900 POUNDS O’ FUN, FOR A PRICE ($27,999)
Picture a small cow with an engine, two wheels and the plushest saddle this side of an office chair, and you can imagine regarding the Gold Wing. At almost 900 pounds, you need a gym-toned torso, arms and thighs to stop at lights, corner or park it, though you do have a bit of help — it’s got reverse. Add cruise control, linked front and rear brakes, more compartments and storage than an Egyptian tomb, an intercom system, auxiliary plug for an MP3 unit and more, and you’ve got a ready-for-anything cross-country ride. It’s also not for the budget-minded; its sticker of $27,999 could buy you two and a half Hyundai Accent Blues, which start at $10,690. (There are less expensive base models, however.)
I mounted my test Gold Wing at a Queens dealership and headed off to Manhattan over the 59th Street bridge at, I’m not ashamed to say, Grandma speed. Sure, I’ve ridden motorcycles on race tracks, but I’ve never ridden three at the same time, which is what it was like navigating this torpedo. After 30 minutes, I started to get the hang of the heft and was actually leaning over, accelerating quickly, mounting and dismounting easily, and playing jazz on its crystal-clear sound system.
Later that night, I was comfortable enough to plop a passenger in the luxurious but snug rear seat and cart her about the boroughs like royalty. With a midnight moon above our heads, heading north on the FDR drive became a sublime New York moment.
The biggest challenges were stopping and holding steady while stationary. Again, though, practice made — okay, not perfect, but a little less awkward. Another caveat was overnight storage: The beast wouldn’t fit through the doorway-sized metal bars at the entrance of the place I park my bikes. Off to a nearby garage I sped, where I was charged the same day rate as — guess what? — a Hyundai Accent.
As the test period rolled on, I marveled anew each day at the bike’s goodies, which rival and best those found in some automobiles. For starters, the Gold Wing’s got a fully integrated, color screen navigation system with complete maps of the U.S. and Canada. The chilly winter wind is alleviated with 5-position heated grips and a system channels heated air over the rider’s feet. It’s also got a front airbag. Finally, its fuel-injected 1,832cc 6-cylinder engine is beastly but smooth, and adds to the overall grand Gold Wing experience.
You haven’t seen New York City until you’ve seen it by motorcycle, and you haven’t seen it by motorcycle until you’ve seen it on a Gold Wing at midnight.
New colors for 2010 include Metallic Red, Metallic Black, with Metallic Titanium and Pearl Yellow returning.
-Josh Max, AutoGigolo