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                GL1000 Gold Wing

Wing workshop

(by Guy ‘Guido’ Allen, Oct 2021)


The allegedly easy task of getting our recently-acquired Gold Wing up to speed has been a test of patience

Those of you have been living through Covid-induced lockdown in Australia may be familiar with how freaking slow it makes finishing even the most simple tasks. Some time ago – I think we're heading for three months – I bought a 1975 Honda GL1000 Gold Wing. Yep, that's the very first model.

It took at least a month to break it out of Wollongong in NSW and have it shipped to sunny Melbourne. Then, since, we've been held up by slow parts shipments and movement restrictions that make life just that little more challenging. Anyway, enough grizzling.

Honda GL1000 Gold Wing

The good news is the Wing turned up more or less in the shape I expected. It was cosmetically reasonably complete and original, if a little knocked around. More or less what you'd expect for a bike that has actually been used for much of the 46 years since it was let loose from the factory.

                GL1000 Gold Wing

Its previous owner had given the engine a bit of a birthday, with a big service that included fresh cambelt and a few other components, including a fuel pump. So we at least had a solid mechanical starting point.

I decided to bring it back a little closer to original, and tidy it up without going down the bottomless rabbit-hole that is a full restoration.

                GL1000 Gold Wing

For example, the mirrors were wonky aftermarket items and I managed to source a factory pair in the USA. Cost was Au$77 for the hardware, which blew out to $124 by the time they were landed. Ouch! And yes I could have had an aftermarket set for a third of that, but they looked like crap and are a visually prominent part of the bike.

Honda GL1000 Gold Wing

Next, the brakes. Up front they had been set up with a later model master cylinder and heavily drilled discs. That's actually a practical combination, with better response at the lever and far less unsprung weight. There was however the nagging thought that I had no idea how long the modded discs might hold together – forever? Next week?

Whatever, stage two was to get a set of used stock discs (again from the USA). These things are so thick that wear isn't much of an issue. They turned up looking okay, and well within spec. As luck would have it, the previous owner included an original type master cylinder in the sale and that's been mounted up as well.

                GL1000 Gold Wing

I must admit the thing gave me a fright at one stage, refusing to release the sprag clutch and engage the starter. Great, so all we were getting was pathetic whirring sounds. The prospect of diving in and fixing it was ugly. It's an engine out job.

However, a cruise through owner forums revealed that the issue is rarely wear, and more likely oil/grease gumming up the works through lack of use. The trick is to turn the motor over by hand (easy with the demountable kick-starter) to find a spot where it will engage. Then make sure you run it up to full temp when it does catch and start.

                GL1000 Gold Wing

That in turn highlighted the condition of the ageing and basic lead-acid battery. I've stuck a sealed unit in for the time being and have a lithium version on back order. Yep, that's doubling up on a cost but the improvement in reliability with lithium, particularly on a seldom-used machine, is worth it.

Honda GL1000

We're getting closer. Now we're waiting for one or more fresh indicator lenses (one was faded and would fail a roadworthy test), and some new handgrips that suit. Last on the list is replacements for the Duro tyres of unknown vintage. They're probably legal (just) but I'd rather give them the flick and put on fresh hoops through Pablo's.

Then, finally, maybe I'll even get to ride the thing! We'll keep you posted...

More on this bike

On the road

On speaking terms

More reading

See our first model Gold Wing profile

And the 1975 road test from Classic Two Wheels


More features here

See the bikes in our shed


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