2012 Honda Goldwing: evolution, not revolution

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OMG, it’s the 2012 Honda Goldwing! The big news this year is that there’s some new two-tone colors that make the big honkin’ tourer look more svelte and less groß. That’s achieved by accentuating the frame’s line though the bike with that color split. The other  big story is that this is now made in Japan, not Marysville, Ohio. That equates to a $300 price premium, which isn’t bad considering how strong the Yen’s been against the Dollar over the last couple of years.

Update: now with video.

Update 2: now with analysis.

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The Goldwing occupies a unique position within motorcycling, it’s buyers are even more conservative than other motorcyclists, so regular, radical model updates aren’t the best way to serve them. This mild refresh serves to keep the Goldie competitive in a market that now includes the six-cylinder BMW K1600GT/L, a move that coincided with the factory move.

There actually are styling updates beyond the two-tone, they’re just hard to spot. Check out the rear-view, which shows more-swept, almost Victory Vision-esque panniers and new taillights. The headlights also get blacked out.

Our only complaint about the Goldwing when we took it on a camping trip two-up (I had a broken arm) was actually the surprising lack of capacity in the integrated luggage. This new model slightly increases the size of the boxes, but more importantly we’re told they become more square inside. Previously, the contoured interior shape awkwardly infringed on interior space and made packing larger bags very difficult. Non-airbag models now use that space in front of the rider for a little storage compartment too.

Probably the neatest new feature is something Honda’s calling “Trip Planner” which allows you to plan routes on your computer, then transfer them to your onboard sat/nav using an SD card. That’s the kind of common sense, useful tech feature that owners will love and that will actually play into the online communities surrounding the Goldwing. Want to tell your Internet friends about a trip you took? It just got very easy.

Other refinements include improved aerodynamics for better weather protection and surround sound audio. The new Goldwing isn’t bringing the BMW K1600’s level of performance, light weight and crazy tech features, it’s just enhancing a bike touring riders already know and love. In such a conservative segment, that approach might be a winner.


  • James

    Really? This is the big announcement that Honda promised on the 21st? Joy. Rapture.

  • paul

    Man that sucks. (the girl situation not the bike). Chin up mate……..I recommend another road trip to take time and reflect, just make sure you take some nice bikes and lots of photos and some good friends.


  • dux

    Those are some sweet cup holders. Bitchin’

  • Philip

    Sorry to hear (about the gf). +1 what Paul said about another road trip!

  • Chris

    Just about to go there as well (breaking up with the GF not the GW).

    5 years for us too.

  • Turf

    Ahhh so that’s what the hilariously drunken tweets were about. I prescribe more drinks and a good dose of hooliganism with a dash of antics.

    Also Honda, you continue to be fantastically uneventful outside of racing.

  • Odd Bjørn

    GW finally in it right environment, with the 4Weelers!

  • http://www.facebook.com/beastincarnate BeastIncarnate

    Damn, Wes. Sucks about the girl. Hang in there.

  • Scott-jay

    Nice colors & body-work. It appears lighter than 904-933 lbs.
    A tricked-out bike from the elephant phase of moto-spectrum.
    Travel tests relationships.

  • Patrick

    Sorry to hear about the lady. Mine and I are going through the shitter as well. Best of luck mate.

  • hooligan317

    To quote the movie Old School, “Love, it’s a motherf*cker.”

  • Jeff

    Sorry to hear, I think it’s road trip time!

  • http://theprojectbeta.com/ andehans

    Forget the GW analysis, have a drink.

  • Kentaro

    Good luck buddy.

  • Myles

    Cycle Word never bothers me with their personal problems, they just deliver spot-on analysis in a timely manner.

    In all seriousness tho, good luck buddy. Similar thing happened to me about a year and a half ago. Took a lot of Rebel Yell to think straight for a while.

  • Frosty_spl

    Get on a press bike, and swing by the local college. They will line up, haha

  • henry

    Gee’s this bike hasn’t changed in a very long time (sorta like Harley Davidson).

    Hey, there’s more babe’s out there than you can shake a stick at

  • Glenngineer

    Weak sauce.

  • MisterGone

    Wow, working at a Honda dealer (among other brands) I can’t count the number of times I’ve been asked about the new ’12 wing, everyone who held off on one of the remaining ’10′s did so because they were expecting a decent upgrade, DCT, 2000cc’s, something more than colors and deeper bags. I’ll agree wholeheartedly that Wing owners are conservative but after 11 years I think most of them were hoping for a bigger evolution than this.

  • aristurtle

    I’m surprised it didn’t get that fancy transmission you tested in the new VFR. Seems like the ideal application for it.

  • Kevin

    So those with about $25K to lay out on a six cylinder tourer have a tougher choice. To me it would come down to betting on a somewhat dated ten year old platform with lots of operating history and a great reputation for reliability or a more modern take from BMW with all the potential Gen I issues.

  • Coreyvwc

    All joking aside, Do people actually find the aesthetics of this bike to be appealing? It just looks like a big boring tour bus, but with two wheels. Gram & Gramps machine.

    • dux

      It’s like a toned down R1. Weird place to be coming from, stylistically.

    • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Wes Siler

      But that’s totally what it is. If you’ve ever taken an RV on a road trip, you’ll have some idea how awesome pretending you’re gram and gramps for a weekend is though. There’s no better bike than a goldwing for just cruising on.

      • dux

        “Honda has no pulse”

        • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Wes Siler


      • Kevin

        I had never really even considered a Goldwing, but when I started reading and watching reviews from younger riders who were on a Goldwing for the first time, the pretty consistent impression seemed to be “I would love to have this bike–but I had to get over the ‘Grandpa’s motorcyle’ stigma.”

      • Coreyvwc

        There’s no denying the fact that it’s an excellently executed purpose driven machine. I guess it just seems to be lacking all the raw qualities that make a motorcycle a motorcycle. It’s mere presence does not inspire.

    • Grive

      I… I don’t think this bike pretends to be anything other than what you have described, nearly word for word.

      A 2-wheeled Winnebago is exactly what the bike is and tries to be. And I’m quite sure that’s what Honda set out to make, and that’s what the customers set out to purchase.

  • rider33

    The Goldwing was launched as the answer to the original Z1. What they found tho was that people were slapping flairings on them and going cross-country. Once Honda figured that out the game was on. What seems like a whale on a ride of a few hundred miles starts to be very handy when you tend to do more than that before stopping for breakfast. Long distance travel has it’s charms and the Wing pretty much defined it, check the Iron Butt finishers. It’s not going to replace my Ural or my KLR but when I need to get to the other coast, now, this would be the bike to own. I was hoping for more change personally but it’s starting to grow on me.

  • Chris Davis

    Good to see they’ve embraced their inner Orca and projected it to the exterior of their latest beast. Think you guys can get a black GW press bike and ride it down to Sea World for a little side-by-side?