Lately, I have been looking at another brand of motorcycle because, to be honest, Honda has put out a Goldwing for 2018 that caught my attention. OMG! Am I a Harley Davidson traitor now? Have to think about that for a while…. In the meantime, taking a closer look at the 2018 Honda Goldwing is quite interesting…and in my humble opinion, it is an extraordinarily beautiful bike.
2018 GL1800 Goldwing
At first glance, this was a motorcycle that I would consider purchasing. Yes, even giving up my Street Glide. This bike moves me; not sure why but it does. Maybe because it has some great lines, nice flow from on high in the front at the handlebars angling down beautifully towards the rear, giving it a streamlined appearance as if it's ready to glide down the road. Pair the styling with the technological innovations that put even the top-of-the-line Harley CVOs to shame, and you have a winner. 1833cc horizontally opposed six-cylinder engine, liquid-cooled, and…..here it comes….. for the first time ever, they are available with a seven-speed automatic dual-clutch transmission (DCT).
Harley's Meager Upgrades
So for Harley to even begin to come close to Honda’s technology, you have to buy a CVO at about 40K, while you can get the Honda Goldwing, as shown above, for 25K. Huh, what's Harley’s problem? I have to give it to Honda; they keep cranking out the technology while Harley keeps chugging along dangling carrots to its crowd with little changes such as an extra four cubic inches to engine size and single-cam while still clinging on to an air and oil cooling system.
Salesmen spew praises about the changes to the Harley with the Milwaukee 8, but in reality, the engine just doesn’t put out all that Harley touts. I’ve ridden the Milwaukee 8’s and was unimpressed with all the hype. Harley sellout enthusiasts will continue their yearly rush to purchase the new overpriced bikes because they might have enlarged the fork diameter by a few millimeters for that year….
Yes, I am Harley bashing. Don’t get me wrong; I love my Street Glide Special. Harley’s have character that other brands of bikes simply do not have and probably never will, except Indians, in my opinion, have a personality that sets them apart from other bikes. I’ve ridden the Indians, and though I would not purchase one, the Chieftain, in particular, moved me positively.
What I like About The GL1800
Anyway, Margaret and I stopped by a Honda dealership last Saturday because after reading about the 2018 Goldwing I wanted to get a better look at the bike in person. It was just as beautiful in real life as in the picture. Great lines, sporty while keeping a touring look. Then I sat on it. As I lifted it off the jiffy stand I was amazed at how lightweight it was. The salesman said it came in around 785 pounds. I imagine it was intentionally designed to lift easily because there was just no weight to it. It felt good in stock condition. The seat fit my butt well.
The handlebars were a little low for me but the reach was perfect. The windshield seemed a bit low but you don’t know how it would perform until you get it on the road. Harley Street Glides and Road Glides stock windshields are too low for me as well.
What I don't Like About The GL1800
There were a few things I did not like about the 2018 Goldwing though. These were points that would keep me from purchasing the bike. First is the way the saddlebags open. They open from the side. This really limits the organizational capabilities and storage space. Instead of a top-load that you can fill up, you have to kind of hold stuff in place while you quickly shut the door before it all plops out of the side. Completely impractical when you need that space for road trips. And this is a touring bike that is supposed to accommodate needs like that.
There is a bag you can purchase, for the saddlebag, that will cause even more loss of space. Then you have to wonder, how many bags would I need to put in bags to put into the saddlebag? It’s just ridiculous. You can add a trunk but that still leaves the saddlebags pretty much worthless.
The next thing I didn’t like was the handlebars. The reach was perfect for me but they were too low. Stock Harley’s bars are too low as well. The problem with the Goldwing is the salesman said he didn’t know of any Honda handlebars or aftermarket handlebars being manufactured to be able to raise them up. They are not your typical 1″ – 1.5″ round bars like most people are used to. These are more of a flat metal design. Even if there were handlebars being made for them you still run into the problems of hydraulic clutch lines needing extended, brake lines, and all the electronics on the handlebar controls. I’m not even sure you can get clutch extensions, brake extensions, wiring extensions, and what would changing them do to your warranty?
Honda Messed Up On The Floorboards & Pegs
Lastly, the rider is given little parrot footpegs to perch on while the passenger is given floorboards for their feet. HUH?! Doesn’t that seem, backward? All that technology and they can’t design them with floorboards? On a touring bike? Kind of cheap if you ask me. It was mentioned you could purchase aftermarket floorboards for them though.
The Honda GL1800 Is Still Vanilla Amongst Its Peers
So with all the beauty, the bike has to offer, it is nearly completely impossible to customize it both ergonomically, and for personal character. The Honda accessory page only lists about 12 items for the 2018 Goldwing. Taller windshields, backrests, chrome caliper covers, chrome side stand, and a Goldwing saddle bag emblem are about the limit to customization options for this bike from the manufacturer. This leaves you stuck pulling your Goldwing up to a long line of Goldwings that only look different and stand out because of paint color. Good thing they have FOBs so you can find your bike among the clones. But in its defense, it wasn’t designed to be changed. It was designed to ride as is off the showroom floor until the day you sell it, trade it, or it dies.
For me, the new Goldwings are still an amazing bike that could begin to appeal to a younger generation of motorcyclists and possibly break out of their stereotype as a retirement bike. As for Harley’s, they will keep selling brand history, nostalgia, and name, but I don’t believe they will ever enter the arena of competing technologically with other motorcycles. Harley’s remain the king of character and customization options.