This is the most difficult bike I have ever worked on.


Information and questions on GL1500 Goldwings (1988-2000)
oldmopars
Posts: 222
Joined: Sun Jun 16, 2013 9:25 am
Location: Selah, Washington
Motorcycle: 1996 GL1500 SE
1989 GL1500 parts bike
1984 GL1200 Aspencade FOR SALE

This is the most difficult bike I have ever worked on.

Post by oldmopars » Fri Jun 14, 2019 6:34 pm



I know I am venting, but this thing is a royal pain. I got this 96 SE just under a year ago and from shortly after I got it I smelled a coolant leak. Not a lot, no drips, but slight smell. I spent some time tracking it down and found out that it is coming from the T-Stat housing. The gasket for the T-Stat is seeping, very small leak. So, I rode it that way and just kept an eye on it till I had the time to fix it. Well, now it is time to fix it.
I also purchased new timing belts, oil change stuff, spark plugs and air filter as long as I am in there.
Getting to the T-Stat requires pulling out the radiators. Half the plastic needs to come off for this and even when it is off the T-Stat is still near impossible to get off. The 3 bolts that hold it on are a mile long and you can only get to one of them. So much stuff is in the way that it took a half an hour to get it out.
Now, I have an associates degree in Auto and Diesel Technology from UTI, and I have spent almost 30 years as a mechanic on everything from cars, to trucks to heavy equipment and even 14 years in the Air Force on Heavy Airlift C141's and C17's. I am no novice mechanic and have a shed full of tools. The GL1500 is one of the most difficult machines I have ever worked on, and I used to own a BMW K1200LT.
[Rant off/]
On the plus side, I know that many have broken the 3 bolts to the T-Stat housing doing this job, and mine came out without breaking. This is also forcing me to do maintenance that I may have otherwise pushed off for "later". I still have not fallen in love with this bike. The handling is poor, its heavy, and just does not "Fit" me. I think it may have a for sale sign in its future.
My other bike is a 1984 GL1200A that I am converting into a Naked street/scrambler/adventure bike. The only plastic on it are the GL1100 shelter and side covers. I love working on it. It may replace the GL1500 as my bike of choice.
OK, I am done complaining.



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RockportDave
Posts: 407
Joined: Sat Mar 31, 2018 9:39 pm
Location: Rockport Texas
Motorcycle: 1999 GL1500 SE
Previous bikes:
1969 Honda CL90 “bobbed” before it was cool
1981 Yamaha 850 Triple w/Windjammer
1981 GL1100 Interstate
1985 GL1200 LTD
1988 GL1500
1988 GL1500

Re: This is the most difficult bike I have ever worked on.

Post by RockportDave » Fri Jun 14, 2019 6:50 pm

This is my 5th Goldwing and 3rd 1500 and your right, they are a sometimes a PITA to work on. It pays to plan everything you can do while the plastic is off, and even wait for new parts if other problems arise.
I have small a garage to work in with a large shop fan, a Pitbull motorcycle lift, and acquired a lot of special tools to work on mine.
20 someodd years ago, I had a buddy with a bike shop and we had everything we needed to work on them. Even after working on quite a few, without this site it would be many times harder. It’s nice to have all the information in one place to do maintenance and repairs and a whole bunch of folks who have already been through it and posted the “how to’s”.
I feel your pain. But in the end, you have a bike that will take you for many miles of carefree riding and comfort.
Dave
1999 GL1500SE 5th Goldwing through the years

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Happytrails
Posts: 925
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Location: Natrona Hgts, Pennsylvania
Motorcycle: 1991 Goldwing 1500 SE
2018 Ural Gearup

Re: This is the most difficult bike I have ever worked on.

Post by Happytrails » Fri Jun 14, 2019 7:02 pm

The place where I take my goldwing to get inspected always says the same ominous warning to me. "its so old we probably can't get parts to fix it if we find something wrong!" Which I find just a little amusing the way they say it every time (my bikes are well maintained). The people working there really are nice about it so I always go back when inspection time rolls around. I just want the inspection and they never have to wrench on my bike. The techs generally work on expensive harleys.

