2013 Honda Gold Wing F6B: Power Cruiser

Text: Ken Freund • Photography: Kevin Wing

Honda has been churning out a slew of exciting new models lately. The new F6B makes a cruiser out of the flagship Gold Wing GL1800 by removing the trunk, trimming the windshield, and reshaping the seat and rear section.

Jon Seidel, Honda’s PR guy, told me that the moniker F6B comes from “flat six, second version.” It sounds like an aircraft designation to me. The new F6B is offered in either standard trim or a Deluxe version that adds a passenger backrest, centerstand, self-canceling turn-signals, and heated handgrips. The changes from the previous Gold Wing aim the F6B more toward local rides and shorter jaunts as well as cut up to 62 pounds off the former’s mass. Curb weight of the Standard model is 842 pounds; the Deluxe is seven pounds heavier. Honda also offers a variety of genuine accessories for the F6B series.

Powertrain and Performance

Honda employs the same 1832cc liquid-cooled, horizontally opposed, six-cylinder engine from the Gold Wing GL1800 and includes the Programmed Fuel Injection (PGM-FI) system with twin 40mm throttle bodies. The GL1800’s five-speed transmission, clutch, and shaft final drive are also used in the F6B. However, the electric reverse has been removed.

The engine starts instantly, delivers strong acceleration and passing power, yet it always feels smooth and refined. Although there’s no sixth gear, the engine is only turning about 3,000 rpm at 70 mph in fifth, and redline is at 6,000 revs. Range from the 6.7-gallon tank with a claimed fuel economy of 34 mpg pencils out to 227 miles.

Clutch effort is moderate, gear changes are silky, and the final drive is quiet. Overall feel is like the Gold Wing, but the F6B is slightly faster.

Chassis and Handling

The sturdy, twin-spar aluminum frame is also sourced from the GL1800. At the front is a 45mm fork with cartridge dampers plus an anti-dive system. Rake is 29.15 degrees and trail is 4.3 inches. At the rear is a single-sided swingarm with a solo Pro-Link shock that’s specifically tuned for the F6B and has a remote knob for preload adjustments.

At first the bike feels heavy, but as you pick up speed and seat time, some of the weight seems to melt. Handling is neutral; the machine turns in without a lot of effort and tracks nicely through a corner. You can lean it over steeply before things start to scrape. At high speeds the bike feels as though it’s on rails.

Twin, full-floating, 296mm rotors grabbed by 3-piston calipers in front, along with one rear 316mm disc with a 3-pot caliper, deliver strong braking. Front and rear brakes are linked, but ABS is not offered.

Tire sizes (130/70R-18 front and 180/60R-16 rear) are shared with the regular Gold Wing, so it should be rather easy to find replacements. On the road, the F6B has a plush, comfy ride, yet it doesn’t wallow. Without the trunk and other items that were left off, the F6B has a lower center of gravity than the bigger Wing. As a result, it is more maneuverable and easier to handle when stopped or riding at parking-lot speeds.

Ergonomics and Features

Having a cut-down windscreen reduces wind pressure on the rider’s chest, but the rider’s head is out in the blast. It would be nice if the screen could be adjusted up several inches when conditions warrant it. We found the flatter seat to be very comfortable. It allows the rider to move around, and the pillion passenger has grabrails and a more open, less-confining seat. The passenger also has footpegs instead of footboards. A 28.5-inch saddle height makes it easy for most riders to reach the pavement.

The instrument panel isn’t as busy as the regular Gold Wing’s but still includes a speedometer and tach, along with a screen that has an odometer, twin trip odometers, a clock, an air temperature gauge, warning indicators, and audio controls. But alas, no GPS or cruise control!

The F6B’s sound system has direct MP3/iPod connectivity along with AM and FM radio that has good reception. Weatherproof speakers in the front cowl can be heard at freeway speeds, but unlike the bigger GL1800 there are none in the rear. However, riders can connect helmet speakers.

There’s a handy cubby in the dash for stowage of small items. The saddlebags are lockable and have about 150 liters of capacity but don’t have space for a full-face helmet. Although the saddlebags are large enough for typical weekends, without the trunk you may need to bungee on a tailbag for longer trips.

Parting Thoughts

We found the F6B to be nicely constructed with top-notch fit and finish. Its simple, clean lines and long, low design along with the blacked-out look of the chassis, wheels, and engine give it an almost-custom look. The F6B feels quicker and more nimble than a regular GL1800, yet it retains the excellent road manners of the bigger Gold Wing.

The F6B Standard model has an MSRP of ,999, while the Deluxe model lists for ,999. We’d like to see more of the regular GL1800’s amenities, such as reverse, ABS, GPS, cruise control, and the onboard compressor on the Deluxe model. Neither version of the F6B is inexpensive, but they are worthy of consideration for anyone shopping for a large, high-quality touring bagger.