A revamped suspension and updated features make for an even better Gold Wing

Honda greets the new decade with a buffed-up, base-model Gold Wing range that’s best described as a BNG-Plus treatment with a few extra goodies thrown in. The sheet metal comes shot in a new, monochromatic finish with generous blackout treatment over the rest of the machine to take a deep dive into Honda’s dark side. Updated damping values tune up the suspension system along with improved electronics to complete the package. Of course, this is all accompanied by the performance and handling that has always held the Gold Wing in good stead and keep the line in an excellent competitive position within the U.S. market.

2020 Honda Gold Wing Design

  • Black-out styling
  • LED Lighting
  • Color TFT display
  • Infotainment system with Bluetooth connectivity
2020 Honda Gold Wing
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2020 Honda Gold Wing
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2020 Honda Gold Wing
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The base-model 2020 Gold Wing and Gold Wing DCT keeps to the boulevard-bruiser bagger look that it adopted a few years back. It has the same clean upper line due to the lack of a topcase. A vented front fender leads the way beneath the full fixed fairing. The fairing punches a hole in the weather for the rider with a well-vented, chopped-down windscreen that veers into custom country to separate the baggers from their full-dress siblings higher up the range.

The blackout treatment likewise starts out early in the black rims that sport a tasteful red pinstripe to break up the monotony and tie in with the scarlet touches on the valve covers, cockpit, saddle, and panniers. A wide, V-shaped detail up front gives the headlights an angry look with brow-like DRL light bars above them and an LED border to finish off the white lights up front. I love it when the turn signals are integrated with the mirrors. It makes them more visible to the world, hence safer, and Honda doesn’t disappoint.

In profile, the front fairing opens up to a sportbike-like scoop that forces cooling air through the radiator and flushes waste heat out from under the cowling and away from you in the saddle. Behind the forward structures, a pair of round analog gauges for speed and tach are backed up by a color TFT screen. The TFT display acts as an interface for all of the higher electronic functions and the infotainment system, and a pair of LCD screens catch whatever is left.

A gang of switches atop the 5.55-gallon fuel tank relocates many of the switches that would normally be found in the handlebar switch housings and this cleans up the hand-control area quite nicely. As for the infotainment system, it’s pretty much the gold standard with the ability to field phonecalls and messages under way while jamming to your favorite tunes or listening to a podcast. Bluetooth connectivity comes stock to unlock the Apple CarPlay feature that lets you tap into the Apple Maps and Apple Music feature along with real-time weather info.

The pilot’s saddle rides at 29.3 inches off the deck which may be a tad on the tall side for shorter riders, but a low center-of-gravity helps keep the Gold Wing manageable when you deploy your Fred Flintstones.

A broad pillion perch and generous J.C. handles join fold-up footboards for your passenger’s comfort to make for a cushy ride over short to mid-size trips, though it lacks the seriously long legs afforded by the top case and full passenger backrest on the Tour model.

This year, all Gold Wing models come with a USB port in the saddlebags to power/charge your mobile devices.

2020 Honda Gold Wing Chassis

  • Eager cornering
  • Stable tracking at speed
  • Improved handling
  • ABS
2020 Honda Gold Wing
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2020 Honda Gold Wing
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2020 Honda Gold Wing
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The Gold Wing enjoys a reputation as a 'very' agile machine for its size, and with good reason.

The Gold Wing corners like a much smaller/sportier ride even though the steering geometry is a bit of a mixed back with a short, 4.3-inch trail and relatively long, 30.5-degree rake angle. This combination makes for eager cornering and stable tracking at highway/interstate speeds.

A double-wishbone front end delivers 4.3 inches of travel and is arguable more stable than conventional hydraulic forks. Out back, a Pro-Link monoshock tames the motion of the Pro-Arm, single-side swingarm with 4.1 inches of travel to soak up the bumps, and over it all, newly tuned damping values improve handling and feel from the previous gen.

Asymmetrical cast wheels mount the hoops with a 130/70-18 up front opposite a 200/55-16 to round out the rolling chassis. The anchors mean serious business with dual, 320 mm discs and four-piston calipers to provide the bulk of the stopping power ahead of a large-for-the-location, 316 mm rear disc, all under the protection of a stock ABS feature.

