It's a monster mash touring bash on the mightiest mile-eaters motorcycling can muster. Wallflowers need not apply.
Way down in the south of France there's a secret village up on a hill, overlooking a secluded cape where the President of France has a hidden holiday home next to a concealed beach. The village itself is all steep, narrow streets, hanging baskets, pastel walls and terracotta roof tiles.
The hairpin approach from the south affords views out over the Mediterranean; from the north, a short but spectacular stretch of twisting road through dry, cork oak woodland offers a brief slice of some of the finest riding southern France has to offer. It's all very, very nice. Me, being a creature of forced habit, like an insane captive bear pacing back and forth across its cage, I keep returning to the same places again and again. This is one of them.
And it being that time of year again, that time when thoughts turn to travelling long distances on motorcycles for the purely self-indulgent reason of wanting to, we thought wouldn't it be a nice idea to go back to that secret special place.
But what we needed were some equally special motorcycles. This was a trip with a destination in mind, not a harum-scarum cross-country blast by sports bike. So we required fitting transport. Something stylish, something elegant, something that would make a special place feel even more special. "Hello? Honda? Can we have a Goldwing please?"
The latest incarnation of Honda's continuously refined, indecently luxurious, opulently equipped Wing is as focused and single-minded a slice of motorcycle as is currently available. Like a supersport 600 or a motocrosser, the Goldwing is designed to do one thing well, and everything else be damned. And that thing is whoosing two people and their things in comfort, style, and a slightly exuberant manner, across large swathes of foreign lands.
Our foil to the Wing's effusive sophistication? There is little to compare directly with a Wing - BMW's K1200LT and Harley-Davidson's Ultra Classic Electra Glide come closest - but we wanted something even more ostentatious, even more over-the-top. And we found it. Triumph's 2.3-litre Rocket III is a blunt but mightily effective weapon in the battle to be noticed, but this Classic edition takes things a step further. A more comfortable seat, feet-forward footboards and swept-back bars set the Classic apart from the standard Rocket, but add another two grands worth of official Triumph extras - including screen, sissy bar, leather panniers, heated grips, chrome this and two-tone that - and we've got a Yankee-style mile-eating behemoth with which to head south, fully loaded, two-up and in imposing style.
Continue the Honda Goldwing vs. Triumph Rocket III Review - 2/3
HONDA GOLDWING When the chance came to go pillion on a touring test, I thought: 'How hard can it be to sit on the back of a Goldwing and watch France pass by?' Have you seen the pillion seat? The multitude of places to put stuff? It came as a bit of a shock then to realise sitting on the elevated rear throne put me right in line for the air passing round and over the bike. I know nothing of the technical jiggery pokery that goes on when designing bikes but I do know it seemed noisier and colder than the Rocket. The seat was comfy though and its heating probably stopped me freezing to death, but I didn't want to turn it off and find out for the sake of a fair review.
TRIUMPH ROCKET III CLASSICI thought the Honda would be the main attraction - all the Rocket's chrome did nothing f or me - but I was pleasantly surprised to discover it's brilliant for pilioning. The seat's fairly solid so the motor's vibes and bumps in the road were more noticeable, but I wasn't uncomfortable. Not even after being on the road for several hours. The backrest was just right too, as long as the buckle on my Kriega bum bag didn't push against it. I felt more like I was actually on a motorcycle compared to the Goldwing. Being closer to my man also made a difference to the noise and I wasn't as cold either, both of which make a huge difference over distance. The luggage allowance was a nice surprise too, and I even grew to like the chrome.
Posted: 08/12/2012 at 02:18
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