Go north young man, go on a Honda Goldwing

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It’s Friday night, nearing eleven, and we just pulled up outside Zeitgeist in San Francisco. Three hours earlier we were riding along Highway 1 watching the sun set in Big Sur, and seven hours before that we were packing up the 2012 Honda Goldwing and trying to get the heck out of dodge. Two happy bar-goers cross the street and stop to chat, excited to hear all about the “Honda-bago” we are tumbling off of. If the next 9 days of our near 3,000 mile West coast road trip prove anything, it will be that the Goldwing is more sports touring car and less RV. More race to the next landmark and less leisurely stroll. Quite simply, more fun and less curmudgeonly old timer.

Here’s part one of three from Ashlee and Sean.

ashlee goodwin Back in July my best friend from up North snagged tickets for us to see Journey, Foreigner and Night Ranger in a thinly veiled attempt to get us to visit. Sean and I looked at one another with a mischievous eyebrow raised and, without a word, knew this was the perfect excuse for an epic motorcycle adventure. Usually such a touring trek would involve soft bags on the back of Sean’s GSX-R, fresh DOT race rubber and a new chain—always less about the destination, and more about spending as much time as possible at maximum lean angle. But 3,000 miles is a hell of a long way. Fast forward three months and we’ve miraculously managed to convince Honda to give us a Goldwing and finagle 10 days away from work.

sean smith I’m initially a bit hesitant about the Goldwing’s ability to keep up with the roads I have in mind—PCH, 101, 128, and a few choice b-roads that don’t show up on Google maps. I pick up the ‘wing from Honda and it takes me a few minutes to get over the mind-bending acceleration. I’d heard all the warnings about the weight, the difficulty controlling the bike at low speeds and the linked brakes. Yeah, it’s heavy, but it’s not at all as difficult to muscle around as I was prepped for. I snap the throttle shut at 3000 RPM in first gear, then whack it wide open. I just did a power wheelie on a 938-lb motorcycle, and I’m more optimistic about this trip. I learn that the Goldwing beats an NSX going 0-60 (4.4 seconds vs. 4.5) and at the drag strip, too (12.14 seconds vs. 12.9). My excitement grows. Then I discover the XM radio. Even better.

ag It’s 9 a.m. on the morning we’re set to depart, and now it’s time to pack (if you’ve ever wanted to know the true meaning of spontaneity, go on a trip with the two of us.) Plan A is to take camping gear and camp out along the way. Have you ever tried to pack a Goldwing? Touring sports cars come with custom fitted luggage to fit the strange nooks and crannies of the cars’ interiors—the Goldwing comes with luggage that’s mostly made up of strange nooks and crannies. We quickly discard Plan A in favor of seedy, Yelp-rated motels.

ss Our first attempt at packing the bike, even without camping gear, leaves a giant pile of clothes, electronics, shoes and other junk on the floor of the garage that simply won’t fit and doesn’t make the cut. Luckily Ashlee is damn good at Tetris. She quickly discovers that we can forget about stuffing our medium-sized, already packed bags in the attached sidebags and topcase, and that the limited packing room grows exponentially if we take everything out of bags and squeeze it in piece by piece.

ag The left sidebag ends up with our clothes (each piece tightly rolled and stacked) and a draw-string helmet bag tossed in so we can take out and easily carry whatever we need each evening. The right sidebag holds Sean’s Overlord jacket, a pair of shoes for each of us (stuffed with rolled scarves and socks), our electronics cords and chargers (each rolled in their own small nylon bags), and a few small toiletry bags. The top case has room for our iPad and iPhones, extra cold weather layers, trail mix, a water bottle, magazines and camera equipment. Thankfully the top box ends up being a bit like Mary Poppin’s bag or Hermione’s enchanted purse; no matter how full it seems, we are always able to cram more in there. But travel any distance on a Goldwing, and you’ll be traveling light.

