Gold Wing - The First Twenty Years

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Rednaxs60

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Always interested in the history of these bikes so I bought "Gold Wing - The First twenty Years". Started reading it last night and it is very interesting in how this bike came to be and what Honda did to keep it alive. Lots of good info and should complement the other book I have a thread on - Honda Gold Wing - Gold Portfolio - 1975-1995. Will get through this one then maybe an in depth report on the Gold Wing. Knowing the history of what we ride can answer a lot of questions.

A few tidbits. The M1 was never meant to be the Gold Wing, it was a concept bike to test trial ideas. The flat 6 was thought to be too advanced for the time so the flat four came into existence. Had to be water cooled, to go anywhere anytime just like a car. The design team was not divided into disciplines, everyone worked in the same area and ideas flowed freely. The design team stuffed a flat 6 into a 1200 chassis to see what it would do. The design team devised an ad hoc gear torture test called the "hop test" to simulate the worst that could happen to the gear train. The test required the bike to coast at a specific speed then the test rider would stomp the bike into first and ride the bucking bronco. Took three years to get a satisfactory drive line with a high level of silence, reliability and abuse - no kidding.

The design for the 1500 started in 1984 because Honda knew the longevity of the 1200 was limited. Honda did consider a 1300/1400 Gold Wing, but kept with the 1500 flat 6. More time was spent on the 1500 seat than any other aspect of the bike. Pillion riders could not comment on the seat and pillion ride until they had at least 200 miles in the saddle. In Marysville where these were produced, there was a bottleneck in the assembly line because painting of the 1500 body parts was done the old fashioned way, by an employee in a paint booth.

Mr "Honda" was known to show up unannounced and did so one evening, put on a helmet and took one of the prototype bikes out for a ride. Came back a while later and mentioned it was "pretty good".

Honda used the Gold Wing riders as its sounding board for the design progression. Honda was not interested in the fad of the day, but enabling the Gold Wing to have a successful future as its flag ship bike.

Add to all this and the God Wing was made in its entirety in the USA from 1985 on until the plant closed in 2010. Up until 1985, engines came from Japan.

Waiting for the next book to come out. Cheers
 
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Rednaxs60

Rednaxs60

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Finished reading the book last night. It was a very endearing story of the Gold Wing from concept to fruition, and into the future. The foresight of Honda to look at the industry and embark on what back then was a very risky proposition, and to not be swayed by the fad of the day was extremely commendable and the "Honda Way".

The fact that up to this time, Honda was focused on performance, power and the results that could be gained from this. Four and 6 cylinder racing bikes that paved the way for street bike development. Adapting Honda's processes and procedures with best practices of the day - went to England to understand why Triumph and the likes were so much further ahead in all aspects of motorcycle development. Empowering its employees to provide ideas, and find solutions. Not classifying something that did not work as a failure, but as a learning experience from which to grow.

The lead project manager moving to the US and immersing himself in the Gold Wing culture to learn what long distance touring was about and what was needed. Opening a manufacturing plant at a time when US auto makers were looking at going offshore. Installing air conditioning when it was thought to be a luxury by American standards, but realizing that with a good work environment personnel would dress as Honda wanted, otherwise personnel would dress to adapt to the environment. This was not an indoctrination, Honda did this to minimize/eliminate any damage to the Gold Wing in production from buttons, zippers, etc. Building a Gold Wing engine manufacturing plant and then combining it with the manufacture of Civic and Accord engines. Successfully developing long term supply relationships for a small production requirement compared to the auto industry.

This book does complement the "Honda Gold Wing - Gold Portfolio - 1975-1995" that is a bit more technical in its presentation. Reading the two has given me a lot more insight into the Gold Wing and just how technologically advanced it is and has become. Yes, the Gold Wing has limitations, and design issues as we see it, but Honda did everything for a reason. Suspension is not as we expect, short travel front and rear, but with a reason. The melding of the various design aspects were very well thought out to ensure the Gold Wing remained a true Flag Ship motorcycle for Honda, and would keep the existing and future Gold Wing enthusiasts in the Gold Wing family. The 1500 was designed to do just this. Honda conscientiously designed the 1500 so that it would not alienate the existing Gold Wing family and still attract new riders.

The 1995 GL1500 had a very good makeover, specifically in the riding position. The seat was lowered some 3 inches to accommodate shorter stature riders. Doing this and maintaining the ride quality took a great deal of redesign. It was done in the interest of maintaining the ridership that had been developed and was growing.

There is too much information in this book and the Gold Portfolio to be condensed into a Reader's Digest version. "Gold Wing - The First Twenty Years" is more of a story compared to the "Honda Gold Wing - Gold Portfolio - 1975-1995" that is more technically orientated. I would highly recommend these as a good evening read.

I'm a bit of a history buff when it comes to the Gold Wing if you haven't noticed, and I haven't been at this as long as some others. I'm of the opinion that the better I understand the history of the development and manufacture of this bike, the better I will be able to maintain and work on my 1200 and 1500. Understanding the "why" can provide insights into what can be done or should not be done. It will allow me to better determine a way forward when I have an issue.

Thought I'd wrap up this thread with a few more highlights. Thanks for reading. Cheers
 
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Rednaxs60

Rednaxs60

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Tried getting this book last Xmas, but it got lost in the mail somehow. This one was $26.00 CDN delivered. I have started to read the Gold Portfolio again. The information on the 1000/1100 in the Gold Portfolio should be prescribed reading for all who take on a 1000/1100 restoration/mod project. Be a good supplement to the FSM.
 

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