Honda Goldwing History

 
The Honda Goldwing motorcycle was first introduced at the Cologne Motorcycle Show in October 1974. A liquid-cooled, horizontally opposed four-cylinder engine, which revolutionized motorcycle touring.  While this first production version of the now famous Goldwing was ultimately deemed a success, it's place in the world of motorcycling was not entirely cast in stone at the beginning.  Part of the reason for this was the fact that the GL1000 didn't really fit properly into any particular motorcycle class, even though it was officially tagged as a touring bike. 

1975
Make: Honda
Models:
GL1000 Standard
Price:
$2880.00 (estimated)

Weighing in at 584lbs, it was far too heavy to be called a sports bike and the upright sitting position also helped to kill off any such sporting pretensions.  The rear coil spring suspension wasn't up to the job of handling all the weight when the rider was pushing it or on winding country roads that all bikers love to tackle. Without a touring kit, the “standard GL” didn't help the official touring image either. 

Honda didn't make their own saddlebags and trunk available for the GL1000 until it's last year of production in 1979.  A Honda fairing was not even an option until the GL1100 Interstate was released in 1980!  Honda's claim that the GL1000 was a touring bike must have rang hollow in the ears of many owners keen to have their machines fitted for the job. It's almost like the design team had a picture of what they wanted to make, but no clear idea of where to fit it once it went into production. More than one GL1000 owner has said that their early impressions from the press reports was that Honda seemed to be more concerned with emphasising the outright straight-line performance of the bike, and cementing it's role as a proper touring motorcycle seemed to be of secondary importance at the time.

In spite of all the confusion about the Goldwings role in life, the GL1000 proved to be a very reliable motorcycle, quite capable of going very long distances without missing a beat and almost immediately the aftermarket fairing and saddle bags suppliers started to cater for the requests of those who wanted to use the GL1000 for more than just popping down to the shops. This is what finally gave the Goldwing it's place in the motorcycling world, it really became a touring motorcycle because it's owners shaped it into one and Honda, always keen to keep an ear to the ground, listened to what the customers wanted and started planning the next generation of Goldwing.


1976
Make: Honda
Models:
GL1000 Standard and Limited Edition
Price:
$2950.00 to $3295.00 (estimated)

The standard GL1000 remained unchanged, apart from a badly needed grease nipple on the drive shaft.  A limited edition LTD model was rolled out alongside the standard model and the LTD had some nice emblems, pin striping, a better seat, flared mudguards, gold coloured wheels, and some other nice but otherwise unimportant cosmetics. The LTD version of the GL1000 was only available for this model year.

1977
Make: Honda
Models:
GL1000 Standard 
Price:
$2930 (estimated)


The first tentative model changes based on customer feedback to Honda got higher handlebars with neoprene grips, a dual contoured saddle and chromed heat shields on the header pipes. Chromed upper engine mounting brackets were also a nice touch. More importantly, the steering head bearings were now tapered rollers instead of ball bearing type that often wore out quickly.  The front, rear engine, and rocker covers were now thicker and was designed to reduce noise, the fuel tank also had an internal coating applied to prevent rust.


1978
Make: Honda
Models:
GL1000 Standard
Price:
$3198 (estimated)


This year brought smaller carbs, a shorter valve timing and increased spark advance which gave the GL1000 increased performance in top gear, which translated into slightly less top speed but more torque, which is what the long distance rider needed. The fuel, temperature and voltage gauges were mounted on the tank. The kick-start was omitted this year and the troublesome wire wheels were replaced with five spoke Com-stars.  Gone was the worry about rusted or loose spokes on wire wheels, now owners were fretting about cracked rims and loose rivets on the Com-stars. The stepped saddle was introduced this year and has been a feature of all Goldwing models ever since. A fully chromed exhaust system which didn't rust as fast as the earlier painted ones, rear indicators where moved from the frame to the rear mudguard and shocks changed to a two-stage damping type (in addition to longer forks & springs) completed the picture. The bike still handled like a brick when pushed hard, in spite of the new FVQ (often called fade very quickly) shocks and the better forks. The new exhaust made the machine sound livelier and the smaller mufflers allowed easy access to the clutch, which was just as well as this was a problem area on the GL1000 in those days.


1979
Make: Honda
Models:
GL1000 Standard
Price:
$3698 (estimated)


This was the last year for the GL1000 and the bike saw only minor changes which included the shape of a then very cool looking CBX style tail light with two bulbs, rectangular indicators, brake fluid reservoir and black brake and clutch levers instead of the previous unpainted alloy ones.  An opportunity to lose some of the excess weight and regain some of the performance the model had lost in previous years was gone and the cosmetics were the only areas attended to at the end of the decade leaving the Goldwing to continued it's slide down the credibility scale until the 1980 model year.


