Motorcycles

Which is BEST? Honda GL1800 DCT Tour Gold Wing or BMW R1200RT?

2019 Honda DCT Tour Gold Wing – one of two of the best touring motorcycles in class
2014 BMW R1200RT – the other best touring bike in class

Last week, Dave, in Maryland in the United States, contacted me through the Adventure Rider forum. He’d seen a comment I’d posted about having moved from a ’14 BMW R1200RT to a new ’19 Honda DCT Tour Gold Wing.

Dave, who owns a ’14 BMW R1200RT, was contemplating moving to a new 2020 Gold Wing, said he uses his motorcycle for commuting, the occasional 2-up ride, and touring. He wanted to know if I had any regrets about leaving my beloved RT for the Gold Wing..

Many of my motorcycle friends, many of whom are BMW owners, ask me, “What’s the better touring bike? Wing? or RT?”

Six of one, half-a-dozen of the other. . .

My reply to Dave and anybody who asks, “Which bike is best? RT? or Gold Wing?” is always, “They’re both the ‘best’, depending on your priorities. Both are world-class, outstanding touring motorcycles.” That may sound like a cop-out, but having happily lived with and owned both, I staunchly stand by that declaration.

After riding the ’14 BMW R1200RT for 5 years and the ’19 Honda DCT Tour Gold Wing for 2 seasons, here’s my take on the strengths and weaknesses of these superb touring motorcycles:

Overall:

The Honda GL1800 DCT Tour Gold Wing (2018-2020) is the better choice for those who want a premium luxury long distance tourer with the outstanding DCT automatic transmission, fabulous flat-six engine, superior suspension on rough roads, and the added bonus of legendary Honda reliability and durability.

For:

  • Better for getting to the ‘good stuff’, and riding that long, straight haul
  • Better in hot weather with more air flow than the RT
  • Outstanding DCT automatic transmission and fabulous flat-six cylinder powertrain
  • Marginally better fuel economy than the RT; uses Regular gas
  • Low saddle, more ‘open’ rider’s triangle than the RT, easier to manoeuvre at low speed
  • Electric ‘walking speed’ Forward/Reverse

Against:

  • Poorer cold weather/inclimate weather protection than the RT
  • Less nimble than RT in the twisties
  • Smaller luggage capacity than RT
  • Rider interface with GPS/Infotainment system and tech features takes patience to learn

The BMW R1200RT (2014-2018) is the better choice for those wanting a premium luxury ultra long distance tourer who prioritize the ultimate in cold weather/foul weather protection and a sportier riding focus, with nimbler handling and a more aggressive riding position.

For:

  • Better for riding ‘the good stuff’
  • The undisputed best cold and foul weather rider protection in motorcycling
  • The longest touring range in class with 25-litre fuel tank, 450 km range
  • Superior luggage capacity (especially with optional topcase)
  • Lighter and sportier handling than the GL1800 Gold Wing
  • Better rider interface and access to GPS and technological features
  • Legendary 1170cc flat-twin engine is powerful, torquey and fuel-efficient

Against:

  • Rider’s triangle is ‘tighter’ (sportier) with more rear-set footpegs, lower handlebars, and may feel cramped even for some shorter riders
  • Feels more top heavy at slow speeds than Wing, exacerbated by higher saddle than the Honda’s
  • RT’s superb electronically adjustable suspension is marginally inferior to the Wing’s suspension (which possesses better suspension dampening and body control) on rough roads
  • Requires Premium fuel
  • Perceived higher running costs due to more frequent service requirements and unwarranted reputation for poor reliability carried over from earlier generations

End of Part 1.

Next: Part 2: 2018-20 Honda GL1800 DCT Tour Gold Wing vs 2014-2018 BMW R1200RT in detail.

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One Comment

  1. Dave Graham says:

    The Gold Wing does not catch on fire while you’re sitting on it.

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