Designers Talk#5
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A One and Only Motorcycle Design Brings the Ideal Ride to Life

Pursuing a more GL-specific, dynamic styling that only Honda can achieve

“I want to be able to enjoy my motorcycle with my partner and travel cross-continent in comfort”—in response to such customer demands, the passenger seat was designed so that, rather than straddling it, the passenger is embraced by it. This concept reached its finest expression in the GL1500, the 4th generation model since the GL’s initial debut.

In order to provide the passenger with the firm support required to absorb the powerful acceleration of the 1500cc horizontally opposed 6-cylinder engine, the back rest and trunk designs were integrated, while maintaining sufficient height to properly support the shoulder region.

Meanwhile, the design of the main rider’s seat required a high degree of freedom for riding pleasure, along with the same long-distance touring comfort as the passenger seat. The seat was upholstered with a multi-layered covering containing special wadding to provide optimum thickness and hold. For the stitching, designers and test riders worked together in a process of trial and error involving testing, stitching, retesting and restitching, to arrive at the perfect pattern for seating comfort under actual riding conditions.

The trend toward the current shape of the seat and cowl was established in the design of the GL1500, which debuted in 1988.

The new GL1800 seat presents a further refined design, providing both handling enjoyment for the driver and ride comfort for the passenger.

The cockpit design embraces both rider and passenger. It was formed to achieve the ultimate balance, with subtle variations in its dimensions significantly impacting the effects of wind and noise.

Further, data was collected on the shapes of riders and passengers around the world and subjected to rigorous research and analysis regarding pressure distribution on the seat and other factors. Of course, the results of all this research and expertise have been fully implemented in the seat design of the new GL1800.

Design of the groundbreaking motorcycle fairing, featuring not only outstanding wind protection but also noise suppression based on testing carried out in anechoic chambers, began around this time.

Under conditions in which even small differences between rider’s stature and fairing shape may have a significant impact on how both rider and passenger experience wind and noise, designers sought the ultimate form from among numerous possibilities. Honda is continuously seeking to refine real-world performance.

Further refining the bike’s combination of noble beauty and essence of a sport bike.

The GL1800 may be said to be the ultimate product of this ongoing challenge to achieve the challenging goal of combining comfort and sportiness.

As a result of efforts to deliver a leisurely, comfortable ride and luggage space for two, the bike features a majestic form approximately 2.6 meters long, one meter wide, and weighing around 420kg. Along with size, Honda has increased engine displacement to further enhance both performance and comfort.

Although a horizontally opposed 6-cylinder engine is bound to be long from end to end, the engine was completely redesigned from the GL1500, with intake and exhaust valves arranged in parallel, the radiator moved from front to side, and the rider’s seating position moved significantly forward. This results both in more weight on the front wheel for sportier handling and a major increase in passenger seating space. The rider can enjoy a more direct handling feel, while the passenger reclines in first-class comfort.

What’s more, the aluminum twin-tube frame provides the same rigidity as a super sports bike, further enhancing ride stability.

This photo shows the GL1800 stripped of its exterior components. The more compact engine, side-mounted radiator, and other innovations effected a major enhancement in both sporty performance and comfort.

The 1800cc horizontally opposed 6-cylinder engine: truly a one and only. Although the rider can only see the head covers while mounted, the entire power plant expresses the noble beauty of a motorcycle engine throughout, in exquisite detail.

It was only fitting for Honda’s flagship motorcycle model that its design also seeks to express the elegance of precision mechanics.

The horizontally opposed 6-cylinder engine, which could be called the face of the motorcycle, is accented with beautiful chrome plating to enhance the quality feel. On the head covers—the only part of the engine visible to the rider—careful attention to detail right down to the arrangement of the bolts imparts a feeling of refined solidity that hints at the engine’s silky-smooth and high-quality performance.

Emphasizing the horizontal keynote line that extends straight from the cylinder head to the muffler gives expression to the image of relaxed cruising along open roads that stretch on forever across the continent. The most eye-catching feature of the side view is the exhilarating sweep of the solid aluminum twin-tube frame and other mechanical components that express the appeal of motorcycles at the most basic level—a major component in the allure of the GL1800’s one and only styling.

This concept has been further refined in the new GL1800, with painstaking attention paid both to the sharp, lively character lines and to the powerful, clear contrast that express a dynamic solidity not found in other motorcycles. The goal is to create an image of exhilarating performance and refined comfort that inspires pride enhanced joy of ownership.

Details include molding running from the side fairing to the frame and saddlebags that provides an expression of power and dynamism, highlighting the elegance of the engine, radiator, aluminum frame, and other mechanical components. The configuration around the tail lights on the saddlebags also underwent a major revision to impart a more refreshing, exhilarating impression as seen from the rear as the bike passes by.

The voluminous saddlebags are dynamically shaped as if sliced from a solid block, accented with rear panels containing the rear combination lights and air outlets to present a fresh rear view for the GL1800.

New, two-tone coloring is employed to highlight these new design features, with a theme line that slopes slightly toward the rear to emphasize classic, stable motorcycle proportioning. The goal was to express the majestic dignity that makes the GL the King of Motorcycles, along with the enduring features first found in the GL1000, combining ultimate comfort with a sporty performance hard to imagine in a bike this size.

New coloring and duct shapes on the side cowl highlight the engine, radiator, frame, and other components.

The rear view presents a compact, handsome silhouette. The new rear fender is shaped to help reduce negative air pressure pockets that tend to form behind the bike while in motion, enhancing ride stability.

If seeing the design of the new GL1800 stirs up something in your heart, we suggest that you take one out for a ride.

Anyone who has experienced riding a GL Series bike in the past will be sure to feel that this one is more of an GL than ever before. Those who have never ridden a GL will be impressed at how it delivers not only unparalleled cruising performance on straight freeways that stretch on forever, but also the handling of a sport bike on winding roads. It's everything you could ask for in a motorcycle.

Once you have experienced the GL1800 for yourself, you will find yourself imagining a whole new lifestyle around it.

The GL creates its own unique world of appeal and deeply rewarding pleasure that has earned it a large following of dedicated fans. Why not go along for the ride?

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