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2013 Honda Gold Wing F6B First Ride

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Of the manufacturers actively promoting the next generation of motorcyclists, Honda has been at the forefront recently. The first indicators were its jump into the entry-level sportbike niche with the release of its CBR250R. Suddenly Kawasaki’s best-selling little Ninja had a worthy opponent. Honda continued this trend with the introduction of its affordable, rider-friendly 500-series of motorcycles this year along with the release of its versatile NC700X before that.
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2013 Honda Gold Wing F6B First Ride Video
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Climb on with Motorcycle USA as we check out the F6B and take a spin around San Diego and the Cleveland National Forest in our 2013 Honda Gold Wing F6B First Ride video.
Honda’s efforts even extend to its flagship luxury touring motorcycle, the Gold Wing, which also got a refresh in 2013, the new Honda F6B the best hope yet to attract younger rides to the virtues of the stalwart Flat Six-powered motorcycle.

In its effort to liven up the look and expose the Wing to a wider demographic, Honda began by lopping off the plush passenger accommodations and topcase, replacing them with a standard pillion pad, black aluminum grab rails, and dual hard locking saddlebags integrated into one cohesive tail section. The wide front cowling sports a more aggressive look, anchored by the shorty windscreen sandwiched between revamped mirrors, basically the units from the Wing flipped upside down. The view from the side showcases an attractive triple louver design while the panels are skinnier. The exhaust cover is also smaller which allows a hint of chrome from the pipes to peak out beneath the horizontally opposed six-cylinder engine. At the far end of those pipes rests re-designed exhaust tips. Honda also swapped out seats, the new Gunfighter saddle shorter, thinner, and at 28.5 inches, a half-inch lower than the one found on the Wing. And while its engine remains virtually unchanged, Honda eliminated the reverse gear that comes standard on the Gold Wing. The combination of losing the topcase, dropping the extra gear, and ditching a few options like cruise control and its wiring resulted in trimming 62 pounds from the GL1800. It also lowered its center of gravity. Throw in a blacked-out color scheme and the 2013 F6B has its own sporting long and low identity.

Honda intends to change the perception of its Gold Wing and hopes its sporty new 2013 F6B will help attract a younger demographic.
Honda intends to change the perception of its Gold Wing and hopes its sporty new 2013 F6B is the vessel to do it.
Roll on the accelerator and the Honda F6B will straight up get it as it surges off the line  a wave of torque smoothly delivered by its 1832cc engine.
Roll on the accelerator and the Honda F6B will straight up get it as it surges off the line, a wave of torque smoothly delivered by its 1832cc engine.
The F6B has a look that’s both familiar and unique, but climb into its saddle and the differences are immediately recognizable. The bike feels lower and narrower. Riders can snug up closer to the tank thanks to the slimmer seat, pressure points have shifted in the lower back and situating two feet flatly on the ground is a cinch for my six-foot-tall frame. Even though the bike still has a claimed curb weight of 842 pounds, it doesn’t feel like it thanks to a center of gravity that has shifted slightly forward and down on the bike. Without having to look through a tall windscreen and not having the heft of the passenger backrest and topcase behind you provides a different sense of openness to riders. Mid-controls place feet comfortably beneath you and it’s an easy reach to the bars so riders sit upright with a slight forward lean.

But it is when the motorcycle is in motion that the changes are most apparent. Roll on the accelerator and it surges off the line, a wave of gratifying torque smoothly delivered by its 1832cc engine. Its characteristics are much different than launching a V-Twin, the power coming on less abruptly in a power band that is very linear. The highlight is a strong initial push and a healthy midrange, though first gear signed off a little early in the rev range just above 40 mph. Once up to speed, drop it into overdrive fifth and the F6B hums along at 65 mph at a fraction below 3000 rpm, requiring little effort from its liquid-cooled, single overhead cam engine. The powerplant features a parallel two-valve cylinder head with direct shim-under-bucket valve actuation and is a model of efficiency, with almost no noticeable vibrations or mechanical rumblings coming from Honda’s vaunted Flat Six. This despite the fact that its engine serves as a stressed member of the frame and is rigid-mounted. The engine-mounting system features a special design for its hangers and matching mounts that quell most engine vibrations.

