What do you want out of a new motorcycle? In this case, we’re talking about a bike that’s new to you, not necessarily one that’s new to the world overall. Different riders will have different answers to that question, because we’re all individuals who have a variety of preferences. Some folks like sportbikes, some like cruisers, and some like multiple bikes for different situations. (It’s all good and you do you, of course, except if it’s a genuinely bad bike. But we digress.)
Two of the guys at Donut, Jeremiah and Zach, recently got their hands on a veritable spectrum of touring motorcycle royalty in the form of two bikes: A shiny new 2023 Harley-Davidson CVO Road Glide and a 1995 Honda Gold Wing 20th Anniversary Edition with approximately a bazillion miles on it. The new bike is, unsurprisingly, a whole lot pricier than the used bike they scored off of Facebook Marketplace.
How massive is the price difference? While a base 2023 CVO Road Glide starts at $42,999, simply adding the paint you see in this video (that’s the Whiskey Neat with Raven Metallic colorway, by the way) tacks an additional $6,000 onto the total. That’s before you even think about using a heavy hand with upspeccing in the configurator. Meanwhile, that 1995 Gold Wing may have some questionable decals on the top box that the previous owner clear-coated right over—but it also cost just $500. No, we didn’t forget a zero.
The guys decided to try three different scenarios with both bikes, and they decided to do all three challenges while riding two-up. The first challenge was stop-and-go traffic, the second was highway cruising, and the third was canyon carving. At no point in the video did they attempt any lane splitting even though they’re based in California, in case you wondered.
How did the two bikes fare? While the new CVO Road Glide has certain advantages, such as the overall confidence boost that riders might feel simply because it’s a new machine that hasn’t been abused yet, there’s one glaring disadvantage that they note if you’re going to ride two-up. Sure, it looks cool, and it made both riders feel cool to be seen on.
However, in terms of practicality, taking a pillion (or riding as a pillion) on a bike with no back rest can be a challenge. Not only is it less comfortable; it’s also less inviting if you wanted to actually tour on your touring bike. To be totally clear, Harley-Davidson does of course offer different back rest options for the 2023 CVO Road Glide, but they’re not included on the base bike.
Add the Day Tripper Package in Chrome, which includes the H-D Detachables Sissy Bar, the Short Passenger Backrest, a rear luggage rack, the docking hardware for the luggage rack, and a chrome heel shifter, and that’s an additional $861.75. Opt for the Long-Haul Package (Chrome), with its premium color-matched top box, King Tour-Pak backrest, top box rack, docking hardware, and a chrome heel shifter, and that’s another $3,074. (That's the same as six used 1995 Gold Wings at the price that Donut paid for theirs!)
If we’re comparing like with like in terms of functionality, the passenger equipment found on the $500 Gold Wing is most similar to what comes included in the CVO Road Glide Long Haul Package. Now, it’s not totally fair to compare a 20-year-old used bike with a brand-new bike in 2023 for a number of reasons. However, they’re both things you can buy in 2023—and different factors will affect how and why riders want to spend their money on different bikes.
As the guys note, the 2023 CVO Road Glide looks cool, and it’s not hard to understand why someone might want it if they have that kind of money. At the same time, there’s a reason that people love Gold Wings, and have loved Gold Wings for decades. Part of that reason is because that bike from 1995, with a bazillion miles on it, is still going strong in 2023. Not only that, but it’s also super comfortable for touring two-up, right out of the box.