Should I replace the GL1800?

#21
Interesting, the only time I ever got the GL1800 above 'normal' was riding up one of the passes in CO. I got to the top and stopped to enjoy the view and noticed I could smell coolant. I realized I was in to high a gear coming up the hill. A lower gear (higher revs) would have kept the coolant circulating better. Same logic as big trucks that have a 'high idle' function.

Riding the bike the way it was intended (WFO) at all temps is not a problem. We have ridden for hours at a time in temps exceeding 109°F and the coolant temps were just fine. It is when you ride WFO for some time immediately followed by a situation where you are going real slow. If you keep the RPMs up above 1500 (like being in 2nd or 3rd gear below 30 mph) for the slow section, the engine is just creating way more heat than the radiator can dump with the amount of air the fan is pulling. It does not help that the fan is not triggered until the temp gauge is already at 70%. By then it is already getting pretty hot. To manage the heat, all one needs to do is keep the RPMs lower (less than 1500) during the time that there is little speed induced airflow through the radiator.

Not ideal, obviously, but certainly easily managed and not a deal-breaker by any means.
 

CB650F

Premier Member
#22
My current bike: 2006 GL1800. Highly reliable and highly ‘farkle-able’. Pretty well dialed in.

Replacement considerations:
Reliability
Weight
Rider wind protection
Long distance comfort
Farkle-ability
Cost

When considering stuff I tend to think of the IBR as a test lab.

Shaft vs chain? Chains have improved in recent years. Maybe they are no longer a giant liability in LD situations. Not sure about this but if a chain driven bike checks a bunch of other boxes, I’d consider it.
I don't have much experience with bikes that are typical long distance bikes, so I can't suggest a good replacement. However, I'd like to make a few suggestions regarding your considerations.

Reliability of modern bikes (meaning made within the last 10 years) is what you make it. Keep up on maintenance and darn near anything will last another decade of the gentle use associated with IBA rides and rallies. Yes, IBA type stuff is easy on your bike. It's hard on the rider, not the bike. Long days at steady 50 to 80 MPH on paved roads is freakishly easy for the machine. Yea, you'll get a rough road once in a while that gives your suspension a work out, but that's what makes riding fun, right?

Weight: WOW! You're at 1,000 pounds with no rider!? I'd hate to have to lug a 1,000 pound bike around. I can totally understand wanting to cut down on the weight. That 1,000 pounds must be an absolute bear around towns. That alone would be enough reason for me to get a lighter bike. My Striple is only 400 pounds wet and ready to ride. Heck, I don't even hit 700 pounds loaded up for a week long trip and my fat butt on the seat.

You can get big aftermarket windscreens for practically any bike. There are options that attach to the handlebars, so they are essentially universal. They aren't so pretty, but they get the job done and can be removed easily when you get home. That should open up your bike possibilities a bit. I'm kinda partial to naked bikes. So much better looking that the fully faired ones IMO.

Farkle-ability is one of those things I think is pretty universal also. Practically every bike has options for saddlebags and tail bags. For electronics, just set up a switched relay under the seat and you'll have plenty of switched power with or without CANBUS systems. Practically any bike that's 600cc's or more will have enough amperage available to charge all of your electronic components, and power heated gear for yourself and a pillion if you aren't excessive. (Gloves, jacket liner, pant liner, and heated insoles/socks for both of you might be a bit much. That's a lot of amperage.) Auxilary fuel tanks can also be added to almost anything. There are aftermarket seat options for just about every bike as well. Are there specific farkles you need, or are you like me and simply enjoy tinkering a with the bike a bit?

Shaft vs chain is an interesting conversation. There are people who will tell you that chains are just gruesome leg injuries waiting to happen. There are also people like me who will tell you that a good chain can be nearly as little maintenance as a shaft. I know this will be heresy to some, but those colored chains are actually less maintenance than the natural uncolored ones. (Go with an all black one, and you'll hardly know it's not stock) With a modern O-ring chain, you aren't actually lubricating much with chain lube. That's what the O-rings are for. They keep lubrication where it needs to be. You are really just preventing external rust and the damage that comes from it. The colored chains are coated, which prevents the external rust. They aren't exactly maintenance free, but don't require an hour of cleaning and lubricating every 300 miles or every even numbered day. Just spray some lubricant on them every 750 miles, or after you ride through the rain, and give them a good cleaning once in a while. Or get an automatic oiler and you can get away with even less than that. I run a ScottOiler on mine and the chain always looks good when I check it out on the weekends. It's never dry, and I don't get oil splattered all over my wheel like some people will complain about. You just have to get them set correctly. Not too much, and not too little. With a chain, you also have the option of changing your gearing via changing sprockets. Adding or dropping a tooth in the front can make a big difference in how the bike rides. With a shaft drive, you don't have that option. You can also get a replacement chain from any motorcycle shop anywhere in the world. Try getting shaft components that easily.

