Honda's liquid-cooled, horizontally opposed six-cylinder engine is a key element to the Gold Wing's rich character, and while the general layout lives on, much has been done to make the powerplant more compact, more fuel efficient, and lighter. The engine is now 13.7 lbs. lighter when equipped with Honda's six-speed manual transmission, and 29mm shorter in the front section, and is placed forward in the chassis for more ideal weight distribution, a key contributor to the 2018 Gold Wing's sporty handling and improved vehicle packaging.
Specific changes for 2018 include a smaller, 73mm cylinder bore, updated crankshaft, and a Unicam® valve train layout that has been proven on the award-winning Honda CRF450R motocrosser. Combustion efficiency is improved via the use of four valves per cylinder, while friction is reduced through the application of a new molybdenum coating on the piston skirts. Thanks to a lighter overall package and enhanced vehicle aerodynamics, which led to improved fuel efficiency, engineers were able to reduce the fuel tank capacity by 1.1 gallons while retaining the same great range as before. This change is one of many aimed at improving handling via refined vehicle packaging and weight reduction.
Additional changes include a new intake system for added responsiveness and torque, as well as an updated exhaust system that highlights the bike's livelier personality through a deeper exhaust note.