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)

Here’s my consistent advice on this subject: Breaker points ignitions are stone simple, ultra reliable and easy to troubleshoot and fix when traveling. Use elctronic ignitions with the understanding that they may strand you if all of the magic smoke escapes!

Properly adjusted new points will need a slight “touch-up” adjustment of the gaps once the rubbing blocks are bedded in…after about 500 miles or so. Thereafter, they are good for 3000 miles between cleaning and adjusting. The need for the initial touchup adjustment makes some people erroneously think that the points setup needs constant fiddling. This is simply not true in my experience.

Also, be sure you use ONLY OEM Points. Aftermarket points are highly variable in the quality of materials used. The material used for the contact points themselves is very critical. OEM points use superior material for the contact points. Some aftermarket points are highly susceptible to arcing and metal transfer which quickly ruins their efficiency. The rubbing blocks on aftermarket points also seem to wear faster than OEM which means they fall out of adjustment much faster.

I’m now going to reveal the fourth best performance tip I know of for a GL1000 (best tip #1 is the “off-idle fix.” The 2nd and 3rd best tips are proprietary.)

It’s actually a very simple idea long known by experienced Honda wrenches. To improve performance over the stock points setup, use the Honda OEM points made for the CB450 (Black Bomber) model. These points have an extra ground strap which is a definite improvement. Per Mike Nixon:

“On GL1000s I used CB450 points, a trick I later (when working for American Honda during the 80s) found out was a factory-recommended item as well. Unlike the GL points, the 450 points have a separate copper conducting strap. The result is that the condensers can do their job better of damping stray arcs.” Mike Nixon

Not only does the extra ground strap provide a more reliable path to ground, it’s oriented in a “siamesed” fashion with the points spring thereby increasing the effective spring rate. This is very much like the old hot rodder’s trick of “double springing” the points. This gives added insurance against “points bounce” which can cause a miss at high rpms.

This is especially important when you consider that the GL1000 condenser assembly is located up by the battery box…quite a great distance from the points. A perfect path to ground is essential for the GL1000 condensers to do their job from such a remote location.

Ignition Tuning

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

I now use these Black Bomber points on all machines that pass through my shop.

Part numbers for Honda CB450 “Black Bomber” points:

  • Left – #30204-292-003
  • Right – #30203-292-003

Interestingly, aftermarket points for the CB450 don’t always have the extra ground strap. So, to summarize my advice on points – use OEM Honda points only …not aftermarket. For best results and a performance upgrade, use Honda OEM points for the Honda CB450.

Adjusting your points correctly also requires re-setting the ignition timing. Whenever you change the point gap settings for any reason, the ignition timing is necessarily altered as well. More points gap advances the timing while less points gap retards the timing. Over time, even properly adjusted points will eventually close up through wear of the rubbing blocks. This is one of the reasons why a proper tuneup will restore the “pep” lost when ignition components need attention.

Be sure to see the Tech Tip on the “Split Timing” technique.

Comments

  1. Rob Wiest says:

    Hello Randall,
    Your tech blog has been a real help with my GL1000. Just an off the wall question, what do you use for lubricating the points cam felt? Thanks- Rob

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