RockportDave wrote:
Fri Jun 14, 2019 6:50 pm
It pays to plan everything you can do while the plastic is off, and even wait for new parts if other problems arise. But in the end, you have a bike that will take you for many miles of carefree riding and comfort.
Dave


Good point, something I try to do but doesn't always work out that way. I had my goldwing in pieces for 3 weeks once waiting on parts to arrive from Japan. But I feel the same way, once you've caught up on maintenance stuff the bikes are built so well you rarely have to take tupperware off unless its to upgrade/farkle something. :)



1991 GL1500 SE Anniversary Edition
Sun Flare Gold Metallic
Vallant Brown Inset

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bellboy40
Posts: 630
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Location: Brewton, AL
Motorcycle: 2000 GL1500SE Candy Spectra Red
1994 GL1500SE Pearl Bermuda Green

Re: This is the most difficult bike I have ever worked on.

Post by bellboy40 » Sat Jun 15, 2019 7:10 am

They sure look a lot different with all their clothes off don't they? Wires, connectors and vacuum hoses everywhere. :lol:

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minimac
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Location: Oswego, NY
Motorcycle: 1993 GL1500 Aspencade
2006 Burgman Executive
2007 Yamaha Majesty
2006 Yamaha Morphous

Re: This is the most difficult bike I have ever worked on.

Post by minimac » Sat Jun 15, 2019 8:24 am

If you research the site before doing the work, you'll find it's not really all that bad. Yes, you have to take off some tupperware, but it isn't any harder than a few screws and unlocking a few tabs usually. Almost every part you could ever need is available online. My GL1500 is a snap, compared to a few of my scooters!

oldmopars
Posts: 222
Joined: Sun Jun 16, 2013 9:25 am
Location: Selah, Washington
Motorcycle: 1996 GL1500 SE
1989 GL1500 parts bike
1984 GL1200 Aspencade FOR SALE

Re: This is the most difficult bike I have ever worked on.

Post by oldmopars » Sat Jun 15, 2019 11:35 am

I know, most stuff on this bike is do-able. I did spend 3 days doing the clutch and some other items on my BMW. The dealer, the only one willing to work on it, wanted $3000 to do the clutch. I got the parts, everything listed in the manual for under $400 and bought a Harbor freight lift and still saved over $2000.
One of the reasons I waited to do the T-Stat is that I knew I needed to do the timing belts, spark plugs, air filter, etc. I was just saving money till I had what I needed and could do it all at the same time.
I have not found parts hard to get, the opposite seems to be true. Plugs I got at the local parts store, NGK. The filter, belts (Gates) and fuel filter (Honda) I got off Amazon. T-Stat and gaskets I got from Partzilla.
I could have got it all at one place, but I saved a bunch doing it this way and still got good quality parts. That was a down side to the BMW, part sources were more limited and the prices were much higher. I always got what I needed, but there was not much shopping around or saving money. It was what it was, you paid or didn't get it.
My other bike is the GL1200. At first I hated the thing and only got it because it came with another bike I did want. I think the 1200 is one of the ugliest bikes ever made. Now that I have stripped off all of the 80's looking junk and made it a naked bike, I am loving it. All the parts I replaced I got off Amazon, other than the 1100 shelter. I am thinking of calling the bike Amazon, because without it, the bike would not have been built.
Well I am going to Yellowstone from Yakima Wa. on the GL1500SE. By the time I get back I will either love the bike or stop on my way home to buy a for sale sign. our trip will be close to 2000 miles. The main reason for all the work.

oldmopars
Posts: 222
Joined: Sun Jun 16, 2013 9:25 am
Location: Selah, Washington
Motorcycle: 1996 GL1500 SE
1989 GL1500 parts bike
1984 GL1200 Aspencade FOR SALE

Re: This is the most difficult bike I have ever worked on.

Post by oldmopars » Sat Jun 15, 2019 12:50 pm

Well, I just replaced the timing belts. Glad I did. Original Honda belts and the left one was really loose. It had almost an inch of flop in it. Would not have taken much for it to have jumped a tooth or several.
Good to go now.

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CrystalPistol
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Location: Shenandoah Valley of Virginia
Motorcycle: 1997 GL1500SE/'98 Lehman Trike

Re: This is the most difficult bike I have ever worked on.

