Honda Gold Wing GL 1800 DCT Airbag – Louis Special Custom Bike
HONDA GOLD WING GL 1800 DCT
– before the conversion.
SIX PACK - Transformation from sofa on wheels to drag racer
Multifunctional 7-inch TFT monitor, audio system, sat nav, Bluetooth, seat heater, electronically adjustable suspension, various assistance systems, 7-speed dual-clutch transmission, reverse gear, airbag – Honda’s latest top model boasts an almost endless list of features and functions. Almost 400 kg of motorbike for a cool €36,000 – it’s hard to imagine more luxury and opulence on two wheels.
We only want what’s best for you...
The Louis Mechanics Crew is in raptures. Not so much about all the luxury trappings, but rather the ultra-modern six-cylinder boxer engine and amazing dual-clutch transmission. The latter means that this machine has neither clutch lever nor gearshift. The job of the clutch is done entirely by the transmission itself, either automatically or, if you prefer, by operating small rocker switches on the left end of the handlebar. Yet the automatic clutch cannot be compared with a conventional torque converter automatic transmission. The DCT system from Honda shifts up at lightning speed and with zero loss of thrust. Although, admittedly, the shift points can be set somewhat more efficiently in manual mode.
The meaty 1833cc boxer engine has been completely redesigned for the launch of the 2018 Gold Wing. It puts out a mighty 170 Nm at only 4500 rpm, and the top performance of almost 130 PS kicks in just 1000 revs later.
...and that’s what we’re going for
So now the Mechanics Crew get down to work. They take only what they need from the touring colossus: engine, transmission, drive shaft swing arm and vital electronics. All the rest will be put to good, environmentally sustainable use in resurrecting other motorbikes that have been involved in an accident. Once the naked drivetrain is visible on the lift table, it becomes clear just how long a Gold Wing really is. The drivetrain alone is almost as big as a complete average bike.
Phoenix from the ashes
The first requirement is for a new frame, and its construction in tubular steel is yet again entrusted to Sam Wassermann from UNO. The giant-sized engine calls for significantly chunkier tubes than usual. After all, we need to make sure there are no wobbles. Next up is a USD fork and a shock from chassis specialists Wilbers plus a set of Kineo wheels from Italy. Michael Naumann builds a new aluminium tank, practically on the fly, for installation in the frame, directly behind the engine. This is because the space under the false tank, likewise made of aluminium, is urgently required for something else.
The naked rolling chassis is now standing in the Louis workshop while the huge wiring harness is, most importantly, stripped of everything superfluous and then completely re-routed. Honda certainly didn’t cut any corners when they built the fully faired "Goldie", so there’s an extra controller, relay, sensor or whatever else for each and everything. There’s plenty of space behind the fairing, after all. But now the aim is to turn it into a naked bike – and the Mechanics Crew are already playing mental Tetris games.
Never pick an argument with CAN bus
In today’s CAN bus age, simply leaving away electrical or electronic components is not as simple as it sounds. Whatever sort of device it is, stock speedo, turn signal, seat or case lid sensor (yes, the Gold Wing even has one of those), the controller will know about it. Consequently, you get an error message, and all too often the result is that the bike will not function normally, if at all, until the missing component has been reinstated and the error memory cleared with a diagnostic device. There are more enjoyable jobs to do on a motorcycle. But after what seems like an eternity, crew members Martin Struckmann and Detlev Stüdemann actually succeed in reassembling and reconnecting everything in the cable spaghetti. The false tank is now well and truly full.
Six for six
Now it’s over to the Italian firm Shark. The exhaust specialists give the Honda a complete new exhaust tract. But this time the Louis Crew hasn’t made things easy for them. Far from it, in fact. In the words of Kay Blanke, responsible for the design: "When we actually get our hands on a six-cylinder engine, then it’s got to be a 6-in-6 exhaust. And in attractive conical and curved silencers." When the people at Shark receive the drawing, it’s clear that the schedule will need to be extended considerably. But it’s worth it, because the end result looks fantastic!
Unleash the beast
On the inlet side, the engine is equipped with a K&N round filter installed on the central throttle valve. Tuning guru Ulf Penner is responsible for tuning the engine. At his Bremen workshop, he's able to do the first sound check on the six-cylinder bike. Ulf describes it like this: "Honda did a redesign from the ground up for the six-cylinder boxer that powers their new Gold Wing. And it paid off: absolutely silky smooth and perfect throttle response. If this unit is allowed to breathe freely, the sound is a real experience. That’s due in no small part to the 6-in-6 Shark exhaust system. As soon as you twist the throttle, the contented purr of the idling engine suddenly changes into an indescribable snarl. Even at the lowest revs, the thrust is just as impressive. I always knew that under all that plastic there was a real beast.”
Painted or not painted?
Finally it’s time for professional paint-sprayer Danny Schramm from Schrammwerk to set to work on the colour scheme. Although the tank and seat are aluminium and actually look unpainted, there is in fact a whole lot of paint on them. After applying filler, Danny uses an angle grinder to make an apparently random scratch pattern in the surfaces, and then paints them aluminium with red highlights. The bike is ready to roll, and the name says it all: SIX PACK!