I've been storing my step-dad's Goldwing for a couple of months at my place so they can clean out their garage. He's been wanting to get his motorcycle back but due to his work schedule hasn't had a chance to get it the last couple of weeks. Well the stars aligned in such a way yesterday that it turned out to be a pretty decent day and I had some time available, so I convinced him to let me ride it up to his and my Mom's place since he was still working. It's a late-80s model with a choke and it took me a couple of tries to figure out how to trim it but once I got it warmed up I was ready to set off.
Now I'm used to ~400lb sport bikes so this was quite a contrast. I rocked the bike back and forth a couple of times to get a feel for the controls and to see how it would react since I've never ridden it. The only other time I've felt this nervous was when I was first learning and when I got onto the street for the first time. I think I was more nervous about dropping it since it wasn't mine. Thankfully I have slow surface streets and a good enough apartment driveway at my disposal to build up my confidence before hopping onto the freeway.
After getting on the freeway and settling into the light traffic I managed to calm down and take in the bike. What an experience! Having a seat back and a big cushy seat was fantastic. I still instinctively tucked my elbows whenever I would look behind me even though it was unnecessary on the Goldwing. The slightly more forward foot position compared to a standard took some getting used to but the whole riding position really caters to just eating up the miles in comfort. The only weird thing I thought was the windshield, it creates a giant void of low-pressure that you're sitting in and it felt like it was trying to suck me forward towards the handlebars. There's also an odd buffeting at freeway speeds that I thought was a bit bothersome even with ear plugs in, then I saw the cruise control. I didn't use it but it totally blew my mind. Oh, and the fact that the foot brake lever controls both front and rear brakes took some getting use to.
Overall it was a neat experience. I can certainly see the merits of having a big tourer and I've often fantasized about getting a sport tourer myself. I'd have to get a smaller windshield though, I don't think I could ever get used to that low-pressure zone behind it and the buffeting at speed. Here's a picture of the bike.