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I know this is going to seem like a trolling question - I don't intend it to be. I truly seeking to understand the design decisions Honda has made and "why" vs. other manus.

What has me confused power output both in terms of torque and hp. Again, I'm not dumping on the design - it's most likely the very best engine in any motorcycle ever. But, having said that - it's underperforming relative to peers. So, when I give this list of comparisons - I'm sort of trying to learn if getting to the competitor's output would cause a sacrifice somewhere else - other than the obvious MPG.

I am also ignorant as to whether the 125/125 hp/torque ratings are at the wheel or the crank. I'm assuming crank - but, as I mentioned, I'm ignorant.

OK - so, the obvious competitor is the BMW K bike

This bike is rated at 160hp 132 torque. This appears to come in at a slightly higher RPM vs. Honda - but, not miserably off. Assuming the measuring method is similar, 35 hp is huge. Almost 30% higher than Honda. Now, I've been on both of these bikes....and, I like the GW - hands down. I'm just wondering why they can't get closer within the existing engine design.

If you compare the other BMW that "sort of" works - you can look at the R (or GS) model.

These bikes are only 1250cc displacement and put out 136hp and 105 ft/lbs of torque. I know they are only 2 cylinders, but I would assume more revs are "easier" to design with more cylinders. While the torque number is lower overall - the torque per displacement is better on this BMW.

Anyway - none of this is changing my mind on loving the GW. Perhaps the rider community really prefers MPG to power and folks believe there is "enough".

I know I don't use all the power all the time in my bike....so, much of this is a marketing exercise. Perhaps GW riders are just sophisticated enough to disregard the spec sheet.
 

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my opinion is that the numbers themselves don't really matter.
Does the GW do what it needs to do with comfort, adequate performance, and decent mileage while maintaining reliability?
Yes, then OK.
What would be gained by bumping up the HP/torque numbers on the GW? Bragging rights?
For how long and at what cost?
There are sport bikes with half the displacement of the 1800 making more power (at way higher rpm's), but numbers by themselves don't mean a whole lot.

Yes the K1600 is probably the closest apples to apples comparison out there, but even then, they are not the same apples. An I6 vs an opposed 6 develop and transmit power differently.
The BMW IMO is more sport touring than touring.
 

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I know this is going to seem like a trolling question - I don't intend it to be. I truly seeking to understand the design decisions Honda has made and "why" vs. other manus.

What has me confused power output both in terms of torque and hp. Again, I'm not dumping on the design - it's most likely the very best engine in any motorcycle ever. But, having said that - it's underperforming relative to peers. So, when I give this list of comparisons - I'm sort of trying to learn if getting to the competitor's output would cause a sacrifice somewhere else - other than the obvious MPG.

I am also ignorant as to whether the 125/125 hp/torque ratings are at the wheel or the crank. I'm assuming crank - but, as I mentioned, I'm ignorant.

OK - so, the obvious competitor is the BMW K bike

This bike is rated at 160hp 132 torque. This appears to come in at a slightly higher RPM vs. Honda - but, not miserably off. Assuming the measuring method is similar, 35 hp is huge. Almost 30% higher than Honda. Now, I've been on both of these bikes....and, I like the GW - hands down. I'm just wondering why they can't get closer within the existing engine design.

If you compare the other BMW that "sort of" works - you can look at the R (or GS) model.

These bikes are only 1250cc displacement and put out 136hp and 105 ft/lbs of torque. I know they are only 2 cylinders, but I would assume more revs are "easier" to design with more cylinders. While the torque number is lower overall - the torque per displacement is better on this BMW.

Anyway - none of this is changing my mind on loving the GW. Perhaps the rider community really prefers MPG to power and folks believe there is "enough".

I know I don't use all the power all the time in my bike....so, much of this is a marketing exercise. Perhaps GW riders are just sophisticated enough to disregard the spec sheet.
I am sure Honda could match the BMW in power output but for what reason ? For bragging rights ?
For sales numbers ? Its good that there are other options to buying a Goldwing but they don't all have to have the same power output or even close. They both get the job done.
 

