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Zen and the Art of Cruising: 1983 Honda Gold Wing

The Honda Gold Wing is one of the more successful and well-recognized touring motorcycles made in the last 30 years. As a full-dress motorcycle, it looks closer to a Harley-Davidson in spirit than the other bikes in the company’s portfolio, but that doesn’t mean the magical handling Honda is known for has been engineered out. This one could go quite cheaply, as it’s a recent charitable donation and is listed here on eBay at no reserve with bidding just over $300.

For years, the Gold Wing was manufactured at Honda’s facility in Marysville, Ohio. This one slides into the year range for U.S. production, and I believe it is technically an Interstate model or at least made to look like one. The factory-installed fairing, saddlebags and a full trunk are all telltale signs of this being a Gold Wing 1100I, but I’ll defer to our Gold Wing experts to confirm. The tires look a little knobbier than I’d expect for a touring motorcycle, but that’s an easy fix.

As an Interstate model, it may be optioned with a stereo and compressor. When you’re checking out the rev counter, between your legs is a SOHC flat-four boxer making around 80 b.h.p., but the seller notes that the Gold Wing would benefit from a tune-up to ensure that motor is delivering on its promises. As a donation write-off, there’s many questions that likely won’t get answered, but the price is right if you’re willing to take a gamble. The gauge cluster appears clear with no cracks.

While the seat needs some work, it at least has been carefully taped together. These are easy fixes – my local upholstery shop repairs bike seats all the time. The seller may be mistaken that this Gold Wing has a 1,832CC mill; instead, it pulls those saddlebags around with 1,085CC of displacement, still more than enough for a bike weighing just shy of 675 lbs. Which would you choose: a Gold Wing like this or a cross-town rival from Suzuki or Yamaha?


  1. Rube Goldberg Member

    Well, of all things, here’s my bike, well, kinda. I’m not sure what this is, and the knobby front and standard rear tires don’t make a lick of sense. I’ve had 3 GoldWings, a ’75, a ’77, and my current one, a ’81 Interstate. The ’81 is, by far, the nicest of them all. Mine is the standard burgundy color, and it is a cruiser, when running right, that is. They don’t call it “Interstate” for nothing. The 80-83 1100’s were the best, and the 1200’s, I read, had a lot of electrical problems, alternators, for one, requiring removal of the engine. Matter of fact, just about any repair requires engine removal, no day at the beach. I’m replacing the 4 single carbs, with an aftermarket single carb version. ( custom manifold and a Solex VW 1 barrel.) I heard good results, as the 4 singles have always been nothing but trouble in all my GoldWings. They are a dime a dozen today, and cheap ones can be had. It’s not uncommon for these to go over 100K, and I’m sure this one has, as well. I’m sure there’s something wrong with this one,but if you aren’t into biking, that motor could go in any project. Be a great boat motor.

  2. chad

    kinda hi revs 4 a car tho,
    I just looked up that Leno guest “show”.
    Eevn kept the bike transmish.

  3. LAB3

    My 1200 has close to 100k miles and is nowhere near close to tired yet. The electrical issue is easy to prevent, it has to do with a poorly designed electrical connector coming off the stator where it plugs into the wiring harness. It’s only three wires and the connector is known to get wet and corrode causing the charging system to short out. The fix is very simple, clip off the connectors, solder the wires together, shrink wrap it to secure the patch job to keep it dry and you’re done! This really the only known common issue on the 1200. If you drain the carb float bowls for the winter and run a little Sea Foam into them in the spring, the four carb setup can’t be beat. The single carb rig (had it on an 1100 once) tends to ice up around 40 degrees and kills the top end performance. It’s true you’ll pick up some torque on the low end but overall the milage and performance goes down. That being said, on any 30+ yr old machine you’ve got to keep up on maintainince unless you really like wrenching on the side of the road at night in the rain.

    Like 1
    • Mike

      My 85 GW I is a great bike first thing I did when I bought it was the stater wiring fix
      With just 48000 on her she will last me

      • Rube Goldberg Member

        I’ve heard, it’s why we ride Honda’s, Mike. :)

  4. BarnfindyCollins

    My uncle had the earlier ’79 1000 version that he used for 15 years and was his last bike. I never jumped at the chance to pilot it myself, as I preferred the smaller and lighter Triumph he held on to for years. The GoldWing and SilverWing seemed to cultivate their own cult of riders and you probably still meet the nicest people on a Honda.

  5. geomechs geomechs Member

    My former boss had one and loved it. He really gave me a lecture when I chose to buy a new H-D. But I had no desire to run a Gold Wing; it wasn’t the bike for me. A couple of friends had GWs. One traded his for an H-D Electra Glide on which he circumvented the country no less than twice. Never did like the GW. Another friend had a GW and loved it. He sold it and bought an H-D Sport Glide which he still has. However the lure of the GW never quite left so he opted for a 1200 which he’s run the wheels off. His experienced the aforementioned alternator problems—twice. Another 50K miles and it’s OK. I can’t say that I’ve heard someone who’s completely dissatisfied with theirs; they’re well engineered and deserving of the high ratings they continually get. For myself, they just never appealed to me….

