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  • Robert Farago

The 2024 Honda Gold Wing Has Its Foibles

Then again, who doesn't?

Charley has a firm opinion about gear selection, one we don’t always share. It’s taken more than 600 miles to establish an entente cordial. Not to go all William Dreyer, it’s been a rocky road. For example…


I was leaning Charlie into a corner at speed when she suddenly and unexpectedly decided to downshift a gear. It was an unsettling experience on a lot of levels. And not the first mind-of-her-own moments.


Gently applying power at a walking pace – as one does – is a binary business. Charley’s on/off low-speed power delivery seems carefully designed to trigger my adrenal glands, especially when I’m maneuvering in a parking lot.



The culprit: Charley’s Dual Clutch Transmission (DCT). Attached to her 1800cc flat six engine, Honda’s click-clack-paddy-whack-give-a-bike-a-gear DCT makes for some “interesting” gear changes.


Charley decides when to shift up or down depending on a range of factors: gradient, acceleration, braking, fuel economy, mode (Economy, Rain, Touring or Sport) and, I suspect, my heart rate.


Anticipating/triggering Charley’s shifts in mileage-seeking Tour mode with the DCT activated requires laser-like focus and an extremely delicate and judicious throttle hand.


In Eco mode you’ll die of boredom waiting for a shift. A you’d expect, her gear shifts are a lot smoother and circumspect in Rain mode (a.k.a., Slow-Speed City Mode).


The DCT’s Sport shifts are not my friend and can’t come to my party. It’s tiger by the tail time. A tail-wagging 839-pound two-wheeled tiger.



Like a good sex partner, Charley offers a manual override. In Tour mode, looking for instant passing power, Charley’s “press here to go faster” minus button is a blessing (bottom left corner, left of the walking button, beneath the turn signal).


Switch from A to M, press the handlebar-mounted minus button to grab - sorry “activate” a lower gear. Press the plus button on the other side of the handle to shift up a gear.

And that, sports fans, is how you cane a DCT-equipped Honda Gold Wing through the corners at speed without dying.


The button shifts are instant, smooth and Cylon obedient (i.e., by your command). You can even change gears mid-corner without a coronary.



Quick break. Really quick brake. In fact, Charley’s linked front and rear ABS stoppers are her superpower. I can slow the Walrus-weight machine from 80mph to zero in less time than it takes to read this sentence.


I’m finally getting the measure of the long-wheelbase leviathan. Thank god. The idea of spending a year having the same thought as early Airbus pilots – what’s it doing now? – was disheartening. Scary even.


Blasting Charley through the Texas Hill Country is like piloting a fighter jet. She leans with ease, holds her line like a Spartan and OMG is she fast.


In anything but fuck-it Sport mode Charley’s torque curve’s designed for fuel economy; she loves her some seventh gear.


Once you crest 2000rpm’s in any cog, Captain Kirk needn’t call Scotty for more power. In fact, I hear “you can’t touch this” playing in my head.



On Charley’s stereo, not so much.


Her sound system is genuine Honda parts pathetic: two tinny speakers up front powered by an amp weaker than British coffee. Base? Mid-range? We don’t need no stinking base or mid range!


I’ve ordered a new amp and better speakers to overcome Charley’s auditory anemia. It won’t do anything to fix the Senna helmet audio’s AM-radio-above-60mph deficiency, but that’s the price you pay to get Apple CarPlay on Charley’s center screen.


My Honda guy will install the system after he fits Charley with wiring and controller for Gerbing heated vest, pants and gloves. And a Saddleman Roadsofa heated seat with matching backrest.


Modifying Charley for our year-long sojourn is costing me big bucks. Less than my monthly cigar expenditure, but I’m spending that as well. Speaking of nicotine dreams…



I had a crazy thought: what about bringing Crash? (Yes, a dog named Crash on a motorcycle.) Talk about a conversation starter! Meanwhile, if you have any advice for trip preparation please leave it in a comment below. Such as…


What the best motel chain? What do I do if I lose Charley’s single key (can’t leave it on the bike)? Do I ask new female friends their star sign? What if their boyfriend is a Libra?

 

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