Have you checked Craigslist/Gumtree/Kijiji/Facebook Marketplace lately? Used bike prices have gone crazy. Completely crazy. I see people selling used bikes way above the MSRP of a new bike, and I see the ads disappear, so I presume they get their asking price.
Maybe they are not. But even if these money-crazed lunatics reduce their bike prices to slightly more reasonable figures before selling, anyone shopping in the used bike market knows that it’s nigh on impossible to find a bargain from our days. With dealer inventory low over the past two years, the supply/demand curve has driven up the price of used machines, and dealers themselves are contributing to the problem. I know of at least two local dealers who have their own salespeople who scour used listings, buy bikes to resell in their stores with inflated price tags. The days of finding a properly functioning machine for $1,000 to $1,500 seem long gone.
However, if you are willing to spend a little more than that, you can find yourself one of the best deals on the used market today: a vintage Honda Gold Wing. While these machines were at the top of the price list in their day, their price has come down significantly in recent years, and a bike like the 1983 GL1100 seen here is now one of the most affordable machines available, practically speaking. They’ve done a complete flip-flop on price, and if you’re looking for a good used bike, you could do a lot worse, because it’s still a machine with a lot of history, and still reliable if properly maintained. .
A tough start
Nowadays, people think of Gold Wings as a bike for long miles or a bike for carrying a passenger (especially if you want to carry a passenger and long miles). This was not always the case. When the original Honda GL1000 debuted in 1975, the flat-four looked like it came from some weird muscle bike. It was a radical departure from the standard Japanese format of parallel-twin or inline-four engines, like something you’d see on a solid European-built tourer, but with extra cylinders grafted in. It was a massive engine for that era, but it wasn’t designed for drag strips like the Z1 900.
Although it looked like a bike brute, this motor was built for serious work, not thrills, and the styling backed it up. The original GL1000 seemed to continue the lines of great British luxury motorcycles like the best from Brough Superior or Vincent. It wasn’t boring, but it wasn’t a bold design either. It felt like a bike you would have raced hard all day, in comfort, and it did.
When buyers discovered what a reliable tourer the original Gold Wing was, they started adding windshields and bags, through the aftermarket at first (Vetter made a lot of money here, but also other companies).
Dressed for success
Honda saw how popular aftermarket fairings and luggage were and began selling its own dressed up version of the Gold Wing when it upgraded to the GL1100 model in 1980. First there was the Interstate tourer , and Honda soon added the Aspencade. These bikes rolled out of the factory with options that would have seemed like science fiction a few years earlier. Pneumatic suspension! Factory stereo! A CB radio, even, to help you dodge the county cops!
As the engine grew, so did the rest of the bike. Honda has always sold a stripped naked version, but the GL1100 never had the same look or muscle bike reputation as the GL1000. The Interstate weighed about 680 pounds dry, depending on the production year you purchased. The Aspencade exceeded 700 pounds. Even the unfaired Standard model weighed nearly 600 pounds before adding fuel.
However, at this point, riders were buying the Gold Wing because it represented the pinnacle of motorcycle touring, and the added weight (and expense) of all the accessories was just the price to pay. The GL1100 was the model that propelled the Gold Wing series into the market position it still holds today, more than 40 years after its introduction, and second-hand prices have remained high for many, many years in because of the reputation of the motorcycle, but also because of its mechanics. reliability. Now those prices have changed.
Break the miles
When the original Gold Wing made its debut in the mid-1970s, Japanese motorcycles were still building their reputation for reliability. Some of those old classics – the GS-series, the XS-series, the CB-series – all developed their own sequels based on their heavy-duty engines, but the Gold Wing was on top of them all. These days, it’s nothing to see one for sale with 100,000 miles on the clock, or maybe more, and still running.
However, while the motors and other hard parts are very sturdy, these bikes do age, which means the bodywork may be a bit damaged on a used example. Worse still, important electromechanical components may require you to remove that bodywork and even the engine for servicing. Basic work on anything in the heads isn’t bad as they drag in the breeze, but woe betide you if you have to access the charging system on the back. Like many other machines from the 80s, these get more and more suspect over time, and no mechanic will want to deal with them without charging you big bucks (at least you have guys like Steve Saunders to help you through this, with great Gold Wing resources available online).
This is partly why you see so many of these bikes being sold on the used market at low prices now, as opposed to the higher prices of yesteryear. The amount of extra labor costs to maintain these bikes, compared to simpler bikes of the same vintage, makes them less attractive to many buyers. Add in the “fatherly” styling of ’80s GLs, and you’ve got a supply/demand curve that’s the inverse of the rest of the used bike scene right now. The supply of these reliable machines is high, as many have been made and are still working. Demand is low because they are complicated to maintain, their once pleasing aesthetics have fallen out of favor, and they are a bit big and heavy.
That means you can always find one in the $2,500 range or even lower if you’re willing to put in some effort. And when you find one, you can do wonderful things with it, as seen below…
A low mileage find
After telling you about all those cheap, high-mileage Wings on the market, here’s something else – a not-so-cheap, low-mileage example.
The motorcycle in these photos is a 1983 Honda GL1100 Interstate, for sale in Florida with only 10,948 miles on the odometer. This is a one-owner, unrestored bike. Alas, the asking price is $7,900, so it’s not for your average cheap bike shopper…but at least if you’ve bought yourself a mangled GL from the 80s, you can get a good idea of what it is at. what he looked like originally, in these photos! And if you really want to make an offer on this machine, contact the owner at the ad here.
However, if you’re not looking to spend $8,000 on an old ‘Wing? Check this link here, or apply search parameters similar to Craigslist or otherwise: look for a Gold Wing between $500 and $2,500. It’s amazing what is available in this price range, as this model 82 with a sleek look at a Wisconsin dealership for $1,995. It might take a few tweaks, but it should get you back and forth across the country as long as you make sure the mechanical systems are in good shape beforehand. Not bad, for a few thousand!