Manufacturer: Honda………..TOP Model: Gold Wing GL1100, GL1100LTD, GL1100 Standard, GL1100I GW Interstate, GL1100A ASPENCADE Years Made: 1980 – 1983 Style: Luxury Tourer Engine Type:
Weight: 600+lbs HP: 88 Torque: 79 Top Speed: 120mph MPG: 40 New Cost: $5700 (1981) – $5,500 (1982) – $5,502 (1983)
Average Used Costs: Low $2,510 Medium $2,819 High $3,120
Honda’s Goldwing GL1100. The GL1100 was announced for the 1980 model year and this time Honda got it right. This was the first ever Japanese mass produced motorcycle to roll off the production line fully kitted out as a proper touring motorcycle. Full fairing, trunk and panniers on the Interstate model (the unfaired model was called the GL1100 Standard), all at a time when injection moulding for motorcycle plastics was in it’s early days and to Honda’s credit, the quality, fit and finish of the stuff was first rate. The new frame was stiffened considerably to cope with the extra poke and also the extra weight of the Interstate. The bigger 1089cc engine was still a flat-four, but gave more torque and also ran smoother and less truculently than the previous model, due in no small part to the bigger carburettors. The suspension was air assisted and this greatly transformed the handling and comfort of the beast and inspired much more confidence when the going got a tad aggressive, in spite of the weight increase of the dressed models to 672lbs. The Standard model weighed 18lbs less than the last GL1000’s, which showed how more modern production methods could be used to reduce weight by using more in the way of plastics (mudguards etc). Motorcycle magazines immediately gave the new machine the thumbs-up and customers all over the world hassled their dealers for a machine that Honda couldn’t kick out of the factory quick enough to meet the demand. Even in the USA, bikers who were used to the home grown tourer in the shape of the Harley-Davidson Electra Glide were gobsmacked at the new standards of reliability set by the Goldwing. The big Honda went and stopped very respectably for such a beast, kept all of the engine oil actually inside the engine instead of all over the ground and it’s reliability meant that the Goldwing rider didn’t have to fill the luggage space with repair tools every time the machine was taken out.
For some time now, Honda had been producing accessories for their own motorcycles, under the imaginatively thought out Hondaline brand name. For those who weren’t satisfied with the already comprehensive kit on the GL1100, Hondaline had such luxuries as a full radio/cassette, CB radio and lots more bits at exorbitant prices that didn’t deter customers one bit. Honda knew that the typical Goldwing rider was past the first flush of youth and probably had his mortgage (or most of it) paid off and had cash to spare for the luxuries that a younger rider would rather forego in order to feed his children, keep the wife content and maintain a roof over their heads. The aftermarket suppliers too were quick to adapt to the new challenge (no doubt they all knew that the Goldwing was here for the long term) and before long one could buy countless accessories for the Goldwing, from many suppliers eager to meet demand and fill the large gaps that Honda had left for them. This pattern has been repeated for every Goldwing model ever since and the GL1100 is the machine that really saw the Goldwing accepted as the ultimate tourer, a title that the Goldwing has held more or less unchallenged since then.
The 1982 GL1100 had some major improvements in the new Aspencade. This machine had an electrically operated air pump for the suspension, accessed from the top of the dummy tank, instead of the previous tyre valve setup (retained on the Standard and Interstate) which required the rider to either keep a manual pump handy or go to the local garage to pump up the suspension. Two-tone paintwork was applied to the Aspencade and all the GL1100’s got smaller wheels (18″ front, 16″ rear) and twin pot brake calipers.
1983 was the final year of production for the GL1100 and Honda didn’t disappoint, even though the model was being replaced the following year. The Aspencade now had eleven spoke alloys instead of the previous Comstars, had the suspension pump controls mounted on the handlebars, LCD dash and finally got linked brakes and vented front discs which were much welcomed by the Goldwing community. Anti-dive forks helped to reduce wallowing. The standard had been set for future Goldwings and whether you loved them or not, everyone knew that the beast was going to get bigger and more luxurious as time went on. The Aspencade tipped the scales at over 700lbs! Comfort and size were the criteria from now on. When the replacement for the GL1100 was announced, this time there was no major discounting of prices on the last of the outgoing model. Dealers had no trouble shifting existing machines and there was no panic in trying to offload them. A far cry to just four years back. Interestingly, this has been the case with the arrival of new Goldwing models ever since and reinforces the belief that the GL1100 was the machine that rubberstamped the Goldwings seal of approval with customers all over the world – Steve Saunders Goldwing Page
Notes: Even the first (and lightest) Honda Goldwing is too heavy and unwieldly for beginners. But the Goldwing series is legendary in reliability and is able to go hundres of thousands of miles and still withstand the test of time.
UMG Says (GL1100/GL1200): Engine capacity increases meant more torque rather than speed. The Aspencade (the one with all the junk on it) was considered the ultimate development until the GL1500 turned up. GL1200 had improved handling (at the price of expensive tyres) and new four speed gearbox with overdrive. Engines have run to over 100,000 miles, so many good ones left.