While thawing out in the Little Chef, halfway to Scarborough. we had come to the conclusion that although our bike. a GS850. was a good motorcycle it was tiring two up with no fairing and poor aftermarket seat... after much discussion we decided to go the whole way and buy a Gold Wing. I had a mate who owned a GL1100 Aspencade, and after a test ride I was hooked.
First impressions were that it was unnaturally smooth and her on the back was in seventh heaven because as well as the comfy seat she had a “proper backrest and plenty of space to move about. I counted the days until my money came through from the sale of my house. and with a polished open face helmet and new shades l went to his house to pick it up. After a guided tour around the bike, which took about an hour, I was ready to pose!
The GL1100 is a bit of evolution from the original Gold Wing, sharing such niceties as a fuel tank hidden under the seat, belt driven OHCs, a mere two valves per cylinder and imposing looks that you either love or run a mile from. Next day I did a full service, which is pretty easy for a bike as apparently complex as a Goldwing. The flat four engine allows easy access to the plugs and tappets (screw and locknut). The dummy fuel tank lifts open to reveal the compressor for the front and rear suspension which is adjustable on the dash board via rocker switches, whilst the temperature gauge doubles as a pressure gauge.
There is a gear indicator for the four speed box, plus overdrive and a trip computer with a countdown facility. Self cancelling indicators are controlled by vehicle speed and angle of lean. The whole dash board on the Aspencades is digital and takes some getting used to - a way to impress pillions is to switch the speedo to kilometres...
The headlamp was reasonable, although l expected better... the brakes are worrying at first because the rear brake pedal also operates one front disc and the forks have anti-dive that stops most of the dipping motion that such supple suspension would normally allow under heavy braking. Handling is very good for a bike weighing 640lbs, especially two up with the suspension on its hardest settings.
Most people are surprised by how light the machine feels once under motion. You can run along feet up at walking pace and because most of the weight is concentrated down low thanks to the engine layout. it is not in the least bit intimidating. However, low speed grunt is not all that apparent - my CX had more go at low revs, which is strange as the motor is by no means highly tuned.
Once on the open road you can cruise all day at illegal speeds and at 70mph it's just getting into its stride. When going to Wing Dings (club events) I normally take a trailer and you just don't know it’s there, except you can only do 60mph by law. The only discomfort over a long journey in hot weather is the amount of engine heat thrown up. At first, l thought it was overheating but it's a common problem. The fairing does a superb job of keeping the weather off you and I can hear the stereo no problem on the motorway, as can the pillion.
Fuel consumption hovers around 40mpg (it runs on to reserve after about 160 miles), oil consumption is minimal between changes and the shaft drive means chain wear is a thing of the past. The latter, by the way, confounds all the sceptics by not upsetting handling in bends if the throttle is backed off. Tyre life is, er, interesting. Some Wings have knocked up six figures so high mileage need not put you off buying one. the easiest way of sussing an engine about to die being an excess of vibes (ride a few examples to get an idea of what they should be like).
lt is surprising how tough these bikes are, we were knocked off our Gold Wing, after we got it back up (note the we) the rear crash bar was pushed into the rear pannier but it did not split because it's plastic. After removing it, it slowly went back into shape and the lid is still a tight fit. The panniers obscure access to the rear wheel but the plastic can be removed by undoing three bolts. Half an hour has it lovely and clean because there's so much plastic that shines up with just a sponge.
The extras you can buy for a Wing are limitless. from simple things like a drinks holder, chrome everything, taller screens to the extreme, like radar detectors, electric stands, ride off stands and a fridge that fits into a pannier and holds a six pack.
If you have a Gold Wing and you are not in the owners club. you don’t know what you are missing. I thought it would be for rich middle-aged people who ride two miles and polish the bike. but that could not be further from the truth. The majority are really ace people who just love Gold Wings. l have made so many friends that the club life is more fun than the bike.
Back in August we had the International Treffen (the event of the year for Wings) and we had a parade of nations and rode into Basingstoke with full police escort, the mayor and his wife on the back of Wings; over 600 Wings full of chrome, lights, music, sidecars, trailers, more lights and chrome; a sight I will never forget.
If you are thinking about buying one. shop around because some dealers will let them go cheap because they are not as sought after as your regular run of the mill superbike. but the opposite also applies and you do get them way overpriced. So, to sum up, if you want long distance two up comfort and to look at yourself in shop windows you can't go far wrong with a Wing. One warning, if you get the accessories bug take out a good loan. It's so addictive you can’t stop buying.