Post by CrystalPistol » Sat Jun 15, 2019 6:29 pm

minimac wrote:
Sat Jun 15, 2019 8:24 am
… , but it isn't any harder than a few screws and unlocking a few tabs usually. …
I don't mind the screws, small bolts, it's them chrome plastic caps on the screws that need to be glued back on if they are to be retained, and those tabs up front where parts come together under the radiators that I fret over. Have a few zip ties hidden now. :lol:
Image

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Fiberthree
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Motorcycle: Black 1999 GL1500SE

Re: This is the most difficult bike I have ever worked on.

Post by Fiberthree » Sat Jun 15, 2019 6:56 pm

I had to replace my thermostat also. I was convinced Honda put the thermostat on the floor and then built the bike around it!
Ed

WARNING: All posts are subject to influence from an uncontrollable dominant sarcastic gene. Offensive remarks may or may not be intentional.

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T_birdman
Posts: 145
Joined: Wed May 12, 2010 7:53 pm
Location: Arcadia, CA
Motorcycle: 1975 GL1000 (gave to a friend)
1981 GL1100I (Blew up engine @ 231K Mi./ My fault)
1985 GL1200A (Burned)
1999 GL1500A (Burned)
1993 GL1500A (Red Recently in Accident))

Re: This is the most difficult bike I have ever worked on.

Post by T_birdman » Sat Jun 15, 2019 8:13 pm

Lol! Funny how we love our bikes until we have to work on them! Many moons ago I blew an engine on my 81 GL1100, yanked out the engine, got replacement parts needed, and started putting the engine back together. After it was all over and done, I promised myself a trip to Japan. I told myself I would find the engine designer and kick his ass up and down the street until I felt better, and if he was dead, I'd find out where he was buried and piss on his grave! Never did take that trip, but felt that way a long time, LOL!

Rodzim
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Motorcycle: 1994 gl1500 se

Re: This is the most difficult bike I have ever worked on.

Post by Rodzim » Sat Jun 15, 2019 10:23 pm

I dont know what the fuss is with the gl1500. Yes, you have to remove a lot of stuff to get to things, but it really is not that time consuming.
The problem arises when you try to cut corners, trying to not remove something thats on the way because you can get to whatever you are trying to get at twisting your fingers and wishing you had an extra joint in your arms.
I learned this lesson the hard way many years ago, i work on pretty much anything with an engine in it, from cars to trucks to boats to bikes. The biggest lesson i learned after a while was that the more components you remove to make room and make your job more comfortable, the less of a pain in the ass said job will be. Try it next time you have to get to something difficult to get at. It makes any job a lot more enjoyable.

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Happytrails
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Location: Natrona Hgts, Pennsylvania
Motorcycle: 1991 Goldwing 1500 SE
2018 Ural Gearup

Re: This is the most difficult bike I have ever worked on.

Post by Happytrails » Sun Jun 16, 2019 7:38 am

Rodzim wrote:
Sat Jun 15, 2019 10:23 pm
I dont know what the fuss is with the gl1500. Yes, you have to remove a lot of stuff to get to things, but it really is not that time consuming. The biggest lesson i learned after a while was that the more components you remove to make room and make your job more comfortable, the less of a pain in the ass said job will be. Try it next time you have to get to something difficult to get at. It makes any job a lot more enjoyable.
Good advice, maybe for some of us its the thought of having our bike in pieces and not being able to ride. :lol:
1991 GL1500 SE Anniversary Edition
Sun Flare Gold Metallic
Vallant Brown Inset

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Mh434
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Re: This is the most difficult bike I have ever worked on.

Post by Mh434 » Sun Jun 16, 2019 1:15 pm

I guess it's the price we have to pay for riding such amazing bikes!

By the way, oldmopars, I lost a couple of my little chrome caps too. Turns out, they're a dime a dozen at the auto parts store, and come with the little nylon ring washers (held in place by the screw heads) as well. They're nice & tight, hold the chrome caps securely, and best of all....they're "cheap as chips"! :D

I don't remember how much they were, but IIRC they came in a package of 6 or 8, and were around $2 - $3 for the package. I bought two packages, and replaced ALL those little guys. Turns out, it was a combination of some of the chrome caps starting to split with age, and the nylon washer thingies were worn out, so they were mostly loose. Not anymore! On Ebay, it appears you can even buy "diamond-encrusted-look" ones if you want more bling! :lol:

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ct1500
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Re: This is the most difficult bike I have ever worked on.

