The Touring Scene
When traveling long distances, a motorcycle makes everything you see around you all the more impressive. Although there may stretches of monotonous scenery, there are also times and scenes, like clouds in the sky, that remain vivid deep in your heart.
Besides giving riders an easy way to check rearward visibility, I've come to feel that mirrors also play an important role in touring by functioning as a sort of camera of the heart; helping me capture scenes that I might have missed while focusing on the road ahead, and allowing them to unfold in a profoundly inspiring manner.
In this way, the GL1800 Gold Wing's mirrors are superb. They not only perform the basic job of providing clear and wide-ranging rearward visibility, whatever the speed, but also allow the rider to instantly take in the scenery behind as it fades into the distance. It goes without saying that the Wing's mirrors are superbly made for the purpose of enjoying that rearward scenery. Their size and reflectivity offer just such a sense of spaciousness. In a sense, they stand out as the world's No. 1 touring mirrors.
While planning a bike comparison article like those often run in motorcycle magazines, I had the pleasure of riding the Gold Wing together with several other bikes of the same class. Riding together, it's easy to maintain a comfortable distance between bikes, and also to check to see if all are riding in formation. As I thought, the Gold Wing's mirrors really seem to be designed with various points of view in mind, and their creator's designer philosophy really stands out in these parts.
It was interesting to note how significantly the VFR1200F differs in style from the other bikes we were testing, even though they all qualified as tourers. Compact and stylish, its aerodynamic styling blends in well with its overall design. Yet, its mirrors aren't particularly small in size, at least as viewed from the rider's seat. The mirror surfaces aren't very tall, but are quite wide, so there's no sense of narrowness visible in their field of view. The positioning of the mirrors and their stays are excellent, achieving both cool styling and superb viewing ease; ideal for a bike designed to carry a rider long hours on an expressway leaned forward into the wind.
Whether wearing a thick winter jacket or a more tightly fitting leather jacket, visibility in both mirrors was excellent, and never compromised. I was also happy to find that they're easy to adjust. Speeding down the expressway, these mirrors really shine, providing an easy reading of rearward conditions that's a notable feature.
Among the other riding machines in this class made by other manufacturers, some seemed to be highly susceptible to engine vibration, and their blurred mirrors showed it. I couldn't help wondering why it was that none of the Honda models we tried suffered from this problem. This is a difference from their competition that really can't be seen in a photo, or detected on a showroom floor.
Some time ago I posed this question to one of Honda's development engineers, and he answered, "Honda has strict rules regarding mirror visibility, so I'm sure that our mirrors are a step above those of our rivals." However, this is something never covered in their catalogs, not to mention on the web site. Sometimes I think they ought to mount a pair of mirrors on the new RC213V racer at a MotoGP exhibition in order to demonstrate their visual performance, rather than simply stating, "These mirrors are good."