ss Finally packed, we’re ready to head out. But we have to stop at the motorcycle shop around the corner because Ashlee really wants a tinted shield for her new Scorpion EXO-1100. Unfortunately they don’t have one in stock, but luckily the clear shield is UV coated and the drop down integrated sun shades work pretty well (full articles on both of our gear setups to come).

ag Now we are actually leaving. It’s after noon and we’re both anxious to get the hell out of town. It’s a great feeling when, for the next 9 days, there are only two things to do: make it to Portland by 8 o’clock Wednesday night where we’ll watch an epic live performance of Sister Christian, and make it back in front of our computers by 9 a.m. Monday morning, 10 days from now, when we’ll be wondering if what we’ve returned to is even real life.

ss Once we get through Malibu and up to Point Dume, I get my first real taste of what this bike can do. PCH tightens up just a little bit before heading inland and the corners there are quite fun when taken at speed. I feel like I’m driving a well-setup sports car. I’m sitting behind a windshield in a comfortable upright seat. Body position is largely irrelevant, and all control inputs are being made using my arms and legs. At 80 MPH in full lean, foot pegs skitter across the pavement and helpful feedback comes through the handle bars. This is going to be a fun trip.

ag We’re as far as Oxnard (a whole 61.8 miles from our front door) before we’re off the bike again, trolling for sandwiches, trail mix, juice and apples at Trader Joe’s and having a parking lot picnic while we revel in our “we’re off on an awesome adventure” giddyness. We don’t know it yet, but it turns out the rest of the trip will feel just like this—a small chunk of miles spent zipping along on this comfy bike followed by a leisurely stop (either at a run down gas station or at a breathtaking viewpoint, never in between) where we poke around taking gear off, doing mundane things, not having to do anything, and putting gear back on.

ss We make our way up the Southern California coast, which we’ve done often on pilgrimages to Laguna Seca and the Bay Area, and we stop along the way to see the usual sites (like elephant seals that are faster than you think). As we go North of Cambria, the road gets higher and beaches give way to cliffs. The good part of PCH begins here. I ride the Goldwing at 90% of its limit for a couple hours with only slightly more effort than it would take to play Grand Tourismo.

ag We ride, watching the sky change from brilliant hue to brilliant hue, and pull off just before Big Sur as the sun sinks all the way and it’s time for warmer clothes. I put on a sweatshirt and a scarf and also zip the insulting liners into my Scorpion Fury jacket and pants. Sean adds a jacket under his Roadcrafter and switches to cold weather gloves. I’m excited to use the seat heater—which I end up just leaving on for the rest of the trip. So toasty and awesome.

ss After dark our M.O. is pretty much “Get to San Francisco as fast as possible.” The Goldwing’s headlights work well in a straight line, but don’t provide nearly enough coverage for cornering. This is probably why most owners add auxiliary lights. If I owned this bike, I’d have at least four HIDs on the front of it. On most bikes, traveling from Big Sur to San Francisco after dark would be pretty brutal, but closing up the adjustable vent on the windscreen and dialing in the boot, seat and grip heaters made for a surprisingly comfortable jaunt.

ag It’s late and we grab beers with HFL reader Mark D. We finish up at the bar, and as we dig our gear out from under a table a nice fellow gives us a recommendation for a trustworthy Motel 6 a few blocks away that should have parking too. There’s a pizza place across the street, so we decide it’s time to eat. Now it’s 12:30 a.m., and it’s spontaneity do-or-die time: we need somewhere to sleep. The recommended motel is booked. So is every other motel in the city. We ride through neighborhoods that are, frankly, seedier than any I’ve ever seen in L.A. Thanks to my iPhone, I find the master suite is available at the Days Inn all the way back by SFO, so we backtrack the 15 or so miles. The room is comically huge and mostly wasted empty space, but we’re both too tired to care. This bike is comfortable, but it’s still been a long day. I’m kind of doubting the “figure it out along the way” method at this point, but tomorrow’s another day.

ss I love San Francisco because it’s a town that’s obviously inhabited by motorcyclists, but I’ve already told you all about that. This time I found out that riding the Goldwing in traffic is not a lot of fun. It’s just not meant for that. You can’t get through narrow lanes, or really split lanes all that effectively at all. This bike is just too big. I’m really happy to get across the Golden Gate Bridge and back on open road.