Post by ct1500 » Sun Jun 16, 2019 7:14 pm

True enough the 1500 is one of the most difficult and complex to work on MC ever made because every square inch has wiring, cabling, plumbing, devices and components buried under plastic with no computer diagnostics to aid in malfunctions. Very, very few can recite chapter and verse how every component, system and sub-system is supposed to function and work and the why as it relates to troubleshooting with devices of that era which are now computer controlled. :ugeek:
Local and need repair help with your 1500, Valkyrie or ST please click contact
Nothing leaves my shop till its' perfect
This is what I do

oldmopars
Posts: 222
Joined: Sun Jun 16, 2013 9:25 am
Location: Selah, Washington
Motorcycle: 1996 GL1500 SE
1989 GL1500 parts bike
1984 GL1200 Aspencade FOR SALE

Re: This is the most difficult bike I have ever worked on.

Post by oldmopars » Sun Jun 16, 2019 9:10 pm

To be fair, I am not saying that this bike is impossible to work on or beyond my skill set. It is fine and I have no problem doing anything required. It is just way more complex than I feel it needs to be. It has so many hoses and wires and junk that it is just a lot of work to do anything that is simple on other bikes.
My 1200 is parked right next to it, and the 1200 is naked. Really easy to work on.

Rodzim
Posts: 78
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Location: Smyrna, ga
Motorcycle: 1994 gl1500 se

Re: This is the most difficult bike I have ever worked on.

Post by Rodzim » Mon Jun 17, 2019 12:57 am

Thats what it takes to make a motorcycle that truly has no comparison or competition. They were so far ahead of their time its mind boggling.
You can ride a harley iron whatever its called and its as simple as it gets, it doesnt even have electric start.
My point is it takes a lot of wiring, vacuum lines and relays to make a truly remarkable bike. Every time i take the plastics off my bike i can truly admire the engineering that went into making this thing and packaging all these components out of sight.
Bottom line is, i love this machine for everything it is

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jtornese
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Motorcycle: 1993 GL1500 Aspencade

Re: This is the most difficult bike I have ever worked on.

Post by jtornese » Thu Jun 20, 2019 7:07 pm

Although It does require advanced skill levels to work on, I have done the timing belts, changed tires several times, replaced the water pump, replaced u-joint (a real B-----), replaced forks, and installed MANY accessories and custom lighting enhancements. I LOVE this bike BECAUSE it is Heavy!

Anyway, For the record, I have done alot of work on a Honda Pacific Coast, and it is BY FAR the most difficult motorcycle ever to work on! Just to replace the spark plugs required a different tool configuration to get at each of the 4 plugs. The plastic bodywork is a true rubics cube to solve, THEN you have the riveted together Fiberglass heat shield that completely encloses the engine! (still a great bike, but just wanted to nominate it)

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WingAdmin
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Motorcycle: 2000 GL1500 SE
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2012 Suzuki Burgman 400 (wife's!)
2007 Aspen Sentry Trailer

Re: This is the most difficult bike I have ever worked on.

Post by WingAdmin » Fri Jun 21, 2019 10:02 am

jtornese wrote:
Thu Jun 20, 2019 7:07 pm
Although It does require advanced skill levels to work on, I have done the timing belts, changed tires several times, replaced the water pump, replaced u-joint (a real B-----), replaced forks, and installed MANY accessories and custom lighting enhancements. I LOVE this bike BECAUSE it is Heavy!

Anyway, For the record, I have done alot of work on a Honda Pacific Coast, and it is BY FAR the most difficult motorcycle ever to work on! Just to replace the spark plugs required a different tool configuration to get at each of the 4 plugs. The plastic bodywork is a true rubics cube to solve, THEN you have the riveted together Fiberglass heat shield that completely encloses the engine! (still a great bike, but just wanted to nominate it)
I would have agreed 100% with you on the Pacific Coast....until I took apart my wife's Burgman 400. You thought the body panels on a PC800 were a Rubik's cube? The Burgman is far worse. "To access A, remove panel B. In order to remove panel B, first remove Panels C, D, E and F. In order to remove panel E, remove windshield, instrument panel and front fairing, then remove panel G. In order to remove panel G, first remove..." You get the idea. Like the PC800, you want to do EVERYTHING to it while it's apart, because it's a MAJOR job taking it apart and putting it back together.