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I think the Goldwing engines are built fot reliability and longevity, not performance.
No question about the priority, but, most importantly it is the totality of the build. Throwing out engine specs is fun, but ignores the hundreds of other engineering, assembly, and design parameters that make the Goldwing a Goldwing. As Goldeneye very astutely notes, Honda could make a bike that would easily humiliate BMW, but chooses not to do so, opting instead for a more "worldly view,". Given the K1600's reliability over the last decade, seems like the Germans need to focus more on quality control, and less on horsepower/torque statistics.
 

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BMW - higher compression, more power, requires premium fuel. Honda, - lower compression, flat torque and power curve pretty much from idle, use regular fuel. Engine reliability - haven't seen hard figures on this but I also don't hear complaints about the need to rebuild the engine (unlike a certain other brand name bike).

The wing has more than enough power to get me in serious trouble. And as for my DCT - I really have to watch myself when accelerating in town. Waaaay to easy to speed without trying...
 

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BMW - higher compression, more power, requires premium fuel. Honda, - lower compression, flat torque and power curve pretty much from idle, use regular fuel. Engine reliability - haven't seen hard figures on this but I also don't hear complaints about the need to rebuild the engine (unlike a certain other brand name bike).

The wing has more than enough power to get me in serious trouble. And as for my DCT - I really have to watch myself when accelerating in town. Waaaay to easy to speed without trying...
Especially in Sport mode, which because of my deteriorating, well, everything, makes me nervous rather than happy. Honda has designed an engine with a power-delivery profile appropriate for its intended market: old guys.
 

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You will never find satisfactory answers to your questions here. None of us ‘civilians’ know the answers; only Honda engineers and product planners know why the Wing engines are designed the way they are.

I can tell you this about how new motorcycles are designed, as told by Michael Uhlarik (Canadian motorcycle designer) on Canadian motorcycle tv show, “El Camino.”

Uhlarik worked for Yamaha in Japan as a designer. He worked on a bike (among others) that eventually became the Yamaha Super Tenere.

Uhlarik said the same design process for new motorcycles is used by all Japanese manufacturers:
  1. A new motorcycle project group is assembled, comprised of 3 specialist teams
    1. Engineering
    2. Design
    3. Product Planning
  2. The project group is assigned to produce a written brief describing who the customer will be for the new bike. This brief is revised numerous times until it is agreed upon, then approved corporately
  3. Using the corporately approved description of the customer, the 3 specialist teams (Engineering, Design, and Product Planning) are assigned to develop the specifications/features they want. (Speculating: engineering wants more power, product planning wants more range/lighter weight/ better fuel economy, design wants a sportier style)
  4. The 3 specialist teams go back and forth, negotiating and compromising their team’s ‘wish list’ numerous times until agreement is reached.
  5. Once agreement is reached, numerous compromises have been made, and the new motorcycle is approved for production, EVERYONE WALKS AWAY UNHAPPY, simply because none of the Engineering, Design, nor Product Planning teams got everything they wanted
With this corporate design context in mind, it seems very clear Honda sees its Gold Wing customers to have very different motorcycle “wants” than what BMW sees their customers as “wanting.”

Like I said, this doesn’t answer your questions, but it may provide some insight as to why anything on the new Gold Wing is the way it is (except for the horn button’s inexplicable location and ergonomic design, of course. :) )

Tim
 

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I know this is going to seem like a trolling question - I don't intend it to be. I truly seeking to understand the design decisions Honda has made and "why" vs. other manus.

What has me confused power output both in terms of torque and hp. Again, I'm not dumping on the design - it's most likely the very best engine in any motorcycle ever. But, having said that - it's underperforming relative to peers. So, when I give this list of comparisons - I'm sort of trying to learn if getting to the competitor's output would cause a sacrifice somewhere else - other than the obvious MPG.

I am also ignorant as to whether the 125/125 hp/torque ratings are at the wheel or the crank. I'm assuming crank - but, as I mentioned, I'm ignorant.