ag We stop at a little winery town and I buy chapstick at the general store. Juan is a migrant worker hanging out in the parking lot waiting for a ride and we have a nice chat. He has a motorcycle back at his house in Oklahoma, where it’s cheaper to live. Juan likes the Goldwing and says it looks fast. We get a nice surprise when Sean’s dad calls and tells us he’s booked a room at a little B&B in Mendocino for us that night, and that he hopes we’re having a great trip. Looks like this non-planning thing is working out better today.

ss We get to Mendocino by way of Highway 128—one of those magical roads in the middle of nowhere that not many people ride because it doesn’t start anywhere notable nor does it go anywhere notable. It is, however, a really, really, really nice road. It’s a bit frustrating because there are a lot of blind corners and gentle curves, so it becomes hard to make a safe pass. I figure out that when I zoom in all the way on the Goldwing’s integrated GPS, it shows the next 1,000 feet of road and I can better anticipate fun corners and good passing zones. There’s a great mix of low, medium and high speed corners, tons of elevation change, rolling hills and rednecks. The sun sets as we hit PCH, and we ride the last few miles to Mendocino in the dark. After checking in we head back into town in search of food.

ag Mendocino is beyond beautiful. But it’s also the kind of place you take a girl to propose. Or buy her shoes. Or both. Seeing as the boy and I live a bit beyond the bounds of the Prince-Charming charade, we get pizza and beer and then stop at the local market where he buys Rodder’s Journal and I pick out high-end chocolate. It’s nighttime and a couple high schoolers are roaming town sporting dreadlocks, spawned from enlightened hippie parents who set up camp in this gray, misty enclave along the California coast. Sean decides they’re awesome and this is an ideal place to raise children. At this point unpacking and packing the bike is starting to get its own rhythm, and I’m really digging the zen qualities of this ongoing motorcycle trek.

ss The next morning I listen to sports bikes and BMWs zip by on PCH right behind our cottage. Today is redwood day, and I’m excited to get going, but not before partaking in the delicious breakfast spread at the Sea Rock Inn. PCH North of Mendocino is special. Like Highway 128 the day before, this is a road that starts and ends in the middle of nowhere. Lightly trafficked, mostly shaded and humid year-round, you have to watch for moss in the center of the lanes. Still, I feel confident riding the Goldwing just about as fast as it will go. It is on this road that I perfect my low-speed Goldwing cornering style: the trick to smooth, consistent full-lean cornering is to let the pegs touch down then pick my inside foot up and stick it out in front of me motocross style. The peg bounces harmlessly along the ground, and if I roll on the throttle at exactly the right time I find that it’s possible to exit corners in a leaned over wheelie. I know I’m not actually going that fast, but it’s more fun than a touring bike has any right to be.

ag I’m resisting the urge to punch Sean hard. In the kidneys. We’re riding through the smaller redwoods on PCH, and, far from harmlessly sliding foot pegs on the ground, I hear a fierce scraping noise. I’m comfortable with pretty extreme lean angles when riding pillion, but give me a break. I settle for a tap on the shoulder.

“I don’t like that noise.”
“That’s just the foot peg.”
“No, the swooshing noise is the foot peg.”
“Riding this road fast is the entire reason I wanted to go on this trip.”

Indignant silence on my part. I let him ride the road fast. I punch every time the non-footpeg scrape happens.

ss I’ve always felt that it’s important as a man to not be a pussy. Sometimes that means having the balls to keep the front end off the ground even as you feel Wes sliding off the back of a Speed Triple. Sometimes it means pushing as hard as you want to because you rode 800 miles to get to this road, and this is your only chance. If that means taking the occasional punch in the kidneys, so be it.

ag We make it to redwood proper, and stop at the drive through tree in Leggett. I’m fairly certain that beyond being a tourist trap, it’s more like a time vortex. We’re there for hours.

