2011 Honda Gold Wing GL18HPNAM
The very first photo anyone ever saw of the original Honda Gold Wing was in a 1975 French motorcycle magazine where an unimaginably lucky journalist managed to weasel a ride on what was the most eagerly anticipated motorcycle since the original Honda 750 Four and the Kawasaki New York Steak (known as the Z-1 900). The Gold Wing was a one litre unfaired boxer which featured a wealth of technological features which were revolutionary for the age, including a fuel tank under the seat taking the place of a pseudo tank in the conventional position, shaft drive, liquid cooling, and engineering wizardry galore in every nook and cranny.
Thirty-five years later, the 2011 Honda Gold Wing GL18HPNAM Audio Comfort, Navi, ABS, XM (yes, that's the official name) has taken that original boxer tourer concept literally as far as it can possibly go, and many would argue well beyond that point.
Your $23,000 will buy you a 2011 Honda Gold Wing GL18HPNAM equipped with 1832cc liquid-cooled horizontally opposed six-cylinder; five speed plus reverse; triple CBS three-piston caliper ABS disc brakes; XM radio with navigation; tire pressure monitoring; heated grips and seat; and even a (gasp!) airbag. All of this neatly wrapped up in an aerodynamic total package with more bodywork than a Kenworth T2000 which tips the scales at just 72 pounds below the 1,000 pound mark.
All of this begs the question of whether the Gold Wing GL18HPNAM is a motorcycle at all or a Lincoln Town Car longitudinally sliced in half. Judging by the average age of the Gold Wing owner it falls within the same demographic as the Lincoln flagship. It seems that most younger riders not only don't have 23 grand to blow on a bike, but they wouldn't really know what to do with half a ton of motorcycle if they had it.
Handling is a subjective term and just like the Lincoln Town Car, the Gold Wing GL18HPNAM floats over highway imperfections never allowing any unpleasantries to interfere with the glory of listening to Wagner's Ride Of The Valkyries on the "better than your home stereo" system. However, just like you wouldn't take the Town Car on a canyon carving expedition, the Gold Wing GL18HPNAM feels just as out of place. Feed the big Wing high speed sweepers and it will regale you all day long. Try to drop a knee in the twisty turnies and you'll be highsided faster than you can say Valentino Rossi.
The 2011 Honda Gold Wing GL18HPNAM Audio Comfort, Navi, ABS, XM is in no way a hazardous motorcycle, just one that is so finely tuned and thoroughly specialized to its one and only purpose that it can seem to have blinders on. As long as the road is shown wide and yellow on Google Maps, you will have a smile from ear to ear. Just don't try to venture onto any of the wiggly bits at anything above sightseeing speed.
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2011 Honda Gold Wing GL18HPNAM At A Glance
Base MSRP: $22,899
Engine Displacement: 1832 cc
Engine Type: Liquid-cooled horizontally opposed six-cylinder
Bore & Stroke: 74 mm x 71 mm
Induction Type: Programmed Fuel Injection (PGM-FI)
Ignition Type: Computer-controlled digital
Compression Ratio: 9.8:1
Valve Train Type: SOHC; two valves per cylinder
Transmission Type: Five-speed including Overdrive, plus electric Reverse
Final Drive Type: Shaft
Front Tire: 130/70R-18
Rear Tire: 180/60R-16
Wheelbase: 66.5 inches
Saddle Height: 29.1 inches
Curb Dry Weight: 895 - 928 pounds
Fuel Capacity (US): 6.6 gallons
* Specs/pix apply to 2010 model, updates as released