so much fun. And with all the new creature comforts, we are WRN certain that more women will love the 2018 Gold Wing.

Specs At A Glance: 2018 Gold Wing; Gold Wing DCT
Engine Size: 1833cc
Seat Height: 29.3 inches
Weight: 787 pounds; 800 pounds (DCT)
Fuel Capacity: 5.5 gallons
Colors: Candy Ardent Red, Matte Majestic Silver, Pearl Stallion Brown
Price: starts at $23,500; $24,700

Specs At A Glance: 2018 Gold Wing Tour; Gold Wing Tour DCT; Gold Wing Tour DCT Airbag
Engine Size: 1833cc
Seat Height: 29.3 inches
Weight: 833 pounds (Tour & Tour DCT); 842 pounds (Tour DCT Airbag)
Fuel Capacity: 5.5 gallons
Colors: Candy Ardent Red, Pearl White, Pearl Hawkseye Blue
Price: starts at $26,700 (Tour); $27,700 (Tour DCT); $31,500 (Airbag)

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9 thoughts on What We Love About the New 2018 Honda Gold Wing Touring Motorcycle

  1. I’m currently riding a Honda CTX1300 and would love to move up to the Gold Wing, but I struggle with the 792 pounds on the CTX. I’m 5 feet 7 inches tall so I flat foot the CTX just fine; however the weight makes it terrible to move around in a parking lot and it just “feels” heavy all the time.

    1. The trick to moving a big heavy bike around in parking lots is to keep it as straight up as possible. Use the bike’s engine to do the work, in other words, don’t bother trying to push the bike around. You might really like the new “Walking Mode” on the Gold Wing, which allows you to walk the bike forward and backward without having to use the clutch and throttle at all.Good luck!

  2. I love my 2019 Gold Wing 2109 tour w/trunk removal kit—the trunk is ugly. I was not planning to buy a Wing. I have a Kawasaki Vulcan 650 S and love it—it is a fast and fun ride. But after doing a 1,600-mile trip this summer, I decided I needed something more comfortable. I thought the Gold Wing was “too big” for me but the low center of gravity makes it easy to manage and the ride … well, it is incredible and fun (and there is reverse! … and heated grips! … and heated seat! … and decent wind protection!). More women should give it a try, I think they would be pleasantly surprised.

  3. Great article! I love my Gold Wing that I bought new in 2002. Looks like it might be time to upgrade.

  4. I’m glad to see that Honda realizes how many women love its Gold Wings! I know of many women who’d love to ride but are intimidated by the weight and height.My first Gold Wing was a 2001. I now ride a 2005 Gold Wing 1800.Please keep women in your designs for this fabulous machine!

  5. Beautiful motorcycle! It sounds like Honda did well with the new Gold Wing. Initially I was skeptical, but now believe they are headed in the right direction. I’m happy with my 2008 model, but sure would like to do another cross country on one of these new ones! Great job Honda!

  6. I just bought a new white Gold Wing Tour DCT. I love this bike!

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