Pacific Coast taken apart
Pacific Coast taken apart


Pacific Coast taken apart
Pacific Coast taken apart


Pacific Coast taken apart
Pacific Coast taken apart


Pacific Coast carburetors
Pacific Coast carburetors


Burgman 400 taken apart
Burgman 400 taken apart


oldmopars
Posts: 222
Joined: Sun Jun 16, 2013 9:25 am
Location: Selah, Washington
Motorcycle: 1996 GL1500 SE
1989 GL1500 parts bike
1984 GL1200 Aspencade FOR SALE

Re: This is the most difficult bike I have ever worked on.

Post by oldmopars » Fri Jun 21, 2019 10:57 am

Thanks, this helps add to the list of "what not to buy".
I know these are all great bikes, but sometimes don't you just want to go buy a ultra simple 650cc naked retro bike that you can see every part on it standing 6 feet away? A bike where the most exotic tool you need is an Allen wrench?
I know, they lack something in the comfort and long distance touring department, but if I could have a stable full, there would be a very simple bike in there just for fun.

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NOVAwing
Posts: 294
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Motorcycle: 1993 GL1500 Aspencade

Re: This is the most difficult bike I have ever worked on.

Post by NOVAwing » Fri Jun 21, 2019 8:09 pm

WingAdmin wrote:
Fri Jun 21, 2019 10:02 am
jtornese wrote:
Thu Jun 20, 2019 7:07 pm
Although It does require advanced skill levels to work on, I have done the timing belts, changed tires several times, replaced the water pump, replaced u-joint (a real B-----), replaced forks, and installed MANY accessories and custom lighting enhancements. I LOVE this bike BECAUSE it is Heavy!

Anyway, For the record, I have done alot of work on a Honda Pacific Coast, and it is BY FAR the most difficult motorcycle ever to work on! Just to replace the spark plugs required a different tool configuration to get at each of the 4 plugs. The plastic bodywork is a true rubics cube to solve, THEN you have the riveted together Fiberglass heat shield that completely encloses the engine! (still a great bike, but just wanted to nominate it)
I would have agreed 100% with you on the Pacific Coast....until I took apart my wife's Burgman 400. You thought the body panels on a PC800 were a Rubik's cube? The Burgman is far worse. "To access A, remove panel B. In order to remove panel B, first remove Panels C, D, E and F. In order to remove panel E, remove windshield, instrument panel and front fairing, then remove panel G. In order to remove panel G, first remove..." You get the idea. Like the PC800, you want to do EVERYTHING to it while it's apart, because it's a MAJOR job taking it apart and putting it back together.

Pacific Coast in pieces (1).jpg
Pacific Coast in pieces (2).jpg
Pacific Coast in pieces (3).jpg
Pacific Coast Carburetors 2.JPG

2019-04-21 15.53.14.jpg
Not to derail but my last bike was a 2006 Burgman 650 standard. Loved that bike and had it tricked out almost completely to my needs.

But it's to under powered to me, and small tires. I dream of a Suzuki Burgman 900 on full size tires......

Miss my baby, bought with 6k miles and sold at 14k. Fluids and tires only maintenance. I avoided the dreaded belt breakage. Sold it for what I paid for it.

Sob, I have plenty of better pics but they won't upload for some reason. "can not determine dimensions of photo" errors on all of them. Oh well.
Attachments


NOVAwing
1993 GL1500 Aspencade, restored from 4 years rotting outside.

“A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.”

oldmopars
Posts: 222
Joined: Sun Jun 16, 2013 9:25 am
Location: Selah, Washington
Motorcycle: 1996 GL1500 SE
1989 GL1500 parts bike
1984 GL1200 Aspencade FOR SALE

Re: This is the most difficult bike I have ever worked on.

Post by oldmopars » Sun Jun 23, 2019 5:53 pm

I gave some thought to trading the 1500 for a Burgman, watched a bunch of YouTube videos, asked here about them and came to the conclusion that it is not the bike for me.
If I am going to have another bike that is hard to work on, I will just get another BMW. At least I know I love them and even though difficult to work on, I know what I am getting into as I have had one before.

Rodzim
Posts: 78
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Location: Smyrna, ga
Motorcycle: 1994 gl1500 se

Re: This is the most difficult bike I have ever worked on.

