Motorcycles

19,000 km – Honda DCT Gold Wing ownership experience

Almost 19,000 km ridden in 16 months of ownership

My 2019 Honda Gold Wing DCT Tour is within spitting distance of 19,000 km, some 16 months since I bought it new in June, 2019.

Readers of CarandRider.com will know my beloved 2014 BMW R1200RT experienced an electrical fire caused by a failed rectifier in June last year. The BMW was unrepairable. I short-listed new a 2019 BMW R1200RT and 2019 Honda DCT Tour Gold Wing as likely replacements.

The RT and Gold Wing ticked all the right boxes for me, both being superb touring machines. With some difficulty, I chose the Gold Wing, wanting to try something new especially with the Honda’s automatic 7-speed Dual-Clutch Transmission.

After 16 months and racking up almost 19,000 km, here’s all you need to know about the long term ownership experience of Honda’s flagship touring motorcycle.

Powertrain

The Gold Wing’s powertrain is a gem. The all-new in 2018 1833cc flat-six cylinder engine is supremely torquey, smooth, and impressively fuel-efficient (bettering the last-gen Gold Wing and the BMW R1200RT. See below.) Mated to Honda’s 7-speed DCT transmission, the Wing accelerates effortlessly, pulling from idle. I’ve said to people it feels like driving a diesel, and I mean that in a good way. Acceleration is effortless.

In Tour mode (there’s also Rain, Econ and Sport), the transmission upshifts smoothly, and on deceleration, downshifts automatically. Downshifts can feel slightly abrupt in gears 3-2-1 at times, but one gets used to it.

I’ve found that in the little city riding I do, switching to Econ mode seems to make the transmission shift a little smoother, and, of course, it upshifts at lower rpm than in the normal, Tour mode. In Econ, the DCT shifts into 7th gear at 70 km/h, whereas in Tour mode it holds 6th gear and upshifts to 7th at 80 km/h.

On the highway, the DCT performs predictably well. In overtaking manoeuvres, a more aggressive throttle opening rewards you with a smart downshift to a lower gear (or gears) depending on speed and throttle demand. The DCT simply works, and it works well.

Saddle

Touring riders demand comfort. The new Gold Wing’s saddle is not as comfortable as the plush bucket of my 2007 GL1800A, but the ’19’s saddle is more comfortable for me than the RT’s. I can ride three solid hours on the Wing before starting to squirm; on the RT, I could last a couple of hours.

Also, the Wing’s saddle is low. That’s good for me, at 5’8″ with a 30-in. inseam, I can flat-foot the bike.

Weather protection

The new Gold Wing is physically slimmer than the previous generation. It’s windscreen is narrower as is the lower fairing, which does not fully cover my legs. The last generation of Gold Wing and the BMW RTs offer better foul and cold weather protection for the upper and lower body.

In my normal riding position, the ’19 Gold Wing’s lower fairing protects only the inside helf of my legs. Great in hot weather, less so in cold or rain

However, that makes the new Gold Wing a better motorcycle for hot weather riding, which allows more air flow to reach the rider, particularly on the outer arms and legs.

Rider’s triangle’

The Gold Wing has a very good, open ‘rider’s triangle’, the relationship between the handlebars, saddle and footpegs. On the Gold Wing, my legs are at about a 90-degree angle and I feel like I’m sitting almost upright. The Gold Wing has a more comfortable seating position for me than the BMW R1200RT, even after I had added aftermarket handlebar risers and a footpeg lowering kit.

Suspension and handling

Honda spent a lot of time and money developing the Gold Wing’s Hossack front suspension. The design let engineers move the engine forward, resulting in more weight on the front end and increased foot room for the rider.

This unique front suspension design gives the Gold Wing impressive suspension compliance, with damping slightly better than the RT’s on the rough section of highway I tested the two bikes on.

The Gold Wing’s new front suspension, like the RT’s superb telelever front suspension, is very capable of handling bumps in mid-corner allowing the big tourer to track smoothly without being bounced off-line through a corner.

In the twisties, there’s no denying the Gold Wing is still a heavy tourer. The DCT Gold Wing weighs in at a relatively ponderous 379kg (836 lbs.), remarkably identical to the 6-speed manual transmission Wing, according to Honda. (Compare that to the 2017 Gold Wing with a 919 lbs. curb weight.)

In both low- and high-speed handling, the Gold Wing feels surprisingly light. The low saddle helps at slow speed, plus the 1833cc engine’s crankshaft is very low, aided by the 21-litre fuel tank all of which is carried below the saddle.

