Information and questions on GL1100 Goldwings (1980-1983)
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Motorcycle: 1981 Gl1100


Post by Ol'Toyo » Sat Oct 20, 2012 6:34 pm


I have a 1981 GL1100. I am a little concerned with it's mileage. I have been averaging 27-30 MPG and that's city and hway combined.
I really feel as though I should be obtaining better fuel consumption. Most posts that I have read concerning fuel consumption on similiar models indicate that this is on the low end of consumption. I am also quite surprised that my bike is still consuming the same amount of fuel even after I have done these improvements:
-new air filter
-all fluids and oils replaced
-new tires
-carb synch and adjustment by honda
-new tires
-new fuel filter
-new plugs and wires
Is there anything that you could think of that I have overlooked that may be contributing to this mileage?...or should I just be happy with what I have? I havn't touched the timing(and belts) and valve clearances.
Any suggestions or thoughts?
Overall, the fuel consumption isn't a deal breaker considering I get around 16mpg in my new tacoma but my biking buddies get 35-45 in their kawasaki and bmw cruisers and I just don't really see why I shouldn't be seeing similar results in my naked goldwing.
Any suggestions would be welcomed and I thank you guys in advance,

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Post by virgilmobile » Sat Oct 20, 2012 8:48 pm

I'm in Louisiana,my mileage combined varies between bikes from 28-35.
the 1000 averaged 32, the 1100 about 34,the 1200 near 35 and now the 1500 is at 34.
Equipment loaded on the bike,how much air in the tires,fine tuning the carbs,quality of the fuel,etc can have a affect on the fuel economy.However it is what it is.You might be able to squeeze a bit more out of it but at what cost?A leaner running engine?A bit less grin when you twist the throttle?
If the bike is comfortable running(not gassy smelling at the tail pipe)I'd leave it be.
If it is running a bit rich,tweak the needle valves for the "idle down"adjustment.
Check the float level,just a few mm off and it can run rich.
Inspect the plugs before you do too much.They show a real good indication of how each cylinder is running.
Search"how to read your spark plugs"
If they look perfect,don't "fix" it.

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Post by themainviking » Sun Oct 21, 2012 8:40 pm

Considering you are working with Canadian (Imperial) gallons which give you 20% more gas than a gallon in the United States, I would say your fuel mileage sucks. It would be like getting 22 to 24 mpg in the states. I am getting better than 40 mpg on a GL1800. Only thing that drops my mileage is riding like it's a race bike, and steady speeds above 120 kph. Then I drop off to around 35-37. All that comes to mind for you is lay off the throttle (if you are hitting it hard). I don't know what else might be causing this if the bike runs great.
It ain't about the destination - it's all about the journey


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Post by redial » Sun Oct 21, 2012 10:54 pm

Have you had the clutch checked? A slipping clutch could knock your fuel consumption a bit higher. One way to check the clutch is to have brake firmly on, put it in gear, and slowly let the clutch out. If the engine doesnt die, then your clutch is probably okay. If it does die, then get the clutch checked out by someone who knows what they are doing (unlike me :oops: )
Len in Kapunda

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Post by SteveB123 » Mon Oct 22, 2012 7:01 am

Check for a dragging caliper.
Current:82 GL1100 Interstate, 60 Amp Poorboy, MSD coil
Previous: 93 GSX1100F Katana
82 GL500 Silverwing

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Post by mainline-coffee » Mon Oct 22, 2012 7:06 am

i think you got it backwords on checking the clutch, if the bike jumps and dies than its ok,a slipping clutch will burn up if the tire is not moving. i may be wrong but i un stuck a clutch pack on a cb 650 by popping in gear running down the street squeesing clutch and slamming on brakes
come as you are,do what you do and leave in peace.

