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Honda Goldwing 1500 Part 2
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In the first episode David Towers explained how he came to buy an 18 year old Goldwing. This time, he makes the case for calling it a classic bike...

Once we'd taken possession of the 1984 1500cc Goldwing it became obvious that my Dearly Beloved adored it. The comfort of that armchair on the back, arm rests and a stereo (through the speakers, or through the headphones the intercom uses. Of course it automatically mutes the stereo when you speak, did you really need to ask?), plus of course, sitting so much higher, she can see all around, even what's behind us in the mirrors. She's very happy sitting there for mile after hour after mile.

Of course there are downsides, she insists on singing along to the music, and (don't tell her for god's sake) she has the worst voice in history! Similar to a battle cry at Anfield, but louder and less tuneful.

That windscreen... is big.

There are those, however, who dispute that this Wing is a classic. I would have thought that there being only six of this exact model in the country (rarer than most Vincents, although if anyone wishes to swap, I would entertain your offers) would alone warrant its inclusion.

There is no disputing (I hope) that the earlier Wings are classics and rightly so. They may not have been the first super-tourers, but they were certainly the first successful (commercially speaking) ones. I really like the early ones with wire wheels and nakedness (oooooerrrr Missus) but I love the way that the 1500s are integrated into a whole. There are no bits just stuck on as an afterthought (except those put there by owners). It has a symmetry, single-minded approach and completeness rare in motorcycling these days. It does not pretend to be an 'all rounder' or suitable for a five mile commute. Yes sure, it can do it, but it lets you know that you're asking for things it doesn't really want to do!

The Goldwing's sole true purpose is to cover huge distance at speed in total comfort, carrying just about everything you could possibly wish for your weekend/week/ fortnight. And all with vast reserves. Make no mistake, a Goldwing can sure shift! But then, I suppose any bike with a 1520cc six cylinder engine is going to be capable of lifting its skirts and running for the hills. Annihilating Harleys at the traffic light GP is easy meat. You can even surprise the odd sports 600 if they're dozing. Of course this is acting like a hooligan, which seems unnecessarily cruel to Nurse Gladys.

Then there's the handling. On motorways and fast A-roads with sweeping bends, it handles so well that it astounds you (when you've set the air pressure correctly). It is totally stable, almost serene, as it glides round the bends. The pilot is of course in perfect comfort, with the heater on if it's chilly, the air vents open if warm, reclined against your own backrest, and the windscreen taking care of the bugs. There's a surprising amount of ground clearance as well, you really are well over before your foot touches the ground, and the first time it happens is such a shock, because you're really not trying!

In fact, they are really well designed from a lean angle point of view - every Winger, without exception, will at some point drop their bike. Anything that weighs 930lbs is gonna be a handful to push around, inevitably, and down it will go. It's a sickening moment, waiting for the sounds of expensive plastic panels breaking, scraping or worse shattering. That doesn't happen!

Wings just rock on their crashbars hidden under the panniers at the rear and around the engine at the front. The first time I dropped mine there was nothing to show for the experience other than a few scratches under the crashbars, and a hernia from lifting it back up. Pretty impressive, you've got to admit?

One proper bike and two... Well, you decide.

However, on B-roads and most of the roads we have down here in sunny Devon, badly surfaced, and strewn with interesting obstacles as they are, things are not always so rosy. In short, a Wing can be a real handful. When you're out with your mates (it always seems funny at my advanced age ringing other similarly aged geezers, and asking their wives if they can come out to play!) who ride ancient BMWs, classic Brit iron and old but worthy Japanese collectables, it can be quite an eye opening experience riding your super-tourer on tiny, badly surfaced lanes and roads.

That's when you find out just how big and heavy a Wing is. Fine, in theory your bike is newer, faster and better equipped suspension-wise than theirs, but they're having fun, and you stopped all that malarky at the last A-road! Sad, but true.

I've spent quite a bit of time, and quite a bit of money trying to make the old girl handle well. It's had progressive fork springs and thicker oil in the front, new rear shocks, decent tyres (six hours to change a back tyre!).

In the end I've even dropped the yokes down the fork legs an inch to speed up her reactions. And yes, all of this has worked, so she is now a fine-handling, chuckable monster. But, there's no getting away from the facts: you're trying to make Nurse Gladys do something she really, really, doesn't want to do. A bit like marrying Arkwright really!

So for the back lanes and rural byways, there really is no substitute for our old Brit, European, or Japanese classics. They are happy to meander (quite quickly if you want!) down badly-surfaced roads, across hump-back bridges, and through water splashes. The Moors are a constant delight when aboard your old, light, classic.

Even the sheep seem to quite like being startled as some aged Triumph clatters past, shattering the peace with its blaring meggas (mine usually). However they sometimes seem quite shocked (it could be bemusement, I'm not all that good at reading sheep's facial expressions!) by the serene and silent Wing as it boings majestically from rut to rut.

So, is the 1500 Goldwing a classic?

Yes it is…

Random Goldwing stuff on

…in the same way that a Ducati 916, or an MV Augusta F4 is. They are beautiful to look at, but I wouldn't want to ride one of them across the moors either. In their place, they are superb. And so is the Wing. The 1500 is the first of the Goldwings with all its bodywork integrated, a bike that was designed for its role as much as the Duke or MV. And it is just as single-minded. In years to come, all of these will be acknowledged as classics and praised and adored for that very single-mindedness. We live in a world where specialisation is rampant, and the 'all things to all men' approach is fast fading away. Whether this is a good thing I don't know. But if you have the wherewithal then you can also have multiple choices.

One proper bike and... Well, you decide. Again.

I wouldn't expect my aged Trumpet to be over the moon at the prospect of 120 miles up the M5 with a deadline to meet. OK, she would do it, but at 80mph things vibrate, buzz, and eventually start to fall off.

Likewise, why would any right-minded person expect 900lbs of blancmange to be lithe and sporty on the avenues and byways? So, apart from the days when I'm up for a challenge (yes I can be perverse sometimes), it's got to be horses for courses, the Triumph for gallumping locally and the Wing is for the more further afield venues.

Or for those odd days when you get rid of the kids and you can disappear with the Dearly Beloved for a few hours, possibly a day. Maybe even two!


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