A Honda patent suggested company engineers toying with a four-cylinder hybrid motor wedged in a Gold Wing frame.
It appears Honda will justify the intermission next month by introducing a brand-new Gold Wing at a media event in October, followed by a worldwide reveal for the legendary cruiser at the EICMA show in Milan in November. Leaked images appearing on European sites MaxxMotoand Oliepeil reveal major changes for the current model, now on sale for 16 years. What’s more, those four-cylinder hybrid rumors might come true.
A sharper, more contoured front end hides one of three major changes: the switch to hub-center steering via a Hossack-like front fork, akin to BMW’s Duolever setup. Instead of the present cartridge fork, the handlebars connect to a semi-active suspension unit featuring a single spring-shock unit behind the front fairing. The suspension sits atop a cast aluminum tube running down to a simple aluminum wishbone that straddles the front wheel. The design benefits include a lighter front end, greater steering precision and lean angles, while eliminating fork dive and flex.
Changes to the 1.8-liter, 12-valve flat-six remain a mystery, but observers expect tweaks that will make the seasoned power plant amenable to modern European emissions regulations. Right now that engine serves every Gold Wing – the full-fat version, and the less expensive F6B and F6C models. Several moto-themed sites suspect the long-discussed four-cylinder hybrid could widen the lineup, potentially with F4B and F4C versions. Closer to the realm of possibility, Honda’s expected to add a dual clutch transmission to the options list – note that the Gold Wing F6B in the pics doesn’t have a clutch lever. The Japanese bike maker introduced a six-speed DCT on four of its other touring and adventure bikes, but two-wheeled gear heads in the know expect the Gold Wing to have seven forward gears and a dedicated reverse gear. A movable electronic windscreen, various engine and DCT modes, and cornering ABS might also make the shortlist of ride enhancements.
Designers cleaned up the Gold Wing’s cockpit and infotainment interfaces. The dash goes almost all digital, with a large central TFT screen flanked by two snazzy dials and two more small digital screens. The festival of buttons on the current bike’s grips and fairings make way for thumb wheels, four-way toggle switches, color-coded buttons, and a centrally-placed joystick and keypad. Sure, that’s still a Babel of buttons, but the feature-laden Gold Wing’s amenities make huge demands on the motorcycle’s real estate.