First ride on my GL 1200 - first impressions


Information and questions on GL1200 Goldwings (1984-1987)
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RATWING-86
Posts: 23
Joined: Tue Oct 01, 2013 10:15 am
Location: Deerfield, Virginia
Motorcycle: 1986 GL1200 ASPENCADE

First ride on my GL 1200 - first impressions

Postby RATWING-86 » Sun Oct 27, 2013 6:24 am



I'm not new to motorcycles, I've have been actively riding since 1972 and owned many scoots but never a tour bike. My 1981 CBX would be the closest thing to a tour bike I've owned. First and foremost, I love being sheltered from the wind! It was gusty and cool out (low 50's) and I felt comfortable riding.(I installed an extra tall slipstream windshield) Even the mirrors block wind from your hands. The engine, my bike is carbureting and sparking well, no surges or breaking up, yet it just doesn't feel crisp for a 1200, my CBX being 1050 ccs and about 100 lbs lighter feels like a crotch rocket in comparison. It seems I've got to downshift WAY down in the box to get it moving for a pass. It seems to lack torque as well in higher gears, rolling on the throttle in 4th or 5th isn't very satisfying. I installed timing belts, cleaned and synced carbs, and installed new plugs. The engine cold starts quickly, and settles to a nice smooth 1000 rpm off choke, I guess it's the nature of the beast.

Brakes, AWESOME for an old bike, impressive. They work very well hauling down this tank of a bike. I installed VOLAR HH sintered pads I bought off E-bay, I'm surprised they bite nice.

Suspension, I rebuilt the front forks, used 15w fork oil, I run 8 psi air in them, they work well, yes I still have stock springs, no complaints (for what the bike is).
The rear, another story entirely. I installed low mile stock shocks, good boots, no leaks and cranked the air up ALL THE WAY and still I get that "hingey" feeling through dips, kind of like a Toyota Camry with tired shocks in the ass end. Can you jack up the air in the rear PAST recommended pressure? I have been running 125 psi in my CBX's air monoshock for 15 years with no issues. (Honda warns you to not inflate past 40 psi) It does help, but it doesn't cure it. Any recommendations for rear suspension upgrades?

Overall, the bike corners and handles nicely through corners, I pushed it down pretty hard and it felt very stable "under pressure". I'm not a Dunlop guy, but I like the Elite 3's I put on the bike, great stick and a light easy steer at slow speeds (great price too, $282 for the set shipped, Amazon) I did whack the center stand once in a slow speed corner, that soggy rear suspension again.

I'm not sure how long I'll keep the bike before I move up to a GL 1500, I would like more power. I have $1500 in the bike and I really don't want to spend much more. The the inner fairing is chewed up from a prior owner's install of air deflectors, it cracked a lot of plastic, it looks like hell. And the paint is faded, with the clear worn off in spots, but overall, my 1200 is a nice comfy bike that is now mechanically very sound. For what I have into it, it really can't be beat!


Motorcycles:
'81 Honda CBX 1050 (current and forever)
'03 Honda RC 51 1000 (current and forever)
'75 CB 750 K3 (for sale) good running bike
'86 Honda Gold Wing Aspencade, (the Ratwing)
too many more to list..................

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Fatwing Chris
Posts: 741
Joined: Thu Oct 21, 2010 6:10 pm
Location: Ont.,Canada
Motorcycle: 2004 ABS Model Goldwing

Re: First ride on my GL 1200 - first impressions

Postby Fatwing Chris » Sun Oct 27, 2013 10:23 am

Sounds like you might want to bypass the 1500 and go right to the 1800 for the kind of riding you want to do.There is a lot less shifting with the 15,but it is without a doubt the largest and most cushy of the Wings.And some would say the poorest handling as well.I personally loved the 1500 as far as power and handling bone stock for the type of riding I do(98% 2-up),but I doubt you will.The 18 is a whole different animal and I'm sure it will do everything you will throw at it.I just wish my 18 had the ride of my previous 15.
If I'da known it would last this long,I'da taken better care of it.
Chris
Double Dark
Darkside # 1602

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silverado6x6
Posts: 185
Joined: Fri Oct 11, 2013 6:29 am
Location: Wasilla, Alaska and Adelaide,South Australia
Motorcycle: 1995 GL1500 Aspencade
And 17 other bikes, 5 more Goldwings, 3 Ventures, 2 Vmax

Re: First ride on my GL 1200 - first impressions

Postby silverado6x6 » Mon Oct 28, 2013 7:58 am

I think if a person is lucky they can get a 95 or newer gl1500 SE at a good price, best value for the money right now. Its a BIG jump to a gl1800.
Founder of Steel Horse Restorations
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Scot Thompson
Posts: 21
Joined: Thu Sep 19, 2013 5:31 am
Location: Franklin, North Carolina
Motorcycle: 2007 GL1800 ABS, 1985 GL1200L Aspengade

