Second Impressions: 2002 Pearl Orange GoldWing

 

From the Educator

 

Much of this part of my article is from the same time as the first article, only a few days of ownership of the new 1800. This list is mostly those things that I did not like about the new 1800. I remind you that I am a bit particular so you are getting the smallest nitty gritty. In addition, as I will indicate, I have now taken a quick three day trip that included two 500 plus miles on the super slab and then a wonderful 130 miles on the Missouri back roads. But, this may have either added to my dislike or changed my mind, read on to find out.†††††††

 

CONS:

††††††††††† Plastic clips, instead of a bolt and clip nut, I could spend some time on this, but, I prefer a sound secure tight fit of panel parts, These plastic clips will not hold over time and will break from usage. Been here, done that, donít like themÖ.††

††††††††††† Cooling system - Overflow Tank; as early as March when I first saw and inspected the 1800, I found the placement for the over flow tank for the radiator was placed in what I thought was a very poor location. It appeared to be an after thought. It is behind the engine, covered with a heat tape on the engine side and is very vulnerable to a high heat environment, and very likely to encounter road debris. In addition, even if Honda thought this would not be a bad place for it, they did not take into account the things Wing riders do that might cause damage to this plastic tank. Such as loading and unloading your bike on a trailer. Have any of you ever damaged the underside of your bike on the trailer edge, I have. How about the bottom of the bike, as it slides along the street or better yet in the ditch next to the road from a spill. I have seen many 1500ís picked up and continue to operate after a spill, and the bottom of the bike is covered in debris from the fall. Would the plastic tank withstand this kind of punishment, not likely. Already folks are talking about anti-freeze leaking onto the rear tire, not good. As some may already know, someone has made a galvanized shield for the tank, probably a good idea, a little insurance. Tulsa came out and said they are making a new belly pan and it would cover the overflow tank as well.

††††††††††† Rear upper Trunk: the helmet releases are not in a good place, too difficult to access when you have a few things in the trunk. They are under the light housings and not visible. Now that I have this trip under by belt, I again want to complain about this. I had to move and arrange things in the box to make sure I could get to the releases, and it was a true pain in the butt.There is less space in the rear trunk, after you put in two helmets, not much room for anything else. The method of closing the rear trunk also is a problem. It is not consistent. Sometimes you can easily close it and it latches, and other times it requires quite a force and then doesnít always engage. Iím sure that the over all design of the rear trunk adds to the look and aerodynamics of the bike, butÖÖ

††††††††††† CB: installation manual has you remove the rear trunk to drill a few holes, totally not necessary, save your self some work and time. Anyway, the CB goes in the bottom of the rear trunk under the CD player if you get one, but the cables that hook up to the bike require that you run one long cable to the right side of the radio. This means removing a few plastic parts to do the job. There is another connection made under the seat, in addition to the antenna connection. But for future service, you could not remove your rear trunk or the CB without removing that long cable. Requiring a lot of time and energy to do so. They should have made a connector under the tank for that cable so you would only have to take the seat off to then remove either the trunk or the CB.

††††††††††† Radio: over all, the radio and CB and the level of their ability to function are below those of the 1500. We were very happy with the workings of these on the 1500 and the last thing I expected would have been for the sake of some additional features, to have a reduction in the quality of the system. The Auto volume on the radio does not change the level enough to counter the wind noise, as it did on the 1500. The integration of the radio and CD and CB and Aux input and the change of manufacturers has left us with a unit sub standard to the 1500. On the recent trip, the difficulty with the CB was very obvious, the bike directly in front of me could not hear me at all, all others in the group did. This was consistent no matter where I was in the group. We put a bike without a CB in front of me and then all that had them, heard me fine. I was lower in volume as compared to the 1500. Also, on one occasion the CB channel changed on its own, from 20 to 16. I know of it happening, again only once on another bike. You can give me bells and whistles but if the main component isnít up to the job, then the rest is, for not. This is our main means of communication with rider and co-rider and bike to bike which is one of the most important functions and pastimes of GoldWing riders. I think they should really address this one.

††††††††††† Handle Bars; they vibrate too much, I repeat they vibrate too much. Take your hand off one grip, and watch that grip dance about when you go over a series of bumps or railroad tracks. I heard all sorts of reasons for this, but as a Wing rider, they need to be smoother, with less vibration.

††††††††††† Windshield: I am glad they devised a way to keep the shield from sliding down, but it should have been motorized. When conditions change you can be riding and to try and adjust the shield in flight, forget it. Electric would have been very nice. Iíll instantly trade your motorized headlamp for the motorized windshield. I have no trouble turning the knob to adjust my headlamp, why would they motorize that???

