1986 Honda Goldwing Interstate GL1200 I “Blackbird”

As it began...

a trusty 1986 Honda Goldwing Interstate in classic black

A vintage touring motorcycle was my 50th birthday gift to myself – and a one way ticket to Atlanta GA to pick it up sight unseen. The idea was to do something memorable for my 50th and it turned out to be unforgettable. 1400 miles in two days without a hitch (well almost). Solid weather until Kansas and even a sunset to ride into on the first day in. 

This bike has a couple of names: It started with “Dark Horse” but now that all the add on running gear and chrome rails and such are gone it has become much more manageable and it is now dubbed “Blackbird”.


Here you see the beginnings of the dreaded main relay meltdown so common to GL1200s.  My first visit to look at the bike revealed this issue and it actually would not start.  The problem was in it’s beginnings and the loose connections at the main relay added resistance and heated up enough to melt the wiring harness sockets.  My road fix was some coat hanger wire bent into a tension clamp to hold the connections together securely. This fix worked perfectly for the entire trip and constant inspection revealed that the wires remained cool despite constant operation for two solid days.

This connection was later replaced with a Honda factory wiring harness upgrade. It goes without saying that every GL1200  still on the road should have this done ASAP.  There is speculation that the stator issues so common with the Goldwings may be related to this failure.


(It's all about the bags)

My love of motorcycles is only trumped by my fascination with motorcycle luggage and this one has it.  It is a storage masterpiece.  There is a compartment anywhere and everywhere and even what appears to be the gas tank is actually lockable storage. It turns out these and earlier Goldwings have  a “false tank” which is just a shroud. The actual fuel storage tank is lower and shoehorned into the frame of the bike. You actually kind of sit on the gas tank. I am sure this and the weight of the boxer engine keeps the center of gravity very low which makes this very heavy (850 pounds) touring bike very manageable on the road.


"Like a kitten"

So that funky transverse engine is sticking out of each side of the bike like two big humps but I have to tell you that no other bike I have ridden is as smooth and steady as this setup. My neighbor with a Harley says “That thing is too quiet to be a motorcycle” and I get his point. it does not roar or rumble like a V twin – it literally purrs. I feel this translates to an easy time for the rider on the road humming along at 80 mph for as long as you want.


Speaking of purring, whats up with a radio on a motorcycle?  Each to their own, but personally I like to listen to the bike. I removed the radio first thing and blanked off the opening with some corrugated plastic stuff from work for that “80’s” vibe.