Honda's Goldwing GL1000. The Honda Goldwing first saw the light of day at the Cologne Motorcycle Show in October 19 as the flat-four cylinder, 999cc GL1000. While this first production version of the now famous Goldwing was ultimately deemed to be a success (it was after all the birth of a legend), it's place in the world of motorcycling was not entirely cast in stone at the beginning. Part of the reason for this was the fact that the GL1000 didn't really fit properly into any particular motorcycle class, even though it was officially tagged as a tourer. Weighing in at 584lbs dry, it was far too heavy to be called a sports bike and the upright sitting position also helped to kill of any such sporting pretensions. The total absence of touring kit fitted as standard didn't help the official touring image either, although Honda did offer a top fairing as an accessory throughout the production life of the GL1000. Nevertheless and in spite of all the confusion about the Goldwings role in life, the GL1000 proved to be a very reliable motorcycle, quite capable of going very long distances without missing a beat and after a while the aftermarket fairing & pannier suppliers started to cater for the requests of those who wanted to use the GL1000 for more than just popping down to the shops or Sunday morning posing at the local meet.
This is what finally gave the Goldwing it's place in the motorcycling world, it became a touring motorcycle more by accident than design and Honda, always keen to keep an ear to the ground, listened to what the customers wanted (just as well too or they might have killed the Goldwing off before long, not least because expected sales of the Goldwing in the first year of production were less than 10% of what Honda had predicted) and started planning the next incarnation of what has turned into a legend in the world of touring motorcycles. In the meantime, 1976 saw the standard GL1000 unchanged, apart from a badly needed grease nipple on the driveshaft, but a limited edition LTD model was rolled out alongside it with nice badges, pinstriping and a better seat, flared mudguards, gold coloured wheels and spokes and some more nice but otherwise unimportant cosmetics, all at a fairly hefty extra cost of course. The LTD version of the GL1000 was only available for that one model year. 1977 saw the first changes based on customer feedback to Honda (hands up all those who can remember filling out those early questionnaires at rallies) and the Goldwing got higher handlebars with neoprene grips, dual contoured saddle and chromed heat shields on the header pipes. Smaller carburettors, shorter valve timing and increased spark advance in 1978 gave the GL1000 increased roll-on performance in top gear, which translated into slightly less top speed but more torque, which is what the long distance rider needed. The fuel, coolant temperature and voltage gauges were fitted to a pod and mounted on the tank, which made fitting a tank bag rather difficult, but few really objected as they looked good. The awkward but functional kick starter was omitted this year (the broken ankle brigade may have sparked fears of litigation) and the wire wheels were replaced with five spoke Comstars. The stepped saddle was introduced this year and has been a feature of all Goldwing models ever since. A fully chromed exhaust system, rear indicators moved from the frame to the rear mudguard and shocks with much welcomed and long overdue two-stage damping completed the picture. The beast still handled like a brick when pushed hard, in spite of the new shocks. 1979 saw big discounting on GL1000's as the replacement model was eagerly anticipated and the last remaining numbers of the original (quite large numbers too and new GL1000's could still be sourced from storage for several years after production ceased) could be had with some minor changes in the shape of a then very cool looking CBX style tail light with two bulbs, rectangular indicators and black brake and clutch levers instead of the previous unpainted alloy ones. Honda managed to keep the lid on the replacement Goldwing until they were ready to release the information. To this day and to their credit, Honda are probably better at keeping secrets than the CIA or the KGB etc. The GL1000 bowed out at the end of it's production cycle slightly heavier than the first models at 604lbs dry. -
1976 GL 1000 LTD Edition
1977 GL 1000
1978 GL 1000
1979 GL 1000