Παρασκευή, 30 Οκτωβρίου 2020

GL1800 2017 vs GL1800 2018-19-20

2017 vs. 2018 It is easy to forget that the Honda Gold Wing was last updated at the turn of the millennium (as a 2001 model year machine), but you are jarringly reminded of this fact the second you sit in the 2018 Honda Gold Wing cockpit. Roughly 20 buttons are missing from the previous model, a vivid TFT display has been installed, the mass between your legs is roughly 90 lbs lighter, and the list of changes goes on and on. However, once you get moving on the road, the lineage between the two bikes is readily apparent. This is still very much a Gold Wing, for better or worse. Honda was kind enough to provide us a chance to ride the 2017 edition bike back-to-back with the 2018, and the results are what you would expect – after all, an 800 lbs motorcycle isn’t that much different than a 900 lbs motorcycle. The engines are remarkably similar in characteristic, smooth without vibration and linear in power delivery. The 2018 motor is an all-new design, and it packs plenty of power (torque, actually), while just sipping gasoline. This has allowed Honda to reduce the fuel tank size by a gallon, while keeping range the same. Of course, what everyone wants to talk about is the chassis with its (don’t call it a Hossack) “double wishbone” front suspension setup. The design is both the best and worst part of the new Gold Wing. It helps create a more compact chassis, which helps in the overall weight reduction of the machine. And while it handles the bumpy and mangled roads quite well, the feedback to the rider is equally muted. A parallelogram design living in a telescopic fork’s world, experienced motorcyclists are going to miss the feedback that they have grown accustomed to with traditional front-end designs on motorcycles. When talking to colleagues, we had a hard time agreeing on the exact issue, while some of us describe as understeer – slow and vague when tipping into a turn – others would complain about in issues once the bike was leaned over. It’s both, and it’s neither. The reality is that the front-end of the Honda Gold Wing is really good at muting some of the noise and chatter that comes from the road, especially when it is bumpy terrain. Dive during braking has almost been removed (Honda engineered a little dive into the system, just so we wouldn’t completely freak out), which is an interesting balancing act considering how potent the new dual-six piston radial caliper are in their function. But, these gains have come at the cost of less feedback, which is confusing even to the most veteran of riders. The more miles you ride though, the more that the language of the new Honda Gold Wing begins to make sense. Perhaps even fluency is attainable. It takes a while to gain trust in the 2018 bike’s cornering ability though, but the more we demanded of the bike in tight corners, the more it responded in kind. As one colleague told me, the front-end is fine for a touring bike…he just didn’t want to see it one on a superbike anytime soon. I would tend to agree. Other quick differences to point out is that the 2018 seat look visually bigger, and is a bit more stiff, though we preferred the previous generation’s contour and shape, which felt more comfortable. The riding position continues to be very upright and comfortable, though the 2018 bike is far smoother in terms of vibrations, especially at higher engine rotations. Six generations deep on the Gold Wing design brief, and for the most part our Honda Gold Wing Tour showed the refinements of its age. DCT or Manual? The 2018 Honda Gold Wing debuts the third-generation of Honda’s dual-clutch transmission (DCT), which has a number of improvements, both in the mechanics of how it works, and in how the software runs it. More interestingly though is the fact that the DCT-equipped editions of the Honda Gold Wing sport a seventh gear, which drastically overdrives the 1,833cc six-cylinder engine. Coupled to a slipper/assist clutch, and the total package is designed to be very smooth, which is something you want on a touring bike, especially when there is a passenger on the back. Here is the only issue though: it is really not that smooth…at least not during deceleration, and this is where I really prefer the manual gearbox. For well-traveled riders, the ability to rev-match gear changes and feather the clutch vastly outpaces what the DCT box can do, which likes to drag the gears as you slowdown for something like at a stop light. This not only creates its own kind of momentum lurch, but it is also unnerving, especial when you are laden with another rider and luggage, and as you approach nearly 1,000 lbs of mass. Similarly during low-speed maneuvers, the inability to modulate the power with the clutch becomes an issue with the instant torque that the Gold Wing throttle provides, which makes low-speed parking lot movements a bit hairy, especially during the honeymoon period of learning the machine.

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