Evolution of the Honda Gold Wing
The Honda Gold Wing is still going strong in 2016, who saw that coming? I’m sure the designers and engineers hoped for the very best. I doubt any of them imagined what the Gold Wing would do to the motorcycle industry. The famous flat-four cylinder. 999cc GL1000 Gold Wing was released at the Cologne Motorcycle Show in October 1974 and was a hit.
Commence Wing History...
While the GL1000 was cosmetically pretty cool and had a good engine size. It was said its place in the industry wasn’t entirely clear. While the machine was labelled a tourer. There was a lack of any standard touring gear on the bike. Honda didn’t actually start creating panniers for the GL1000 until the last year of product in 1979. There was also no windshield or fairings. Nevertheless, the GL proved itself to be a reliable bike. Easily capable of long distances and ideal riding position. It wasn’t long until the aftermarket kicked into action. Suppliers began to cater for those few ‘missing bits’ of the touring bike. So there were now parts people could buy to make the tourer complete. It’s just a shame the GL didn’t come ready-made... the press pointed out.
In the coming years, the GL had a little boost with a displacement of 1,085cc. It was now known as the GL1100. This was the time Honda really made the transition to a touring bike. When creating the GL1100 Interstate in 1980. Fully dressed with panniers, fairing, top box and even a sound system. The Interstate was still a flat four. But it gave more torque and smoothness than the previous engine. Perhaps due to the smaller carburettors and electronic ignition. Even though the bike was heavier at 672lbs. It's riders reported it felt more aggressive and exciting on the roads. Honda did it right this time. Getting thumbs up from all the well-known motorcycle magazines and reviewers.
Just a couple of years down the line. Honda once again upped their last model for luxury, with the Aspencade 1982:
- Electrically operated air pump suspension
- Dual piston brake calliper
- Self-cancelling indicators
- Neater crash bars
- Stainless steel discs
- Two-tone seat and top box
- Stereo radio
- Digital dash
Touring riders everywhere knew there was only one bike to have... And again, Honda had created a hit.
Honda didn’t stop there. In 1984 they bumped the engine size to 1,182cc and labelling it their GL1200. Nearly a decade on and Honda had improved the Gold Wing in every respect. They listen to the feedback from riders. Created something that leaves nothing to chance on a luxury level.
As the years went by so did Gold Wing evolution. When 1988 came. It brought the silky smooth flat six cylinder GL1500. This bike really made news as it had something different to offer... a reverse gear. As well as this exciting new technology. Honda spent a lot of time in the bodywork department. The GL1500 was nearly fully enclosed with one operation of the panniers and top box. Not a single nut or bolt could be seen by the time designers were finished!
The next few years saw countless remodels and upgrades for the GL1500. Competitors were hot on Honda tail. Constantly trying to invent something to outdo the GLs. The Yamaha Venture and Suzuki Cavalcade were in competition with the GL1200. But they were soon taken care of by the GL1500. The only real threat the GL1500 was facing would be the BMW K1200LT. Honda needs to once again, raise the bar...
In 2001 came the long-awaited GL1800.
Everyone was anxious to see what Honda had done this time. Riders everywhere knew they couldn’t simply keep creating a bigger engine. Therefore heavier bike with each remodels. Designers had been working on something quite amazing. An all-new aluminium frame made up of 31 parts, compared to the previous model 130. The frame weighted 25lbs less and was much stiffer than the last model. So it was lighter, and had more power? Win-win for Honda.
Since this time the GL has kept its 1,832cc six-cylinder engine. While creating improvements and upgrading each year. In 2006 an in-dash navigation system was introduced. As well as the first ever motorcycle airbag. Moving forward in 2012 the designers restyled the weather protection. They managed to increase luggage capacity. Last year in 2015 all Gold Wings even came with a special badging. Which commemorate the GLs 40th anniversary
Gold Wings have revolutionised the motorcycle touring industry. I don’t think they’re done yet. Looking back at their history. It seems to be just when you think Gold Wings are over, that they surprise you.
Gold Wing Clubs In England
If you are a Gold Wing owner and would like to ride with other Wings. Why not check out these clubs:
- GWOCGB Fliers
- Yorkshire Goldwings
- Goldwing Misfits
- Elite Wings
- Lincs Wings Goldwing Owners Club
- White Rose GoldWings
- Sussex Wings
- GoldWings North Midlands
Gold Wing Forums
Do you have some questions about your bike that only other Gold Wing owners will know the answers to? Sometimes it’s best to get on a forum on talk to other riders. This way you can be more specific than Google’s search!
Honda Gold Wing Clothes
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1 Nov 2016