Honda Gold Wing has many versions of what people think of it. For some, it is the gentleman's ride and to some, it is for the aged. But the Gold Wing really has come a long way with a considerable change to its personality. Today, it is the motorcycle which affirms that you can travel with considerable luggage, listen to your favourite music while on the go, be so comfortable, have a pillion who'll be so comfortable as well, combined with the huge dash with the many buttons in front of the rider. But the Gold Wing didn't come as kitted as it is today.
The very first Honda Gold Wing, the 1975 GL1000, wasn't thought of as being capable of revolutionising the world of motorcycling touring. It was built from the ground up and was powered by a 999cc flat-four engine. Honda perhaps did expect the GL series to create a niche in the market, but it didn't just do that, it went ahead to change the outlook people had about touring on a motorcycle.
But the very first GL didn't have anything as revolutionary in terms of tech gadgets or suspension and performance from the bike that weighed over 272 kg wasn't exactly nailbiting. But there was the torquey, silky-smooth SOHC engine, which was the first liquid-cooled four-stroke from Japan.
Initially, Honda GL motorcycle didn't come with optional saddlebags, fairing or a windshield. Honda didn't press on its touring capabilities very much in the marketing either. This gave way for aftermarket touring accessories, which allowed many to experience the Gold Wing's true potential for long-distance riding.
Honda GL1000 remained largely the same from 1975 to 1979, with some performance and cosmetic improvements. It was in 1980, the Gold Wing changed drastically. It came with a bigger 1080cc engine and so was called GL1100, along with which there was the touring equipment fairing, saddlebags, top trunk, and an optional sound system.
Featured here is a 1979 Honda GL1100, recreated by Craig Rodsmith into a stunning hand-built and minimalistic roadsters. Rodsmith purchased the motorcycle from a friend who customised it mildly and then lost interest.
“I'd owned one many years ago in Australia,” Rodsmith told Motorcyclistonline, “and always thought they were a little underrated. They're reliable, inexpensive, parts are readily available, and they have quite respectable power…and gobs of torque."
“Originally I just intended to make a new ‘tank’ cover and maybe a seat, but as I often do, I got a little carried away.”
And when he says he got carried away, he stripped away everything, eventually helping the GL1100 lose 113 to 136 kg of weight. Rodsmith built an under-seat fuel tank, all-new bodywork, drilled the brake rotors, made covers to hide the original Comstar wheels, and topped it off with his own bespoke headlight.
The Honda Goldwing isn't exactly the preferred choice for custom builds, but Rodsmith's talent makes it so very natural and according to him, the 'X-Wing' now has nimble handling - "almost like riding a small locomotive.”