ss I make friends with a foolish German man who’d flown all the way to Washington to purchase a VW bus. His plan was to drive back to Los Angeles, down the West coast, where he would put it in a container and have it shipped back to Germany. The problem with this is that, like most VW vans, the one he purchased is kind of a piece of shit. He seems to be having a pretty good time though.

ag Avenue of the Giants is next, and we haven’t been pulled off the highway and hiking through the forest for more than a few minutes before Sean is hatching plans to drop off the grid and move to Humboldt County. It’s pretty indescribable, and I think the Goldwing feels at home here, too. We’ve spent most of our daylight hours in the redwoods by this point, and have to get moving.

ss After the sun sets in Eureka, fog rolls in and there’s not much to do besides listen to music and do my best to make good time. Visibility for the next couple hours is terrible, and, like a pilot in bad weather, I fly IFR using the GPS. I’m pretty sure there’s a paragraph somewhere in the manual that says specifically not to do this, but it works amazingly well. The vehicle pointer is accurate on the GPS screen to within a few feet almost all the time. After an hour of cold, wet fog, I realize I’m neither cold nor wet and it’s amazing that good gear works this well.

ag We cruise on through the Southern part of Oregon on a long, straight stretch of PCH with rolling hills. Eventually the fog clears revealing a crystal clear view of the Milky Way. There’s no one else around; just Sean and myself shuttling past at a speedy clip, trees on either side and so many stars that I just tip my head back against the top case and stare, making myself dizzy for miles. Every now and then Sean stands on the foot pegs, piloting the motorbike a little like a jet ski.

ss We roll through Gold Beach, Oregon, optimistic to push it further this night, but then double back as we reach the North end of town and decide to find a room. $48 dollars later we have a spic and span room with wood panel walls and a bathtub fit for bubble baths or gutting fish. If you’re ever in Gold Beach, the Wild Chinook Inn is your best bet. After a quick morning walk and coffee the next day, it’s clear there are better things to do than hang around town.

ag We cross the mouth of the Rogue River, and only make it bit farther north before we run into Port Orford and one of the most beautiful coastal tableaus I’ve seen in a long while. We hike up a huge rock that juts out into the ocean, and I decide wearing motorcycle gear to climb, scramble up rocks, and basically keep up with a fearless boy is pretty much the shit. Knee armor, grippy boot soles, and leather gloves serve double duty.

ss At some point I decide that we should get a move on, seeing as how Ashlee’s family was hoping we’d be in Portland by dinnertime. In retrospect, we probably should have spent all day in Port Orford, sitting on that rock waiting for the sun to set, and leaving at dark to speed up the coast. Oregon drivers are slow, and not just by my standards. With lane splitting illegal, artificially low speed limits and drivers afraid to go even that fast, I’m in for a frustrating, slow, and long ride.

ag We slowly snake our way through the Oregon coastal towns I grew up visiting. For a large part, PCH turns inland and the views aren’t that spectacular, but it juts out to follow the ocean again once you get North of Florence, and the vistas turn amazing. Having fixed our sight on a destination so early in the day has made this the longest yet.

ss We head East on Highway 18 through Oregon wine country, stopping only to ogle the Spruce Goose (which makes the 747 sitting close by look like a scale model). We finally make it to Portland, and in the days to follow we’ll hang out in the Rose City where we’ll see Journey, visit SeeSee Motorcycle’s new shop and check out Moto Corsa before we head back South via Shasta, Tahoe and Yosemite.

You’ll be able to find complete Goldwing tour coverage here, over the next week or two.

  • http://www.brammofan.com Brammofan

    It’s shit like this, HellForLeather.
    I couldn’t log in today and finally figured out that my 1-year subscription was up and it was time to re-enlist. This is why I support you lucky bastards. And bastardettes.

    • http://worldof2.com/ jpenney

      I got hit with that a while back. An automated email would be a nice addition. Even better … one that warned me a few days in advance!

      • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Wes Siler

        Automated emails go out, but everyone runs such tight spam filters these days that they often get gobbled up.

