Fourteen hundred miles over a long weekend isn’t for the faint of heart, that is unless you’re in the saddle of a Gold Wing. But this ain’t your granddaddy’s motorcycle – this is the long, low, and chopped F6B Deluxe ($21,499)— Honda’s graceful take on an American-style bagger.
Introduced a few years ago, the F6B capitalizes on the truly regal experience that the G-Wing offers. Going on its fourth decade of production, Honda’s flagship touring motorcycle has been steadily refined into one of the most capable two-up touring machines on the road. However, its generic Civic-kind-of-styling, sheer dimensions and usually older clientele make it an option that younger riders may overlook.
That’s where the F6B comes in. Although the chassis, 1832cc powertrain, and most of the creature comforts (including heated grips, cruise control, self-canceling turn signals) are sourced from gramps’ bike, a lower, meaner stance, paired with the removal of its top case and shorter windscreen equal a bike that appeals to a younger, but still equally wanderlust-driven crowd. And the best part? Its five grand cheaper too (compared to the standard $20,499 F6B).
The F6B gobbles roads like few motorcycles made. Yeah, American V-Twin baggers are comfy, but they don’t float over bumps like this thing. The F6B loves to cruise and with a 6.6-gallon capacity fuel tank you can cover some serious miles between fill-ups. We measured an average of nearly 35 mpg. Not bad for an 844-pound bike capable of triple digit speeds two-up! A big, and easy-to-read automotive-style instrument display keeps tabs on the bike’s vitals.
In spite of its weight, it’s amazing how balanced the F6B feels, not only through turns, but in parking lots, too. Obviously due to its size, negotiating tight spots requires muscle but you’ll be surprised how friendly it is with a pleasing turning radius.
Even with a wide and well-supported saddle, seat height (28.5 in.) is lower than Honda’s CBR300R! We also appreciate the narrow seat junction where the rider’s legs reach to the pavement. Though on slight inclines, we wished it had Honda’s fabulous and push-button electric reverse — a feature that comes standard on its full-dresser brother.
Near perfectly calibrated throttle, clutch and combined brakes boost confidence during slow-speeds rides through dense traffic and you’ll be a hard pressed to find a motorcycle with better synchronization between all three control inputs. Although it lacks traction control or adjustable power modes like the more recently introduced competition, the F6B’s setup performs so marvelously, you likely won’t miss these features.
The combined triple disc brake system takes the guesswork out of quick stops, activating the rear brake caliper’s outer pistons when the front lever is applied. Conversely, when you squeeze the pedal it applies the center pistons in the front calipers. The setup works well, however, some will need extra seat time to acclimate to its function through twisty stretches of tarmac especially if you spend most of your time riding a conventional non-link brake-equipped motorcycle.
At speed the F6B’s handling is exceptionally well-sorted. Simply put, big baggers shouldn’t carve turns the way this Honda does. The OE-fitted Bridgestone Exedra tires are surefooted and quiet, and complement the suspension’s cushy ride.
A hidden preload adjuster allows you to raise, or lower the rear suspension ride height, increasing ground clearance and sharpening handling response too. Plus, the difference in ride quality over bumps is negligible. We recommend this simple modification to anyone who plans to ride two-up. Speaking of passengers, while the accommodations are more basic than the Gold Wing, there’s still a good-sized pillion, back rest (standard on the Deluxe model) and grab handles so a friend can tag along comfortably. A center-stand helps it occupy slightly less room in the garage.
Rack up the odometer in style and play your favorite tunes along the whole way courtesy of a two-speaker stereo with AM/FM radio functions and an auxiliary 3.5mm jacket to play music off a smartphone. Though it’d be nice if the auxiliary cord was a little longer. You can also connect your iPhone and manipulate its music controls via switch gear. Oddly enough however, the connector is located in the rear hard case. Bluetooth would be a nice addition, and we’re sure it’s coming on the next version. A small LCD display keeps tabs on music. It’s simple, but gets the job done. It also comes pre-wired for headset communications and or a CB radio.
Romp on the throttle and explore the F6B’s six-cylinder engine and its near perfect wave of immediate torque. It’s the kind you want when accelerating up to speed when entering the highway or zipping past slower traffic, when loaded down, up steep inclines. If you’re really in a rush, the Honda certainly complies with its engine producing turbofan-like thrust in the higher gears, if you really need to get somewhere. Cruise control let the miles come with ease.
There’s plenty of power on tap to surprise traditional V-Twin riders off the line, plus its as smooth as a sewing machine with virtually no off-putting engine vibration. The five-speed gearbox shifts like butter, yet offers positive engagement. Neutral is easy to find at a stop too. A hydraulic clutch provides plenty of assist making it easy work the clutch lever.
Compared to the traditional sound of most baggers the F6B delivers a muted, but still pleasing exhaust note, similar in harmonics to what you’d hear from a naturally-aspirated flat-six Porsche sports car. Although these vehicles are worlds apart, they do share the fantastic dynamic of a horizontally-opposed six-cylinder.
A bagger wouldn’t be a bagger without bags, and the lockable hard cases are capable of swallowing a weekend’s worth of gear (5.8-gallon) for us guys. Bring the missus however, and packing has to be more thoughtful. There are two more small storage pockets located inside the cockpit too for cell phone, keys, wallets, and other small items.
The F6B makes it easy to tackle a weekend getaway to a far away location, and do it in style. With its silky-smooth and torque-rich engine, exceptionally cozy cockpit and sporty (for a bagger), yet still comfortable handling, the F6B will make you think twice about riding a Gold Wing.