My buddy and I got to demo ride the new Wing at a dealer near Charlotte yesterday. We did 2 rides of about 20 minutes each on a Tour with 6-speed and a Tour with DCT (7 speed). He is probably close to pulling the trigger and I was just very intrigued by what Honda has done with he Wing after seeing it in person at the IMS show in Cleveland last month.
Let me begin by saying this is arguably the BEST iteration of the Wing to date! Honda really seemed to do their homework and it is one nicely put together motorcycle. The color options are all really attractive and the fit and finish and attention to detail is very well done. I love the way the side cases open and the lids seem very securely mounted. In addition the attention to the “little details” is very nice. But like the sales manager noted “it only took Honda 11 years to get it right” !
Riding the new Wing it is well …. very “Wing Like” which is smooth and powerful but not crazy fast but more sophisticated fast and very well mannered. We demo rode both the 6-speed manual as well as the DCT for about 20 minutes each. Not a very long ride but enough to get a feel for the bike. While the new Wing was comfortable at 6’3” tall with a 34” inseam I could not tell how comfortable it might be after 3 hours on it. But on the demo ride it was very comfortable. I did find on the 6-speed manual that my left boot toe kept bumping into the back of the cylinder. I assume that could be resolved by an adjustment but if not that would be very annoying. In addition I did feel a slight bit of heat on both my ankles since you ankles are right behind the cylinders that seems reasonable but I will note that my buddy did not notice that heat. I also notice a slight whine from the 6-speed manual that I did not notice on the DCT bike.
While I love shifting and using a manual transmission I have to say I was VERY impressed with the DCT (7 speed) and how buttery smooth it works. The BMW Shift Assist Pro (SAP) is very smooth on upshifts but have to say I think the Wing was even smoother. And in sport mode using the DCT the power was really impressive. If I were buying a Wing I am not sure if I would get the 6-speed or the DCT and I never thought I would say that about an “automatic transmission” as it was THAT good. I did not like that even in manual mode it downshifts for you. I would like manual to be well “manual”. The motor sounded very Wing like with maybe a slight bit or rumble added. I noticed that more on the DCT model than the 6-speed and liked the sound a lot. Not as nice as the BMW K1600 sounds but nonetheless a nice Wing sound.
The “parking motor system” both front and reverse seemed to work well and I did notice the “front assist” is only available not eh DCT. Not a big deal for me but some may want that feature. Also, the bikes had Hill Start Assist which worked fine but I did not like that it only says engaged for 5 or 10 seconds. On the BMW it stays on until you release it or pull away.
The new front suspension worked very well and it was neat to watch the top of the shocks (if they are shocks?) move up and down as the bike floated over bumps. The infotainment system seemed pretty well integrated but I did not really play with it too much. I will say that like most any other new high tech vehicle today the owner will need to study the manual as there are a LOT of tech bits to learn. Heck there are 2 or 3 different ways to just start the bike.
At 6’3” tall I thought the standard height windshield on the Tour model did a good job and provided a nice calm riding capsule. Some might find the windshield a bit narrow and lacking the arm and shoulder coverage but for me I really liked it.
All that being said would I buy one? Probably not. For me there is just not enough there to justify a $30K purchase. It is still a 800+ pound motorcycle and still a Gold Wing. My wife and I are never going to be a “touring couple” spending weeks on our motorcycle and if I were I would opt for a late model BMW K1600 as there are a ton of them on the market with very low miles for 1/3 the cost of the new Wing. And nearly ALL of the very nice enhancements on the Wing have been on the BMW bikes for a few years now i.e. electric windshield, DCT (BMW has the SAP), keyless ride, central locking, improved from suspension, etc. The Apple Car Play was the only feature I thought was unique to the Wing and since I believe we already have enough distractions that is not an issue for me. In addition the K1600 has more luggage room which if touring 2-up really is a big deal and something I think Honda may hear from the owners.
That being said if you are a Wing owner looking to upgrade and have been waiting for the new Wing you will LOVE this bike! It seems to have everything Wing owner have been waiting for. I was happy to get the opportunity to demo ride it now as I suspect the lines at Americade will be miles long !!
Oh and on pricing … it seems that a lot of the options are “dealer installed” and we learned from the dealer that while you can go on-line and configure / build your Wing and get an estimated cost, since the options you may have selected are “dealer installed” they will need to add labor for that installation of any of the accessories which could add quite a bit to the bottom line. The also noted that while there was not much ability to negotiate price at this time they were offering a “good deal” on the extended warranty and the service plans. I would probably look hard at the extended (5 year) warranty giving you a total of 8 years which is what I got on my 2016 RT, not sure I would go for the service plan. But that is just me.
For me as a solo touring rider and with my wife as an occasional rider the RT is much better suited weighing more than 150 pounds less than the Wing and providing all the same features. But for the Wing owners looking to upgrade to the next generation this new one is really slick.
I HOPE that Honda brings a ton of these new Wings to Americade to demo as the lines surely will be long and like in the old days this will be a "get in line at 6 AM to ride the model you want at the time you want"