1980
Make: Honda
Models:
GL1100 Standard, Interstate
Price:
$3798.00 to $4898.00 (estimated)


The GL1100 was announced for this model year and this time Honda got it right. This was the first ever-Japanese mass produced motorcycle to roll off the production line as a proper touring motorcycle coming with a full fairing, trunk and saddlebags on the Interstate model.  The quality, fit and finish of the plastics was first class. The new frame was stiffened considerably to cope with the extra weight of
the Interstate. The bigger 1085cc engine was still a liquid-cooled, horizontally opposed four-cylinder engine, but it gave more torque and also ran smoother than the previous model with smaller carburettors and electronic ignition. The suspension was air assisted and this greatly transformed the handling and comfort of the bike, in spite of the weight increase of the dressed models around 672lbs. The forks could take between 14-21psi, the rear shocks 29-42psi. 

Motorcycle magazines immediately gave the new machine the thumbs-up and customers all over the world hassled their dealers
for a bike that Honda couldn't get out of the factory quick enough to meet the demand.  Its reliability meant that the Goldwing rider didn't have to fill the luggage space with repair tools every time the bike was taken out. The GL1100 was the Goldwing that the GL1000 should have been. For those who weren't satisfied with the already comprehensive items on the GL1100, Hondaline offter luxuries such as a full radio/cassette, CB radio and lots more. Honda knew that the typical Goldwing rider had the cash to spare for the luxuries they offered and price was not a factor. The aftermarket suppliers were also quick to adapt to the new challenge and before long one could buy countless accessories for the Goldwing, with many suppliers eager to meet demand and fill the large gaps that Honda had left for them. This pattern has been repeated for every Goldwing model ever since and the GL1100 is the bike that really saw the Goldwing accepted as the “ultimate touring bike”, a title that the Goldwing has held almost since then.

1981
Make: Honda
Models:
GL1100 Standard, Interstate
Price Range:
$4098.00 to $5298.00 (estimated)

The GL1100 saw some changes such as a reshaped saddle that was slightly lower than before. As on the 1980 model, the saddle could be adjusted forward and back by about 40mm, but this time with a press of a lever instead of the previous fiddling with Allen keys. The saddle on the Goldwing has probably seen more changes than any other area of the bike over the years. Almost yearly there where minor changes to the shape and foam density and no matter how much effort Honda put into this area, there where always plenty of people whose “rear-ends” just didn’t fit comfortably enough. The rear shocks could now take up to 57psi of air, this being the limit for the rest of the GL1100's production life. Orange & Gold pin striping, a scratch-resistant windshield, and better instrument shielding to stop unwanted reflections on the windshield all showed Honda were keen to refine the bike. Saddlebag liners were available from this year on.

In May of 1981 Honda moved the Goldwing production from Japan to Ohio, USA.


1982
Make: Honda
Models:
GL1100 Standard, Interstate, Aspencade
Price Range:
 $4248.00 to $5698.00 (estimated)

The GL1100 had some major improvements in the new Aspencade. The bike had an electrically operated air pump for the suspension, accessed from the top of the dummy tank, instead of the previous valve set-up (retained on the Standard and Interstate) which required the rider to either keep a manual pump handy or go to the local garage to pump up the suspension. Two-tone paintwork was applied to the Aspencade and all the GL1100's got smaller wheels (18" front, 16" rear) The rims were now wider (2.5" front and 3"rear) to allow for wider tires on all models and the self-cancelling indicators were fitted to all models from 1982. All models from 1982 got a new style crash bar and dual piston brake callipers all a round. The Aspencade also got vented stainless steel discs, two-tone seat and trunk pouches, the Clarion type 2 AM/FM stereo radio, digital dash, CB radio and a clock. The stereo, CB radio and air pump where available as options on the Interstate.


1983
Make: Honda
Models:
GL1100 Standard, Interstate, Aspencade
Price:
$4248.00 to $5698.000 (estimated)


This was the final year of production for the GL1100.  All models got flatter foot pegs, the passenger ones being slightly adjustable. The Aspencade now had eleven spoke aluminium wheels instead of the previous troublesome Com-stars (which were never really able to cope with all the weight),  the suspension pump controls where now mounted on the handlebars just below the dash and the bike finally got linked brakes which were much welcomed by the Goldwing community. The Aspencade came with a LCD dash and advanced features. The choke lever was operated by thumb on the left handlebar. Anti-dive forks (TRAC) helped considerably to reduce wallowing and helped prevent bottoming-out and stronger springs in the rear shocks meant that the bike could be ridden without any air in them, although this wasn't always entirely wise, especially when travelling with a passenger.  Changes to the gearing saw better fuel economy; a shorter first gear made the machine faster off the line, but top gear acceleration was now a bit more sluggish. The self-cancelling indicators had some improvements to make them more reliable and the seat was redesigned to give the passenger more room. Locating the trunk both higher and further back gave even more space for the passengers. The Aspencade now tipped the scale at over 700lbs! Comfort and size were the criteria from now on.

