Does a Perfect Touring Bike Exist?

There is a huge hole in the touring market that no one has filled for many years. Am I alone in my thinking?

Apparently, Honda is discontinuing the Gold Wing?! Supposedly, it will not pass the new, stringent Euro emission limits. Personally, I hope they revamp the whole concept. The current model has always sold well for us, but there is a huge hole in the touring market that no one has filled for many years.

The touring bikes of today are 900 pounds or more, and while many of them are very fast, you do not need 120-plus horsepower. I don’t want a blazingly fast touring bike. I want a comfortable one that cruises all day and holds all my goodies. I want something that handles reasonably well, but I don’t need a bike to scrape up the canyons.

If a client wants to go fast and tour, get a sport bike, slap some bags on it, and scare yourself in the corners. Maybe an FJR1300 would do? Or a K1600.

If there isn’t a bike out there that satisfies me, then what would I like? Well, let me tell you (you knew that this was coming). Give me a flat-four touring bike with anti-lock brakes (ABS), cruise control and a few other features. Make it around 100 horsepower (I don’t need any more than that). Build it weighing around 700 pounds or less, with a tall top gear for cruising. Not a torque monster, but a great traveling machine.

If this sounds familiar, you’re right, because I’m describing a mid-‘80s Gold Wing. I had one that I put many miles on over a short period of time. I loved traveling on it. My wife loved it traveling on it. As a matter of fact, if I don’t bring a Gold Wing home, she refuses to go out on a bike as a passenger. Yes, she has been on the back of many other bikes, but the Gold Wing has always been her favorite by far.

Maybe I’m getting too old, or gravity is getting stronger, but I find the newer six-cylinder ones too heavy. Maybe it’s just my worn-out knees?

I’m not a market researcher, but I have been in the industry for a long time. I know what clients tell me. I would personally buy one of these proposed models in a heartbeat. Perhaps there is a space in the lineup for two versions of the Gold Wing — a four and a six cylinder. I cannot believe that I’m alone in this. Has Honda done research on this category? I don’t know. We seem to have been stuck in the whole V-engine style for decades. Now, we are seeing that parallel twins can do well in the cruiser market.

Will a large parallel twin do well as a touring bike? Triumph has made some inroads with twins, but it has no touring bikes that I would purchase. Honda has had some success with the 1,100cc twins, but I don’t see it as a basis for a touring bike. They might do better if the center of gravity can be maintained low on the chassis, but I’m not sure what kind on a long distance, two-up machine it would be. Which brings us back to the flat-four engine. It’s compact, torquey and offers a low center of gravity, making it capable of eating up the miles for days at a time. The technology should be there to build such a unit, and if anyone can, it’s Honda.

But, ever since the Gold Wings of the ‘80s, none have gotten my attention. Is it a case of wanting to relive my past? Perhaps, but I do not believe so. Someone should be able to make this type of bike. I know that there is a market for it. Something lighter, smoother and comfortable. Is that too much to ask? Is anyone listening?

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