OK - so, the obvious competitor is the BMW K bike

This bike is rated at 160hp 132 torque. This appears to come in at a slightly higher RPM vs. Honda - but, not miserably off. Assuming the measuring method is similar, 35 hp is huge. Almost 30% higher than Honda. Now, I've been on both of these bikes....and, I like the GW - hands down. I'm just wondering why they can't get closer within the existing engine design.

If you compare the other BMW that "sort of" works - you can look at the R (or GS) model.

These bikes are only 1250cc displacement and put out 136hp and 105 ft/lbs of torque. I know they are only 2 cylinders, but I would assume more revs are "easier" to design with more cylinders. While the torque number is lower overall - the torque per displacement is better on this BMW.

Anyway - none of this is changing my mind on loving the GW. Perhaps the rider community really prefers MPG to power and folks believe there is "enough".

I know I don't use all the power all the time in my bike....so, much of this is a marketing exercise. Perhaps GW riders are just sophisticated enough to disregard the spec sheet.
I believe this bike need to breathe better. The air box and intake manifold are restrictive as are the exhaust pipes due to pipe diameters which are due to packaging and ground clearance issues. Oh almost forgot throttle body size.
As always I could be wrong


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

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You will never find satisfactory answers to your questions here. None of us ‘civilians’ know the answers; only Honda engineers and product planners know why the Wing engines are designed the way they are.

I can tell you this about how new motorcycles are designed, as told by Michael Uhlarik (Canadian motorcycle designer) on Canadian motorcycle tv show, “El Camino.”

Uhlarik worked for Yamaha in Japan as a designer. He worked on a bike (among others) that eventually became the Yamaha Super Tenere.

Uhlarik said the same design process for new motorcycles is used by all Japanese manufacturers:
  1. A new motorcycle project group is assembled, comprised of 3 specialist teams
    1. Engineering
    2. Design
    3. Product Planning
  2. The project group is assigned to produce a written brief describing who the customer will be for the new bike. This brief is revised numerous times until it is agreed upon, then approved corporately
  3. Using the corporately approved description of the customer, the 3 specialist teams (Engineering, Design, and Product Planning) are assigned to develop the specifications/features they want. (Speculating: engineering wants more power, product planning wants more range/lighter weight/ better fuel economy, design wants a sportier style)
  4. The 3 specialist teams go back and forth, negotiating and compromising their team’s ‘wish list’ numerous times until agreement is reached.
  5. Once agreement is reached, numerous compromises have been made, and the new motorcycle is approved for production, EVERYONE WALKS AWAY UNHAPPY, simply because none of the Engineering, Design, nor Product Planning teams got everything they wanted
With this corporate design context in mind, it seems very clear Honda sees its Gold Wing customers to have very different motorcycle “wants” than what BMW sees their customers as “wanting.”

Like I said, this doesn’t answer your questions, but it may provide some insight as to why anything on the new Gold Wing is the way it is (except for the horn button’s inexplicable location and ergonomic design, of course. :) )

Tim
I haven't worked in vehicle marketing, but I know that this outline is correct from having worked in other product marketing. But in my expereince, there's some ambiguity in your first step. The impetus for the design can come from an individual who has an idea for a product and then proceeds to marketing research to find if there's a market; or it can come from the marketing research department spotting a trend or demographic for whom a product can be designed and to whom it can be sold in sufficient numbers to make a corporate profit. So in practice, a motorcycle guy can want to design an ADV and will then ask marketing research, "Is there a big enough audience?" Or a marketing research guy can identify a demographic and propose to the design team that they come up with a product to fit.
 

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The engine is a compromise: actually EVERY design parameter is a compromise. Generally, higher horsepower is related to four things.

Higher compression -- many bikes require premium fuel because of this, affecting reliability and cost at the pump.
Less low-end torque -- this can be offset by variable cams, but increases weight, complexity, price, and perhaps reliability.
Shorter life span -- to gain the horsepower, you've got to rev higher: more wear and tear on components.
Poorer gas mileage -- high powered engines will not get big gas mileage.
To a lesser degree, engine balance and smoothness might enter this picture.

Every inch of the flat six is designed to accomplish a goal: a goal determined by Honda's careful research of just what WE WANTED before the first design was ever drawn.

