Remember the original Silver Wing? It wasn't a scooter; it was a motorcycle. Honda used the CX 500 transverse-mounted V-twin platform to launch their version of a slenderized touring machine, the GL500 Silver Wing Interstate. A sort of Gold Wing "lite" if you will. After all, it was the early '80s then, and Diet Coke, Bud Light, and Richard Simmons were all the rage. Slimming down was looking up and the Gold Wing suddenly had a baby brother.
But in this first incarnation of the Silver Wing, "less filling" apparently didn't "taste great" to the touring crowd of the day. Despite offerings in either naked or fully faired trim and receiving increases in displacement and power over several model years, the Silver Wing just never caught on. By 1984, gold signified the only wing aloft in Honda's aerie.
Fast-forward nearly 20 years - my, how things have changed. Leg warmers are history, Keith Richards actually looks healthy, kind of, and the Silver Wing tag has made a triumphant return to the streets. In 2002, Honda reintroduced that long dormant designation on a machine that, in an odd sort of way, is similar in spirit to its long-lost, Reagan-era cousin. Also receiving conceptual cues from the venerable touring titan, the Gold Wing, the new Silver Wing offers a comfortable ride, good protection from the elements, and the means to leave town on a whim no matter the destination. Unlike its namesake from the '80s, the latest Silver Wing is a scooter and it has all of the easy-to-ride amenities that today's scoots are known for. If a machine that promises enough punch for any highway, a fully automatic transmission, comfort to spare, and a user-friendly attitude sounds good to you, then Honda's "other" Wing may just have you believing all that glitters is not necessarily gold.
The Prospects Are Limitless
For this machine to carry the badge of the Wing, it had better be prepared to rack up the miles and then some. After all, with that name, comparisons to Honda's gilded flagship touring model are inevitable. The mere mention of the word Wing amongst the two-wheeled community inspires visions of wide-open roads leading to destinations near and far. By the looks of things, the smaller silver brethren has its sights set not only on these ends but daily commutes, errands, and other 'round town pursuits as well.
Lying beneath the elegant surface is this ride's most important element, the engine. A DOHC, eight valve, parallel twin displacing 582cc digs in with an impressive 50hp and 37 ft./lb. of torque. Whether traversing steep mountain roads two-up or negotiating the morning mayhem, the Silver Wing has the goods to get the job done with loads to spare.
The speedo indicates that 100+ mph is possible and none of us who rode it found any reason to believe that's false advertising. This scoot can flat out scoot. Out on the open road, the most noted Wing family trait, smoothness, is painlessly obvious. Thanks to twin balancer shafts the tremors historically associated with parallel twin bangers are a distant memory. One balancer is located above and forward of the crankshaft and works in unison with its counterpart located below and to the rear. Both spin at the same speed as the crank and act to cancel vibrations emanating from the vertical and longitudinal axes. The result is a buttery ride from take off to interstate speeds. Start-ups are a breeze thanks to the choke-eliminating, auto-enriching system, and the programmed fuel injection allows for a more efficient burning of fuel. That, fellow scooterphiles, translates into crisp, reliable performance on the street.
I'm sure everyone would agree that power is a nice thing to have, but it doesn't do much good unless it's competently put to the street. Enter the automatic; Honda's V-Matic belt drive system allows all 50 of those ponies to do their thing in a smooth and seamless fashion. Operating in three stages, this sophisticated setup uses the engine's strong power and torque to the best of its capacity. Quiet, efficient power for around-town forays is taken care of by Stage 1. Stage 2 is employed for mid-range acceleration and Stage 3 provides maximum power for top speed and those hot-rod-style heavy throttle roll-ons. Whether racing the rats to the office or the sun to the horizon, the Wing's 600cc motor/tranny combo gets the job done in a smooth, efficient and thoroughly pleasant manner.