Front Suspension/ Travel: Double Wishbone Type/ 4.3 inches
Rear Suspension/ Travel: Pro Arm® single-side swingarm with Pro-Link® single shock/ 4.1 inches
Rake: 30.5°
Trail: 4.3 inches (109 mm)
Front Brake: Hydraulic; dual 320 mm discs
Rear Brake: Hydraulic; single 316 mm disc
Front Tire: 130/70R-18
Rear Tire: 200/55-16

2020 Honda Gold Wing Drivetrain

  • 1,833 cc flat-six engine
  • 124.6 horsepower
  • 125 pound-feet of torque
  • Walking Mode/Reverse (DCT Model)
2020 Honda Gold Wing
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2020 Honda Gold Wing
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2020 Honda Gold Wing
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Power for the Gold Wing comes from a flat-six powerplant that carries three cylinders to each side of the crankcase with the heads and valve covers mounted outboard. It’s not the most common arrangement to be sure, but it does keep the center-of-gravity nice and low, and that’s important for a bike that weighs in at 787 pounds soaking wet.

This year, the engine itself weighs in 13-pounds lighter than the previous generation to help keep the overall weight relatively low. A square layout sees bore and stroke both mike out at 73 mm for an 1,833 cc total displacement and 10.5-to-1 compression ratio, so you can count on feeding it premium road champagne to prevent knock/ping/dieseling.

Under the valve cover, a Uni-cam valvetrain times the poppets to contribute to the low engine weight while it also simplifies the top end and lowers both the rotating and reciprocation mass in the valvetrain. Aluminum cylinder sleeves also contribute to the weight savings and deliver exceptional heat transfer to protect the bores.

Electronic fuel injection and a robust electronic monitoring system keep emissions low and fuel-efficiency at 42 mpg, but here we find a discrepancy; I don’t know if that mileage is overall, during normal operation or only when the “Eco-Mode” feature is engaged, but that’s what the factory gives us to work with.

Liquid-cooling draws off the waste heat and contributes to quiet operation by attenuating the mechanical threshing noises from inside the case. A slipper-type clutch provides some drag-torque protection to prevent rear-wheel hop and a concurrent loss of traction on hard engine-brake maneuvers, and the power heads to the rear wheel via a tough shaft-type final drive.

If you're old-school, you can get the base Gold Wing with a six-speed, manual-shift transmission, but if you want/need an automatic tranny you can opt for the seven-speed Dual-Clutch Transmission model.

The DCT runs with shifting gear clusters on each of two shafts, each with its own automatic clutch, to deliver twist-and-go operation that utterly eliminates the need for a clutch hand lever and shifter foot lever. Plus, the DCT model comes with a Walking Mode that lets you ooch both forward and reverse for easy parking-lot navigation. I hate to say, if the arthritis gets any worse in my left hand I may well be looking for a machine like the DCT version.

Independent tests show lower numbers at the rear tire, as usual, but at the shaft the factory claims 124.6 horsepower and 125 pound-feet of torque with a top speed around 140 mph. That’s an awful lot of get-up-and-go sports fans, even with its not-inconsiderable heft.

2020 Honda Gold Wing Pricing

2020 Honda Gold Wing
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2020 Honda Gold Wing
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2020 Honda Gold Wing
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The 2020 Gold Wing rolls in Matte Black Metallic for $23,800. As for the DCT, it fetches $25,000 if you want that fancy transmixxer.

Model ID: GL1800 (DCT: GL1800BD)
Warranty: Three Years Transferable, unlimited-mileage limited warranty; Up to 8 years extended coverage available with Honda Protection Plan
Color: Matte Black Metallic
Price: $23,800 (DCT: $25,000)

2020 Honda Gold Wing Competitors

2018 - 2019 Harley-Davidson Road Glide / Road Glide Special
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2020 Honda Gold Wing
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Honda’s Gold Wing line enjoys a well-deserved reputation with American riders, and the bike is clearly designed to compete in the U.S. market so I feel like it’s fair to got to the reigning king for my competitor. Let’s see how the GW compares to Harley-Davidson’s own dark-and-sinister model, the Road Glide Special.

Harley-Davidson Road Glide Special

2018 - 2019 Harley-Davidson Road Glide / Road Glide Special
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Harley’s Sharknose fairing is fixed to the frame, much like the Gold Wing, but it lacks any sort of lower protection for your legs. That’s great in warm weather, but in colder climes and rain, the H-D rider is going to have to go to the accessories catalog for the lower fairings to get the same level of protection.

In keeping with its dark boulevard bruiser mien, the Road Glide Special sports a chopped-and-smoked screen atop the front fairing to complete the stock rider’s protection. Blackout treatment is a constant across the board, and it leaves the H-D with very little bling, but that’s okay, ’cause chrome don’t get ya’ home, homie.

