Reader Submissions: Honda Motorcycle Hooked Rider For Life

Honda Motorcycle Hooked Rider For Life

By Petrolicious Productions
August 20, 2014

Owner and photographer: Joe Eddy

Year, Make, and Model: 1977 Honda GL1000 “Goldwing” 

Location: Detroit, Michigan, USA

I probably owe a great deal of my passion to my father. We have built fast machines our entire lives. It started when I was seven or eight my two brothers and I started building and racing soapbox derby cars with my father. Due to my father’s expert craftsmanship we had the absolute best cars. After that we each built a muscle car with my father. The car I built was my first car, a 1975 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray. We bought the basket-case ‘Vette when I was fifteen. We completely stripped it and restored it from the frame up. I drove it all through high school. Writing this I realize just how incredibly lucky I am to have such a great father. Unfortunately, our family fell on hard times and I had to sell the Corvette. My brothers had to sell the cars they restored as well. Being poor didn’t stop me from continuing to build projects though.

When I was twenty-four I bought my first motorcycle: a 1972 Honda CB750. This bike did two things for me. It completely sold me on the quality and absolute value of a Honda motorcycle; they are absolutely bulletproof, beautiful, and reliable. Secondly, it hooked me on riding motorcycles for life. I rebuilt my CB750, rode it for a season, and then had to sell it as I had nowhere to store it through the Michigan winter. I was now hooked and needed another. It took a few years but then came this 1977 Honda GL1000 that I found on Craigslist. I bought it when I was twenty eight. It didn’t run and was ugly as hell. After putting a small amount of money into her and spending lots of time in my father’s garage she was back up and running again.

A college kid was selling it, trying to raise money for the upcoming semester. The bike didn’t run, but turned over manually. That was good enough for me as I knew I could get it running. And it’s a true survivor. It has very low miles, under 26,000 in fact. However it certainly will continue to go up as I ride it EVERYWHERE! I was looking for a Goldwing because they’re unbelievably reliable. Also, I believe I’m the second official owner. The college kid I bought it from never registered it. The original owner, his old neighbor, just gave it to him. I’ve tried to contact the original owner but haven’t had any luck. But there were a few other reasons I bought it.

The GL1000 engine has been known to have no problem logging well over 300,000 miles. Amusingly, I get asked all the time what kind of engine it is because it’s so unique and no one seems to know what a Goldwing engine looks like under all that plastic. It was also cheap! I had an AWESOME project bike for five-hundred bucks. It didn’t cost a ton more to make it into what I wanted. Finally, the motorcycle is simply cool looking!

I have made some minor modifications to make it truly my own. It has a 1997 Honda Valkyrie seat that I custom fitted. A pre-war Harley taillight to help clean up the rear fender, vintage military-style leather saddle bags mounted with custom brackets, low-profile Euro bars with true gran turismo grips, and heat wrapped turndown Jardine pipes.

Riding in northern Michigan is my favorite, it’s beautiful countryside to tour. There are also long straightaways where you can really open her up! It’s under estimated everywhere but runs a quarter mile in about twelve or thirteen seconds. And the best part is that no one else has one quite like it. My refurbished, nearly forty-year-old Japanese bike turns more heads than a brand new Harley. And it gives me an excuse to visit my dad and spend time wrenching in the garage.

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Stephen McGloughlin
Stephen McGloughlin
7 years ago

Thank you Joe, great narrative and pics. Inspiring for me as I work on my ’78 GL1000. I’ve had many bikes over the years and several old Hondas, and loved them all, especially my ’82 CB900F I restored from a basket case that I sold on eBay to a collector in Japan. I just got a Valkyrie seat for my Wing, which led me to find your post as I googled seat mount ideas.

I have a set of flat bars for mine, but wanted to know did you have to shorten the cables or brake line? I’ve stripped the Vetter bulkage off my bike and am left with high stock bars. Before I install my new flat set, will I have to buy new control lines?

Placerville, CA

6 years ago

Hi Stephen, sorry it took me seven months to respond I’m sure your bike already has the new bars installed and you can see that your standard cables will fit just fine, happy riding!

8 years ago

Well, I have to admit, this bike looks like a real legend. But I would like to make this bike to a [url=””]honda cafe racer[/url]. 🙂 I think it would look like even better, don’t you think so? 🙂

John W
John W
9 years ago

I had a 1977 Wing. Black. I found it languishing in a small city south of San Francisco. Got it for $900 and it had less than 8000 miles on it. Because of the mild weather and that had always been garaged, it was in remarkable condition.

It had no plastics either, just the way the way the Universe intended. When introduced in 1975, it was considered a modern superbike. It was not just a cruiser, but a very capable GT. Though it couldn’t compete with the Kawasaki Z1 in pure performance, it could cruise all day at over 100mph, and did it with a sophistication that hadn’t existed in bikes until then. And, it could do it for far more miles than most owners would ever experience.

It was one of the most planted-looking, purposeful bikes I had ever seen. And the details were awe inspiring. I replaced the original slight pull-back bars with a completely flat bar and low-profile mirrors. I put on slightly larger tires and repainted the exhaust to a deep black again. The only drivetrain mod was an electronic ignition – which was transformative. It looked incredible, had strong, accessible power everywhere and it had an addictive high-rpm silky wail that was very difficult to not dip into every chance I got.

This first version of the Wing had serious personality. It has some quirks – like a minor rocking motion when accelerating from low engine speeds – but this big, heavy and stable bike was a joy to pilot through the undulating, snaking roads that are the hallmark of Northern California’s west coast. It only felt like it was more than 600 pounds when moving around in the garage. The moment it started to move, it got smaller. Very manageable.

I just started to think about finding another and my son called me to tell me about this article. It’s a hard thing to forget. Growing up, he got more than a few rides on the back of our ’77. He’s talking about trying to find two.

Thanks for this, Joe. Great rig.

Jeff Lannigan
Jeff Lannigan
9 years ago

I always liked these unfaired ‘Wings.

9 years ago

Naked Goldwings are awesome! I didn’t know you guys were taking bikes!

9 years ago

Whenever I see one of these beauties, I think of the guy who, back in the 70’s, took one up to Alaska in the winter. It had studded tires, but each morning, he had to light a small fire under each bank of cylinders to get them warmed up enough that the bike would start. It must’ve been tough on the battery, too.