Post by Rodzim » Sun Jun 23, 2019 7:48 pm

Ok ok, lets pump the brakes for a second,
How often do you have to take a goldwing apart? Its not like this is an unreliable piece of crap, its one of the best designs out there. It rarely needs anything other than an oil change.
All the maintenance can be done at the same time.
If you buy a motorcycle based on how difficult it is to work on then buy a moped and be done.
Goldwing parts are cheap and readily available and the used part market is super strong.

oldmopars
Posts: 222
Joined: Sun Jun 16, 2013 9:25 am
Location: Selah, Washington
Motorcycle: 1996 GL1500 SE
1989 GL1500 parts bike
1984 GL1200 Aspencade FOR SALE

Re: This is the most difficult bike I have ever worked on.

Post by oldmopars » Thu Jun 27, 2019 12:04 pm

My reason for getting rid of this Goldwing, is not based on how hard it is to work on or how reliable it is. However I have had to do a bunch of work to it, but most of it was just PM type stuff that I wanted to be sure was done because I had no record of it being done. I got the bike from a dealer.
My reason for wanting to sell this thing is that I just do not like it. Yes it is a pain to work on, but the bike I want to get is also not easy to work on. For me, it is the issue with the carbs, mine are fighting me right now, no ABS, poor handling, and it does not ride the way I think it should.
I have been fighting with the carbs, and I just ordered a rebuild kit and I will have to pull them out and do a complete rebuild. It ran fine before I put it up for the winter, I added fuel stabilizer and when I pulled it out this spring, only about 3 months latter, it ran like poo. It has a bad spot from off idle to about 3000 RPM. I think one of the carbs has a clogged jet or passage. It feels like I am running on 3 cylinders till 3000 then it kicks in and runs like a raped ape.
I have run almost 2 cans of SeaFoam and 4-5 tanks of fuel. I was stuck in traffic in Spokane yesterday and I was running it up to redline in first gear and then decel back down. This was putting max vacuum on those ports and it helped, but did not solve it. When I got home from Spokane, about 500 miles round trip, it was running better, but still not right. I still need to decide it I want to pull the carbs before my trip to Yellowstone, or live with them like they are and hope it keeps getting better with more SeaFoam.
In the end I just do not have any love for this bike. I was spoiled buy a BMW and I thought the Wing would be "Just as Good", but for ME it is not. I will sell it after my trip and get another BMW K1200LT. Yes, they are almost as much of a pain to work on, but I know them and I love the way they handle and I am willing to do the work because I love the bike. I just don't love the Goldwing.
So, it is not that I am selling it because it is an unreliable piece of crap, it is because I just don't like it and it being hard to work on is just adding to my dislike of it.
We are very lucky, we have a lot of bike maker and each makes many bikes. So, there are 100+ different options for every taste and style out there. I tried the Goldwing, I actually have 2, and I found I just don't like the GL1500. It is not a bad bike, just not the right bike for ME. It may be the best bike in the world for YOU, just not ME. Is it a Bad bike, NO, is it a piece of Crap? NO, it is just not my style.
Sorry if I have offended anyone, I know people can get very brand loyal and get offended when their brand is put down. I like Hondas, and have owned a few. I may even keep the 1200.

Rodzim
Posts: 78
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Motorcycle: 1994 gl1500 se

Re: This is the most difficult bike I have ever worked on.

Post by Rodzim » Thu Jun 27, 2019 6:47 pm

The wing is not for everybody. People have different tastes, and thats ok. I hate harleys for example.

oldmopars
Posts: 222
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Location: Selah, Washington
Motorcycle: 1996 GL1500 SE
1989 GL1500 parts bike
1984 GL1200 Aspencade FOR SALE

Re: This is the most difficult bike I have ever worked on.

Post by oldmopars » Thu Jun 27, 2019 9:16 pm

Rodzim wrote:
Thu Jun 27, 2019 6:47 pm
The wing is not for everybody. People have different tastes, and thats ok. I hate harleys for example.
I have thought about a Harley, but I figure it would be a short, expensive love affair. However, with the prices of Harley's dropping as it is, if you ever wanted one, now is the time. Mid 2000's full dress bikes are dipping below $10,000, some by quite a margin.



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