Add the odd quad-cab duallie pickup pulling a horse trailer coming the other way and you have the perfect recipe for quickly finding out whether this elephant can dance.
While “flickable” may be a bit of an exaggeration, I found the Wing was just as capable of tipping in and executing precision line changes in the tight stuff as she was out on the freeway.
The chassis felt taut, and I experienced no twisting or lethargy at all no matter how hard I pushed. I did have the electronically adjustable suspension dialed up to levels more suited for a plus-sized couple of retirees pulling a trailer, rather than little old me riding solo. But I didn’t really mind using my legs to soak up the occasional bump, rather than sacrifice the tight, sharp handling that the firmer suspension setting seemed to impart.
The linked brakes worked well, too, easily hauling the Wing down to a stop from speed using only one or two fingers. They were a little bitey for my taste on initial application, which may have been more a function of my riding style rather than any inherent negative characteristic.
And even without ABS, I never once felt like I might need it. I imagine it would take a pretty heroic effort to lock up the front on this bike - and why would you drive this bike that hard in the first place? (Ok, in the wet ABS would probably be nice to have - but we don’t have much of that out here these days).
As for wind protection and general rider comfort, it’s a Gold Wing. What more can I say? This may be the only bike I’ve ever ridden where I actually didn’t mind looking through the windscreen, rather than over it.
A surprisingly low seat height means flat footing it for all but the most vertically challenged, and gives you the feeling that you’re sitting in this bike, rather than on it. As I transitioned from the summer desert heat to the fog-shrouded central coast the temp dropped about 40 degrees, yet I didn’t feel any immediate need to pull over and don my riding jacket. I was comfortable in my short sleeved shirt (NOT Madras) and riding pants, even though I usually won’t ride without a jacket if it’s under 80 degrees outside because I get cold.
I came to find out that the Wing has a vent system that directs warm air to your feet. I had this on the whole way across the desert and never knew it, but maybe that was because it was so hot out there the "heat" coming off the motor felt like air conditioning. As things cooled off near the coast, I did sense warm air coming from somewhere, though, so this isn’t a gimmick - these things actually work.
All in all I had a fun time on the Gold Wing. There are other touring bikes that perhaps have more personality, if quirks are what make up a bike’s personality. The Wing just does its thing, and does it flawlessly. Even the reverse gear comes in handy, and is surprisingly easy to use.
If you’re looking for a ride to explore a continent two-up and have some fun on the scenic byways in the process, don’t overlook the the Gold Wing. It just might be your cup of tea.