New member, and possible Wing Owner

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RichHW

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Oct 31, 2019
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Hi, everyone.

Just joined, and live in Georgia, USA.

Last Honda motorcycle I owned was a CB500 four cylinder back in the 70's, before I went to a 900 BMW
and then quit riding for many years. Bought a K1200RS almost a year (and 20,000 miles) ago. Love it - but for the long haul, I'm sure a wing has it beat.

I do know that from the first Wing it seemed to me Honda had made a smart move going to a boxer engine and a shaft drive - like all BMW's at that time. I think most riders would admit that the Wing is the undisputed touring King. Even hard core BMW and Harley guys.

I'm looking at at least one wing now. Problem is, don't know much about them, or what to look for. Hoping to speed my education (and minimize costly mistakes) by seeking out some advice from the guys that have the experience I don't (yet) have.
 

saganaga

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Welcome!

If you want to get an idea of what changed over the years with the Goldwings, the Wikipedia article ain't half bad.

Just figuring out what you don't want to deal with can eliminate many model years. For example, if you won't want to deal with tubes, all the GL1000s are out.
 

pidjones

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Welcome! Your planned use may determine some things. I've never owned one, but the GL1500 seems the preferred interstate eater, one or two-up. The GL1800 has fuel injected instant-on power, smooth, and great suspension for such a large bike - does very well in N. Georgia mountains. The 1200s still have plentiful parts and are adequate in power for light weight 2-up. 1100s were Honda's early full-fairing touring entries, still very usefull and fairly good parts availability. 1000s are unfaired and getting to the vintage stage. I've built a '79 GL1000 for summer use with no fairing and a '78 cafe-style for show. Honda built slightly more than 5000 '85 and again '86 1200s that had fuel injection, trip computer, digital dash, built-in compressor for suspension. Fantastic machines but no longer supported with parts and time is starting to take its toll on them. The 1500s had reverse available, all full 1800s have it. Great to have on a >900 lb bike.
 

Rednaxs60

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Welcome. Have had an '08 1800, still have my '95 1500 and '85 1200 Limited Edition.

As has been mentioned depends on what you want from the bike. The 1200 comes in at approximately 775 lbs, the 1500 at approx 875 lbs, and the 1800 at approx 925 lbs. Would like reverse on my 1200 but not happening, reverse on the 1500/1800 is a necessity IMHO. The later 1800s have heated grips and seats - call me a wimp but a heated seat in the cooler weather is quite nice. 2006 and up 1800s come with a nav system, not as good as a standalone GPS, but adequate to get you where you want to go, and a heat vent from the engine that provides warm air to the lower legs in the cooler weather - alos quite nice.

The 1500 has a larger cockpit area that fits taller riders better. I'm 6'2" and found the 1800 to be cramped and had to have the seat modified for my stature. The 1200 has a good cockpit from the get go as well.

The 1200 has plenty of power for two up touring as does the other two. The 1500 is quite the Cadillac. The 1800 is a more sporty version of the 1500.

I prefer fuel injection but the carb 1500 model is working out quite well. My 1200 is fuel injected and sourcing replacement parts is a process when required, this is the same as with the 1200 carb models. The fuel injected '85 Limited Edition and '86 SE-i models are quite enjoyable and the computerized fuel injection system (CFI) is quite robust and gives very good service.

Any older GW will benefit from a suspension upgrade, noticed this when I did my research on the 1500 and 1800 - lots of comments on this subject.

Complexity of each bike differs, but the older models can be a challenge, and the newer 1800s are challenging as well. It takes approximately 3 to 4 hours to change the air filter in an 1800 depending on your familiarity and skill set.

To get an older bike up to a good daily rider or touring bike is not inexpensive and finding a mechanic if you do not do your own work is getting more difficult.

All three will do what you will ever want. Lots of good 1500s out there at very reasonable cost. Price of 1800s are coming down as well.

Lots of choice out there, just depends on your requirements, and lots of info regarding each model and year on this and the other GW forums.

Good hunting. Cheers
 

DaveKamp

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Hi Rich!

My uncle had a collection, amidst which had a half-dozen boxers, and the K-four... and I enjoyed every one. Once the K-four's initial smoke-puff cleared, I found it to be an excellent ride, very comfortable, and very nimble, without a harsh ride... IMO, it has similar feel to the ST-1100. I'll have to admit that the 2-valve airheads of the 60's and 70's suprised me with their calm desire to hold current speed, regardless of throttle position... smooth as a sewing machine, with a nice burble, but certainly not willing to disrupt a sunday ride with violent accelleration. The introduction of the R1100's injected 4-valve head and ABS, however, gave them a brand new attitude, and so much that my uncle (actually, my dad's cousin) was unwilling to push it's envelope... so he asked ME to put it up on the back, then the front wheel for him... I've hence put the 4-valve R-bikes in their own class of 'fun'. I haven't ridden any of the K-fours since his (I think his K100LT was about a '91ish? don't remember if it was a 2 or 4-valve)... so if yours is newer, it'd be a different story...

