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The 1975 Honda GL1000 Gold Wing combined a touring bike with the enhanced performance of a 70s superbike to the delight of riders and enthusiasts on its debut. Under the direction of Toshio Nozue, this motorcycle saw many changes and had to overcome several obstacles during its creation.
Featuring a 999cc engine, the first Gold Wing could reach speeds of up to 129mph and achieve a quarter-mile in 12.92 seconds. But stats alone don’t tell the whole story, as this bike not only performs well but also showcases some creative engineering, setting it apart from other models.
Honda aimed to set a new standard back in 1974, looking to shake up the industry with design innovation. The fact that American Honda has announced the return of both the Gold Wing and Gold Wing Tour in 2024 strongly indicates how popular and influential the model has become. In addition to the Gold Wing, there are other great choices for the best motorcycles for long-distance riding among touring enthusiasts.
The fuel tank is located where?
In the prototype stages, the first Gold Wing flirted with a 6-cylinder engine, but testing proved the better choice to be a 999cc four. However, the switch was problematic due to incompatibility with the original chassis and the top mount location of the new engine’s carburetors.
With these challenges, Honda engineers needed to relocate the fuel tank directly under the seat. This move turned out to be beneficial as it offered additional weight placed lower on the bike for better control under normal circumstances. A lower center of gravity also makes it easier for the rider to keep the bike upright when moving slowly or idling.
The standard fuel tank was converted into a storage compartment for various components to maintain appearances and prevent wasted space. With its under-seat fuel tank, a horizontally opposed engine (Honda’s first), and a deep-set gearbox, maneuvering the bike was effortless compared to other models. This fresh take from Honda would quickly capture attention when showcased at the Cologne Motorcycle Show in 1974.
Its weakest aspect is the rear suspension
Honda thoroughly tested the first Gold Wing prior to launch, but it neglected a critical aspect that would create one of the few downsides to this legend. The 1975 Honda GL1000 has a stylish but hefty body that may have required a bit more oomph in the rear suspension department.
When Honda tested it on the track, the suspension performed admirably on the smooth tarmac under a seasoned rider. On the roads, this classic touring bike’s rear suspension doesn’t fare as well, grappling with inexperienced riders and rough stretches of uneven pavement.
So, while the 1975 Honda GL1000 Gold Wing remains an influential and groundbreaking bike, due to specific design decisions, it fails to handle very well with its stock shocks. However, many fans and collectors accept the bike’s quirks as part of its charm and appreciate its contribution to the motorcycle world. The Gold Wing proudly sits alongside the most iconic motorcycles from the 1970s.