Essentially, they gave us exactly what we wanted, at the expense of not giving us what we didn't ask for. Basically:
big horsepower, less weight, better handling and etc were sacrificed to achieve what we really wanted:
Ultra smooth running engine
BIG low rpm torque and a nice flat torque curve
Best possible gas mileage
Legendary reliability


Basically, if ya want more of one, you get less of the other. Oh and one other thing: the flat six provides an extremely low center of gravity. This is one huge parameter I appreciate.
 

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Let's not forget that Honda had an in-line 6 cylinder engine many years ago and for a host of reasons it was kicked to the curb. Honda and BMW go about their business in entirely different fashions. BMW is more techie and Honda more conservative. Both companies pay a price for their attitudes, but at the end of the day they accomplish the same thing. The K1600 6 is a marvel of engineering and quite reliable, but the BMW dealer network flat out sucks and pales in comparison to Honda. The Goldwing is known far and wide for its reliability and comfort, but has never been on the forefront of innovation save for the DCT trans. BMW wins hands down on advancing motorcycle technology.

In my case if my local BMW dealer hadn't changed hands and become a bunch of bandits I would never have given up on my BMW experience. I only had one BMW out of five or six that I didn't like much at all and only kept it a year. It also became increasing clear to me that there were few places and times that I could light up my K1600 and utilize some of it's performance abilities due to increasing traffic congestion and fear of being stopped. Hopefully when I receive my 2023 Goldwing I won't have these uncontrolled urges and my dealer will treat me like a customer and not a cash box.

You will notice that I have left out a major two word manufacturer from my comments and that was intentional. In all my years of riding 4 different K1600's I never once found myself losing out in speed or handling to a Milwaukee made motorcycle. Many of these bikes were literally re-built from the ground up to make them faster and/or handle better, but the cost for doing this was astronomical. I never quite understood buying a brand new $30,000.00 bike just to tear it apart and re-build it for half the price of what it cost new. Unfortunately, I lived the "lifestyle" of the Milwaukee made motorcycles for quite a while in my younger years and all I have to show for it today is a bunch of t-shirts I never wear and 40% hearing loss from the loud exhaust we all ran. No thank you to that stuff anymore.

Rick H.
 

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As a person with well over 300,000 miles on Gold Wings and have never been left stranded or had any major mechanical problems, I'm very satisfied. I guess some more horses would be nice, but I can't think of when I've ever needed them. One-up, two-up, two-up pulling a loaded Bushtec trailer - all over the country, in Canada and up to Alaska - just never needed more horsepower.

My 2020 Tour w/DCT is the finest bike I've ever ridden... Nothing wrong with the BMW's and more horsepower, if that's what you want I say power to ya.

Enjoy, be safe and ride often!
 

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my opinion is that the numbers themselves don't really matter.
Does the GW do what it needs to do with comfort, adequate performance, and decent mileage while maintaining reliability?
Yes, then OK.
What would be gained by bumping up the HP/torque numbers on the GW? Bragging rights?
For how long and at what cost?
There are sport bikes with half the displacement of the 1800 making more power (at way higher rpm's), but numbers by themselves don't mean a whole lot.

Yes the K1600 is probably the closest apples to apples comparison out there, but even then, they are not the same apples. An I6 vs an opposed 6 develop and transmit power differently.
The BMW IMO is more sport touring than touring.
Oh my God. DING DING DING !!!!!!
 

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As a person with well over 300,000 miles on Gold Wings and have never been left stranded or had any major mechanical problems, I'm very satisfied. I guess some more horses would be nice, but I can't think of when I've ever needed them. One-up, two-up, two-up pulling a loaded Bushtec trailer - all over the country, in Canada and up to Alaska - just never needed more horsepower.

My 2020 Tour w/DCT is the finest bike I've ever ridden... Nothing wrong with the BMW's and more horsepower, if that's what you want I say power to ya.

Enjoy, be safe and ride often!
Very well said.
 

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it's most likely the very best engine in any motorcycle ever.
In your opinion.

