Road Test: Honda Goldwing vs. Triumph Rocket III
Way down in the south of France there’s a secret village up on a hill, overlooking a secluded cape where the President of France has a hidden holiday home next to a concealed beach. The village itself is all steep, narrow streets, hanging baskets, pastel walls and terracotta roof tiles.
The hairpin approach from the south affords views out over the Mediterranean; from the north, a short but spectacular stretch of twisting road through dry, cork oak woodland offers a brief slice of some of the finest riding southern France has to offer. It’s all very, very nice. Me, being a creature of forced habit, like an insane captive bear pacing back and forth across its cage, I keep returning to the same places again and again.
This is one of them.
And it being that time of year again, that time when thoughts turn to travelling long distances on motorcycles for the purely self-indulgent reason of wanting to, we thought wouldn’t it be a nice idea to go back to that secret special place.
But what we needed were some equally special motorcycles. This was a trip with a destination in mind, not a harum-scarum cross-country blast by sports bike. So we required fitting transport.
Something stylish, something elegant, something that would make a special place feel even more special.
Hello? Honda? Can we have a Goldwing please?
The latest incarnation of Honda’s continuously refined, indecently luxurious, opulently equipped Wing is as focused and single-minded a slice of motorcycle as is currently available. Like a supersport 600 or a motocrosser, the Goldwing is designed to do one thing well, and everything else be damned. And that thing is whoosing two people and their things in comfort, style, and a slightly exuberant manner, across large swathes of foreign lands.
Our foil to the Wing’s effusive sophistication? There is little to compare directly with a Wing – BMW’s K1200LT and Harley-Davidson’s Ultra Classic Electra Glide come closest – but we wanted something even more ostentatious, even more over-the-top. And we found it. Triumph’s 2.3-litre Rocket III is a blunt but mightily effective weapon in the battle to be noticed, but this Classic edition takes things a step further.
A more comfortable seat, feet-forward footboards and swept-back bars set the Classic apart from the standard Rocket, but add another two grands worth of official Triumph extras – including screen, sissy bar, leather panniers, heated grips, chrome this and two-tone that – and we’ve got a Yankee-style mile-eating behemoth with which to head south, fully loaded, two-up and in imposing style.
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