2012 Honda Gold Wing breaks cover

2012 Honda Gold Wing
2012 Honda Gold Wing

Honda has announced the new 2012 Gold Wing, which I guess is the premier, non-Harley touring bike.

There was some talk that Honda would be coming up with a big redesign of their flagship bike, but…not this year. The changes are essentially these:

  • Less curvy, more angular styling
  • Increased wind protection, which I didn’t actually think was possible.
  • New saddlebags with 7 liters more space
  • Redesigned dashboard
  • tweaks to the suspension.

Other than that, it’s pretty much unchanged.

The base model pricing comes in at $23,199, which is 1 shiny dollar cheaper than the Wing’s new competition, the BMW K1600GTL.

Honda, of course, has an entirely different take on the amazing amazingness that is the 2012 Gold Wing, and if you want to read that, Honda’s press release is below the fold.

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Could the big Sport-Touring bikes be any smaller?

Someone’s always complaining about weight on the big sport-touring bikes. The FJR & Connie are both almost 700lbs wet.  The new K16GT is just over 700, as is the ST1300. Now, I can understand wanting a lighter, more maneuverable bike–I want one myself–but I’m not sure the big tourers can be any smaller.

I mean, physics are physics.  Once you assume the requirement for HP and torque of a certain level, you’ve assumed an engine of a certain size and weight.  Once you’ve decided you need 1000-1200lbs of Gross Weight, you’ve assumed a frame of a certain size, stiffness, and, hence weight. Once you’ve decided to stretch the wheelbase a couple of inches for highway stability, you’ve increased the size of the frame/subframe/swingarm, which is more weight.

Take a look at the new Ninja 1000, which is about as stripped down to basics as a sporting streetbike gets–no ABS, no bags, no electric windscreen, smaller engine, no shaft drive–and the wet weight is 500lbs.  The old ZZR1200, with no bags or shaft, was 600lbs.

Ultimately, the features on the Sport-Tourers make the weight inevitable. Start off with a repli-racer like the R1, which has a wet weight of 454 lbs.  Add a shaft, add 100 lbs. Add ABS, add 10lbs. Add Bags, add 20 lbs. The list goes on. Adding just those three items alone has increased the R1’s wet weight to 584lbs–and we still haven’t beefed up the frame or suspension to support a 2-up, touring capable load weight, or increased the wheelbase to make the handling more stable. Or, for that matter, given it a pillion seat that your chick is gonna want to ride for 20 minutes.

A given volume of aluminum and steel is gonna weigh a given amount. If you want a lighter bike, then you have to give up either a large engine, a shaft drive, max GVW, physical size, or any of a hundred other features that the big sport-tourers have as a standard.

Either that, or build the thing out of carbon fiber and titanium, and pay $40k+ for it.

Yeah, they’re heavy bikes. But it’s difficult to see how they could be lighter, and/or smaller, and still offer the specs that they do.