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A brief history of the Honda Gold Wing

Published: 25 July 2018

Updated: 25 July 2018

bikes for sale

Honda have unleashed a lighter, tighter and righter Gold Wing, but many riders hanker for the hefty luxury previously offered.

Over 40 years, the Wing has revolutionised touring with firsts such as fuel injection, cruise control, self-levelling suspension, a 1500cc flat-six engine, reverse gear and airbags.

Gold Wings hold their money well, so buyers shouldn’t be afraid of high-ish mileages. The condition of the bike and a full service history matter more.

Honda GL1000 Gold Wing 1975

Honda GL1000 for sale

The Gold Wing started out as a naked sportsbike with a flat-four engine and shaftdrive. The Gold Wing was conceived to be the next flagship superbike in Honda’s range after the incredible success of their CB750. Clean examples are an appreciating classic, so prices are rising. Watch out for rotten swingarms.

Honda GL1100 Gold Wing 1980

Honda GL1100 for sale

The Interstate was the first full-dress version with a sound system. Honda started pushing the envelope of motorcycle comfort here. The bike is obviously a classic by now so all the usual checks should be done.

Also, if the bike remains on the sidestand for too long, oil seepage can damage the valve seals on the left-hand cylinder head. This is a difficult thing to check for, but a clean, smokeless start-up is a good indication that things are ok.

Honda GL1200 Gold Wing 1984

Honda GL1200 was the first to feature fuel injection

This was the first Honda to feature fuel injection, cruise control, auto-levelling suspension and a trip computer. This was the final version to use a four-cylinder engine and designers pushed the format to its limit.

Regular cambelt services are vital so look for evidence in the paperwork.

Honda GL1500 Gold Wing 1988

Honda GL1500 was the first six-cylinder version

The fourth generation Gold Wing had a super-smooth flat-six plus incredible kit, integrated design and lavish comfort.

Rear-tyre changes can cost a bomb as it takes hours to strip the back end. The linked brakes are also a weak point.

Honda GL1800 Gold Wing 2001

Honda GL1800 first generation for sale

The 2001 version was the first new model for 13 years and so had a lot to live up to. The bike is supremely comfortable and roomy and much lighter than its predecessor due to an aluminium chassis.

Post 2006, the bike had optional extras such as in-built GPS, heated seat and bars and a vent which blew warm air from the engine onto the footboards.

Watch out for an overheating recall and iffy alternators. As with all Gold Wings you need to have a proper nose around for corrosion in hidden areas.

Honda GL1800 Gold Wing 2012

Honda GL1800 second generation for sale

By 2012, the Gold Wing really was a kitchen sink, bells-and-whistles touring bike to be reckoned with. Production moved to Japan and marks a divide between first and second generation GL1800s.

Watch out for Issues with reverse, due to a rotten loom at the front and check it’s had the airbag recall done.

Honda Gold Wing Tour 2018

2018 Honda Gold Wing

The new Gold Wing is light years ahead of the old model, with improved handling, ease of use and fun. Spec, comfort and smoothness are class leading. The only downside is the price. It’s almost £30,000.

There hasn’t been a huge hike in power, which some had expected, but instead it’s more compact, lighter and smoother than ever. In total 48kg has been saved from the bike – the engine alone is 6.2kg lighter. Just removing the old starter motor in favour of an Integrated Starter Generator system (ISG) saved 2.4kg.

Aerodynamically the new Wing is 11.8% more efficient than before. The large screen is finally electronically adjustable, which previous Wing owners were praying for. There’s also the option of increasing the airflow to the rider and pillion by manually opening a small flap below the screen. The rider has been moved 36mm further forward, whilst the pegs have moved towards the rear, only slightly.

Find Honda Gold Wings like these now at MCN Bikes for Sale.

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