        • http://www.facebook.com/beastincarnate Ben Incarnate

          So true. Google’s spam filter is damn near insatiable.

          • dux

            Sons-a-bitches got me too! Got it sorted though.

  • Roman

    My fiance and I are discussing honeymoon ideas for early next summer. The thought of riding up PCH is definitely in the back of my mind (tried to sell her on Isle of Mann TT, but admittedly that’s pushing it). Article, forwarded. Now if I only had a hook-up at Honda North America….

    • Sean Smith

      If you’re getting married with rings and all that jazz, Mendocino is a really good choice.

      • Roman

        Thanks for the tip, wrong coast, but the idea of eloping is getting more appealing by the day. Looking forward to the rest of the write-up.

      • ike6116

        Why don’t you man up and step up to the plate?

        We can all read the disappointment in your woman’s words.

        • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Wes Siler

          Ha, this comment is funny for so many reasons.

          • Sean Smith


        • Kevin

          No matter what a woman says–no matter *what*–they all have the girl inside them that wants to believe romance is true. And does it really hurt to believe, from time to time?

          Of course, I’m saying that to myself.

    • wascostreet

      Do the TT! Standing arms length from John McGuinness going full stick for his 18th TT victory will entirely change your perception on speed, danger and life.

    • Mike

      +1 on TT honeymoon. Did that & it was great fun for both of us.

  • Corey

    Stunning isn’t it? I did Seattle to LA in September but unfortunately my viewpoint was from the inside of a rented Camry. From the Red Woods up through the Olympic peninsula, the views stop only very few times. Looking forward to seeing the rest!

    I’m looking forward to doing it again with some friends, but maybe SF to Anchorage.

  • http://twitter.com/metabomber Jesse

    This is recursively epic stuff. And hey, Journey live.

  • Eric

    Please, stop the faux-tilt effect. I’ll throw $20 in on getting you a lensbaby so you can scratch that itch, just please make the gradient blurring stop.

    Also, get off my lawn you damn kids!

    • Ashlee Goodwin

      No can do. I’m obsessed with the hilarious effect that the Olympus E-PM1 will put on all your photos for free.

      • Eric

        It’s in camera?!? LOL

        • Sean Smith

          Built in “art” filter. You know, for artists ;)

          • Kevin

            Really? I thought it was Hipstamatic on an iPhone. How much was the Olympus, again?

            • Sean Smith

              E-PM1 $500. Overall, really nice camera. 12.3 Megapixel sensor, quick autofocus, good color. There’s a 17mm f2.8 lens that can be had for around $250 on Amazon that we’ll be purchasing at some point. I want the matching optical viewfinder too.


                The VF-2 electronic viewfinder is the business. You won’t be disappointed.

      • Ax

        What a shame. Some of those photos would make awesome desktop wallpaper if they weren’t so hilariously out of focus.


        I have an XZ-1 myself. Almost called you out for fake bokeh in the roadcrafter article.

        Derp. Looks good.

      • Donovan

        I think many of your photos from this article and past ones would have been much better if they were not blurry.

  • zipp4

    Totally jealous of your west coast scenery. Keep it coming!

  • RpM

    I love riding the PCH. I’m crazy about the twisties, the big trees, and those little coastal towns. My riding friends think I’m nuts, but I just can’t get enough of it.

    It was fun to read that you tapped into a bit of that magic too! Thanks. Looking forward to more of this.

    • hypergirl

      Hi RpM,
      As one of you’re riding friends, yes, I do think your nuts, but, birds of a feather…. :)
      I love Highway 1 as well. It is like a magic asphalt carpet all the way from Leggett down to … to … where does it end?:)

      • Brad W.

        I was in that area last summer and the riding was amazing. Hwy 1 and Hwy 36 were epic. I got to move there.

  • AaronT

    Are you happy? You went and made a damned Goldwing sound cool to a 25 year old.

    When I was making the decision to buy a motorbike I ran across Wes’ article in Wired, it was good enough to make me subscribe and this story is good enough to make me keep subscribing.

