There’s something intoxicating about the lure of the forbidden, isn’t there? Watching a Honda Gold Wing go off road is watching it do something that it isn’t supposed to be able to do. For a certain type of person, the idea that you shouldn’t do something is exactly why you want to try it. In some cases, you find out firsthand why folks say you shouldn’t do that thing, and then you move on (hopefully without any lasting injuries).
In other cases, though—and strongly depending upon your skill level—you might find out differently. As enduro rider and YouTuber Matt Spears has already shown us a couple of times, a big, heavy touring bike like the Honda Gold Wing can be more capable off road than most riders probably think. We’re talking about quite a bit more than a little light gravel or dirt here, if you’re unfamiliar with Spears’ Gold Wing adventures.
In his most recent Gold Wing challenge, Spears and Piggy (that’s the name he’s given his ‘Wing) decide to tackle a hill climb challenge. Spears also convinced five-time Great American Hill Climb Champion Austin Teyler to race him and the ‘Wing and see who came out with the best time.
If you’ve watched Spears’ previous videos with the Gold Wing, you’ve already seen that it isn’t half bad at trail riding. If you give it a proper paddle tire, it also does better in sand than probably anyone in their right mind would expect. We know this thanks to Spears, who had a custom tire shop make it a custom paddle tire, because no existing tire manufacturer currently makes a paddle tire for the Gold Wing.
For those who aren’t overly familiar with the ‘Wing, we’re talking about a 1,000-pound bike, give or take. It was built with a variety of touring comforts for both rider and passenger—but they’re all geared toward riding on paved roads. At most, it was probably expected to occasionally meander into a gravel parking lot, and that’s about it as far as off-road excursions are concerned.
Hill climbs, if you’re unfamiliar, are just what they sound like. Riders go up steep and challenging hills, finding the best line up—and then coming down the other side. The steeper the hill, the more potentially terrifying coming down on the other side is going to be.
Thus, unsurprisingly, a hill climb bike is a lightweight, nimble machine that’s made for dirt. In the hands of an expert, it practically floats. Teyler makes some of his climbing look incredibly easy and effortless, which isn’t super surprising given his level of expertise.
On the first couple of hill climbs shown in this video, the ‘Wing continues to do better than expected. At least once, we get a little bit of foreshadowing of what’s to come, as the ‘Wing has a little trouble with the verticality of the hill and has to have a small dirt nap on the way up.
With a little help, Spears is able to get it turned around and facing downhill so he can at least pilot it back down facing forward instead of backward. He uses a different line going up the second time, and successfully makes it up to the top.
Choosing A Hill to Die On
While Spears, Teyler, and the folks who were with them didn’t expect it to be the last hill, the final climb shown in this video culminated in an ending that Spears swears isn’t intentional. If you ever wondered what a Gold Wing tumbling sideways down a hill might look like, watch this video and you’ll have all your questions answered. No one gets hurt, other than Piggy—but poor Piggy basically gets destroyed.
After Piggy’s rough and speedy descent, Spears picks up some of Piggy’s pieces, which are now littered all over the side of the mountain. We’re talking body panels, the gauge cluster, a completely bent and broken speaker—and probably plenty more pieces we don’t get to see in the video. The handlebar is so seriously bent that it’s nigh on impossible to try to roll the bike out, even if it successfully starts again with no mechanical intervention (which would be a miracle).
They don’t try to start it in this video, but they do talk about how they’re going to recover it because once again, they’re kind of out in the middle of nowhere. Is Piggy dead forever? We’ll have to watch and see. It is spooky season as I write this, so maybe we’ll see it rise from the grave in the future.