††††††††††† Cooling: So, I am going 18 miles per hour up a mountain pulling my trailer and the bike overheats, not just one but a number of these bikes are overheating. Above 15 MPH the fan will not turn on. It was determined that there would be enough air flow with the earlier discussed efficient cooling system that it wouldnít be necessary to have the fan on at the higher speeds. The very inventive feature of have the fan come on under 15 and pull the hot air inward away from the driver is great, but above 15 mph when the engine gets hot, no fan. They need to make a modification to this system, and soon. The fan needs to come on above 15 mph and it needs to blow out. I am hoping that they donít take away the original idea and have the fan blow out at all speeds. That would show a money fix and not a technical fix. On the recent trip, in two traffic congestions, I experienced the temp gauge move up to the highest line just before ďHĒ. I was only in the traffic for 10 Ė 15 minutes. In that time it had just reached that point and then the traffic moved, the engine cooled down. It does make me a little nervous to watch it go that high under a very common traffic situation.

††††††††††† Dash Board Display: I am very glad they kept the analog gauges and added the LCD readout for everything else, but, the angle of the gauges is meant for someone 7 foot tall sitting on either of the seat positions. A very short personís view of the dials will be from the least direct angle of anyone. If you draw a line from the center of the gauges at the existing angle, you will find that it is over most of our heads. If this was intentional, my guess is to limit glare, but the plastic lenses over the gauges should have been tilted, not the gauges, to accomplish this. I can report, that after the trip, I did not have any trouble with the ability to read the dash, day or night. There is a small area about an inch or so at the top of the fairing that does reflect the lights at night, it is not over powering, but noticeable.Clock: The digital clock, which is located at the bottom of the tach is not highly visible. It is difficult for the passenger to see the clock as well. It should have been at the upper portion of the dials, and could be easily placed between the gas and temp gauges. It would also be nice if the clock were visible without the bike being turned on. Maybe at a lower illumination level.

††††††††††† Handlebar Controls: No Lights in the handlebars switches: I miss them. At night, even if you know where things are, it helps to have the indicators lit. On the left side, the horn button sticks out too far and is often accidentally hit when looking for other things, like the turn signals. This again may have been the design to be able to more easily find the horn button when you need it and not have to hunt for it, but I didnít have any problems with the last design, and now, as I have heard others, am hitting the horn too often, when I am not looking for it.

††††††††††† The passenger headset cable holder: this is a good, convenient place to put it, but to remove the cable from the holder to hook up and then to not be able to put it back in the holder to have a place of control for the cable was another over sight. Two solutions to this problem, one, cut a hole in the top, the width of the connector, not the widest part, but the base part. Or, two, buy the one for the drivers side and put it in back. I think Honda should make this switch, I donít think they know how we use them. This is one of those engineering versus operation issues.

††††††††††† Fairing Fasteners: While I was installing my CB I had to remove the large fairing piece that includes the radio and side pockets. After you remove the small plastic molding that extend down from the mirrors to the bottom vent edge you will find a series of screws to remove. They all are the same fastener size, but, and let me repeat BUT, there are three different size screws in this batch. If you just simply remove them and put them together, you will not put them back as intended. They are shorter and longer and wider. Please pay attention to what you remove. Again I am sure this was design logical, but it is not service logical. There are screws in some places and plastic clips in others, and as we are finding out, even between 2001 and 2002 there are already some changes in when they used screws and when they used clips.

††††††††††† Windshield Vent: I would like to have one. I know I could put one in, but wish they would have.

††††††††††† Engine Response: Earlier I talked about the fuel injection and the responsiveness of the engine. But now that same plus is also a minus. The slightest change in your hand position, caused by a bump in the road, or railroad tracks or just a hiccup on your part, will cause the bike to change in speed. For even the smallest move of your hand on the gas will cause a change in the engine speed, and with the power of the engine, the bike decelerates or accelerates accordingly and both you and the passenger will be doing some head banging. This is not a design flaw, but a need, operationally to understand what you have and learn how to be smooth with this bike. I am into my second week and 400 miles and I am just starting to get the smoothness down, but every now and then, sorry dear! After the trip, on two occasions I experienced a few bumps, and I did end up twisting the throttle which of course changed our speed, and I was not able to hold steady on these. It confirms my earlierconcern, but it is only a small hiccup.

††††††††††† Accessories: why is there not more than one accessory fuse on a Wing. We have a good number of accessories that we like to put on our bikes, why donít they include 4 or 5 places for us to wire up our accessories.

††††††††††† Transmission: Normally never a problem and always considered the best in the business, however, on the 1800 shifting from first to second, and passing thru neutral, under some conditions, is very noisy and clunky. Happens mostly when lugging engine, and not raising the rpm enough before shifting, but, it shouldnít do this. Why canít we get a first gear lock like on many others bikes, it is a good feature.

††††††††††† Lower Fairing Vents: On the 1500 these vents could provide both cool and hot air flow, and the rate of flow was pretty good. On the 1800 you only get coolair, and the disappointment here is the lack of air flow. I have been traveling at highway speeds and I put my ungloved hand in front of the vents and there just isnít very much air flow.I have only experienced one cool night, but I question why we donít have vents for providing engine heat to our feet or legs.

††††††††††† Function and Fit: normally a plus on a Honda, but whatís with the passenger backrest. At the top it does not meet the rear box and you can see down in the area and in most cases the plastic under the leather or vinyl of the backrest is very visible. It seems to be hit or miss and mostly miss, as I have seen a couple of Ď02ís that are okay, but that is not the rule. The rubber around the mirrors: on the front fairing at the mirrors, the rubber does not fit tightly against the fairing, and I have inspected a number of 1800 and they all have this imperfect fit. When you look at it, you think that the rubber is not pushed all the way into what ever holds it in place. The 1500 mirror rubber fit very well and snug.

