Loafing around in Palm Springs for a few days gave us a chance to use the ‘wing for everyday chores, like heading to 7 Eleven for dollar pizza, buying last-minute Christmas presents, and taking non-riding relatives for rides. We very nearly got comfortable riding it.
Everyone wants to know what it’s like to ride such a heavy bike (two up, with all our gear and a full tank of gas, the rig was pushing 1400lbs). Anything above walking pace and it glides along easily. Acceleration is dulled by the weight of the bike, but it can definitely get out of its own way. The brakes are adequate, and the geometry of the bike means it doesn’t take much effort to steer. At speed, the ‘wing reveals its weight on dips and on sharp bumps, where the front suspension would bottom out and send a worryingly violent shudder through the frame. Learn to ride around that, and it’s a big, comfy tourer with a big helping of power.
It may be a great bike at speed, but we never quite got used to the low speed ride. Sure, we jumped at the chance to ride it, but every slow speed corner was an exercise in concentration. If it started to topple over in a full-lock, slow-speed corner, we’d never be able to catch it; instead, slipping the clutch and blipping the throttle with pull the bike upright. It wasn’t terribly tricky, but we suspect more than a few beginners have been caught out by the ‘wing’s weight. When a passenger requested permission to climb aboard, we’d brace with both legs on the ground (rather than letting the kickstand take all the weight).
Still, we loved the big beast. As the sun rose on Christmas day and we geared up for our ride to Kingman, we were giddy with excitement. We turned up the heated seats and grips, set the cruise control way up there, and headed East over Joshua Tree National Park. The road was arrow straight for a hundred miles, and we were going too fast to communicate or to listen to the radio. We hunkered down and let the miles click off.
After Havasu City, we decided to continue on the scenic route, and chose Historic Route 66 over the predictable I-40. We knew immediately that we had made the right choice. Route 66 was here a two-lane highway with a lovely grainy surface, arrow straight and right down the middle of a huge valley. Off to the sides, some guys with pickup trucks were fooling with four-wheelers and two stroke dirtbikes. On we went; our feet hadn’t touched the ground in sixty miles.
The road started to get curvy, and the scenery got more interesting as the mountains neared. Soon we were twisting around blind corners and then, to our amazement, stumbled upon a historic town. The road was full of wild burros wandering around, and a few cowboys had blocked off the road to reenact a shootout in front of perhaps one hundred people. After each blank fired off a chorus of cries came from the toddlers and infants in the audience.
After a few days in Kingman, it was time to head back to Las Vegas and drop the bike off at Escape Eagles. What a fantastic trip it was; great to experience the cosseting ride of a Goldwing, and doubly great to be free of a rental car on such a fantastic trip.
We rented the ‘wing from Escape Eagles motorcycle rental in Las Vegas