Gold Wing F6B: The story behind this remarkable machine

  • AUTHOR
    American Honda
  • POSTED
    Oct 25, 2013
  • POSTED IN
    Street

A single glance tells the story: There’s never been a bike like the Honda Gold Wing® F6B. Its aggressive appearance, featuring bold, blacked-out styling and clean, long, low-slung lines, gives it a unique and powerful presence. And yes, that’s a signature Honda horizontally-opposed six cylinder engine lurking beneath that blacked-out treatment—a proven 1800cc engine with power to burn. So whether you have an hour, a weekend or a week for your next ride, this machine comes fully loaded with all the cool looks and key features you’ll want, plus a level of comfort, versatility, performance and sophistication that place it in a class of one.

Derived from the legendary Honda Gold Wing, the F6B is no stranger to the open road; it’s the product of more than 38 years of customer-based real-world development and refinement. All the benefits of the Gold Wing’s unmatched quality, fit, finish and sophistication are an integral part of the Gold Wing F6B.

Case in point: the F6B’s silky smooth and incredibly powerful 1832cc six-cylinder engine. This amazingly sophisticated engine pumps out nearly twice as much power as the typical V-twin bagger. This liquid-cooled horizontally opposed six-cylinder engine is literally in a class of its own, having firmly established a well-deserved reputation for exhilarating acceleration, super-strong roll-on power, smooth operation and utmost reliability. The Programmed Fuel Injection (PGM-FI) system carries over from the Gold Wing, and this system too is a model of refined performance under just about every street-riding situation imaginable via its two 40mm throttle bodies and six high-pressure fuel injectors. Likewise, the five-speed gearbox, clutch and shaft final drive have all been thoroughly proven over more than a decade and millions of miles of real-world GL1800 use. And that’s just part of what makes the F6B unique.

The F6B’s distinctive horizontally-opposed six-cylinder layout also contributes significantly to an exceptionally low center of gravity. That design works in concert with a stout twin-spar aluminum frame that remains remarkably advanced and sophisticated for a big bike, and it features a beefy 45mm fork with an anti-dive system and a plush 4.8 inches of travel. In back there’s a single-sided Pro-Arm swingarm, and the rear Pro-Link single-shock suspension setup has a new shock with valving specifically tuned to the F6B. A dial-type remote adjuster offers easy access for quick adjustments to rear shock spring preload. Dual full-floating 296mm rotors and three-piston calipers up front plus the rear 316mm disc deliver stellar braking power and terrific feel; Honda’s advanced Combined Braking System links the front and rear brakes.

Weighing in a full 62 pounds lighter than the full-dress Gold Wing, the F6B not only boasts a better power-to-weight ratio, it also feels noticeably more agile under all riding conditions. This new level of nimbleness and maneuverability imbues the F6B with handling that’s amazingly light from stop-and-go in-town traffic to twisty country roads—all of which helps explain the F6B’s true high-performance nature.

Taking an historical perspective, we can see that the F6B is really a natural extension of the original Gold Wing concept, one that benefits from equal measures of innovation, performance and refinement in its basic DNA. 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—features that appear in today’s F6B.

In production form that M1 prototype became the original GL1000 Gold Wing, introduced in 1975. This was a machine that was much, much more than just a new motorcycle—it was well and truly a revolution on two wheels. Powered by an incredibly sophisticated 999cc liquid-cooled horizontally opposed four-cylinder engine—this in a time when 750s were considered big bikes and Superbikes displaced 900cc—that first Gold Wing set standards for all-around performance that surpassed every other bike in that era.

By existing standards, this first Gold Wing was blazing fast. As a result, consumers and journalists alike were irresistibly drawn to the Gold Wing but they were also initially at a loss as what to make of this open-class machine with world-class power and cross-country capabilities. But later that year the GL1000 earned the top-rank position in a Cycle comparison of touring bikes and riders quickly embraced this amazing machine. The legend of the Gold Wing was now off to a fast start, ultimately leading to the F6B we see today.

The path to the F6B winds through more than three decades and through many progressive iterations as the Gold Wing advanced in function and reputation to firmly establish itself as the leader in a class of one.

In 2001 the apex GL1800 Gold Wing appeared, designed by Masanori Aoki, a sportbike engineer who was determined to give the 1800cc Gold Wing a pronounced sport feeling and superior handling traits without losing any touring capability. The goal was to add more fun factor to the machine by providing the kind of acceleration, engine feel and handling people normally associate with sporting machines.

The 1832cc engine was designed to have tons of power, a lot more character in terms of a power hit and a more free-revving design, for more of a high-performance feel. The chassis incorporated an aluminum frame, one that very much paralleled the design of those used in sport bikes, because aluminum is easier to manipulate in tuning the chassis for rigidity and light weight, with specific strength and rigidity qualities readily applied to the frame where they are most needed. All this and more was achieved, features and benefits that are amplified in the F6B.

In terms of styling and looks, the F6B definitely goes its own way. This is a bike that demands attention, thanks to lines that are clean, long and low, plus a blacked-out treatment for the wheels, engine and frame. The absence of a rear trunk, plus the shorty windscreen and gunfighter-style seat add greatly to the unique look of the F6B, as do the sleek lower cowl and stylish tail section that now incorporates passenger grabrails.

An all-new seat not only gives the F6B a unique look, it also gives the rider and passenger a different, more open feel from the saddle. A premium-quality audio system comes standard on the F6B, and it offers direct MP3/iPod connectivity. The lockable and waterproof large-capacity saddlebags provide much utility and flexibility for whatever the day’s ride calls for, and a large, centrally located glovebox is both handy and easy to use for the storage of smaller items. All this and more means there’s no need to rough it on the road. Available in standard or deluxe trim and offering a wide assortment of Honda Genuine Accessories, the Gold Wing F6B leaves plenty of room to add your own personal touch.

The end result is part tourer, part cruiser, part sport bike, the best of all three worlds, with an elevated level of performance, sophistication, fit, finish and reliability never seen before. Its terrific versatility allows it to fulfill a wide variety of riding pursuits from short hops to long rides. In truth, the F6B reaches back to the original roots and spirit of the GL1000—the “King of Motorcycles” with a blend of high-performance and sophistication nothing can match.

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