Its five-speed transmission displays the same traits, slipping between gears with no fuss and nominal noise. Action at the shifter is smooth but at times finding Neutral proves to be challenging. Beyond that, the tranny on the F6B works seamlessly, each gear engaging smoothly without missing a beat. We didn’t miss the electric reverse of the standard Wing, but admittedly we didn’t have to push it back at much of an incline. It sits low enough and the seat is narrow enough that we got plenty of leverage rolling back but shorter riders might miss the reverse gear.

Its brakes are also exemplary, the linked braking system providing impressive power. Pressure from its three-piston calipers is firm and steady without being grabby while providing great feel to riders at the lever. Honda's Combined Braking System, with three-piston calipers front and back, has a second master cylinder and a three-stage proportional control valve (PCV) to operate the calipers in tandem. The front runs dual floating 296mm discs, and a good squeeze on the front brake lever activates the outer two pistons of the front right-side caliper and the center piston of the front left-side caliper while the secondary master cylinder and an inline proportioning valve activate the outer two pistons of the rear caliper. The rear brake pedal operates the center piston of the rear brake caliper, the center piston of the front right-side brake caliper and the outer two pistons of the front left-side caliper. It is the kind of system where riders get a good sense of the calipers biting into the disc when they squeeze the brake lever and feel the effects of smooth, even braking. Honda accomplishes this without much dive in the fork, the 45mm cartridge unit sporting an anti-dive system while utilizing the same internals, damping and springs as the Gold Wing.
A 2013 Honda F6B sits next to a standard Gold Wing and shows the DNA they share while exposing their differences as well.A shorty windscreen  mirrors that are essentially the Gold Wing mirrors flipped upside down  and a new front cowling give the F6B a fresh look from the front.Predictable at the bars and stable at lean  the 2013 Honda F6B hugs the road when its banked over and hugs the road with an almost sport-touring sureness.
(L) A 2013 Honda F6B sits next to a standard Gold Wing and shows the DNA they share while exposing their differences as well. (M) A shorty windscreen, mirrors that are essentially the Gold Wing mirrors flipped upside down, and a new front cowling give the F6B a fresh look from the front. (R) Predictable at the bars and stable at lean, the 2013 Honda F6B hugs the road when it's banked over with an almost sport-touring sureness.

As we head out of San Diego into the winding roads of the Cleveland National Forest, we waver between wanting to enjoy the beauty of the round rocks of the high chaparral and the desire to continue riding, but the way the Honda F6B is shining in the curvy stuff makes our decision to ride on an easy one. Stable at lean, predictable at the bars, the motorcycle hugs the road with almost sport-touring sureness. As you can imagine, without the topcase and with the lowered COG, the F6B transitions much easier than its predecessor. The chassis on the twin-beam aluminum spar frame is the same as the Gold Wings but doesn’t have to support as much weight so it, too, is sure-footed and reliable with just the right amount of flex. While the front fork is the same, the electronically adjustable rear suspension on the standard Wing has been replaced by a spring preload adjustable shock that sits under the right side panel and is manually adjustable. As a result, the shock’s damping rates were revised to accommodate the weight loss and the hydraulically adjustable rear feels a tad stiffer because of the reduction. Overall, it provides the same comfortable, high quality ride you’d expect from a Gold Wing. Our major grievance is that riders will be scraping pegs quite a bit more now!

Though there’s no topcase on the F6B, its hard saddlebags still hold more than a claimed 50 liters and we were able to stuff a Bell Skratch Deluxe Helmet inside and still get the doors shut. Opening the bags does require riders to remove the key from the ignition to open them. A positive side effect from this is at least the saddlebags are constantly locked
At first we were partial to the blacked-out version  but after spending much of the day in the saddle of the red one  its a toss up between the two color options.
At first we were partial to the blacked-out version, but after spending much of the day in the saddle of the red one, it's a toss up between the two color options.
and it does come equipped with an electric ‘bag ajar’ indicator to inform you if they’re not shut. We’ve had bags pop open while riding other motorcycles and having your stuff fly all over the freeway always sucks, so Honda’s attention to detail is appreciated.

Our first ride on the 2013 Honda Gold Wing F6B covered a total of 151 miles of highway miles in addition to plenty of remote two-lane traffic through winding roads with numerous elevation changes. Honda sets mileage estimates at 34 mpg and before our stint with the F6B was done, we had about 1/8th of a tank left in the 6.6-gallon fuel cell. While riding, an open-face helmet brought awareness to the wind creeping over the shorty windscreen that hits riders about mid-face. Buffeting isn’t bad, but the amount of air channeled back to the rider is noticeable when it’s virtually non-existent on the Wing. Besides that, the front fairing is plenty wide enough to shelter riders from most other debris kicked up on the road.

