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Does a Perfect Touring Bike Exist?

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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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