My previous main bike is a '79 Honda CX500D, that I bought in '89 with under 8000mi on the odometer. I ran the heck out of that thing, it's had at least 25 sets of tires, four speedometers, three tachometers, replaced the mechanical fan with an electric, and put a GL1000 front end (dual brakes, stiffer tubes) on it... and given it probably a hundred oil changes and filters, a dozen sets of brake pads... and never had the engine open. When I bought this '84 1200 Aspencade, I knew that the designer of my CX's engine was the SAME GUY that planned out the GL engine back in the '70's... so i was confident in it from day one. I won't call the 1200 a 'fast' motorcycle, but it is certainly never lacks in traffic or hills, and if someone has complaints about two-up performance, they're probably spending a bit-too-much-time at the buffet... :smilie_happy: (a case of the pot calling the kettle black, here... )... but anyway, the 1200's ride is nice, throttle is responsive. Fuel economy eh... but I'm totally comfortable with it spinning calmly at something like 3800 and 80mph... a far cry from the CX500's 8500rpm at 80mph. The GL-series is not without notable issues in the history, but basically, ALL issues up to the 1800 have been addressed. Some seem crazy, but none were downright lemons.

So yeah, the real question is, WHAT do you think you want, and what is your STYLE? Do you prefer to work on your own bike occasionally, or never, or are you a do-it-all-yourself guy? Do you like to travel light, mebbie just a windscreen, or a full fairing? Trunk and/or saddlebags? mebbie pull a trailer? How FAR do you 'need' to be able to lean your bike? Do you find yourself favoring the front brake to the point of having no rear wheel contact? Do you want to be mistaken for a float in the Rose Parade, or wear a leather jacket with a Sons of Arthritis patch on the back? Do you prefer a T-shirt, denim jeans, half-helmet with a boom microphone whilst doing Wolfman Jack imitations on Channel 19, or would you be riding to a reserved spot in the bank's parking garage while wearing a suit and tie? Will it have a WALL DRUG sticker, or 5 O'Clock Somewhere? Is there a wedding in your future with a trailer and dogs in your rear-view mirror, or do you wear a back protector in your leathers, with wear spots on the outsides of your knees?

Early 'wings' had ordinary brakes. Later had 'integrateds'. My '84 1200 has integrated, and I HATE it- my front brake lever only applies one disc, and I don't like that limitation... and a dealer of today's environment would NEVER change that, so I will be. My 1200 has four carbs... if I had the time to swap to a two or single, I probably would, even with a performance penalty, as Eastern Iowa seasons mean long storage at times, and with it, plugged tiny jets... having them more accessible, and fewer/larger makes that easier to contend with... but I'd consider EFI if it was simple and easily maintainable... but the 1500 had duals (rather than six) so I'm considering that. The 1500 is a bit 'yacht-like' in looks... although the 1200 is well-appointed with plastic, there's still a few places that a person can 'see through' it, while the sixes are basically hermetically-sealed. I'll admit the plastic bodywork helps contain dirt (I live on 2 miles of gravel) but I don't have a team of hermits to remove all that plastic so i can work on the @#$% thing... and frankly, I'm not a 'gaudy-lights-and-chrome' guy... so I guess I'm screwed no matter what...

But I ride mine to work, errands, and on shorter rides (2-300 or so) during the spring, summer, and fall. I haven't made much progress on it last few weeks, but I'm building a motorcycle transport trailer specifically for towing the 'wing behind my company truck, so that when I get sent on road-trips to cool places, I can buzz around. Next trip is to Calhoun, Ga on the 10th, it will NOT be ready by then (sigh)...

What's your style... what are you LOOKING for?
 

kerryb

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I'm partial to the '83 1100, restored one, just ride and maintain the other. I like them because access to the works seems easier, less weight (I'm not too big), and more than enough power for me and my trailer. I don't have any experience with 1200's & up because I'm happy with what I've got.
 

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Tom_Charlton

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The Gl1000s are at least 40 years old and require experienced maintenance to keep them humming, especially the carburetors. Yes, I have a 78, but it is pretty much a just a display model because the carbs keep dripping fuel. Also, when was the last time you replaced and gapped points?

The Gl1100s are good machines, but are getting rather old (37 years +). Parts are getting harder to find and they have mechanical fuel pumps and point-type ignition, except for the 83.

The GL1200s (IMHO) are the best of the vintage Wings. I have three and ride them as much as I can. The four carbs can be maintenance hogs until you get them right and run about four ounces of Dextron-III in each fillup.

I also have a GL1500 that seems to be the most dependable of the bunch. Of course, it's newer (1988) and was well maintained before I bought it. I rode it 600 miles this last fall pulling a 4' X 8' teardrop camper and had no problems except for reduced fuel economy (25-30 mpg). The bike is fully encased by plastic, so just changing the oil & filter takes longer than the same job on a GL1200. But if you want to go cross-country and back, the GL1500 does it without complaints.

Overall, I would say the best bike for you is one that fits your maintenance skills, your riding plans, and your billfold. Welcome to the forum
 
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