1984
Make: Honda
Models:
GL12000 Standard, Interstate, Aspencade
Price:
$4795.00 to $7895.000 (estimated)


The GL1200 arrived for this year and continued the trend set by it's predecessor.  Competition from Yamaha's Venture (which many motorcycle magazines compared to the Goldwing) no doubt hastened the development of the successor to the GL1100 and the GL1200 was Honda's answer.  With three different models for this year which included the Standard, the Interstate, and the top of the line Aspencade, which had the Type 3 audio system.  Honda was ready to roll!  With major improvements over the 1100, it had a bigger and more responsive 1182cc version of the
liquid-cooled, horizontally opposed four-cylinder engine with hydraulic valve adjusters, better suspension and better handling.  A hydraulic clutch was another first for the Goldwing.  Carried forward from the previous Aspencade were the now even better air suspension controls, linked brakes, and the new Aspencade had a more advanced audio system and upgraded LCD dash. The front wheel was a rather  small (for such a large machine) 16" and this gave the steering a very light and quick feel. The styling of the plastics was more aggressive than the GL1100, the fairing, trunk, saddlebags, and lights all had a more brute look that was evident on many motorcycles and cars from the eighties. The flowing lines of the previous model were not quite as subtle on the GL1200, but the integration of the luggage was much better now because there were less gaps and spaces between the panels and much more efficient use was made of the available storage space. Four 32mm CV carburettors managed to give better response with a light feel without the need for accelerator pumps. The GL1200 was the first Goldwing to drift away from the common Honda "parts bin" approach and most of the parts fitted to a GL1200 were unique to that machine and not fitted to any other Honda motorcycle. Hondaline could supply you with a CB radio and other extras considered essential by many owners of the new machine. The aftermarket suppliers had a field day, small industries had sprung up everywhere to feed the habit and the vast range of chrome goodies, backrests, lights, and more.


1985

Make: Honda
Models:
GL12000 Interstate, Aspencade, Limited Edition
Price:
$6198.00 to $10,000.00 (estimated)


This year Honda drop the Standard model.  Since the introduction of the GL1100 Interstate, sales of the Standard had slumped dramatically and in spite of the predictable whining and howls of protest from the aftermarket fairing and luggage suppliers, this was the beginning of the era when accountants really did have a big say in marketing policy, so the Standard was unceremoniously put down by Honda. Alongside the Interstate and Aspencade, Honda brought in the GL1200 LTD for this year only. The LTD had computerised fuel injection, auto levelling rear suspension and a sophisticated trip computer. The fuel injection, while not entirely without it's faults in the real world, it transformed the GL1200 into a real animal, which made the carburettor models seem sluggish in comparison. The LTD was only available in two-tone gold/brown. This year the GL1200 alternator capacity was increased (though still not by enough to cater for all the accessory lights that owners usually fitted) and the ignition pick-up coils were mounted at the front of the engine instead of the rear. An altered top gear made for smoother cruising in top and the fairing had better ventilation.


1986
Make: Honda
Models:
GL12000 Interstate, Aspencade, SEi
Price Range:
$6698 to $10598.000 (estimated)


The year saw mainly cosmetic changes to the Interstate and Aspencade, the LTD was replaced by the SEi, which came in Pearl White only and had little over the LTD except for Dolby noise reduction on the Panasonic Type 3 audio system an up rated 500 watt alternator, a slightly better seat (which was also fitted to the Interstate and Aspencade) and different emblems. The SE-i weighed out around 770lbs. Many people who had bought the supposedly unique LTD the year before felt cheated by what looked like another LTD in the shape of the SE-i in a different colour, the general feeling being that Honda were just cashing in again this year.  An Aspencade emblem on the saddlebags of the SE-i didn't go down too well with buyers who wanted their own unique Goldwing to be distinct from the "lesser" models. The carburettor models were back to 30mm CV's with accelerator pumps, although it made little noticeable difference to the riding experience.


1987

Make: Honda
Models:
GL1200 Interstate, Aspencade
Price:
$6698.00 to $8498.000 (estimated)


This was the final year of production for the GL1200 and there was little change.  No doubt Honda was saving the major surprise for the following year, although the Goldwing faithful had been expecting the rumoured "Super Goldwing" for the current model year. The SE-i was gone and the Interstate and Aspencade got a much plusher saddle, the best on any Goldwing to date. The Aspencade now had cruise control and trunk mirror as standard, and the lower cowl (oil filter cover as Honda called it) and the side vents on the SE-i were now fitted to the Aspencade. Color-matched riders foot peg accents with a nice chrome trim were also fitted to the Aspencade this year. The final drive and differential had been made much smoother and quieter and this translated into less chucking and jumping at trundling speeds. All of these improvements meant that the 1987 models were the quietest and best GL1200’s to date.

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