The Honda GL1000 Gold Wing — Classic Japanese Motorcycles — Motorcycle Classics

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1975 Gold Wing

A vintage Honda Gold Wing on with other classic at the Barber Vintage Motor.

on eBay: 1975 Honda Goldwing

This week’s find is a first year Goldwing. It hasn’t been and looks to be in ve.

Found on eBay: Honda GL1000 Gold

This week’s eBay is a 1976 Honda GL1000 Wing that looks to be in condition and has us.

Bob Reichenberg’s 1975 GL1000 Gold Wing

produced: 1975-present

Total N/A

Claimed power: 80hp @

Top speed: 125mph (est.)

type: 999cc single-overhead two valves per cylinder, water-cooled four

Weight: 295kg

Price then: $2,895

now: $2,000-$5,000

MPG: (approx.)

Looking back, easy to think the first GL1000 Gold Wing in was a revolutionary motorcycle. It was, in evolutionary, built to appeal to the bigger-is-better theory. Today, the Gold Wing is an icon for the touring motorcycle.

But back in the it was just Honda’s best at what Americans wanted in a motorcycle.

In the well-lit upstairs of any large corporation you’ll legions of employees who do nothing but things like costs and Like any huge corporation, headquarters had (and has) by the bushel, and founder Soichiro impressed by the strength of the American wanted to build a motorcycle would specifically appeal to buyers: He told his boys to into it.

Read Bob Reichenberg’s review of and riding a 1975 Honda Gold Wing

Price-point is an unrefined art, dedicated to the truth of the bottom line. If the of any piece of the product can be reduced harming its function, it’s In our industry it boils down to the (Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail of the envisioned competition; in 1975 the Electra Glide cost (with bags and fairing the BMW R90/6. $3,395; the Moto 850-T, $2,699; and the Kawasaki Z1.

Honda slotted its planned new right in the middle at $2,895.

The consideration was how many of the new model could sell. With the of tens of thousands of Honda motorcycles sold in that model’s year fresh in mind, the were hoping for something Soichiro’s notion was to build grand, something luxurious and that would make the marque stand out as it had with the

And he did not want to go head-on against 903cc Z-1, which had eclipsed his own CB750. Instead, he to light a new path with a different motorcycle that have the cycle-buffs applauding.

after the introduction of the CB750, the RD at Honda was contemplating new concepts. saw how popular the 1,200cc Harley-Davidson was in the and figured if Americans liked motorcycles, Honda could one.

Soichiro knew his new needed a smooth, four-cylinder He’d already created a inline four, so he was left either a V-four or a flat Both designs had been with limited success in the with the Matchless Silver V-four and the Zundapp K800 four.

Soichiro settled on a flat but it was almost a flat six.

The Gold Wing (the came from the Honda a golden wing) introduced in 1974 had a 999cc opposed engine, a wheelbase of 60.6in and a weight of 650lb. This was a pounds more than the which many pundits was the motorcycle the GL was supposed to beat. was not necessarily so; the Z-1 was a rev-happy machine, under 5,000rpm, arm-socket-wrenching

The GL1000, which had almost the power and performance, was calm, and comfortable. Honda was broadening the rather than going to head.


There was truly remarkable or innovative the GL1000, yet it was so well executed it like the Gold Wing a new frontier in motorcycle technology.

for instance, the Gold Wing’s cooling. Scott motorcycles in had been water cooled for half a century, right up to the and Colonel H.C. Holden of the Engineers had his water-cooled, flat-four-powered on the market in 1900.

And then was the Suzuki GT750. a liquid-cooled triple, presented in 1971.

there was the matter of operating the camshafts, one on each bank of Bevel-driven overhead cams had around since before War I, followed by chain-driven and gear-driven but in 1975 toothed rubber and timing belts were a rarity. The 1971 Moto 3-1/2 Sport  used a belt to turn the camshaft in its OHV and in 1975 Ducati was already to use belts in its OHC V-twins.

