Project Bike: Honda Gold Wing GL1800

Aug 11, 2013 View Comments by

Project Bike: Honda Gold Wing GL1800Reaching for Touring Gold

Setting out to improve the touring credentials of the Honda Gold Wing GL1800 is kind of like trying to increase the racing prowess of a MotoGP bike, but as any racing tech will tell you, there is always room for improvement. Though there’s not much the big Honda doesn’t excel at, we went about enhancing its long distance abilities anyway. When we finished, the Gold Wing was even more comfortable, more visible, and easier to pack for the long haul.

Touring Enhancements: 

PIAA LP 530 LED Light Kit: www.piaa.com

Notes: Honda was thoughtful enough to anticipate that its customers would want to add running lights, and they placed cut outs in the fairing as well as wiring harness connections specifically for that purpose. This makes the installation easy, although somewhat time consuming. It begins with removing the lower fairing, bolting the mounting brackets to the engine block, and attaching the lights. On the Gold Wing’s light control panel, the switch for the new lights conveniently swaps out with a plastic placeholder.

What the Rider Says: “The PIAA running lights certainly aided in illuminating the Minnesota nights last week on the Edge of the Wilderness Scenic Byway. There is no doubt of their value as the lights made us much more visible, especially during the many rain storms we rode through.”

Install Time: 2 hours 30 minutes

Cost: $599.99

Roadsmith Comfort Controls: www.trikeshop.com

Notes: The Comfort Controls are great for tall riders, and as the owner of this Gold Wing is 6 feet 2 inches, they’re perfect. The controls move the standard bike’s gearshift, foot brake, and pegs forward three inches and down one inch, giving a nice boost in legroom. The installation is a straightforward swapping of parts, but due to the confined space, especially around the gearshift, installing the parts takes some time.

What the Rider Says: “The Roadsmith Comfort Controls just add to the increased comfort of the BMS seat and allow me to relax my long legs, a definite plus. The only drawback I encountered was down shifting when the lower heat vents were open.”

Install Time: 2 hours

Cost: $699

Shorai LFX 36L3-BS12 Lithium-Iron Battery: www.shoraipower.com

Notes: Swapping out, or simply accessing, the battery is thankfully easy on a Gold Wing, especially compared to the headache-inducing fairing removal required on some other touring bikes that shall remain nameless. The Shorai fits perfectly in the GL1800’s battery compartment and bolts right up with some wire twisting. The LFX should last longer (and need less charging) than the traditional lead-acid battery it replaces. It’s also much lighter.

Install Time: <10 minutes

Cost: $349.95

Bill Mayer Saddles Ultima Leather Dual Saddle: www.billmayersaddles.com

Notes: After taking measurements and photos, and letting BMS know what he didn’t like about his stock seat, the Gold Wing’s owner shipped the OEM saddle off to the experts at BMS to get it reshaped, recovered, and rebuilt for long distance comfort. Since the seat pan is still from the Gold Wing, installation was a cinch.

What the Rider Says: “I didn’t think it was possible to have a better ride on my Wing, but the BMS seat really makes a difference; no more sore butt after a long ride. Extraordinary! Also, it’s a good looking, well crafted seat, which I’m proud to have.”

Install Time: <10 minutes

Cost: $999

Saddlemen GL1800 Luggage: www.saddlemen.com

Notes: The Gold Wing comes with generous storage already in place but when going for an extended, two-up road trip, you need all the space you can get. With that in mind, we ordered a GL1800 care package from Saddlemen. The package includes a Saddlebag Organizer, Saddlebag Liner Cube System, Trunk Organizer, Trunk Liner, Dash Pouch, and the TR3300DE Deluxe Rack Bag, which adds quite a bit of usable space. The result is a well packed, easily unloaded, and long-distance optimized machine.

What the Rider Says: “Needless to say, the wife and I enjoyed all of the Saddlemen luggage. The pieces designed for the 1800 fit perfectly, and the added storage provided by the liners helped us keep our stuff more organized. The rack bag looks good and was invaluable and easy to manipulate as we had to go into it often for rain gear.”

Install Time: <10 minutes

Cost: $355.70

*Retail costs exclude taxes and shipping.

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About the author

There’s something relentlessly romantic about riding a motorcycle. I’m blessed to know that feeling. With a background in photography and a love for motorcycles, I’m interested in the beauty and honesty of the open road. You’ll find me riding Carolina’s roads on my Suzuki SV650.