    • DavidMG

      The one where he’s flipping the bird? Hahaha, that’s awesome. What did you get in the end?

      • AaronT

        Yeah, that was the one. The comments were great entertainment as well.

        I ended up with a Honda CM250, the precursor to the Rebel but with a proper fork geometry. With a swap to some sensible bars it’s been a great starter bike so far.

        • DavidMG

          Smart man, start out small. Who cares if you have to trade up in a short while. Ride the crap out of that bike and enjoy it.

  • Major Caenus

    Hate to pick nits on such good article but it’s IFR that’s used in bad weather flying.

    Feel free to delete this anal comment when it’s corrected.

    • Sean Smith

      Nah, I should’ve caught that the first time through.

    • http://www.ninja250blog.com R.Sallee (Ninja 250)

      Another nit, and apologies beforehand, but it’s only “PCH” until Oxnard.

  • Brian

    What a post, Thank you. Truly thank you.

  • http://greatjoballweek.blogspot.com/ Case

    @ Ashlee & Sean: Doin’ it right. Respect.

  • Paul

    “I’ve always felt that it’s important as a man to not be a pussy.” Funny, as a man I’ve always felt it’s important to get my wife home in one piece. Punch away, Ashlee.

    • AaronT

      Are they married or just dating?
      I kid, I kid.

      • Sean Smith

        We’re hippies that use words like “soulmates.”

    • Ax


    • Sean Smith

      As a writer, I’ve always felt that it’s important to have a good sense of humor. I’d have to ride quite a bit more aggressively for it to be reckless. The Goldwing is easy to handle at the pace I was going. Because of how the tires work, you can get away with occasionally scraping the center stand or lower fairing. They’ve got tall, flexible sidewalls and sticky rubber over a firm center area. Even if you unload them, like when a bump bottoms out the front wheel and a lower fairing grounds out, there’s still a ton of soft rubber being forced into the road.

      • Wereweazle

        I can vouch for this. Some of the fastest riding I’ve done was following a Goldwing rider. Those things just squish over on their big tires til the pipes and footpegs scrape. In fact, like Sean mentioned above, the rider had to quite often raise his feet up to avoid scraping his boots.

      • Ax

        But if you’re making your passenger nervous or frightened…

        • Ashlee Goodwin

          Ashlee’s fine guys. Promise. I just happen to hate bad noises enough to inflict injury to stop them. ;)

          • Ax

            As a 47-year-old man who grew up on and around motorcycles, I’ve always felt that, once a passenger climbed aboard your bike, you stopped riding at YOUR comfort level and started riding at THEIRS.

            Eh. Call me old-fashioned.

            • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Wes Siler

              This is just a relationship dynamic, Sean’s not making anyone uncomfortable or scared.

              • coredump

                But Ashlee said she WAS uncomfortable with the noises and from what I gathered the noises were scaring her.

                • Ashlee Goodwin

                  You’re right. I feared for my life.

          • ike6116


            • Sean Smith

              5 points for a prince charming reference. Keep that up, and someday you’ll build up enough for a secret HFL prize.

              • BMW11GS

                tell me more?!?

                • Sean Smith

                  Previous prizes have included a free beer and shot, priceless advice, an all-expenses paid, one-night stay at our place, and at least a few stickers.

  • Nik

    Luxury, comfort, class. What more could you ask for?

  • JaySD

    @Ashlee & Sean you guys should check out hoteltonight on your iphone, they do same day hotel bookings and cover SF and portland (and some other places too but those might interest you)

  • SamuraiMark

    I gotta cancel my HFL subscription. Now I need a CBR250R and a Goldwing. And a Street Triple. And one of those Guzzi V7 deals.

    • Kevin

      I own a Multistrada, but the truth is I want one of everything. All the ones you mentioned, and more.

      But having just ridden from LA to Vegas in 50 degree weather at 80+ mph on a windy interstate, a motorcycle with great wind protection and heated everything would have been nice. As in, really really nice.

