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.

The project marked the first collaboration between the established motorcycle engineering group and engineers from the ascendant automobile division. The internal rivalries were real, fierce and drove considerable human energy into an already urgent project.  The auto engineers were given the principal task of masterminding engine development while the “bike” team handled everything else. 

In a crucial stroke of organizational genius – the “auto” team was given essentially free reign to design the new engine without interference. They responded to the challenge with a stunningly bold solution. The “clean sheet” engine design was clearly automotive in character and robustness, yet had innovative packaging to support serious sporting flair for motorcycle duty. Time and market success proved that the GL1000 was well-suited to the task of capturing the attention of the crucial North American market.

Artistically, the GL1000 was eventually recognized by the highly regarded Guggenheim Museum Exhibit (“Art of the Motorcycle”) as one of the top designs ever.  History has also proved that the GL1000 is one of the best engineered motorcycles ever. Every aspect was well-designed for it’s day, but the engine is clearly the most successful part of an overall superior package. To this day, modern current GoldWings continue to share extensive DNA with the original GL1000 engine design.

How good is the GL1000?  Judge for yourself, but here’s some evidence to consider. 

Allan Zahrt of Wassau, Wisconsin purchased his 1975 GL1000 brand new as a “left-over” model in 1976. On July 29th, 2017 Allan’s odometer rolled over to ONE Million miles! You read that right: ONE Million miles!  Allan’s accomplishment is quite amazing. He holds the record for the most mileage accumulated on a GL1000.

Actually, there is only one other rider who has accumulated a documented one million miles on a single motorcycle: State Senator Dave Zien (also from Wisconsin) achieved this milestone on his 1991 Harley-Davidson Sport Glide in 2009. That bike is now in the Motorcycle Hall of Fame in Sturgis, South Dakota. The Harley-Davidson Motor Company honored him by presenting him with a brand-new 2009 Road Glide.  


Dave Zien Dropped by to Congratulate Allan Zahrt

new gl1000 1975

Allan Zahrt’s GL1000 when Brand New

1 million mile key

Allan’s Million Mile Key!

Some comments from Allan:

“I have put together numbers taken from my personal maintenance log (excerpts below) and I will briefly cover some of the questions. I am on my 4th motor. The original motor went to 382,000 miles. I did overhaul it once (main bearings, rod bearings and rings pistons were stock). It is easier now to purchase a motorcycle for parts and donor motor. Once the motors accumulate high miles (300,000 plus), they become quite loud. Not a knocking or ticking noises, just loud. I were ear plugs when they are at that point.

The last motor I put in (which is now at 300,000 plus miles) ran poorly. It ended up being a bent connecting rod on number 4 cylinder. Valves are the weak link at high miles. Tattle tale signs of valves issues are reduced fuel economy, hard starting and power loss. I change my oil every 2500 to 3000 miles. I use standard motorcycle oil. For most of its life, I have used Spectro brand oils. I use regular gas. The gas we use today is not the same as gas not that many years ago. I adjust for the ever changing fuel we use. Ethanol fuel hasn’t been a problem for me. My motorcycle is used on a daily basis.

I have only had to walk away from the Goldwing twice. A flat tire I couldn’t repair and a stripped drive shaft-to-final drive spline coupling. The rest of time it always got me home from every outing. When you are on the road I alway carry 4 things: duct tape, electrical tape, zip ties, coat hanger and some basic hand tools: visegrips, cresent wrench, hammer, etc.

Crashes: only two thankfully. (a crash in Al’s book is determined by both hand coming off the handle bars) I was able to drive home from both of them.

As you can see by the pictures some parts of my bike are taken from other model year Goldwings. The original spoke wheels are fine, but require more maintenance – so I have installed newer Comstar solid spoke wheels. The original style exhaust system tends to rust out much more frequently than the later model ones that I am using now. The Vetter accessories have been on the bike for most of its life. They have been replaced as the plastic has cracked and the mounts wear out. You can only patch them with hotcha cement for so long. The frame, handle bars, gauges (I have rebuild the gauges with donor parts from other bikes, mostly the little plastic gears wear out, but the face plates are stock) gas tank all stock. Fork tubes eventually the chrome wears off and have to be replaced. I still use the key (there are no tumblers in the switch anymore). I consider it good luck!

I started working at the local Honda dealer in 1975. I purchased my bike new as a left over non-current in 1976. 41 years on the road. I left the local honda shop in 1990 and started my own motorcycle parts, accessories and service in Wausau, Wisconsin with a business partner. See: 

When will I trade up to a newer bike? I always said as long as it is dependable (I’m talking cross country dependable), I will continue to ride it. Now at 1 million miles? I haven’t made that decision yet.”

Photos from Celebration on July 29, 2017:


Odometer BEFORE

1/10 of a Mile Short of One Million! – 7/29/2017 (Photo by Fred Ellenberger)


One Million Miles! – 7/29/2017 (Photo by Fred Ellenberger)

Allan with Patch

Allan Zahrt with Commemorative Patch – 7/29/2017 (Photo by Fred Ellenberger)

Celebration Day Photo

One Million Mile GoldWing! – 7/29/2017 (Photo by Fred Ellenberger)

Celbration Day Plaque

One Million Mile GoldWing! – 7/29/2017 (Photo by Fred Ellenberger)


Honda of America – what are you going to do to honor Allan Zahrt’s accomplishment on his Honda GL1000?

Photo Album of Allan’s GL1000 over the years:

Maintenance Log Items

mileage dates

Allan’s Mileage Log

motor exchange date miles

Motor Swaps Log

oil changes

Allan’s Maintenance Summary

2017 Maintenance Log

Allan’s 2017 Maintenance Entries

Few machines are engineered well enough to provide reliable service for one million miles. Congrats to Allan on this remarkable achievement!


5 thoughts on “One in a Million! Allan Zahrt’s Million Mile GL1000

Add yours

  1. Hello, I’m Ron from Holland. I did not that much kilometers in my new bought K3 from 1979. I did 350.000 kms without any overhaul. It had still the original exhaust and the bike was almost completely original (except an adding wind-screen). Nice story. Is sold my bike a few years ago because of electrical problems, that I could not solve (and nobody wanted to try to solve it).
    Greetings Ron Balkema from Appingedam Holland

  2. Allan “Hey Ralph you mind moving my Goldwing so the wife can get out? I’m still on theis call” Ralph “Sure dude toss me your keys” Allan “LOL shoot you dont need my keys ….use your keys or anything you can stick in the ignition …those tumblers have gone for 15 years”

  3. As the resale bottom dropped out of the used original generation goldwings (for a time anyway) it must have been tempting to simply purchase a used like new example rather than doing major repairs on this one? I mean one’s time is valuable and typically one might wish to get the most bang for the buck….mu suspeicion is this what has kept most goldwings from ever getting such ridiculously high mileage…for most people will tend to simply upgrade if not with new then with used in much better condition?

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