Effect of Excessive Electrical Loads on Ignition Performance

The electrical/charging system on a GL1000 is well-designed and fairly reliable compared to its contemporaries. In fact, stator problems are quite rare compared to later four cylinder GoldWings. Most charging problems on GL1000s are fairly easy to diagnose and remedy. The usual culprits are poor battery cable/starter relay connections, bad 30 amp master fuse and weak batteries. Occasionally, a voltage regulator will fail. Even more rare is rectifier failure. Stator reliability is a good thing, since replacement requires engine removal…a rather laborious task.

Even though the hardware Honda specified is bulletproof, there is a significant issue of stator output. It’s fine for the normal use Honda anticipated, but there is virtually NO surplus charging capacity to handle heavy accessory electrical loads. The stator is rated at only 20 amps, so there’s very little reserve once the OEM headlight, taillight, running lights, turn signals, brake light, cooling fan and ignition is supported.

Remember, the GL1000 was engineered before Honda realized what a vast market there would be for the heavily laden GoldWings that followed. My advice is this: if you want a super comfortable GoldWing and want to add lots of electrical accessories, do yourself a huge favor and get a later model GoldWing!

On my own bikes I use an electric vest in winter and that’s about it. There’s just not enough charging capacity to support much else. My electric fuel pumps have minimal electrical draw so they are fine as well.

Less well understood is the effect of excessive accessory loads on GL1000 performance…especially if you still have the OEM breaker points setup Consider this report from one of my customers:

“Randall, I learned something the hard way I thought I would tell you about. Maybe no one else would get into a bind like this, but here goes. My 1976 GL1000 has had a cylinder miss maybe 3 times during every acceleration. To make a long story short, I had put a more powerful headlight in. Running around town, the system voltage dropped. The light burnt out, and I put the old one back in.

The bike sprang to life. No misses and more acceleration than ever. Of course, I had rebuilt the carbs, new points (with the brass strap), and new condenser. What was very disturbing about this episode was the fact that after I had run out in the country awhile, it seemed OK, because the battery was full up then. After a quick stop and then go right away, it ran OK.

I also noticed that the voltmeter now shows over 14 volts. With the big bulb, it was maybe 13.5 at the most. I thought that was OK. It was not OK!!!

James T. VanDervort – New Vienna, OH

Like most battery/coil setups of this vintage, early GoldWings feature a “wasted spark” ignition design. This clever design was chosen by the engineers to save weight and space (see the tech tip below for more details on coils and the ballast resistor). Jim’s bike has the OEM points and stock coils. Stator output varies with engine speed. Battery voltage is regulated (by the voltage regulator) to a max. value of 14.5 volts at cruise rpm. At idle, much less voltage is available. Honda engineered just enough charging capacity to operate the battery/coil/breaker points setup at idle. The coils were considered high performance items at the time, but today they are rather anemic.

Long story short, if you add extra electrical load beyond what Honda anticipated you will probably overwhelm the stator’s output at idle. A strong battery can absorb this mild abuse for short stints of idling, but the reduced voltage won’t allow adequate coil saturation and the resulting sparks at the plugs will be weak. Misfire is the typical result.

Moral: Don’t add excessive electrical load on a GL1000!


  1. Aldon Stever says:

    My 76 gl 1000 doesn’t have a volt meter and and is it possible it install one? and what wires would i use to power it thanks

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