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Post by feetup » Mon Oct 22, 2012 12:29 pm

That sounds a bit low alright. My 1200 averages between 45 and 50 miles per imperial gallon. (10- 11 miles per liter). Best ever was pure highway at 11.4 miles per liter. (almost 52 MPG)

Things to check;
-Are all 4 chokes opening completely?
-Have the needles been raised at some time to enrichen the midrange?
-As mentioned by virgilmobile, float level plays a big part.
-As mentioned by SteveB123, dragging brakes will eat fuel. Are your rotors hot after a ride, especially the rear?
-As mentioned, how you ride has a lot to do with fuel consumption, especially the RPM range you choose. These bikes like to spin freely, and hate to be worked hard at lower RPM. Even though it seems contradictory, often you will get better mileage at 3000 RPM in 4th gear with the throttle just cracked open than you will at 2200 RPM in 5th gear with a bit more twist.
-Are your tail pipes black and sooty if you run a finger inside? This is a definite sign of over rich mixture.

You seem to have covered everything else except for carb details.

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Post by scotterichmond » Mon Oct 22, 2012 1:08 pm

I have a 81 interstate, been getting a steading 42 , long trips are 45

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Post by Johnyy Smoke » Mon Oct 22, 2012 4:11 pm

One consideration would be poor compression-I would do a compression check-just to eliminate the possibility. Regards, Johnyy

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Post by Ol'Toyo » Mon Oct 22, 2012 5:13 pm

Thanks for your suggestions. I just had the brakes done, but I am going to check for dragging callipers anyway. I will also do the clutch check and get back to you. It's been almost a thousand km's since new plugs now so I'm going to pull them and take a look at them and see if they look rich. Thanks again.

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Post by Rick_MD » Wed Oct 24, 2012 7:37 pm

I did things backwards. I just finished up with belts & valve adjust and jumped from a low 30-32 mpg to 40 mpg. Other areas were more pressing on my '82. When I bought my Wing she was getting 22-24 mpg. I am still not quite happy with 40. I might just pull the carbs off over the winter and get them rebuilt by Pistol Pete's during the down time. Don't have the extra time to do the rebuilds myself.

As everyone else says, if you are unsure of when the timing belts have been changed, do it soon or be prepared to pay the consequences.

When adjusting my valves, I checked to see how bad they were. I'm thinking that they might not have ever been done in the first 62k. I went down 4 sizes on the feeler gauges and still couldn't fit one in between the rockers and valves.

She runs like a different bike now. And didn't run bad before that. Gotta luv Honda engineering! :D

By the way... After listening to your video, it sounded like a lot of whining noise was coming from the timing belt area. Make sure the tensioners are checked for play & noise and also that the belt tension is re-checked after the engine is warmed up. I found that those belts get extremely tight after the engine gets up to operating temperature, which can lead to early bearing failure on those tensioners.

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Post by portugeezer » Wed Oct 24, 2012 9:07 pm

I figure out my gas mileage every time I fill up. Mine is a bit different each time. If I carry a passenger I get lower mileage. Driving a lot at certain speeds gives me worse mileage. My GL1100 usually gets right around 36mpg. I have only been riding that bike for about 2 weeks so not sure if it will change. MY GL1000 gets better mileage unless I'm going over 50mph. I normally get around 40mpg with that bike but I have had it almost two years and have spent a lot of time dialing it in. If I drive more conservatively with either bike I burn less gas. The GL1000 is a 76 so no accelerator pump and the weird narrow gear band so it's easier to drive like an old guy on that bike!

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Post by Wingsconsin » Thu Oct 25, 2012 9:47 am

The GL1100 Interstate in my stable gets 33-35 MPG when using the bike to commute and ride locally.
We've not owned it long enough to know the longe range highway MPGs yet but I suspect they will go up slightly as I compare my GL1500 mileage results to the equation. On my 1500 I get 3-5 better MPG when riding tank to tank rather than the stop & go of commuting so I hope to see more like 36 to 38 MPG from the GL1100 in the future.

However I also think the 1100 would benefit from some advanced carb work. It smells a bit when idling , like it is running rich perhaps, the fumes are noxious and can leave a little black residue inside the pipes. Still working on sorting this one out...I need to learn more about carbs before I jump into this one...I think if I knew how I could lean the mixture just a tad and fix this problem, and get better MPGs too.

But the more it gets run -- the better it runs - and adding Seafoam to almost every tank has dramatically helped it thus far. When I remove the plugs and try to 'read' them they look fine with no indication anything is not right so...for the most ain't broke so I won't fix it...

Unless someone here has suggestions of what to look for-at-into ...? ;)

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