Re: First ride on my GL 1200 - first impressions

Postby Scot Thompson » Fri Nov 01, 2013 7:22 am

That's an interesting subject, Ratwing. I too have had a few bikes, most recently a Roadstar 1700. I bought an 1985 Aspencade with 27,000 miles and have now sold my roadie. Boy, they are different bikes. First impression is the GL1200 is twitchy compared to the roadie...I kept having to correct my initial turn-ins to the curves. Geometry is much different, so I expected that, but it has taken some getting used to. I ride two up a bit, but mostly by myself. Almost all riding is on curvy mountain roads here in western NC.
This Honda likes to turn okay, but the suspension is a bit soft for my liking. Still, it'll go where I put it. I do find some front end shake at very slow, parking lot practice turns at very slow speed. This, I beieve, is a result of the short trail and steep fork angle. In terms of power, I read lots complain about their 1200 not being "robust" and that is not my impression on my bike. It certainly needs some rpm compared to the V-twin (a monster torque bike), but this Aspencade accelerates fine above just 2000rpm and it really likes being at 3000rpm. And if I let it go to 6K and above, it really moves out. In fact, I'll wager it runs with or beats the 13 sec (in 1/4) roadie. I'll find out in a few weeks when the new owner comes to collect the roadie.
A big difference is the fairing. Roadie had a windshield and was a bagger, but you felt the wind and got wet in any water...road splash or rain. The Honda is calm and warm behind its fairing and windshield. Good and bad with this. I had a couple of 75deg days and the GL1200 was warm to ride whereas the Roadstar was comfortably cool. Now we have more 50deg days and the Honda is very pleasant with a light jacket whereas the Yamaha needs warmer pants, jacket and boots. I've noticed the slight breeze on the Aspencade is going from my head towards the windshield! Here's another difference, on the roadie I mostly wore good motorcycle boots. On the Honda I just wear jogging shoes as the boots are too much. What boots do you all recommend on the Goldwings?
Another big difference is the mounting and backing up. On the roadie, swing a leg over and sit down...way down. Backing up is easier because you have lots of leg leverage and tilting over at a standstill is more controllable. On the Goldwing, backing up is difficult as the seat is so tall and if the bike tilts, you'd better be prepared for instant reaction as there is little chance for recovery. By the way, the roadie weighs 780lbs whereas the GW is lighter. the center of gravity is much higher on the GW.
Anyway, just some of my first impressions. Scot

RATWING-86
Posts: 23
Joined: Tue Oct 01, 2013 10:15 am
Location: Deerfield, Virginia
Motorcycle: 1986 GL1200 ASPENCADE

Re: First ride on my GL 1200 - first impressions

Postby RATWING-86 » Sun Nov 03, 2013 6:53 am

I have factory foot pegs on my bike. It came with Markland floor boards and a heel-toe shifter, I did not feel comfortable getting the side stand down. I use hiking boots as shoes on my bike, they work well. Maneuvering the bike with my feet seems not to be really an issue, I ave a 32" inseam and I am 6' 2" tall. I too like the relief from cold wind it's nice. I'm still not sold on the seating position, I feel cramped with the bars way to close to me. I've backed my seat up all the way, I guess I'll have to live with it. Yes the engine has good power and my area is mountainous too, so one up corner carving is a high priority to me. But usually I'm out with my Harley cruiser friends when I'm riding the Wing, so the Wing stands out in handling and power. I bought mine to do some interstate touring, once i get accustomed to the seating position I'm sure it will do fine. And btw, I'm running 15w fork oil (new seals and oil) and 8psi air in the forks, and I'm very happy with the front end, very solid.
Motorcycles:
'81 Honda CBX 1050 (current and forever)
'03 Honda RC 51 1000 (current and forever)
'75 CB 750 K3 (for sale) good running bike
'86 Honda Gold Wing Aspencade, (the Ratwing)
too many more to list..................

User avatar
Scot Thompson
Posts: 21
Joined: Thu Sep 19, 2013 5:31 am
Location: Franklin, North Carolina
Motorcycle: 2007 GL1800 ABS, 1985 GL1200L Aspengade

Re: First ride on my GL 1200 - first impressions

Postby Scot Thompson » Sun Nov 03, 2013 10:23 am

Yes, I ride with a Harley group Also. So, the GW is something they don't "get." Still, on the latest ride, I was riding inside their corner tracks and when I took the lead, they fell back. Interesting as the guys are all experienced riders and I didn't push the zgW in the least. When we got back they all commented that the GW was very quick. I just turned the radio up and smiled! :)

The riding position is still "off" for me, but I am getting it. The GW has floorboards and a H/T shifter. On the cruisers, one simply rotates their f pot on its heel to brake or shift. On the GW, I have to lift both feet up to reposition them on the brake and shifter. That is not as fast, but it isn't a big deal. I think if the GW had pegs, that would be more normal. However, I cannot use pegs for long as I've a bad right foot that likes being on a board better.

I do need to find more appropriate footwear and hiking boots may work. I'd want them to be waterproof even with laces. Anyway, I am surely enjoying the GW. Scot




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