First ride: Honda F6C review

Honda GoldWing F6C, the true stripped-to-basics descendant of the original 'Wing

RECENTLY Visordown did a story on the Gold Wing getting a special 40th anniversary colour scheme. A reader wrote on our Facebook page: ‘They should have made a stripped-to-basics like the original GL1000 Wing.’ It would sell well if it was about half the price of a Wing, he added. 

Funnily enough, Honda has done just that. The GoldWing F6C, as its name may suggest, is a Wing with acres of fairing and bodywork removed, retaining the same twin-spar aluminium frame 1832cc flat-six engine, five-speed box and shaft drive.

The result is a sort of flat-six power cruiser, or ‘Flat-Six Custom’, which is what ‘F6C’ stands for.

It was launched In July, although the news doesn’t seem to travelled very far judging by that comment on Facebook. Perhaps Honda should have invited Visordown.

It’s not quite half the price of the Gold Wing but it is £8,000 less, at £17,999 on the road.

In exchange for the saving you lose much of the Gold Wing’s toys, like the audio-system and reverse gear.

In a sense it’s the true descendant of the original 1975 Gl1000 Gold Wing, a no-nonsense, comfy, naked flat-four. It’s not the first time Honda has taken the Wing back to its routes. The 1996 Valkyrie was a stripped-down version of the old 1500cc Wing following exactly the same recipe as this latest model.

Even with all that gubbins gone the F6C still weighs a robust 341kg, but there can be no doubt that Honda knows how to make a heavy motorcycle which handles. Recently I rode the 338kg CTX1300. It was true of that and it’s true of the F6C.

It really belies its weight.  At a standstill its low centre of gravity makes it feel lighter than it has any right to. On the move it’s quick-steering, helped by wide bars and a low-profile front tyre (a 130/60 Dunlop Sportmax compared to the Gold Wing’s 130/70).

It even feels quite nimble, easy to chuck into corners, with good ground clearance for a machine which loosely fits the cruise category. The pegs are big, flat and square, with stumpy hero blobs underneath.

The suspension and chassis combine good levels of comfort with similarly good levels of composure. The F6C feels completely stable banked over in corners, over poor surfaces and under hard braking. It’s difficult to imagine it ever doing anything like a head-shake.  

ABS is standard but I’d like a little more bite from twin 310mm front discs than the lever delivered. I had to curl two fingers around it and pull quite hard to stop in a hurry.

Perhaps the Gold Wing’s party piece, the thing that marked out the original GL1000 as tourer material, is its smooth, broad power delivery.

The same liquid smoothness and generous spread of torque is retained on the F6C. It’s not exactly blisteringly fast but neither is it any slouch. This is the bike Arnie should have ridden in Terminator 2 instead of that Harley. It would have blasted past the  T-1000’s lorry in an eye-blink, and probably knocked it over on the way.

In lower gears it surges forward in a continuous torrent of torque from under 2,000rpm to the red line at 6,000rpm. That's about 40mph in first. Neither is there much of a drop off in torque as you approach the red line, making it easy to bluster through it of you don’t glance at the rev counter.

The exhaust note isn’t loud (this is a Honda) but there’s still a satisfying meaty sound from the six pots. 
Effortlessly overtaking lines of cars, and enjoying the F6C’s surprising aptitude for corners, I even found myself wondering what this bus-sized motorcycle would be like on a track.

You’d probably be the most comfortable rider on the track day, if not quite the fastest. The riding position is relaxed and natural, with your feet just in front of you, church pew-style. The long bars reach towards you, so you’re not overstretched.  It’s only on full lock that you can find yourself leaning forward to reach the bar on the outside of the turn. 

The seat is well-padded, wide and low, allowing an average-height rider to easily get both feet flat on the ground.
Wind buffeting doesn’t seem too bad at normal motorway speeds but you probably wouldn’t want to spend too long at much over 80mph. The cylinder heads and radiators stick out so far as to make highly effective leg-shields.

Aside from the ABS, you don’t get a great deal of equipment for your 18 grand. As on the Gold Wing, there’s no traction control.

The small digital instrument panel looks nice, with grey digits on a black background, but doesn’t provide much information by 2014 standards, aside from a fuel gauge.

You do get a traditional helmet lock though, with a sliding pin. I don’t think I’ve seen one of those on a new bike for about 20 years.

It seems a shame more of the F6C isn’t real chrome, especially at this price. The headlight unit, tiny mirrors, even that big cover over the petrol cap – it’s all plastic. As you’d hope from a flat-six-cruiser (any cruiser in fact), the F6C makes an impression on people. Three passers-by asked me what it was in one lunch stop, one commenting that its engine was bigger than his vans.

I’m just not sure fake plastic chrome is part of the image it seeks to project.

Luckily the F6C is more than something to look at. It’s a cruiser that handles, that goes - that’s actually a really good blast to ride.