The layout of the cockpit is very intuitive, a round analog speedo front-and-center flanked by an odometer on the left and a fuel gauge/oil temperature indictor on the right. A four-speaker audio system bookends the instrument cluster, the sound plenty loud and clear even at freeway speeds. In the left saddlebag resides a connector for an iPod or MP3 player but the system runs standard AM/FM channels as well. Below the speedo cluster sits a digital, multi-information screen that cycles through features like an odometer/A&B tripmeters, clock, air temperature, audio controls and music information. A series of knobs and buttons to control these features is situated on a panel on the rider’s left side, the collection slightly imposing if you’re unfamiliar with them. Like most things, the imposition fades with familiarity. On a final note, both the brake and clutch levers on the F6B are five-way adjustable, a handy feature.

The 2013 Honda Gold Wing F6B will be the first model to incorporate Honda Signature Accessories like deluxe removable saddlebag liners at the time of its launch. There is a long list of Honda accessories ready to add custom touches to the F6B available as well, from a sharp-looking short, tinted windscreen to an outdoor cover that allows owners to access the bike’s saddlebags with the cover still on. It also comes straight from the factory in a F6B Deluxe version that comes with a center stand, self-cancelling turn signals, a passenger backrest and heated grips for a cool grand more.

The importance of the Gold Wing to Honda cannot be understated. Not many motorcycles make it to 38 years of production, but the GL has. Honda claims they have sold over 550,000 Gold Wings in the US alone. And though the
The Honda F6B handles so well  youll be seeking out winding  remote patches of road to explore its lean angles on.
The Honda F6B handles so well, you'll be seeking out winding, remote patches of road to explore its lean angles on.
2013 F6B has come a long ways from the 1975 GL1000, Honda reminds us that the current bike wouldn’t be possible without the past iterations that helped pave the way for it to succeed.

“Back in 1972, race bike-engineering giant Soichiro Irimajiri headed up design of the exquisitely sophisticated and ultra-high-performance prototype M1 motorcycle, specifically to explore the outer limits of the Grand Touring concept. The final result was truly a breakthrough machine, one that set new standards of design and performance thanks to its liquid-cooled horizontally opposed six-cylinder engine with shaft drive—key features that appear in today’s F6B.” - from a Honda Gold Wing Timeline

Honda is confident this exercise will succeed because it’s projecting as many F6B sales as GL1800. The GL trailed only the CBR250R in sales last year, and not by much. Considering the difference in price between the two is about $20 grand, it drives home the importance of the Gold Wing to the Honda bottom line.

