The world’s premier road tourer – the Honda Gold Wing – has been tweaked for 2021 with improved passenger comforts, increased luggage capacity and platform-wide updates including changes to seating, infotainment and trim styling.
Most of my Gold Wing experiences have been on the fifth generation GL1800s that spanned the 2001-2017 eras. There were occasional upgrades but every year I’d joke that I just needed to test the latest colour. And we’d trek to the Maritimes or Hatteras or down the Blue Ridge to the Dragon’s Tail, around the Great Lakes or to whatever long haul destination struck our fancy, always relying on the constants of bulletproof reliability, touring accommodation and smoothly effortless power.
After years of speculation, Honda did eventually unveil a new 2018 Honda Gold Wing model lineup that was lighter, tighter and featured a renewed sporty demeanour, courtesy of an impressive 40 kg weight trim.
Some of the 2018 features at the time included:
• An updated design – edgier, less rounded, lower and swept back with 11.8 per cent improved aerodynamics, electric windscreen and LED lighting
• New, more compact, 6.2 kg lighter 1,833 cc DOHC engine
• New six-speed manual or seven-speed DCT with Walking Mode forward/reverse
• New radially-mounted six-piston dual front brake calipers with bigger 320 mm rotors
• New double-wishbone front-suspension & Pro-link rear
• Electronically-controlled suspension
• Throttle-by-wire with multiple riding modes
• Honda Selectable Torque Control (HSTC) and Hill Start Assist
• Smart Key and Apple CarPlay via seven-inch multi-info TFT display screen
Of course, not all was perfect in Honda paradise. Some Wingers whined about the weight trim’s collateral damage, like the four litre reduction in fuel tank size (21 litres). But an up to 20 per cent improvement in fuel economy made the point moot by enabling the same 400 km range potential.
Also, compared to the previous version that riding buddies often referred to as “the Hondapotamous”, the new leaner and slightly meaner Gold Wing Tour tightened luggage space by more than 20 per cent, with the smaller sidecases reduced to 30 litres each (-10 litres) and the top box down to 50 litres (-15 litres).
Responding to the customer blowback, the 2021 Honda Gold Wing restores some of that luggage capacity and also finds other features to add or upgrade. Recent sixth-gen Gold Wing tweaks had already included navigation software updates, reshaped passenger grab handles, new blacked-out components, updated suspension settings, a saddlebag-mounted USB charger and standard fog lights for all Tour models.
Now, the new 2021 model changes include:
• An enlarged top trunk on Gold Wing Tour, 48 mm wider, 46 mm taller and 34 mm longer, adding 10 litres of storage (60 litres vs. 50 litres), so the trunk can fit two XXL helmets or added luggage
• Passenger backrest is 30 mm taller with five mm thicker foam and a lean angle shifted from 17º to 24.5º for a more relaxed riding position
• Resurfaced seat on Gold Wing Tour and Gold Wing features premium suede-like cover
• Gold Wing seat includes coloured piping for added colour contrasts
• Android Auto capability joins Apple CarPlay integration
• New 55 watt speakers replace 25 watt speakers for richer midrange sound (Gold Wing Tour includes two speakers at the front fairing and two at the trunk, while Gold Wing features two speakers at the front)
• Automatic volume-adjustment level optimized
• Navigation software updated to include speed-limit information and four map colour options
• XM radio antenna now standard
For 2021, models include the Gold Wing ($27,899) and Gold Wing DCT ($29,099) bagger models, both available in Mat Ballistic Black Metallic, the Gold Wing Tour ($32,199) and Gold Wing Tour DCT ($33,399) available in Gunmetal/Mat Black and, finally, the Gold Wing Tour DCT Airbag version ($35,999) coming in Candy Ardent Red/Black two-tone.