In my opinion, the Airhead BMW is the very best engine in any motorcycle ever. If not for emissions BS, it would likely still be made.
 
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Honda and BMW go about their business in entirely different fashions. BMW is more techie and Honda more conservative. Both companies pay a price for their attitudes, but at the end of the day they accomplish the same thing. The K1600 6 is a marvel of engineering and quite reliable, but the BMW dealer network flat out sucks and pales in comparison to Honda. The Goldwing is known far and wide for its reliability and comfort, but has never been on the forefront of innovation save for the DCT trans. BMW wins hands down on advancing motorcycle technology.
Just to clarify, concerning the differences between two manufacturers, when I compare the two, I agree with the techie vs conservative generalization. However, if I address their two big sport/touring bikes alone, the DCT and the starter/generator unit render the Honda as much "techie" as you can get. These aren't just some add on or minor features. If we only evaluate two motorcycles, arguably I'd place the Honda squarely in front in this department. And let's not forget the reliability of this new tech: Honda's engineering prowess, call it techie or not, is second to none. And if techie involves its natural consequences: maintenance and repair costs, Honda wins again, BIG TIME. If "marvel of engineering" has anything to do with a seriously low center of gravity, Honda hit it out of the park. How does a 800+ pound motorcycle feel lighter than another only 2/3rds it's weight? It took a lot of techie to make that happen.

I would agree that the Beemer is a marvel of engineering, indeed it is; but that would apply no less to the Honda. Sadly, our American mindset is rather simple: faster is better. I seriously disagree. I've had faster: much faster. If I believed for a second that riding something faster was in ANY WAY better, I wouldn't be on this forum.

Finally, what is "quite reliable?" Is that not just one half of maintenance costs? They're based on two things: that which breaks, and that which is just normal maintenance. Based on what I've read here over the years, Honda wins here too. Cost of ownership adds up over time. Gas mileage, type of fuel, price of parts, dealer costs, proprietary electrical connectors that must be separated with dealer only equipment; the list goes on. It's not just things that break.
"Never been on the forefront of innovation." Wow. Never is a big word. History tells us that in 1969, Honda WAS the forefront of innovation. And if that amazing DCT ins't the forefront of innovation, I don't know what is.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Thanks for the thoughtful answers. I think I can find the answer here....it's in the customer value. Basically, GW riders don't prioritize more power over mpg, smoothness, reliability, etc. Well then Honda has delivered well to their customer base.

I guess it seems odd to me because the idea is really contrary to what is going on in marketing for virtually "everything". Faster, better specs, small changes to show incremental increases. (Example: Ford 3.5ecoboost. My version is 375hp, the newer are 400hp. Do I need it? No. But, it's an example of how it seems most of marketing works)

So - with a 1.8l 6cyl platform it seems like Honda could pretty easily add a few ponies. If it doesn't get more buyers....then why?

Thanks for helping me see some different angles.

And, yes @Tigerkf....yes, I ride. Thanks for the contribution.
 

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christopher.a.lutz said, “(the Wing’s 1833cc engine is) . . . underperforming relative to peers.”

It depends on your definition of performance.

  • Horsepower? BMW wins with a bigger number on paper
  • Torque? BMW wins with a bigger number on paper
  • Torque real world? Honda makes 108 lbs-ft from just off idle and is relatively flat through most of the real world riding rpm range
  • Durability/reliability? Pick one to own at 200,000 miles: BMW or Honda? I know which one I’m picking. :)
Also, consider the countries of origin: BMW/Germany, with no speed limit autobahns (and Europe where higher road speeds are generally ‘tolerated’) versus Honda/Japan (where speeds are highly regulated) and the American market (known to be the Wing’s primary market and with speed limits.)

(Edit: If your market is largely German or European, the bike needs speed (and respective big horsepower. If your market is North American - and luxury touring - the bike benefits more from a big, flat torque torque curve, not the highest peak numbers.)

Now, given my understanding of the Japanese corporate motorcycle design process (Post #8), the 1833cc Gold Wing’s horsepower/torque/fuel consumption numbers make absolute sense (to me.)

Tim
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