Yesterday aboard the 2012 Honda Gold Wing was quite an eye opener. I had shared my impressions of some of the upgrades to the new Wing in blog posts earlier in the week (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3), but these focused mostly on some comfort and convenience updates and the bike’s ability to eat up open stretches of pavement.
But on this day we put the Wing to a completely different test: the Tail of the Dragon, US 129 in North Carolina. Yes, this sinuous climb consisting of some 318 turns in just 11 miles isn’t what you’d think of when discussing the merits of the heavy Gold Wing, but its capabilities on such a road re-surprised us – and at least one supermoto rider.
I bring this up because BMW’s new K1600 GTL has raised the game in the luxury-touring category, as we found out when we rode it at its press introduction earlier this year. Its lighter package and stronger motor clearly has more sporting potential, relegating the portly Wing to second place in terms of twisty-road prowess.
But that fact unfairly overshadows how well the Gold Wing comports itself when ridden aggressively. The 1832cc flat-Six motor has a deep well of power, pulling quite strong from as low as just 2000 rpm and quickly building speed through its bountiful midrange.
Turn-in response is incredibly quick, relatively speaking, and its rate of bank-angle change is perfectly linear up to the point it drags its comfortably placed footpegs, thanks in part to new Bridgestone tires and improved fork bushings that keep the front end nicely planted.
And the aforementioned supermoto rider? He took off from Deal’s Gap a few seconds after our group, and I expected the Suzuki DR-Z400 rider to quickly catch and pass us on this serpentine road. He never did.
Look for a full review of the 2012 Gold Wing next week.