Honda GL1000 Coil and Spark Plug Cap Testing + Replacement Options

Coils are fabulously simple devices that work reliably and can last for decades with virtually no maintenance. I like to think of them as electricity “amplifiers.” When the breaker points open, the magnetic field produced by the primary windings collapses. Through the magic of induction, this collapse creates an energy force within the secondary windings of the coil. Since the number of windings is much greater on the secondary side, nominal battery voltage (roughly 12V) is multiplied to an incredible 8,000+ volts! This energy immediately finds a path to ground via the spark plugs…arcing helpfully in the process. Voila – we have ignition!

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Shade Tree Diagnostic Tests!

I was very fortunate to grow up in a neighborhood and farm family full of excellent shade-tree mechanics. Mostly they were short on cash and long on resourcefulness.

I learned quite a lot by pestering these very talented home-gown mechanics. 

Shade Tree Mechanics

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Ignition Quirks…”Split-Timing” Technique

For the static timing light needed for this procedure Click here

Robert Overby wrote a very interesting article titled “Improving Your GL1000’s Performance” which appeared in Wing World in the June, 1995 issue. You can find this article by searching the GWRRA Message Board Archives (see my links page). This is a GREAT article that explains some weird design problems unique to the GL1000 ignition system as well as methods to resolve them. I guess I’m a bit of a contrarian, but I like breaker point ignition systems. In my opinion, no one needs to resort to an electronic ignition system to have a decently tuned GL1000.

GL1000 Points

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Secret Honda GL1000 Ignition Tuning Tip Revealed

If you’ve read deep into this web site, you know by now that I’m “old school” on the subject of GL1000 ignitions. I happen to like old-fashioned breaker points. There are real performance advantages with electronic ignition conversions (like Dyna/S). I’ve run them on several GL1000s without complaint. But, I do field lots of questions from individuals attempting to solve various problems with aftermarket electronic ignitions systems on GL1000s. Often the problem is shoddy wiring of the switched 12V feed which powers these units. Fuses (when used!) sometimes blow without explanation. Sometimes, the “black box” circuitry inside these marvelous devices simply goes “poof.” Electronic ignitions never fail on your driveway. You’re usually at least 50 miles from home and the nearest motel!

Ignition Tuning

OEM GL1000 point assembly (left) and CB450 “Black Bomber” points (right)

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Jump Starting a Vintage Motorcycle?

Warning from Randakk: Controversial Material! 

I am not a big fan of “jump starting” a motorcycle. In my view, this procedure should generally be avoided. I believe it’s better to anticipate, prevent, diagnose and fix problems before they degenerate into roadside “no starts.” But – sometimes bad things happen no matter how well prepared you are. Jump starting can be done in an emergency situation with relative safety if you follow these tips by Howard Halasz. I truly hope you will never need this information!

Battery Jumpstarting
“Dead” Battery on Left.     “Donor” Battery on Right.

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GL1000 Condenser Ground Upgrade

If you own a Honda GL1000 – congratulations! You own one of the best motorcycle designs ever. I’m biased of course, but the well-regarded folks at the Guggenheim Museum selected the original Honda GL1000 as one of the featured machines in the wildly popular Art of the Motorcycle exhibition series.

Condenser Ground Update

Honda GL1000 tuning is considered a “black art” by some, but like any other engine tuning challenge, it’s really just a matter of attention to detail.

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“Performance” Ignition / Carb Combination for ’78-’79 Honda GL1000 engines

I get lots of questions on this topic….

Honda GL1000 Ignition Advancer

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Honda GL1000 / GL1100 / GL1200 / CBX / DOHC-4 / CX500 & Variant Performance Parts

Build Sheet Details for Randakk’s Supercharged GL1000. Vintage Honda Performance!

This bike is now owned by a collector in Germany.

Portrait 3

Randakk’s RC-003 Supercharged GL1000 …Current Incarnation

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7 Volt Regulator Problems

A “step-down” auxiliary voltage regulator drives the fuel and temperature gauges on GL1000s. This clever device provides a constant 7V input voltage to power these gauges. This effectively buffers the wide normal fluctuations in battery voltage. Without the step-down regulator, your gauge readings would be very unreliable because main battery voltage varies with rpm, load, stator output and accuracy of the voltage regulator. Many older cars use this same technology for the dashboard.

7 Volt Regulator

7 Volt Auxiliary Regulator 

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Dyna/S Installation / Troubleshooting on the Honda GL1000

Setting up a Dyna/S ignition on a GL1000 can be a vexing proposition.  The good news is that done properly – it’s a “once and done” proposition!