2012 Honda Goldwing Sport Tourer

Honda brought the previous version of the Gold Wing to test against the 2012 model. They're both good but the new bike feels better in a number of key areas. For our press introduction of the new GL1800, Honda brought out the previous Gold Wing to tackle Southern California's coastal roads side-by-side with the updated 2012 version. After reading the updates above one could easily assume that the machine's mechanical abilities would remain widely the same, but the revamped fork and new tires make a more significant difference than the limited amount of changes would suggest. The bike steers quicker and turns in substantially easier, holding its line and not standing up mid-corner, something the previous model has a tendency to do when pushed close to its limits.

The redesigned lower fairing significantly reduces the amount of wind on the rider's legs and feet as Honda claims, especially as speeds increase. Wind protection is very good and the windscreen is manually adjustable. With six different settings and a four inch range of adjustability the Wing should accommodate taller riders pretty well. We just don't quite understand why it’s not an electronically adjustable feature like so many other manufacturers offer. This is Honda's premier touring machine so it seems like they would want to put their best foot forward and have all their bases 2012 Honda Goldwing preview.

Since changing to the 1832cc engine in 2001 the Honda has been propelled by a torque-laden and very easy to use powerplant. But where the new BMW K1600 GTL, a bike many will consider direct competition to the GL1800, gets advancements like traction control and Bluetooth connectivity, the new 2012 Honda Goldwing can only boast an easier to-read Navi screen and MP3 capabilities, something several BMWs have featured for a few years now. The Navi screen is far better than the previous model and the ability to connect and control an iPod via the handlebar switches is a nice feature, as is the updated surround-sound speaker system, which does a great job keeping the rider entertained on long rides. But on a touring machine with a price tag well over 20K, we would have liked Bluetooth capabilities.

We're a fan of the updated styling, especially the sleeker-looking rear bags that hold some seven litres more than the previous model, as well as the updated taillights and more stylish lines across the side of the motorcycle. This modernises the 2012 Gold Wing, if only slightly, enough to justify the $300 price increase on the base model. But with some of the competition releasing all-new models and Honda only giving the Wing a host of small changes, one wonders if the GL1800 is still a good value at its rather high retail prices? The top-of-the-line model roughly ticks the 30-grand mark once tax and title fees are added.

And while the 2012 Honda Goldwing doesn't have all that much in the way of major changes, the easy counter-argument is that not much change was needed in the first place. When the GL1800 was released a decade ago it was revolutionary, combining a comfortable, long-distance machine with handling and acceleration attributes typically more akin to a sportbike than a traditional tourer. This combination changed the touring genre virtually overnight and as such has equated to a great number of Gold Wings being sold these past 11 years.

What the 2012 Goldwing accomplishes is further refining this concept with improved handling and higher-tech electronics, all for a very small price increase. So if you have been in the market for a 'Wing, you will definitely want to wait for the 2012 to come out later this month. But the question still remains: has the competition caught up or even surpassed the almighty Gold Wing in the past decade? Sounds like a 2012 mega-tourer shootout is just what the doctor ordered.


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