The Honda Gold Wing is an icon in the motorcycle touring world. The Gold Wing was introduced in 1975 Honda. It made a big impact then and has continued to provide features and options that touring riders love and have now come to expect. This post is a quick run through of some very interesting, unusual and fun Gold Wing facts.
1) Gold Wing’s have been one of the most popular motorcycles ever made. To date, there have been about 646,000 ‘wings produced. And of course, the numbers are still climbing. For comparison, Honda rolled out 556,000 of the massively popular and iconic CB750, during its run from 1969 to 2007.
2) The GL1800’s all-new aluminum frame was jointly designed with Honda and manufactured in London, Ontario. It was 25 lbs lighter than the steel frame it replaced.
3) Gold Wing’s did not originally have a fairing, windshield or saddlebags. From 1975 to 1979 it was only available as a “naked bike”. This spawned a huge aftermarket industry – Craig Vetter’s Windjammer fairings, for example, became a must-have touring upgrade.
4) Prototype designs as early as 1972 had a 1500cc six-cylinder engine. The M1 prototype had a game-changing shaft drive.
5) HP & torque has increased substantially from the first production model released in 1975. Honda was able to offer a machine with 78 HP and 61 ft-lbs. of torque, the current GL1800 puts out 118 HP and 120 ft-lbs of torque.
6) First-generation Gold Wings were built in Marysville, Ohio. US production ran from 1979 to 2009. The 2010 model year was the last to be made in USA. All Gold Wings are now manufactured in Japan.
7) The GL1800 was the first production motorcycle to offer an airbag as an option.
8) “Darksiders” refers to Gold Wing owners that run automotive tires on the rear – for longevity and economy. The jury is still out on handling and safety, and potential issues with your insurance company if you made a claim while Darksiding.
9) Gold Wings have never had a conventional gas tank. The tank on the first model opened to expose electrical components, a coolant overflow tank, emergency kick-start lever, and the gas filler for the actual tank nestled in the lower frame under the seat.
10) The original 1975 sticker price or MSRP was $2,895, or about $13,600 today, adjusted for inflation. In comparison, a current top-end GL1800 with DCT & AirBag lists for $34,599. If a modern GL1800 was available in 1975 it would have had an MSRP of $7,385.
11) The first few years the Gold Wing came with a kick-starter. The kick-start lever was not attached to the bike, as usual, it was stowed in the false gas tank for emergency use only. The ability to kick-start your Gold Wing was dropped on the 1978 model due to the proven reliability of electric starter.
12) Honda sold over 13,000 1975 model Gold Wings in the USA.
13) Honda Gold Wings have made it to Cycle World’s Ten Best Bikes list eighteen times.
14) The GL1500 & 1800 Interstate models do not have a reverse gear.
15) The 1985 GL1200 Limited Edition was the first model to have fuel injection or EFI.
16) The 1988 GL1500’s all-new design broke from having one carburetor per cylinder, instead, it used just two carburetors to feed the six-cylinder engine.
17) The GL1500 model was the first Gold Wing to offer a reverse gear. A clever design used the bike’s starter motor to power the transmission and rear wheel.
18) Highest “verified” mileage obtained by a GL1800 with the original engine is 425k miles, by Joe Sparrow, in 2014. However, there are accounts of over 500k miles being raked up. Some are higher but the original engine had been replaced.
19) The 2018 GL1800 model is the Sixth generation and was completely redesigned once again. 2019 has been refined further with an optional 7-speed DCT transmission, and wishbone suspension replacing standard telescopic forks.
20) The GL1800 is the heaviest Gold Wing yet, clocking in at around 840 lbs dry. But thanks to skillful engineering and a lowered center of gravity its handling qualities are praised by many despite the bulk.
21) Current GL1800’s come with 10 years free GPS map upgrades.
22) There was technically no 2011 Gold Wing model produced. Due to shifting production from the USA to Japan in 2010 there were no Gold Wings manufactured in 2010 for the following model year.
23) The GL1800, although having a much larger engine gets significantly better gas mileage than the GL1500. Most report a healthy 10% reduction in fuel consumption.
Interested in a used Gold Wing? …which model year was the Best Gold Wing