Long Haulers: Honda Gold Wing Touring Bikes

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For anyone who has read the book Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, I’m curious if you didn’t feel like taking a road trip after reading it. That’s a central part of the story, as the characters connect and explore deep thoughts while participating on a cross-country cruise by motorcycle. I know I’m inspired by this pair of Honda Gold Wings up for grabs, including a 1986 GL1200 Aspencade listed here on eBay and a 1988 GL1500, also here on eBay. Thanks to Barn Finds reader Jim S. for the finds! 

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The Gold Wing was a formidable competitor to other road bikes at the time, like the legendary BMW K-Series. The GL1500 featured here was powerful, heavy and loaded with features ranging from passenger audio controls and rear speakers to CB radios and a six-cylinder engine. With those generously padded seats and innovative reverse gear introduced on this generation of the model, it’s easy to imagine being quite comfortable on a long trip. Although this Gold Wing GL1500 is said to be in great condition with just over 36,000 miles, the seller doesn’t offer much in the way of additional info.

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The other bike up for grabs is this GL1200 Aspencade, which packed a good amount of technology into its cruiser-friendly design. The biggest differentiator between the Aspencade and a standard GL1200 was a Panasonic audio system that featured a cassette player and intercom system for driver and passenger. It also had a trick LCD digital dash readout (see photos below) and had vented disc brakes and air shocks on board to keep the ride stable and comfortable. This particular example has just over 9,000 original miles, as it has remained stored after the owner passed away.

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Unlike the GL1500, the GL1200 featured a flat-four engine and was down a few pounds on the scales as well, as the bike tended to get heavier as it got older. Interestingly, both of these models of the Gold Wing were produced at Honda’s plant in Ohio, and the 1988 model year was the first time ever that Honda exported American-built bikes to Japan (how fitting, then, that the bike design would reflect our culture’s infatuation with big, comfortable motorcycles.) If you’re looking for a reliable touring motorcycle packed with innovation, the Gold Wing is likely a great way to enter into the world of two-wheel cruising.

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Comments

  1. grant

    An army buddy had an aspencade, with the matching trailer. Comfortable bike to cruise the interstates with.

  2. jimbosidecar

    I always think of a 2 wheeled Cadillac when I see one

  3. MountainMan

    Goldwings are a great bike. The 1500 seems so dated to me. The next model produced is the GL 1800 and is really the way to go. There are lots of guys who love the 1500s but I’m not in that crowd. Different seating position, not as nimble, etc. The 1800 is surprisingly maneuverable and plenty fast. Light years ahead of the previous model (1500)

  4. Dave W

    I’ve owned a 75, 78, 79, and 81 goldwings
    They are all great bikes
    Now that I’m older and have great curves to ride I really enjoy my Shadow ACE 750
    If I’m taking a long trip now days I prefer my Tahoe

  5. Texas Tea

    While I’m not a motorcycle guy I’ve always admired the Honda Gold Wing models. I’ve been told they seldom if ever have problems like some of the other large bikes. For me, I’m to chicken to ride up and down the highways on one of these or any others for that matter. I owned a 650 Suzuki back in the early 80s, which is no comparison to these beauties, but one day I was passed by an 18 wheeler and I thought I was going to get sucked up under the trailer. That did it for me and I sold it.

    Here in central Texas where I live the deer are thick as fleas and motorcycle clubs ride through this area all the time and the collisions with deer are often. Usually not fatal, but not good either.

  6. DanielDC

    I currently have a 1987 GL1200 that sees almost 10k miles a year of use in the Chicago area. She may not be the prettiest girl, but as long as the weather is above 36 degrees, I ride regardless of the weather.

  7. Hoos Member

    I’ve got an ’87 Aspy, and I love it. It is my only bike, and I’d ride it anywhere. It is comfortable in traffic, expressway and country driving situations. The only thing that the 1500 has that I’d like to have is reverse.

  8. Howard A Member

    The Aspencade for me, and even that is a bit much. I had a ’75 and ’77 GL1000’s. The ’75 I put probably 90K miles on it. It was, by far, the most dependable vehicle I ever owned ( and I’ve owned a lot) Whenever I wanted to go for a ride, I pushed the button, and off I went.( unlike a certain Harley I had) I think the 6 cylinder is too much. It almost defy’s what biking is all about. My ’75 was very heavy, but cruised just fine with the 4 cylinder.( and had plenty of power, could probably have pulled a fishing boat) Originally it had a fairing and bags, but I took all that off and just had a windshield to try and make the bike lighter. It did roll off the side stand once, and I bent the handlebars trying to get it back up. But I’m done with the “super-cruiser” bikes and my next bike is going to be a Triumph Trident.( or BSA Rocket 3) THAT’S BIKING!!! This was my GL1000. https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/c/c6/Honda_Gold_Wing_GL1000_1975_Barber.jpg

  9. Rando

    Styling of this gen GW didn’t appeal to me but they were awesome bikes and still are to the owners. They go forever. I like the newer Wings. THey pull like a freight train and handle pretty well for that big a boat. Someone will love this thing.

  10. leiniedude leiniedude Member

    As fired up as I get when I see scooters on this site, I am not sure why this story is posted. These are all over the place in the summer and will probably outlive me, but that could be any day now. I am not trying to trash Hondas here, I own a 1981 CBX that I bought new and my little work car is a 1991 Civic. These Wings are very nice but seem out of place here. Just my little bit of feedback, all in all this is a great place to be, keep up the good work!

  11. Gary

    I’m on my way back to Philadelphia. PA as I write this with the 1986 GW featured here. Just passed Pittsburgh with another 300 or so miles till home. Tim, the owner who put the add on EBay, is a stand up ‘cycle’ guy who seems to run quite a business at CycleworX in Lima, OH. I documented the arrival & loading of the GW with many pics that I can share later. If it weren’t for Barn Finds,,,,,

  12. Reid A

    Pirsig’s book centered on the author’s “trip” on a ’66 Honda Superhawk 305. Imagine you and a passenger going cross country on one of those!! I’ve had both, and while the Superhawk is stylish and cool, for comfort I still prefer the ‘wing. Unless maybe on side roads…

  13. Gary

    So, as I said on our way home from purchasing the 86 GW, here is the odometer reading after we arrived back home. Just 1 mile difference.

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