March 9, 2012

History of Honda Gold Wing (Goldwing)

The Honda Gold Wing (or Goldwing) is a touring motorcycle designed and manufactured by Honda. It was introduced October 1974, and went on to become a popular model in North America, Western Europe and Australia.

Over the course of its history, it has had numerous modifications to its design. In 1975 it featured a 999 cc flat-four engine and in 2001 it featured a 1,832 cc flat-six.

In 2010, the model featured an adjustable windshield, a trunk, a seatback for pillion rider, satellite navigation, an audio system, anti-lock braking, cruise control, electrically assisted reverse gear, and an optional airbag,[1] none of which were featured when it was introduced.

Over one million Gold Wings were made at the Marysville Motorcycle Plant in Marysville, Ohio from 1979 until 2009, when motorcycle production there was halted. Honda says that before the plant closed, sufficient 2010 model year Goldwings were produced to meet demand until production resumes in Kumamoto Prefecture, Japan in 2011, when 2012 model year motorcycles will be produced using tooling transported from the old plant.

1 GL1000
2 GL1100
3 GL1200
4 GL1500
5 GL1800
6 Valkyrie


The Gold Wing made its debut at the Intermot motorcycle show in October 1974 as the GL1000. It featured a flat-four 999 cc (61.0 cu in) engine, and had a dry weight of 267 kg (590 lb). 13,000 units were sold in the United States in 1975.

Although the GL1000 was listed as a touring motorcycle, it was sold without fairings. Soon, a market developed offering fairings and luggage accessories, including the Windjammer series by Vetter Fairing Company. With only minor differences for different markets, the model remained virtually unchanged during the 1975 to 1977 production run.

During the final run of the GL1000 in 1979, Honda included their own saddlebags and trunk, but still did not offer a fairing. Honda sold more than 97,000 units of the GL1000 in the United States between 1975 and 1979.

In 1981, production of the Gold Wing was moved from Japan to the Marysville Motorcycle Plant in Ohio, which allowed Honda to market the machine as being made in America.

In 1983, Honda made a few substantial changes for the final year of the GL1100. This includes an LCD dashboard, anti-dive forks, linked front and rear brakes, and higher gear ratios in the transmission to improve fuel economy. The size of the trunk was also increased, and the seat and footpegs for the passenger were moved to provide greater comfort.


Released in 1984. The 1,182 cc (72.1 cu in) engine was all-new. The frame was larger and stiffened for a smoother ride. In the Interstate and Aspencade models the fairing was integrated into the main body, eliminating the appearance that they were added on.

1984 was the last year of the "Standard" model, whose sales had declined in favor of the Interstate and Aspencade models. This led to the decline of aftermarket manufacturers like Vetter.

In 1985, the GL1200LTD was introduced. This was a limited model GL1200 Aspencade, with more technology. Standard on the LTD was electronic fuel injection, auto leveling rear suspension, driver-passenger intercom system, cruise control, a Panasonic stereo with Dolby noise reduction, rear seat stereo speakers, an improved seat, a more elaborate paint scheme and an exclusive color (two tone gold), additional marker lights and cornering lights, a more sophisticated instrument panel, and a sophisticated trip computer.

In 1986, the LTD was replaced with the SE-i. This model had an even larger 500 watt alternator, as well as all other LTD features, and was also available only in an exclusive color to the SE-i, a white and beige two tone.

In 1987, the SE-i was dropped, but some of the features were moved to the Aspencade model including the intercoms, cruise control, and the upgraded stereo. A simplified version of the trip computer was carried over as well. Fuel injection was not continued.


1988 brought the most changes seen to the Gold Wing series since its inception. The biggest difference was that the flat-four engine was replaced with a 1,520 cc (93 cu in) flat-six engine. Although it was still fueled by carburetors, Honda introduced solid state digital ignition. This both increased power and reduced noise. Honda also enclosed the entire motorcycle in plastic, giving it a seamless appearance.

One major innovation was the addition of a "reverse gear", which was actually a creative use of the electric starter motor linked to the transmission. Because of the size and weight, it was felt that some people would have problems backing it up.

Between 1988 and 1990, only one model was available. From 1990 Honda introduced the SE, which had additions such as two-tone paint, and a trunk spoiler.

Other models included were the Interstate (1991–1996) this was a basic version with no rear adjustable foot rests, a very basic radio, no intercom and other changes to make it a more basic large bike. The Aspencade (1991–2000) was essentially the same as the SE, however it did not have the CB, the rear upper spoiler or two-tone paint work, and other minor differences. Most of the missing features of the Aspencade were sold under Honda's Hondaline brand.

GL1800 Gold Wing

The 2001 GL1800 was the first new model in 13 years. The engine was for this model increased to 1,832 cc (111.8 cu in), and fuel injected. At the same time, the weight of the bike decreased from that of the GL1500. This was done by making the frame out of high-strength aluminium. This was an extruded frame, and was composed of only 31 individual parts (almost half the number of the previous frame).

The 2006 model featured an optional airbag.[1] Other 2006 options were an in-dash GPS with audio information provided through the speakers and headset cables, and a rider comfort package including seat heaters controlled from the dash, heated handlebar grips, and engine-air vents (able to be opened and closed by a lever on the left side dash) located in front of the driver's foot pegs.

The 2010 model year was the last to be produced in the United States. The 2011 model year was not produced. The 2012 model year motorcycles are being manufactured in Japan.


In 1997, Honda brought back an incarnation of the "Standard Gold Wing," renamed the Valkyrie in the US, and called F6C in the rest of the world. It featured a higher performance engine, based on the GL1500, in a cruiser-style frame. The Valkyrie Tourer version had a windshield and saddlebags. A more touring-oriented version was introduced in 1999 as the Valkyrie Interstate with a full fairing, saddlebags and trunk.

These models were dropped due to slow sales, leaving the standard Valkyrie, which was discontinued after the 2003 model year. In 2004, Honda released a "Limited Edition" model, the Valkyrie Rune, complete with 1,832 cc (111.8 cu in) engine and unique styling.

The Valkyrie engine is based on the Gold Wing engine, but has solid lifters instead of hydraulic lifters, six carburetors instead of the Gold Wing's two, more aggressive camshafts, a free flowing exhaust, and altered ignition timing to increase performance.

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