Honda has done a bang up job with its F6B. It still exhibits some of the same characteristics as the Wing, from all-day comfort to its potent power delivery to its road-hugging chassis, but the riding experience is much more spirited thanks to the lower COG and sheddin’ of weight. It has enough power to launch you off the start line in a kinetic burst, it hugs the pavement when the road snakes up, and its brakes more than get the job done when it’s time to scrub off speed. And though it shares its DNA with the Wing, sample one and experience the much more spirited ride for yourself, one that matches its sporty new look. After our day in its saddle we must say we came away impressed with the new niche Honda has created, one affectionately dubbed the “sports bagger.”
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jh1289   May 16, 2014 09:15 AM
No nav, no cruise control. I am hearing a lot of people online saying it's not great for long trips, like the original Gold Wing is. It's also harder for us long-legged folks than Gold Wings are. The looks have grown on me, but I'm disappointed in what it lacks.
pacman52   November 12, 2013 08:04 AM
I've seen it at a local dealership and I must admit, I like it a lot... Could be my next bike in 2014... Ps. I've had over 40 street bikes (mostly sport bikes)and I believe it's time for comfort lolll
Shawn1960   August 5, 2013 09:31 PM
I like this First Ride report on the F6B. I don't understand the comments. One guys says the bike comes with Cruise Control (no, cruise control is not available; look on Honda's site; don't believe me: http://powersports.honda.com/touring/2013/gold-wing-f6b.aspx)
One guy said a Hayabusa and a '93 Harley are his chick magnets, and he has ridden 200 miles, last year. Good luck to that guy.
I took delivery in June, put my first thousand on it, and will be riding the 38th Three Flags Classic, so that'll be 5,000 miles on Labor Day weekend and the following week. I'll be late on my 4,000 mile service!
I like the handling, hp, torque, and reliability. I agree with the person who posted before me that riders will pay the charge for cruise control. It's just a dumbass move not to have it, there is no arguing with that obvious fact. Until it is available, I have that twenty dollar Go-Clip, like something you'd use on an old tractor. I like Harleys okay. I owned an '09 Ultra, and I've used Road Glides as rentals; they are probably my favorite. I'm not a mechanic, and I have never had a part just fall off a Goldwing while I was riding it, like everyone has on a Harley. So I won't be as cool as you. I ride with people who go long distances. I want to get there quickly, as comfortably as possible. The F6B fits me like a glove. I put an 11" Cee Bailey dark grey windscreen. Mick-O-Pegs are ordered, I will install them when they arrive, hopefully this week (for the guy who asked about highway pegs, these are the only ones which are comfortable. You don't have to spread your legs around a flat 6, just step down, feet go no lower than the bottom of the engine.) People use the nice looking Kuryakin & the like, but I do not believe they work well for anyone. I'm set to go! I like all motorcycles, and I think this will be my best bike, yet. I look forward to putting a hundred thousand on 'er, and then reevaluating.
dirtcheap   May 20, 2013 08:56 PM
This bike looks gooood! I think Honda is starting to wake up after a decade of coasting along. They gonna sell a ton of these. The lack of cruise is a drag, but aftermarket got you covered for cheap.
jimboecv   April 8, 2013 11:00 PM
Rocket III vs. F6B
pacman52   April 1, 2013 03:07 PM
@investorBP Honda's Dual-Combined Braking System features a second master cylinder and a three-stage proportional control valve (PCV) to couple the three-piston calipers of the dual front and single rear brake discs. Using the front brake lever activates the outer two pistons of the front right-side caliper and the centre piston of the front left-side caliper and, acting through the secondary master cylinder and an inline proportioning valve, the outer two pistons of the rear caliper. The rear brake pedal operates the centre piston of the rear brake caliper, the centre piston of the front right-side brake caliper and the outer two pistons of the front left-side caliper. A delay valve sensitive to the rider's pedal pressure smoothes front brake engagement.. Anti-lock Braking System (ABS) features an electric-motor-driven modulator that provides rapid and precise braking-pressure adjustments, resulting in smooth ABS operation. The system incorporates an integrated ECU, self-diagnostics with an interactive ECU test function, and automatic protection against system failure.. Massive Yes it does have ABS.
bigdaddyroadking   March 27, 2013 08:29 PM
Took one out for a test ride today; very impressive outing! I ride a 2011 HD Road Glide, which I love; but the F6B was an awakining of sorts. Love my Harley, however Honda has hit a home run with this bike. May need to take one home (pack a change of clothes, and ride to California).
Ceekay   March 20, 2013 07:04 PM
