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2008 Honda GL1800 Gold Wing

Below I've detailed the improvements I've made to my Gold Wing, most noteworthy are the suspension mods. Honda really should be embarrassed with the way the suspension performs as delivered. It sags terribly, has poor damping and very little travel, has an anti-dive system up front that makes the weak suspension worse. The forks flex terribly which manifests itself as very imprecise steering at speed. You can literally feel them flex when turning out of a driveway with a bump. With a motorcycle this heavy you really need better suspension than normal, instead the Gold Wing is worse than normal. The good news is that the aftermarket has responded, specifically Traxxion Dynamics, further notes on the suspension system are below.

The GL1800 is an expensive motorcycle to begin with, and to get it to handle correctly you really need to spend another $3,500 or so. Riders considering a GL1800 should keep this in mind. Overall I'm very happy with the results. Old man image be damned, I like this bike!

 

Accesories & mods (farkles)

  • Honda 08U55-MCA-101 Accessory Socket Kit
  • Honda 08V31-MCA-100D LED Foglight Kit
  • Cannisterectomy
  • National Cycle VStream® windscreen
  • Front suspension:
    • Traxxion Dynamics AK-20 cartridge conversion kit (forks sent to Traxxion), 7 wt oil installed
    • Traxxion Dynamics fork springs: 1.2 kg/cm, static sag 3.0", Traxxion sag 1.5"
    • All Balls tapered roller steering head bearings
    • Traxxion Dynamics Trax-Rite billet triple clamp set (upper and lower)
    • Traxxion Dynamics fork brace kit
  • Rear suspension:
    • Traxxion Dynamics rear shock with steel braided line, hydraulic preload adjuster installed/serviced by Traxxion
  • Traxxion Dynamics (Vesrah) brake pads
  • Electrical Connection Trunk & Saddlebag Illumination kit
  • Speedo Healer — I'm told all Gold Wing speedometers prior to about 2010 read 8-10% high and mine was no exception. This drives me crazy so I bought a Speedo Healer and used a GPS to calibrate it. Now I'm accurate to within 1 mph in the 60-70 mph range.
  • Mic-Mutes intercom controller
  • EdSets helmet speaker/microphone kits

Of all these mods the suspension is clearly the most important. I sent my forks and rear shock off to Traxxion who did the machine work on the forks and disable the anti-dive system (though the external valve is still on the fork). They return your forks fully finished and filled to the correct level with the correct fluid (7w), just bolt them back on. They also service the preload adjuster for the rear shock when installing your stock unit on the new shock by installing a stainless steel line and bleeding all the air out of it.

I installed the steering head bearings myself, a bit challenging to install but also worth the hassle. After installing the bearings, forks, and rear shock I rode the bike a bit before installing the fork brace and triple clamps. I was therefore able to assess the impact of each mod. Each of these parts make an immediately noticable difference and in my book was worth the money.

 

Oil & tires

Seems every GoldWinger has his/her opinion on oil and tires, here's mine...

Oil — I started off with Pro Honda GN4 10w-40 which is a standard petroleum oil. I use this when I changed my oil at 600 miles so as to let the engine break-in fully. At 5,000 miles I then changed to Pro Honda HP4 10w-40 which is a semi-synthetic (blend) oil. This provided a noticeable improment in shifting which was suprising to me. At 8,000 miles I then switched to Pro Honda HP4S 10w-30 fully synthetic oil. Surprised again, this oil provided yet another appreciable improvement in shifting smoothness. I took a four day trip soon after installing it and over 1,000 noticed a 2 mpg improvement in fuel mileage. Is that due to the lighter viscosity or the slipprier synthetic lubrication qualities? Couldn't tell you, but I like this oil and plan to stay with it.

Tires — Over the years on the various sport and sport-touring bikes I've found that I prefer Metzeler tires all things considered. Wear has never been a priority for me, rather "feel" and handling have and that's where I like the Metzelers. The GL1800 has odd sized tires however tha limit the choices, the only Metzeler model available for it is their rather old ME880 Marathon. Nevertheless that's what I'm currently running and am so far happy with them. I may try a set of Dunlop Elite 3s at some point though even though I've never liked Dunlops on Sport bikes by comparison. The Elite 3 seems well regarded in the GoldWing community.

 

Pictures

LEFT: the day I brought it home! Now, let's get it fixed up...

LEFT: bike all apart for suspension replacement. MIDDLE/RIGHT: Traxxion versus stock

LEFT/MIDDLE: Traxxion versus stock. RIGHT: apart for triple clamp installation

 

LEFT/MIDDLE/RIGHT: shots taken February 2013

 

LEFT/MIDDLE/RIGHT:

 

LEFT/MIDDLE/RIGHT:

 


 

 

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