A Bona Fide Silver Rush
Who needs "gold in them thar hills" when a lighter, more maneuverable Wing of silver is perfectly adept at taking care of business. We quickly discovered that a scoot through the twists rewards in ways that have nothing to do with the valuation of commodities. Along with an abundance of power, the Wing also delivers in spades on the handling front. Stability was never an issue with any of our testers due to the rigid steel frame and quality suspension components. Whether carving curves high above sea level or cruising along at freeway speeds, the Silver Wing always dishes out a supreme feeling of confidence. No matter the road conditions, the Wing's remarkably adept chassis does its job with uncommon proficiency. The robust 41mm forks up front combine with the twin shocks in the rear to provide a smooth, stable, and comfortable ride. If you're planning on going two-up or see yourself being loaded down with gear, don't worry - those rear shocks have five positions of spring preload adjustability and they're rearward mounted to provide extra storage capacity beneath the seat.
So, we've established that the Silver Wing has plenty of power and handles well, but can it stop? Of course it can, and quite well at that. Sporting Honda's Combined Braking System, the front and rear binders are designed to work in harmony with one another. The right-side brake handle controls the front caliper's two outer pistons while the left-side brake handle controls the front caliper's center piston along with both of the rear caliper's pistons. If only the rear lever is applied, an inline delay valve smoothes the application of the front piston. Sure, it sounds technical, but it works extremely well. If the optional ABS is added to the package, the Silver Wing is arguably the best braking scooter on the road.
Wings Of A Feather Fly Together
The bottom line is that Wings are for touring no matter the color. While the Silver Wing may not have all the big-time touring accoutrements of its larger brother, it is no less prepared to hit the long road. Operators and passengers will find themselves ensconced in a plush, stylish package not traditionally associated with scooters. The large, stepped seat offers a high grade of comfort for the rider, although a couple of us felt like we were sliding forward. This really didn't prove to be much of an issue once we got used to the angle of the spacious floorboards and dialed in the five-position adjustable backrest.
Speaking of floorboards, the Hondas have a cool cutaway beneath the rider that allow feet to easily reach the ground without inducing that splayed legs feeling. That alone is something to consider if you find yourself, shall we say, vertically challenged. In the dashboard, you'll find a nice sized six-liter, locking glove box and an easy-to-read instrument cluster featuring an analog speedo and tach. The large, wind-tunnel developed windshield and bodywork are not only visually appealing, they provide excellent protection from the weather and those unseen objects that sometimes seem to jump up from the road. The pillion is a true delight and offers the lucky copilot a wide, luxurious perch from which to plot the day's course or just to take in the scenery. The large seat can be unlocked and lifted open, exposing an extremely generous storage area that measures 55 liters. That's enough room to swallow two full-face helmets or a briefcase. Those with wanderlust can easily stow a respectable amount of gear in the waterproof confines should the urge to explore come a-callin'. While we're on the size topic, let's not forget the tour-ready gas tank: It holds an impressive 4.2 gallons. That should work out to nearly 200 miles between fill-ups - that's a whole lot of sightseeing on one tank.
Whether your interests lie in commuting, touring, or just be-bopping along the back roads on the weekend, the Honda Silver Wing is ready and able to handle anything you want to throw at it. Take one spin and it's likely you'll agree that this scoot has earned its Wing. Sure, in the touring world, the Silver Wing always takes a back seat, or maybe the second podium, to its big brother. But in the scooter-touring world, the Silver Wing is front and center, a legitimate gold-medal threat.
Honda FSC600A Silver Wing
Importer/Distributor American Honda Motor Co. Inc.
MSRP $ 7,949 / $ 8,449 ABS
Warranty 1 year, unlimited mileage, limited warranty
Type Twin cylinder, four stroke, 582cc, DOHC, 8-valve
Fuel Capacity 4.2gal (15.9l)
Fuel Mileage 47mpg (5l/100km)
Theoretical Fuel Range 197mls (317km)
Bore x Stroke 72x71.5mm
Max Power 50hp
Ignition computer controlled transistorized
Lubrication wet sump
Transmission automatic V-matic belt drive
Front Suspension 41mm telescopic fork, 4.7in travel
Rear Suspension twin shocks, adjustable preload, 4.7in travel
Tires & Brakes
Front Tire 120/80-14
Rear Tire 150/70-13
Front Brake one triple piston caliper, 256mm rotors
Rear Brake twin piston caliper, 240mm rotor
Seat Height 29.1in (739mm)
Wheelbase 62.8in (1595mm)
Dry Weight 500lbs (227kg) / 511lbs (232kg)ABS