Just bought one. Couldn't resist the wooshy styling. I also have a Goldwing and a 1999 Valkyrie. This bike is a sport Goldwing. It is only 62 pounds lighter but it feels like a much lighter bike than the venerable tourer I've grown to love. The power is awesome and the handling is excellent. Braking is excellent. I traded a Ducati Diavel for this thing because I have fallen in love with the smooth power of this big bike. The Ducati was excellent, but like every Ducati, it hates being driven at under 4000 RPM. That is hard to do in the city and I live in a city. The big six Honda will do 10 mph as smooth as glass. My only quibble after 40 miles (I said I just bought it) is that they didn't name it a Valkyrie and they didn't put in cruise control. Not having cruise control doesn't really bother me because it takes no effort to stay at the same speed. You just can't take your hand off the throttle if you don't have cruise. How does it stack up to the 1999 Valkyrie? I put straight pipes on the Valkyrie and a Mustang seat. I'll put a Mustang seat on this new one as soon as them offer it. The factory seat is just fine, but Mustang is better. The 6 into 6 pipes on the Valkyrie make the thing sound like the diesels on a train when you maintain speed and like a stock car when you crank back on the throttle. It is my Harley killer. The factory pipes on the F6B have a nice note, but you an only hear it at stoplights. On the road, you hear wind. I was really interested to know what the shorty windshield did. Here's what. It protects everything under your head. You get a full wind blast to your helmet. This doesn't bother me because I like a little wind. Put on the leather and a full face and I'd ride the interstates from here (West Palm Beach) to Seattle without complaint. In fact, I think I'd rather have full wind against a helmet than the cross winds that buffet you back and forth behind the windscreen of the Goldwing tourer. Honda says they make a tall windshield for the F6B but all my dealership knew about it was rumors. They also make cloth bags that fit the two non-removable side bags on the F6B, but again, not available that I know of. Now, as to the styling. Everybody at Judy's Highway Bar in Jupiter, FL, walked over to look at it when I stopped there for a German beer. In the 18 miles from the dealership to Judy's, two guys rolled down the windows of their four-wheelers at stop lights to ask me about it. I'd say that massaged my show off button. Can't wait to take it out for real. Depending on weather, the F6B and I are rolling to Key West ASAP and I plan to take it to the Carolinas and possibly the Tail of the Dragon as soon as next week if I can work off the 1,000 mile break in period and get the necessary oil change. I was semi-amazed that the maintenance period is only 4,000 miles. The Ducati, with only a third as many cylinders, was 7,000 miles. But, hey, it takes regular gas and probably will be running long after I am dead. After 40 miles, I'm dead serious happy with it.
Earle1231   March 12, 2013 06:17 PM
To investor BP. The bike comes standard with cruise control
investorBP   February 17, 2013 07:27 AM
I saw the bike last Sunday at the Chicago Motorcycle show as that was my main interest for attending. It's a nice looking ride, feels nimble to sit on & a move long overdue by Honda to aggressively pursue this segment of the bagger market. I was disappointed that cruise control & ABS are not even offered as options & that's a deal killer for me. I spoke to a guy at the booth who works for Honda & he said the goal was to make that <$20,000 price point, period & asked what I'd pay for those options. I simply told him I'd pay what was fair as Harley charges $295 for cruise & $1,195 for Security & ABS. Huge mistake as this is a tourer & cruise should be standard & ABS an option. My last 3 bikes have been Harleys ('07 CVO Road King, '10 Street Glide, '12 Street Glide) & all had cruise & the last 2 had Security & ABS. I think this bike will do well for Honda but they need to get realistic as focusing on a price point is so shortsighted as people will pay for excellence.
Schuvwj   February 15, 2013 07:09 PM
Wow, you HD guys can really READ!!!!
sololobo   February 12, 2013 04:40 PM
This new Honda looks like a pretty smooth ride, but leaving parts off a bike you already make and calling it new just doesn't cut it. Only Harley Davidson is allowed to do that. LOL Oh shut up you HD guys, I ride one too. I'm sorry but I think the name is terrible, and it also reminds me of Kawasaki's Vaquero. I'm thinking it won't sell very well at all, but only time will tell.
Kokorokante   February 12, 2013 11:05 AM
That sorry thing looks like a Road King by Tupperware.
Hecklerboy   February 12, 2013 10:57 AM
I'm a Harley guy but I have to say this is a nice looking bike. I'm sure the Goldwing crowd will appreciate having a sportier option. Kind of like a Electra Glide vs the Street Glide.
woodco100   February 10, 2013 06:39 PM
Ooooh, a "bag ajar" indicator light. How did we win 2 world wars without that. That alone is a reason not to buy this thing. Truly the minivan of motorcycles.
woodco100   February 10, 2013 06:34 PM
If it costs more than a good used Sportster it will never sell.
jerha1340   February 8, 2013 06:48 AM
Only old men would ride this stupid bike. I ride a 1993 Road King and a 99 Busa and they attract women. I ride a lot so I need a fast bike (Busa) and a comfortable bike (RK). Last year I road just under 200 miles. I'd be ashamed to ride the F6B around the block.
woodco100   February 7, 2013 08:50 PM
we got a price on these meatboat yet?
Kropotkin   February 6, 2013 09:32 AM
It's a beautiful motorcycle. Honda will sell a tonne of them. One of the problems I have always had with sport-tourers is that I cannot put my feet forward on anything, to stretch out my legs. The Goldwing, though it's a tourer, always had the flat-six to deal with to some extent it blocks the forward placement of one's feet. Does this machine allow anywhere to put your feet forward, so as to stretch out your legs on a long ride? Do highway pegs mount easily?