    • Rube Goldberg Member

      If I was to buy another bike today, it would probably be another H-D. When GW’s came out, people were very dissatisfied with their Harley’s. Late 70’s and 80’s were not kind to H-D. You could plop your tush on these, put gas in it, and push the button and ride until your axx was sore, ( Honda butt we call that, never got that on the H-D) No drama. I had an ’85 FXRT, which was kind of the H-D answer to the GW, and I loved it, but I still had parts fall off, and the general H-D issues. But today, H-D has evolved into a very dependable machine, and still remains simple to fix, not so with these. What’s cool about GW’s, is they are accepted in big H-D groups ( as long as you ride in the middle somewhere) as many H-D riders, also had GW’s at some point, but went back to H-D’s. I have a friend with a 6 cylinder Honda, never rode it, got to be smooth, but again, too much, and since you can’t buy a new Interstate like this, I too, would probably go back to a H-D.

      • On and On On and On Member

        Have you ever ridden a Valkyrie? I rented one in Las Vegas and spent a couple days going through Death Valley and Scotty’s Castle area. What a bike that was. 6 cylinder pull-power. Wow. Comfortable, Wow. Don’t know why Honda stopped producing them after only a couple years. They still command good bucks today. I know why.

  6. Cliff Member

    I have an ’81 Interstate in the one year only green black color, that has just 6500 miles on it. A friend of mine purchased it from the original owner, just a few months later my friend died from a heart attack. I purchased the bike to help his mother with expenses. I also have a ’17 Harley Road Glide that I enjoy riding very much. For a 37 year old bike, it has plenty of power and rides smoothly as long as the air pressure in the suspension is set properly, I really enjoy riding it!

    • Rube Goldberg Member

      Nice bike, Cliff. I hope that isn’t the dreaded “water pump seepage” out the “weep hole” on the floor ( they don’t call it “weep hole” for nothing) That’s another GW exclusive requiring extensive repairs.

  7. Sink-A-Trailer

    I dunno, big cars, big bikes, big women jes’ never appealed to me. I like my 650 Yamaha, it’s sweet spot’s ’bout 80 mph which is fast enuf for me.

    • Rube Goldberg Member

      Totally cool, Sink, it doesn’t matter what you ride, as long as you ride. While in upstate NY 2 years ago, a friend let me use his Honda CX 500 Custom. While it was too small for me, it was a blast touring through the Catskills, however that 6 grand rev’s at 60 mph was deal breaker for me. BTW, I’ve never maxed out any of my GW’s, about 90 is all I care to go ( mostly while trying to clear out the mid-range miss, when I’m pissed at it, which is why I’m going to the single carb, I don’t care if it doesn’t go 130 mph anymore)

  8. On and On On and On Member

    I’ve had a 76 and a 79Goldwing Awesome motorcycles. When they came out they were touted as engineering marvels, rightfully so. These and the 750 fours knocked British bikes down for the final count. Honda always did and still does come up with marvelous machinery. I’ve probably owned 50 motorcycles, I’m down to six now. This summer I’ll thin down to two, a BMW R75/5 and a Honda, I have 5 Hondas to pick from and can’t decide which one to keep.

  9. Oingo

    The knobby tires make sense to me, either the owner got them real cheap to get it passed or the auction house decided they needed to slap something on it to protect their hiney.

    • LAB3

      They’re a must have if you go off road or you live on a dirt road.

  10. Cmarv
    • Rube Goldberg Member

      While I’d love a truck like that, I thought your post was about upgrading a GW to an external alternator, but realize, it’s a “why not buy this instead” post. There is an upgrade for GoldWings, and many had great luck with it. Turns out, it’s not just the plug on 1200’s, but the increased load, with all the doo-dads and lights many GoldWing owners add to their bikes. You could run a searchlight with this setup.

  11. Oldog4tz Oldog4tz Member

    I have to talk about my 87 GW. I brought it with 17k in 1993 for $3500. It was an Interstate, which didn’t have the troublesome electronics. The stator was already fixed. 10 years later I sold it from intensive care in SF, (my riding days done, waiting for a new liver) to a fellow who flew in from Louisiana and drove it home in 3 days with his 13 year old son. Sold it for the same $3500.

  12. GeorgiaPilot

    Here is an 81 near me that looks worth investigating – I don’t know much about GWs though.

    • LAB3

      Already running and ridable that’s not a bad deal. They tend to drop down to the $1000 dollar range this time of year and go up to $1500 in spring. Just picked up one for $350 that doesn’t seem to need much, it’ll be a flip for me, the money going toward my summer fun cash.

  13. Wayne

    I spent a wonderful weekend in the Denver/Aspen area on my buddies brand new 1985 GW. (he had to work that weekend) Always wanted a GW but never fond the one that wanted. (Do not want a loaded up one. Rather a stripper that I can toss on a pair of soft bags if needed.) I sold my hot rodded CB650 and bought a BMW R90/6 and rode the wheels off of it until the family came and stopped riding. I miss it (the family is now grown and gone) so I am still looking for the right GW. All I have to do is talk my wife into it. (She rode a Yamaha and did not drive a car until she was 26.)

  14. Rolf Poncho

    kawasaki z1300 on my shortlist

  15. bikergeek

    VIN starts with a “1” so it’d be made in USA, Marysville.

    • Rube Goldberg Member

      I believe the engines were still made in Japan.

  16. SWells679

    “Interstate” would have been applied to the model that had matching trunk & saddlebags (matching the fairing, that is). That would’ve been the downscale model just below the “Aspencade” which was relatively new for ’83 IIRC.
    This is “just” a GL1100 with a fairing and non-matching saddle bags. I had an ’83 GL1100 with just the fairing in Wineberry Red (aka Maroon) that I bought off my dad.
    Supersmooth on the interstate, tho.

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