Read the first part of this story here
Stefan took us through the various features of the Goldwing, and there were many. The key fob can lock the three panniers remotely, there are two wheels to control the temperatures of the heated seats and grips, and a little knob opens a flap by the headers to allow warm air onto your tootsies. Our Goldwing was, in a word, lush. It didn’t have ABS or an airbag, but it was far and away the most complicated and well-equipped motorcycle we’ve ever ridden. We were relieved to see that it was wearing Metzeler ME880s, since riding unfamiliar roads with a passenger, full panniers, and on someone else’s $20k+ motorcycle is the last place you want to make any sort of compromise on tires.
After being shown how the reverse button works (with the bike running, select neutral, press a toggle-switch, then press the starter button to run reverse off the starter motor), we nervously stepped astride for a test-ride around the block. The bike weighs well over 900 lbs unladen, and at a walking pace, it certainly feels like it. The clutch takeup was quite sharp, and the first time we let it out the bike leapt forward.
We were finally off! At the turn out of the parking lot, our excitement subsided—the ‘wing felt so big and heavy that we weren’t sure we could get it straight in the first lane, and had to wait until two lanes were clear before we were comfortable proceeding. Once straight, the big six took over (and has some weird hum, probably from the alternator, which has to power four headlights, four brake lights, heated everything, and the stereo) and launched us down the road.
We went back to Escape Eagles, packed the rest of our gear in the panniers, and headed out onto I-15. You feel safe at speed on a Goldwing, in the cocoon of still air behind the adjustable windshield, and able to engage warp-drive with the twist of a heated grip. However much people joke about it being a two-wheeled car, it’s still a motorcycle, with the same lovely lean through corners, the same wind noise (though much less of it) and the same difficult communication where you can’t quite hear your passenger. We didn’t have intercoms in our helmets, but wished we did; without them, we had to slow down to 55 if ever we wanted to chat.
The first 60 miles of our trip were spent on southbound I-15, and we wondered if maybe we’d made the wrong decision. A rental car would have cost half as much, we would have been able to chat the whole time, and we wouldn’t be chilly at all. But then we turned onto Cima Rd toward Cima, Ca. It was a two-lane, rough-textured concrete road through the desert. We saw no tumbleweeds, but plenty of tumbleweed candidates.
On the highway, there’s always a struggle to maintain enough attention. It’s boring, frankly. Finally free of that monotony, we blasted toward Cima, taking in the desert countryside and keeping our eyes peeled just in case a desert-dwelling beast decided it was time to bound across the road. We were headed to Palm Springs, and out of the three hundred miles between there and Las Vegas, we spent only a third on highways. The rest were on deserted two-lane roads through huge desert valleys. The Goldwing never skipped a beat, and returned 37.7 mpg at our first fuel stop. We were smitten.
We rented the ‘wing from Escape Eagles