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Speaking Terms

(from the Travels with Guido series #367, by Guy Allen, Feb 2022)

Honda Gold

Settling in the new toy

At last. Near enough to nine months after making the fateful phone call to young Phil, the previous owner, the mighty Wing is pretty much where I want it to be. We (as in the bike and I) are now officially on speaking terms.

It's not that this was such a big project, more that life got in the way. The whole Covid plague cost us a few months before the thing could be transported, and I've had some 20-plus other vehicles all clamoring for various levels of attention. Oh, and I work for a living. We've been busy.

Really, it was an acceptable runner as-is and had already been treated to a lot of freshen-up work. However there were some things I wanted to change in an effort to bring it closer to original, such as brakes and mirrors, and others I wanted to upgrade, such as tyres and battery.

Getting all that settled down is simple enough, but the real challenge has been getting comfortable with its little foibles....oh and the challenges old bikes like to throw your way. For example, the day it decided three of four carburettors were going to leak fuel.

I'm still not sure what set off that particular drama, but suspect some crap working loose form the bottom of the tank or an iffy batch of fuel. In any case it became clear the float valves weren't closing, a situation exacerbated by the fact the Wing runs a fuel pump. So for a little while there I was riding a giant Molotov cocktail – not a good feeling.

Of course muggins was unwilling to remove the carbs, which is a big job, and looked for some other classic 'fixes'. Such as filling and draining the float bowls a few times and giving them a solid tap with a drift along the way. Plus throwing a good dose of fuel injector cleaner down its gullet. That worked.

Honda Gold

In some ways the real task has been getting my head around the monster. One feature that quickly became obvious is it rewards being ridden regularly – at least once a week. Some machines tolerate sitting for substantial periods, but this isn't one of them.

It's also a different thing to ride. Let's face it, as a 1975 model the Gold Wing is nearing 50 years of age. Not only do age and wear bring their own issues, so too does a design that harks back half a century. We're talking a period when Gough Whitlam was Australian Prime Minister (Harold Wilson in the UK, and Gerald Ford in the Oval Office). Things were different then.

With that in mind, the Gold Wing is actually pretty good for its time, but gothic by current standards. It's a lump at near 300 kilos with a load of fuel on board, but has noticably more power than my CB750-Four of similar vintage (around 80 versus 60 horses) and actually gets along pretty well. The transmission is clunky and rewards a nice lo-o-ong and smooth change. And the brakes are okay. (Bloody fantastic compared to some 1940s machinery I've owned!)

Phil et al did a pretty good job with freshening up the suspension and the result is a firmish ride with reasonable compliance. The steering is a little odd, though. It tends to fold in to a corner on a trailing throttle and really likes to be fed power ASAP to get it rolling out on a smooth line.

I had visions of this being my classic tourer – which is as good an excuse as any to not fully restore it. Therefore it sits nicely with the cruiser tourer (Indian Chief Vintage), the Summer tourer (BMW R1150GS) and the Winter tourer (BMW K1100LT).

Anyway, after all the faffing around and some minor adjustments to both the machine and the approach to riding it, yesterday I took it for a spin. For the first time since handing over the cash, I did something that is the first sign of a successful project – instead of just doing the ride I had planned, we hesitated for a moment, and then changed course to take the long way home. That's when you know you and the motorcycle are, finally, on speaking terms.

Honda Gold

More on this bike

Getting the Wing

On the road

More reading

Classic Two Wheels 1975 Gold Wing road test

See our GL1000 model profile

More features here

See the bikes in our shed


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