      • Sean Smith

        One of my favorite things about motorcycles is that they’re easy to modify. I’ll bet that you could add a tall screen, heated grips and seat, and hand guards to your Multi for under $500.

        • Kevin

          Multis have become infamous for how hard they are to get good wind protection. I have a Cee Bailey screen, which helped a lot, but you aren’t going to get any bubble of clean air. Just degrees of howl. Something about the wide bars and broad steering lock, I guess. The Multi’s got a jillion great things going for it, but weather protection notsomuch.

      • SamuraiMark

        Crap, forgot about the Multistrada. The wish-list groweth.

  • http://rider49er.blogspot.com Mark D

    Those roads north of SF are plain inspiring. I went up to the Point Reyes lighthouse the other weekend, and it was a great ride.

    Except once it got dark on the way back. Thank god for the Mini driver in front of me who kept up a normal pace, didn’t brake mid-corner, and didn’t mind me following him for his highbeams!

    • http://www.faster-faster.com fasterfaster

      Yup, I love my backyard. The loop out on 128 down Mendocino coast, across Skaggs, and down to Pt Reyes is an all time favorite. Thankfully, it’s far enough away from SF that writing about it here still won’t bring the squids up there.

      Awesome writeup. Epic touring should not be the exclusive domain of semi-retirees.

  • DoctorNine

    Staring up at the stars, while leaning back on the rear of that Goldwing, is one of the things that will flash through your mind just as you die, Ashlee. You know you’re living right, when you get moments like that to remember. Great write up.

  • Coreyvwc

    Great article, I’m just curious what it feels like to ride a motorcycle that doesnt make any noise and doesn’t vibrate? Unsettling?

    • Sean Smith

      Make any noise? The Goldwing is probably the loudest bike I’ve ever ridden. The stereo is amazing. If we’re talking about the motor though, it feels pretty similar to a well balanced four cylinder and sound is pretty good when you rev it out at full throttle.

      • Coreyvwc

        Guess I’ve never seen or heard a goldwing at full throttle, or even breaking the speed limit for that matter…

        • http://twitter.com/metabomber Jesse

          Depends on the rider, likely. My dad used to drag pegs on his ’78 GL1000, Vetter fairing and all. Kinda funny watching a 5’6″, 140lb dude rip on a bike that big.

          He got more tickets on that beast than he did on his Sportster (but no where near as many as he did on his Kawi Triple).

  • Denzel

    I, along with thousands of others, do a Seattle to Portland bike (bicycle) ride every year, which is ‘escorted’ by a Goldwing club… I see them and wonder if that’s my future. This awesome post is dragging me a little closer…

  • DavidMG

    Awesome trip, I’m quite jealous. I drove from San Francisco to Sonoma for a wedding earlier this year and I can’t wait to get down there again, this time on my bike.

    Vancouver to San Diego, I’ll do this soon I hope.

  • Will

    I alwys hated road trip log articles, bu now I realize that’s just because they’re written by old guys.

    Good work.

    • isambard

      The best ride reports on adv rider suck me in for hours. Plenty of younger riders posting there, too.

      • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Wes Siler

        +1, I’ve spent many a night reading ride reports on ADVRider.

  • http://lightsoutknivesout.tumblr.com/ Scott Pargett

    Last year, I did Sacramento to Seattle along the coast on a 1962 Honda Superhawk (305) that I restored. Brought back alot of memories.

    Oregon drivers are the slowest. I have a speeding ticket to prove it.

    • Sean Smith

      They are indeed the slowest. Driving/riding in Oregon, I feel as though I’m waiting in line at a theme park behind a very large line from a special needs school. Inattentive, easily frightened, slow moving and barely conscious. I don’t understand how people can stand to move that slowly.

      • contender

        I bought a Ulysses in Seattle and took a week riding home to L.A…much of the same route your’re on. Stuck mainly to PCH, but took a two-day inland detour to see Mt Shasta and some ridiculous roads around it (ever heard of Forks-of Salmon, CA??). It was the best birthday ever.

        Oregon drivers are slow in a way you have to experience to comprehend.

