Big boy's toy


The ultimate grand tourer

It’s over forty years ago since Honda announced a new model that would spawn a motorcycling legend. Admittedly its liquid-cooled four-stroke flat four was an engine type that had never been seen before on a production two wheeler, but generally it was seen as a competent 1000cc grand tourer. A gentleman’s bike capable of crossing continents if the urge took you. Little did they realise though how grand that tourer would become. The bike was the Honda Gold Wing.

In fact it didn’t take long for the Gold Wing to start its metamorphosis into the bike we know today. In 1978 Honda grafted on the type of accessories that became synonymous with the brand.

Top box and panniers sprouted. The armchair seat appeared behind a fairly substantial fairing. Each and every addition designed to take the strain of open road.

By 1988 the Honda GL1500 Gold Wing (to give it its full name) had grown a little. Well actually a lot. Now the Gold Wing really took flight. Word had it that the newly emerged model was the result of the most comprehensive model development project in Honda’s history. Apparently 15 different configurations in 60 prototype stages were produced before the final was chosen. Now the die was well and truly cast.

Thereafter Honda followed a policy of gentle evolution with the Gold Wing development happening more under the skin than being obvious to the naked eye. Indeed for all but the cognoscenti the bike appeared to remain virtually unchanged for 15 years or more. But then again, if it ain’t broke…


Fast forward to 2014 and Honda decided that it was time to give the Gold Wing a new lease of life. To do so they decided to put it on a diet and created the “Flat-Six Custom”. With swathes of bodywork removed it revealed a somewhat steroidal cruiser which still retained the twin-spar aluminium frame 1832cc flat-six engine, five-speed box and shaft drive. If Arnie drove a Gold Wing this would be the one…

Fast forward again to 2018 and Honda’s big baby has been spruced up yet again now boasting more car like features than most cars!  The video below (sorry about the accent) reveals all. Impressive is something of an understatement.

Not surprising while Honda has ploughed its own furrow with the Gold Wing, there has been many an admiring glance cast from various directions, perhaps the most unexpected being from the world of customisers. But when you think about that highly distinctive, low slung engine, it’s perhaps no great revelation that the custom fraternity have seen the potential. And we have to say with some stunning results…

Who would have thought from such a low key introduction a biking legend would be born. Which, in turn, leaves you to wonder what’s next in store for the Gold Wing. Maybe around 2030 Honda will let us know.

Published on 31st October 2017