Model tested: Honda Goldwing F6C

Price: £17,999 on the road

Power: 115hp @ 5,500rpm

Torque: 123lbft @ 4,000rpm

Kerb weight: 341kg

Tank capacity: 23.2 litres

Seat height: 734mm

Available: Now

RECENTLY Visordown did a story on the Gold Wing getting a special 40th anniversary colour scheme. A reader wrote on our Facebook page: ‘They should have made a stripped-to-basics like the original GL1000 Wing.’ It would sell well if it was about half the price of a Wing, he added. 

Funnily enough, Honda has done just that. The GoldWing F6C, as its name may suggest, is a Wing with acres of fairing and bodywork removed, retaining the same twin-spar aluminium frame, 1832cc flat-six engine, five-speed box and shaft drive.

The result is a sort of flat-six power cruiser, or ‘Flat-Six Custom’, which is what ‘F6C’ stands for.

It was launched in July, although the news doesn’t seem to have travelled very far judging by that comment on Facebook. Perhaps Honda should have invited Visordown.

It’s not quite half the price of the Gold Wing but it is £8,000 less, at £17,999 on the road.

In exchange for the saving you lose much of the Gold Wing’s toys, like the audio-system and reverse gear.

In a sense it’s the true descendant of the original 1975 GL1000 Gold Wing, a no-nonsense, comfy, naked flat-four. It’s not the first time Honda has taken the Wing back to its routes. The 1996 Valkyrie was a stripped-down version of the old 1500cc Wing following exactly the same recipe as this latest model.

Even with all that gubbins gone the F6C still weighs a robust 341kg, but there can be no doubt that Honda knows how to make a heavy motorcycle which handles. Recently I rode the 338kg CTX1300. It was true of that and it’s true of the F6C.

It really belies its weight.  At a standstill its low centre of gravity makes it feel lighter than it has any right to. On the move it’s quick-steering, helped by wide bars and a low-profile front tyre (a 130/60 Dunlop Sportmax compared to the Gold Wing’s 130/70).

It even feels quite nimble, easy to chuck into corners, with good ground clearance for a machine which loosely fits the cruiser category. The pegs are big, flat and square, with stumpy hero blobs underneath.

The chassis and suspension - non-adjustable forks and preload-adjustable shock - combine good levels of comfort with similarly good levels of composure. The F6C feels completely stable banked over in corners, over poor surfaces and under hard braking. It’s difficult to imagine it ever doing anything like a head-shake.  

ABS is standard but I’d like a little more bite from the twin 310mm front discs. I had to curl two fingers around the lever and pull quite hard to stop in a hurry.

Perhaps the Gold Wing’s party piece, the thing that marked out the original GL1000 as tourer material, is its smooth, broad power delivery.

The same liquid smoothness and generous spread of torque is retained on the F6C. It’s not exactly blisteringly fast but neither is it any slouch. This is the bike Arnie should have ridden in Terminator 2 instead of that Harley. It would have blasted past the T-1000’s lorry in an eye-blink, and probably knocked it over on the way.

In lower gears it surges forward in a continuous torrent of torque from under 2,000rpm to the red line at 6,000rpm. That's about 40mph in first. Neither is there much of a drop off in torque as you approach the red line, making it easy to bluster through it if you don’t glance at the rev counter.

The exhaust note isn’t loud (this is a Honda) but there’s still a satisfying meaty sound from the six pots. 

Effortlessly overtaking lines of cars, and enjoying the F6C’s surprising aptitude for corners, I even found myself wondering what this bus-sized motorcycle would be like on a track.

You’d probably be the most comfortable rider on the track day, if not quite the fastest. The riding position is relaxed and natural, with your feet just in front of you, church pew-style. The long bars reach towards you, so you’re not overstretched. It’s only on full lock that you can find yourself leaning forward to reach the bar on the outside of the turn. 

The seat is well-padded, wide and low, allowing an average-height rider to easily get both feet flat on the ground.

Wind buffeting doesn’t seem too bad at normal motorway speeds but you probably wouldn’t want to spend too long at much over 80mph. The cylinder heads and radiators stick out so far as to make highly effective leg-shields.

Aside from the ABS, you don’t get a great deal of equipment for your 18 grand. As on the Gold Wing, there’s no traction control.

The small digital instrument panel looks nice, with grey digits on a black background, but doesn’t provide much information by 2014 standards, aside from a fuel gauge.

You do get a traditional helmet lock though, with a sliding pin. I don’t think I’ve seen one of those on a new bike for about 20 years.

It seems a shame more of the F6C isn’t real chrome, especially at this price. The headlight unit, tiny mirrors, even that big cover over the petrol cap – it’s all plastic. As you’d hope from a flat-six-cruiser (any cruiser in fact), the F6C makes an impression on people. Three passers-by asked me what it was in one lunch stop, one commenting that its engine was bigger than his van's.

I’m just not sure fake plastic chrome is part of the image it seeks to project.

Luckily the F6C is more than something to look at. It’s a cruiser that handles, that goes - that’s actually a really good blast to ride.

Model tested: Honda GoldWing F6C

Price: £17,999 on the road

Power: 115hp @ 5,500rpm

Torque: 123lbft @ 4,000rpm

Average fuel economy (measured on test): 44.2mpg

Kerb weight: 341kg

Tank capacity: 23.2 litres

Seat height: 734mm

Available: Now