  • paul

    Just did a loop of the South Island here in New Zealand, Seven days on my old Guzzi SP cafe with a tent and camping gear. I’ve only been back a week and a half and your ride report is making me want to take off again already. That heater sounds pretty nice, look forward to reading some more. Have fun in Portlandia !

  • Will

    Down here in New Orleans there are Goldwing clubs that will ride in parades during Mardi Gras while blasting country music. They stay in first gear for about 4 hours and never get above 5 or 10 miles an hour. This looks like a much better use of the Goldwing.

    • DavidMG

      That right there I’m sure is one of the circles of hell. Right below riding up and down I5. Yeah, pretty sure.

  • Kevin

    Great article! Please keep more of this coming. I’m forwarding this article off to the misses to motivate her to ride along more often. It really helps to have your passengers comments and thoughts. Most times it’s only the rider’s thoughts that get written.

    • coredump

      That’s funny, I keep encouraging my girl to get her own bike to ride. I hate the idea that if I go down I’m not hurting just me but the both of us.

      • Sean Smith

        Explain to your passenger that sometimes motorcycles crash and that’s a reality they may have to deal with. Educate them about gear and do your best to ensure all the pointy bits are protected.

        If they really do understand that at anytime they may be ejected from the bike, and they’re ok with that, let them get on the bike. At that point, you can ride guilt free.

  • http://www.postpixel.com.au mugget

    “… if I roll on the throttle at exactly the right time I find that it’s possible to exit corners in a leaned over wheelie.”

    You did freakin’ what?!!

    I’m impressed with the Goldwing now. I had always thought it would be the ideal way to cover distance, but now I see it can be quite speedy and fun. Nice.

    • Sean Smith

      I found out that was the solution to that awful scraping noise. Just get on the throttle right at the apex, crank on the bars to stand the bike up and don’t let off when you feel the rear tire load up :)

      Some tire companies use black chilis, Bridgestone uses black magic.

      • ike6116

        I remember when Ashlee wrote the same thing in response to this post.

        • Sean Smith

          Truth: I use her 24″ iMac quite a bit.

          • ike6116

            Im hoping someone can invent a much more fun far less reasonable conspiracy theory reason for me to believe instead of this.

            • Sean Smith

              Real Truth? We’re the same person and girl you know as “Ashlee” is just the cheapest craigslist model I could find.

  • ontheroad

    Thanks to both of you for more of the great content that makes HFL. A long PCH trip, two-up dragging floorboards on a Goldwing? An obvious winner.

    Count me in with the guys who never before honestly considered that riding one of those behemoths could be fun.

    In addition to the story, I really liked this format. Next time, bring Grant for more photos. On a Ural, maybe hanging off the sidecar.

  • jason

    What ever happened to that scary frankenbike Ashlee got?

    • http://twitter.com/metabomber Jesse

      I suspect it enjoyed a weekend off from being awesome.

    • Sean Smith

      It went to see my friend Chris and it’s now back in our garage. It’s less scary now and less leaky. Still, needs a radiator.

  • http://mansgottado.tumblr.com/ Andy Gregory

    Awesome story and format. Motoring…

  • http://pinkyracer.com pinkyracer

    great story! Mendocino is totally that. My parents go there every year for their anniversary. They dragged me along one year, thinking I’d enjoy the break from my life in NYC and I got seriously motion sick on 128 in the back of a car. Not to mention bike-sick cuz I was in a car. your story is way better. Can’t wait to read more.

    Oh, and the goldwing is totally capable of lanesplitting in ways we can’t imagine. You would not believe the things I saw my friend Phyllis do with hers in NYC. I’d gladly follow her anywhere on my Monster knowing I’d be able to fit just fine.

  • John Martin

    Stumbled across this great article. Nice job!! I ride a 1st generation Yamaha Venture Royale. 212K miles on her. The performance description sounds very familiar. This beast turns many heads when it leaves “rockets” behind in the twisties. Lesson here. Don’t judge a bike by its comfort level vs performance :)