††††††††††† Wind protection: After my recent trip to Springfield, Mo., on the highway, the wind that come under the mirrors, catches the bottom of my hands on the handgrips, and follows a path, under my arms and behind me, ending up at Kathyís chest and lower face area. It is not the main blast of air, which can be felt to be just outside the edge of the bike, but it is significant enough to be a real bother, that we will be making a point of trying to correct. On a evening ride back to the hotel with the temps about 70, I felt a cool breeze along the underside of my arm and along my side and shoulder blade. It was uncomfortable over the length of the ride. Even the tips of my fingers are in this flow of air. I, again am not sure why the mirrors and the handgrips were not better aligned to eliminate this. If the mirrors were a bit lower or the handgrips a bit higher , oh well.

††††††††††† Seat: After the trip, Kathy said that the angle and pitch of the seat and the backrest were causing her a couple of problems. She felt that the angle of the backrest was putting more pressure on the lower part of her back and it would show up while riding over the bumps. The position of her hips were causing a forward force that caused pressure between her pants and the seat that became uncomfortable after a while. We have heard this complaint before. Some are having the backrest straightened a little, which Kathy thinks will help her too. Kathy also said that she was now warmer on her back, which I figured is due to your entire back having a pad behind it, where on the 1500 you only had a small portion of your back on the pad. This bigger pad doesnít let air flow around and so it can be a bit warm back there. I noticed the same thing on the upper portion of my own seat. It was warm around the backside of my butt, there isnít any flow of air in that area, or a way for it to flow across that area. Both of these are victims of improvements to the larger and more comfortable seat. Kathy also feels that her legs are spread apart further, due to the wider rear portion of my section of the seat. And in this case I think that is true.

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Pros:

††††††††††† Bike Acceleration: Now that I have had some break in time and I can comfortably open the throttle a little more, third gear acceleration is unlike anything we have experienced on a bike of this size and weight. It is pure fun. Having very recently rode a 600 F4i Honda sport bike, I know that the 1800 is not a sport bike, cause the acceleration of the 600F4i was certainly better. And if you ever had the excitement of Yamahaís big sport bike, you know how fast, fast can be. But the 1800 is very thrilling to open up.

††††††††††† Super Slab: 1140 miles on two different days, here are my findings; sports car like, tight, firm, easy. Lets start with tight, the front and rear do only what they are suppose to do. They do not move independently from each other, a feeling you experience on a 1500. Tight, as described when operating a new tool, snug fit, with no slop, that comes from aging. Tight, as it does what you want it to, not what it wants you to do.Firm; over the bumps in the road the shock response is quick and firm. Even at the lowest setting, when both Kathy and I were on the bike, the road feel is firm. This can mean a little harsh on some bigger bumps, but not like bottoming out hardness. Kathy did feel that at times it was more harsh than she would have liked. Easy; operating the bike was simpler. For all the adjustments that we might make on a super slab, acceleration, braking, lane changing, change of road conditions, obstacles, hazards, the bike handles all of these things effortless. Sudden changes on the 1500 will cause you to pay attention to its weight and also to your steering input, but on the 1800 it is plain easy. We found that the steadiness of the 1800 at all speeds from 50 to 90 is consistent, at 50 or at 90, the feeling to the driver and passenger doesnít seem to change.

††††††††††† Seat:on the trip I adjusted my position, as one would occasionally do, and what I noticed was that each time I moved I would be waiting for my bottom to catch up with the rest of me as it would on the 1500, and this time that wasnít happening. My readjustments were just that, and not because my bottom was getting sore or tired. I hadnít received my backrest yet, so I took the trip without it, and I was worried that I might have a lot of back pain, as I used to have without the backrest on both the 1500 and my 1200. But that also was not the case. Though I did experience some tightening of my muscles in the middle of my back, I did not find it to be uncomfortable. I will put on the backrest, cause I will be more comfortable, but, it was a lot better than I expected.

Handling: When I am in Springfield, Mo., I must take a short trip down to the Branson area to ride some of my favorite roads. This was also the first time I could ride the new wing on these roads and I was really looking forward to it. One word should cover it, FANTASTIC!!!! Between the suspension and the tires and the motor, I felt more comfortable and secure in the curves than ever before. With both Kathy and I on the bike and the bikeís suspension in the softest setting, the bike was flawless in the curves. No matter the angle or speed, I felt confident and the smile was beyond ear to ear. Ask Wayne the next time you see him, I donít think I have ever seen his smile that huge

Final Thoughts: As my two articles would indicate, there is plenty to like and certainly things to dislike. Over all, this is a terrific sport/touring motorcycle. I love driving this bike and I believe and hope that Honda will address the issues that I and others have voiced. With time I think that they will change the little things and this beautiful machine will become more refined and the best GoldWing that we have ever experienced.

 

David and Kathy Bierman