H-D meets Honda tit-for-tat in the infotainment system, so neither bike gains an edge in that particular department. H-D does gain a slight edge in fandanglery with its Reflex Linked Brakes that balance brake effort between front and rear for extra stability in emergency braking situations.

Non-adjustable front forks float both machines, but H-D uses Showa’s Dual Bending Valve forks that deliver a superior ride to standard stems as well as Honda’s yoke-style front end for a slight comfort advantage. The Road Glide Special rolls with the relatively new Milwaukee-Eight 114 powerplant that falls just a skosh shy of the Honda’s 125 pounds o’ grunt with 123 foot-pounds of torque on tap. Unfortunately for H-D, the engine has slightly less power and more work to do with an 853-pound curb weight against Honda’s 787-pound heft, and combined, that’s going to be felt in the ol’ heinie dyno.

The good news is, that Mil-8 has got something to give in any gear at almost any speed, so it’s not like the Harley is sucking hind tit or anything. I mean, it’s more or less a tour bike guys, how much power do you really need?

Naturally, the King of Paint offers a well-rounded palette, but it comes at a price with a $27,299 Vivid Black tag and a $29,399 sticker on the top-shelf, two-tone package to leave a wide pricing gulf between the Road Glide and the Gold Wing.

Read our full review of the Harley-Davidson Road Glide / Road Glide Special.

He Said

“I can’t help but feel like riders who are attracted to the dark-and-low bagger look will probably opt for something from Harley-Davidson’s or Indian’s lineup. I could be wrong, but the blackout-custom scene is a distinctly American culture, at least in its origins, and so Honda seems like it’s trying to straddle the cultural fence with its base bagger-tastic Wing-Ding. Is it a bridge too far? We’ll see soon enough.”

She Said

My wife and fellow motorcycle writer, Allyn Hinton, says, “The suspension has been revamped on the new Gold Wing and while Honda hasn’t specified exactly how, it doesn’t take a lot of pondering to come to the idea that the update improves handling since low-speed handling was a sore spot. I’m not clear on whether it’s a software or hardware change. The DCT in the 2020 model is the next generation of DCT and it shifts quieter than last year’s version. I don’t see any reason to upgrade your Gold Wing if you have an 2018 or 2019, but if you have an older model or you’re looking at the Gold Wing for the first time, the 2020 model looks attractive.”

2020 Honda Gold Wing Specifications

Engine & Drivetrain:
Engine: Liquid-cooled horizontally opposed six-cylinder, SOHC; four valves per cylinder
Displacement: 1833 cc
Bore x Stroke: 73 mm x 73 mm
Induction: Programmed Fuel Injection (PGM-FI)
Ignition: Full transistorized Ignition
Compression Ratio: 10.5:1
Transmission: Six-speed including overdrive (DCT: Seven-speed automatic DCT, plus reverse and walking mode)
Final Drive: Shaft
Chassis:
Front Suspension/ Travel: Double Wishbone Type/ 4.3 inches
Rear Suspension/ Travel: Pro Arm® single-side swingarm with Pro-Link® single shock/ 4.1 inches
Rake: 30.5°
Trail: 4.3 inches (109 mm)
Front Brake: Hydraulic; dual 320 mm discs
Rear Brake: Hydraulic; single 316 mm disc
Front Tire: 130/70R-18
Rear Tire: 200/55-16
Dimensions $ Capacities:
Wheelbase: 66.7 inches
Seat Height: 29.3 inches
Curb Weight: 787 pounds (DCT: 800 pounds)
Fuel Capacity: 5.55 gallons
Miles Per Gallon: TBD (DCT: 42 mpg)
Details:
Model ID: GL1800 (DCT: GL1800BD)
Warranty: Three Years Transferable, unlimited-mileage limited warranty; Up to 8 years extended coverage available with Honda Protection Plan
Color: Matte Black Metallic
Price: $23,800 (DCT: $25,000)

Further Reading

Honda

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TJ Hinton
T.J got an early start from his father and other family members who owned and rode motorcycles, and by helping with various mechanical repairs throughout childhood. That planted a seed that grew into a well-rounded appreciation of all things mechanical, and eventually, into a formal education of same. Though primarily a Harley rider, he has an appreciation for all sorts of bikes and doesn't discriminate against any particular brand or region of origin. He currently holds an Associate's degree in applied mechanical science from his time at the M.M.I.  Read More
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All images featured on this website are copyrighted to their respective rightful owners. No infringement is intended. Image Source: honda.com, harley-davidson.com

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