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Though most will say that the Honda Gold Wing is a bulletproof bike, there were some years that weren’t so good. Owners have weighed in on their experiences with the Honda touring motorcycle. The vast majority of the experience are overwhelmingly positive. However, if you’re considering buying one, it may be good to know which Gold Wing model years have proved to be more problematic than others.

Early Honda Gold Wing generations date back to the 1970s

Before the GL1800s were released in 2001, Honda Gold Wing motorcycles saw a few different generations with varying engines. There was the the first gen GL1000 model from 1974 – 1979, then the GL1100 model from 1980 – 1983 which introduced both the GL100 Interstate (’81) and the GL100 Aspencade (’82).

The third gen GL1200 that was one of two generations solely manufactured in the US from 1983 – 1987. That was an experimental generation during which Honda played around with the EFI technology.

Then came the GL1500, made in the U.S. from 1987-2000. After that, from 2001 to the present day Honda Gold Wing, we see the GL1800 take the stage as the first generation fully equipped with fuel injection technology.

There is a lot to love about every generation. But, according to a few forum discussions, there are some model years that can be problematic.

Watch out for the 1978 and 1979 model years

One forum member of Gold Wing Facts says to avoid the 1978 and 1979 models. These were both on the tail end of the first gen GL1000s. In the forum member’s words, they are “duds.”

We dug a little deeper to see if there was any merit to the claim. According to Eat Sleep Ride, “in 1978 many changes were introduced, including changes to the seat, tank shape, instruments, carburetors, exhaust system , camshafts, wheels, and the removal of the kick-start.”

We see this a lot for model years which experience a high volume of mechanical changes. Sometimes it takes a few years to work out all the kinks. So, while there are still some killer antique ’78 and ’79 models out there (that are totally worth the admiration they receive), they still may have been duds in their time.

The 1984 and 1985 model years were also suspect

The 1984 and 1985 model years were produced as part of the GL1200 generation. Apparently, “1200’s are great but 84/85’s had rear wheel failures (due to) bad machining from the factory. As well as other little problems (nothing earth shaking though).”

1984 and 1985 Gold Wings do, in fact, have ignition problems. There was even a recall and not all of the ’84 VINs fit in the bracket; some owners had to repair their motorcycles independently.

The GL1500 and the GL1800 Honda Gold Wing Generations


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Some say the the GL1500 didn’t really “get it right” until 1997. Or that the GL1800 is best after 2006. For both of these generations, a lot of what to avoid is about preference and what you want from your Honda touring motorcycle. For example, the ’91 GL1500 Interstate was void of both the reverse feature (introduced in ’88) and cruise-control.

The GL1800 cracking aluminum frame

The first few fifth-gen models (from the first GL1800 in 2001 to the ’04/’05) where the first years of a generation that introduced a new aluminum frame borrowed from the CR motocross bike series. There was a massive recall due to the frame cracking.

Honda gave these years a lifetime recall and most issues should be long resolved. But if you mess around with one of these years, run the VIN to ensure that recall issues have already been assessed and dealt with.

What we can learn from the bad Honda Gold Wing years

Honda Gold Wings, in any generation, are solid. But even the best bikes have had their bad days. When there are so many good years to choose from, it’s good to know which years to watch out for.