For low speed maneuverability, Honda has provided walking speed electrically-driven forward and reverse, controlled by thumb/forefinger control on the left handlebar. This feature is brilliant; I use it every day backing out of the garage or down the driveway.

GPS Navigation System

Gold Wing forums are loaded with complaints regarding the nav system on the 2018+ Gold Wings.

Overall, it’s fairly intuitive and easy to use. I use the GPS primarily to help me navigate from a current location to another location. For straight forward use like this, it works just fine. I do not insert multiple waypoints, where some (many?) advanced users run into difficulties.

Legibility of the Wing’s GPS screen is not great. The fonts used for labels are small; I find them difficult to read. And the colours Honda has chosen don’t make the screen easy to read.

Ease of daily use

There are a number of features that make the Gold Wing a very easy motorcycle to use as a day-to-day motorcycle:

  1. Keyless ignition. I really like the keyless ignition feature. Just keep the key fob in one’s pocket, and the Wing ‘senses’ it’s proximity, allowing you to open the panniers and topcase without a key, and start the bike. (Remember the ‘good old days’ of having a key, leaving it in your pocket, putting on your rainsuit, then remembering your key is in your jeans pocket?) Walk away from the bike and the panniers, topcase and right fairing pocket (where the gas cover release is located) all lock automatically. Nice.
  2. There’s a nice shortcut to starting the bike, enabled by having keyless ignition activated wirelessly by the fob. Simply squeeze the front brake lever and hold down the Start button. The bike if locked, unlocks, and starts. 1-step.
  3. Walking speed electric forward/reverse. I use this feature daily. I never have to think about parking the bike in a downhill slope.
  4. DCT automatic transmission. The DCT transmission makes stop-and-go riding in city traffic simple and painless. Like an overgrown scooter, just twist the throttle and go. Brilliant.
  5. One touch pannier and topcase opening

All is not perfect. Rube Goldberg, your motorcycle is here. . .

There are three infuriating actions that are stupidly complicated:

  1. Accessing the gas filler. Honda could NOT have made filling the bike more difficult. On most modern bikes, it’s a 2-step process: 1. Unlock the gas filler, 2. unscrew the gas cap and fill with gas.

On the Gold Wing, you MUST have the key fob on your person, THEN you must:

i. Press the button on the right fairing pocket to unlock it

ii. Open the right fairing cover

iii. Press the button inside the fairing pocket to release the gas filler cover

iv. Lift the gas filler cover

v. Unscrew the gas cap and fill with gas

2. Starting the motorcycle if the key fob dies or is lost. One can still start the motorcycle if the battery of the key fob dies or if you lose the fob. But it’s complicated. Each of the 2 key fobs have a unique 9-digit code. You enter the code by pressing the release button of the right fairing cover (1 to 10 times for a single digit, then press Start to ‘enter’ that number. Repeat for the remaining 8 digits.)

3. Unlocking luggage if key fob dies. The key fob has a mechanical key to unlock the hard luggage if the fob fails. You have to remove a cover located under the top trunk, insert the key and turn it. That opens THE LEFT pannier cover. Inside the left pannier, there is a PRONG to pull to open THE RIGHT pannier cover. Inside the right pannier, there is a PRONG to pull to open THE TOPTRUNK. Idiotic.

Fuel consumption

The new Honda DCT Gold Wing is more fuel-efficient than my previous 2014 BMW R1200RT. Not only does it uses slightly less fuel per 100 km, the Wing uses regular gas, while the RT required premium fuel.

2019 Honda DCT Tour Gold Wing fuel economy

Lifetime fuel economy (average over 18,875 km): 4.93 L/100 km, regular gas

Best fuel economy: 4.12 L/100 km, regular gas

Worst fuel economy: 6.60 L/100 km, regular gas

Conclusion

There’s no doubt, the 2019 Honda DCT Tour Gold Wing is a one of the best motorcycles I’ve owned. I have to admit, I am torn as to whether it’s better than the 2014 BMW R1200RT, or not. Each motorcycle has it’s unique set of strengths and weaknesses.

Is there a perfect luxury touring motorcycle? Clearly, no. But this Honda has so many things going for it: comfort, weather protection, superlative flat-six cylinder engine and DCT transmission.

And don’t forget the ‘golden halo’ that comes with the Honda brand – supreme reliability and relatively low operating costs. It’s a touring package that’s very, very hard to beat.

End

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