The following is a summary of significant models in the history of the Honda Gold Wing during its first 40 years, from 1975-2015, spanning five model generations.
1975 Honda Gold Wing GL1000
Designed with the simple but audacious objective to be the best motorcycle ever built, the original Gold Wing wasn’t intended specifically as a touring model, although customers regularly embraced it for that purpose, outfitting their GLs with aftermarket luggage and front fairings. This, in turn, inspired the Gold Wing’s future direction: long-distance touring.
- 999cc liquid-cooled, horizontally opposed four-cylinder engine
- 647 lb. curb weight
- Electric / kick start
- Dual rear shocks with adjustable preload and 3.4 inches of travel
- Tubular-steel full-cradle frame
- $2,899 MSRP
1980 Honda Gold Wing GL1100 Interstate
Honda’s all-new follow-up model established what would become a regular practice with milestone Gold Wings, growing the model significantly. In addition to its larger engine, the motorcycle had a longer wheelbase, more room for rider/passenger and increased fuel capacity (though it was actually lighter). Taking a lead from Honda customers, Honda also added a touring-specific Interstate version, though a naked version was still offered as well. The Interstate came factory-installed fairing and luggage and other touring-focused features.
- Larger 1,085cc liquid-cooled, horizontally opposed four-cylinder engine
- Electronic ignition
- Air-assisted suspension
- Audio system
1982 Honda Gold Wing GL1100 Aspencade
Capitalizing on the successful reception of the Gold Wing Interstate, Honda added an Aspencade version (named after the popular New Mexico motorcycle rally), which introduced the concept of luxury touring, with a larger seat, additional storage and a special paint scheme.
- LCD instrumentation
- Onboard air compressor
- Passenger backrest
- 702 lb. dry weight
- Optional CB radio
1984 Honda Gold Wing GL1200 Interstate
The 1984 Gold Wing was once again larger, its engine growing by 97cc and offering more power and torque. The swingarm and wheelbase were lengthened as well, and improved handling and comfort were made possible via a stiffer frame, repositioned engine and smaller wheels, along with a longer wheelbase and swingarm.
- Larger 1,182cc liquid-cooled, horizontally opposed four-cylinder engine
- Automotive-style instrument panel
1988 Honda Gold Wing GL1500
For 1988, as the Gold Wing underwent what at the time was the most comprehensive model development in Honda’s history, its new engine growing two cylinders and achieving power and smoothness for which it would become renowned. The chassis was new as well, redefining the limits for handling and comfort on a touring motorcycle. Also of note were the increased fuel capacity, improved brakes and seamless fairing. Bike were produced at Honda’s plant in Marysville, Ohio.
- Larger 1,520cc liquid-cooled, horizontally opposed six-cylinder engine
- New chassis and transmission
- Increased fuel capacity
2001 Honda Gold Wing GL1800
Developed under Masanori Aoki, the sensational GL1800 brought a larger engine, fuel injection, an aluminum twin-spar frame and optional ABS braking, and its 20 patents were a hint at the extensive technological innovations. This next-generation GL featured an engine that was 312cc larger than that of its predecessor as well as sporty acceleration and handling. In 2006, Honda introduced a Gold Wing model with navigation and the world’s first motorcycle airbag.
- Larger 1,832cc liquid-cooled, horizontally opposed six-cylinder engine
- Programmed fuel injection (PGM-FI)
- Extruded aluminum twin-spar frame
- 45mm telescopic cartridge fork with anti-dive system
- Pro Arm single-sided swingarm, Pro-Link shock with computer-controlled spring-preload adjustment
2015 Honda Gold Wing GL1800 40th Anniversary Model
Updates to the GL1800 since its 2001 introduction included new options such as in-dash navigation, heated grips and seat, an airbag and satellite radio. For 2012, the Gold Wing got a styling refresh, sharper handling and other upgrades. To mark the 40th anniversary of Honda’s flagship motorcycle, a commemorative edition was offered in 2015.