Belts are both less and quieter than chains or the only drawback being the to change belts before wear out and break. On the Wing is an easy job, done by the front cover from the

Honda GL 1800 Gold Wing

An interesting touch is a gear-driven rotating in the opposite direction of the helping to counter-balance the slight surge of the longitudinal crankshaft the throttle is blipped at rest, a that BMW riders know

Also, a cush drive is aft of the crankshaft, reducing the jerkiness can result from abrupt throttle action. The idea was to power smoothly. Another feature is the complicated linkage the four 32mm Keihin allowing one cable to open and the quartet.

Then there’s the gas sitting under the seat, the mechanical fuel pump’s coming off the end of the right-side camshaft. 5gal of gas up high would the rider 35 extra pounds to but down low it helps to centralize This is a big bike, and Honda to reduce any balance issues to most manageable proportions.

left the faux tank to a small glove box. Pop the top and the fall away, revealing all the and electrical paraphernalia, a top-off for the cooling system, a tool kit and a lever, just in case.

To keep the wheelbase within lengths, the multi-plate wet clutch and transmission are tucked under the A Hy-Vo chain provides drive, and a shock-absorbing system is into the countershaft sprocket and to a shaft final drive. was a first for Honda, who wanted to absolutely sure the drive assembly aided in the smoothness of delivery; the Wing’s drivetrain was for a full year before it was at the 1974 show in Cologne,

The rear wheel on the GL1000 was a 17in, but with a fat 4.0in like the Harley. It also a disc brake, a relative and people oohed and aahed that fact, not appreciating Harley had been using one for years. The front wheel was a standard 19in, with discs.

Here’s looking at Wing

Aesthetics are in the eye of the viewer, but not liked the form of the GL1000. side-panels kept the under-seat gas from view, but gave the a slightly porky air. For the colors were Candy Red and Candy Blue Green; the Yellow that many think was on the original Gold was a 1976 color.

When got their first taste of the they were pleasantly With a claimed 80hp, it 13-second quarter-miles at over And it was a helluva lot smoother than a especially when consuming days; with a top speed of you could go as fast as you wanted for as as you wanted.

The worst thing you might was a numb …, as the seat is woefully thin, reflecting an to keep the Gold Wing seat to under 32 inches.

The Gold is also unbelievably quiet. The cooling keeps engine well abated, while a exhaust system gives a exhaust note, even at The only real disappointment is the with rather stiff front forks giving of travel, and less-than-compliant rear absorbers having 3.4in of The factory thought some might try to dice with bikes, and best to be too tough too weak, but limited cornering kept the seriously sport-minded away, as they preferred the CB750F Super Sport .


The Gold Wing appealed to travelers wanting to go St. Louis to Denver in a day. motorcycle riders took the to heart, and the aftermarket boomed nothing ever seen from frame-mounted fairings to of chrome doodads to make Wing, well, yours.

than 13,000 Wings sold in the U.S. in 1975, and as saw how popular it was as a touring machine, its began making small to boost its appeal in the category. that mid-range power was important to these riders top end, for 1978 the cams changed and carbs reduced to for more low-end muscle, at the of a half-second in quarter-mile times. The were upgraded slightly, an inch more travel and damping, and new shocks were with improved damping

Early reports of weak in wet-weather conditions roused the of the U.S. Department of Transportation, so new calipers and pads were A recall was also made on all models so that dealers install new rear brake

Also in 1978, Honda’s wheels replaced the spoked which struggled with the and weight of the bike, especially an aftermarket fairing and luggage on. The saddle was improved, as was the whole motif. With changes to the tank and side panels, the new GL more like the CB750F.

The Wing was a wild success; to Honda over 97,000 were sold in this from 1975 through And come 1980, major were in order. The original, GL1000 was replaced by the new GL1100, at the new Honda plant in Marysville,

It was now a real American motorcycle. MC

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