What I’ve Learned from AHRMA Vintage Roadracing

By: Randall Washington (aka Randakk)

Vintage motorcycles can change your life. I mean that quite literally. Building a business immersed in such fabulous machinery has been quite a ride.  One of the best aspects? Working with the American Historic Racing Motorcycle Association, AHRMA.

Steve Sharp Aboard Fierce Honda CB175

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Not so “Green,” No-Drop Idle Mixture Adjustment Method

I find the factory recommended idle mixture screw setting specs to be very close to ideal. They are listed here for the Honda GL1000.

Idle FUEL Mixture Screw on Honda GL1000

I do usually richen them up an extra 1/8 to 1/4 turn (out) to compensate for the leaner modern “gasoline” which is diluted with ethanol in most US markets.

But sometimes, you just need an excuse to do some high performance tuning on your bike! 🙂 

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Flooding Issues on Vintage Hondas

Flooding is a common problem in vintage Hondas – especially on bikes that don’t get run much.  Flooding can be just a minor aggravation …like hard starting or poor fuel mileage. But, it can also lead to catastrophic problems such as severe engine damage or even a fire!  Flooding issues should not be ignored!

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Honda GL1000 Smokes on Initial Startup?

Catastrophe or Nuisance?

Smoke on initial Startup 1

Greg Jones (left) and Al Wransky (right). Photo by Scott Larson
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One in a Million! Allan Zahrt’s Million Mile GL1000

How many million mile motorcycles are there?  Answer below. Read on!

July 2017

Allan Zahrt with his Million Mile GL1000!

In the early seventies Honda launched without fanfare an ambitious project. Internally, Honda had a bold plan: to build the world’s best motorcycle. Not just the best Japanese motorcycle  – the best motorcycle available anywhere in the world. Period! The eventual result of this project was revealed to the world at the Cologne, Germany International Motorcycle Show (INTERMOT) in October, 1974 as the GL1000.

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Reasonable Part Substitutions for Honda GL1000s

You can never go wrong with OEM Honda parts. Fit, function, and reliability are never an issue. If you have a show bike, authenticity requirements dictate that you stick with Honda parts wherever possible. Of course, if show judges are looking at things like your timing belts, then you have bigger problems!

The following chart lists reasonable substitutes that have performed well for me and many others. This information is available elsewhere, but I decided to post it here for convenience since I’m often asked. Prices are considerably less than the equivalent Honda parts.

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Tips on Buying a Used Honda GL1000

Introduced in 1975, the Honda GL1000 was a stunning technical achievement. The original, unfaired GoldWing was the world’s biggest, heaviest and second fastest bike available at the time (only the mighty Kawasaki Z1 was swifter). Novel features included a liquid-cooled flat four engine, belt-driven overhead cams, shaft drive, triple disk brakes, under-seat fuel tank, counter-rotating alternator, two oil pumps, “floating” piston pins, faux top shelter “tank” and detachable back-up kick-start arm to mention a few. Honda used the GL1000 to showcase its considerable engineering prowess and put other motorcycle marques on notice that it was a force to be reckoned with. For the first time ever, there was heavy collaboration between Honda’s motorcycle and automotive engineering teams on the ’75 Wing.

Kickstarting a ’75-’77 Honda GL1000

Starters are very reliable on GL1000s, but it’s nice to have a back-up. The back-up kick start lever is found only on ’75-’77 models. Honda deemed this extravagant redundancy was unnecessary and dropped the feature on later models.  I’ve actually needed the kickstarter on several occasions to make it home when some aspect of the very reliable electric starting system failed. I also use my kick starter for another reason: it’s a good test of your bike’s overall state of tune. If it will start with the kick start lever, then you have a well tuned bike! There are many maintenance operations (like setting timing) where the kick starter provides some nice convenience.

hondagoldwing-1976-8-1024x682

Kick Start Lever Storage Location [Read more…]

Starting a Honda GL1000 after a Long Lay-up

I’m often asked how to go about the process of returning an engine to service after a long lay-up. The starting point would be an engine which hasn’t been started in several years. Hopefully, the crankshaft will turn freely without heroic measures. You should always check this before buying an old bike that’s been sitting. I “pass” on most opportunities to buy bikes with frozen engines. Bikes with frozen engines usually have a myriad of other problems that make them poor candidates for serious restoration efforts.

Barn Fresh GL1000

Here’s the method I use to resurrect GL1000 engines safely. This procedure is very effective in safely cleaning engine internals and removing varnish from the starter clutch rollers.

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Recommendations for New Owners of a Honda GL1000

Here’s a list of specific recommendations I’d like to share with any new owner of an early Honda GL1000 (1975-1977). These are based on my many years of experience owning, riding, restoring and servicing these bikes. These address frequent questions I get and incorporate preventions for most of the common problems I’ve seen over the years.

Spring Fling - Elsie

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