If your chain slack is good and there are no frozen links or other chain issues before the ride, it will make it through any IBA ride or rally. Chains don't just explode without warning. Take a good look at your sprockets and chain once a month and you'll see any problems coming. I bet you check your tire pressure more often than that. Take a quick look at the chain when you check tire pressure. Problem solved.
 
#23
I agree. People seem to like to be 'all or nothing' about stuff. But really, any bike can be farkled up. Some might be easier or cheaper but just about anything is possible these days. Same with chains. The bad old days are gone. As far as I can tell modern chains still require a bit more effort but you can find plenty of people getting 20k out of a chain. The ability to adjust the final drive ratio is actually a biggie. It opens the door to setting up a bike for big miles one day or canyon carving on another day. Manufacturers always make compromises while IBA folks tend to be out on the extreme end of the bell curve...
 

Stephen!

Fly Guy
Premier Member
IBA Member
#24
Interesting, the only time I ever got the GL1800 above 'normal' was riding up one of the passes in CO. I got to the top and stopped to enjoy the view and noticed I could smell coolant. I realized I was in to high a gear coming up the hill. A lower gear (higher revs) would have kept the coolant circulating better. Same logic as big trucks that have a 'high idle' function.
That was my first inclination as well, but I quickly discovered it made things worse in this situation. Pushing more fluid through a barely sufficient radiator does not make the system any more effective. The only thing I have found to work 100% of the time is to reduce the amount of heat being created in the first place.
 
#25
Which would you prefer for one-up LD riding?
Both bikes have been heavily farkled. For me, I tend to ride the twisty roads instead of interstates unless I need to get from point A to B. Our trips are usually 15 - 18 days going to places like Alaska or touring the Western US while 2up and towing a trailer. The wing is much better at towing. The biggest difference is the anti-dive feature built in to the suspension system on the wing. When towing you are not pitched forward while slowing or stopping like you are on the FJR. At the end of a long day riding twisties (600 miles plus in 14 hours) I am nowhere nears as tired on the wing as I am on the FJR.

Both fit me really well, though the wing is a more upright position. But the FJR is close with the mods I have done.

For me if I am just droning and eating miles the wing gets the nod, if I am exploring the sporty side, the FJR is the choice. But they are really close as far as comfort goes now. This is really splitting hairs.
 
#26
I called Jonathan at Kennedy Electronics, I asked him to set up a system that could have 2 Garmin 595 GPS units, a Escort 360, be able to switch which audio I am hearing from the GPS units. He set up a combination of of things that works with the Wing's intercom system and auxiliary systems. I use the primary GPS as the one that sends its sound through the intercom system, and the secondary one as the one that sends its sound through the aux system.

In the intercom system, it will mute the music from the radio or CD, to give you GPS announcements then go back to whatever you were listening to. It will mute the music while talking on the phone that is bluetoothed through the GPS.

It just works all together very well. The price was reasonable, at $450 to do everything I asked. Sound quality is really good. You doo have to fiddle with the GPS volume control so isn't too loud. He built me a custom cable for the Escort 360 because it does not need attenuation to keep it from being too loud. The volume control on the Escort can be used to set it for the system.

He put together the system, then sent it with a diagram of how its was all connected together along with labeling everything.
 
#27
Both bikes have been heavily farkled. For me, I tend to ride the twisty roads instead of interstates unless I need to get from point A to B. Our trips are usually 15 - 18 days going to places like Alaska or touring the Western US while 2up and towing a trailer. The wing is much better at towing. The biggest difference is the anti-dive feature built in to the suspension system on the wing. When towing you are not pitched forward while slowing or stopping like you are on the FJR. At the end of a long day riding twisties (600 miles plus in 14 hours) I am nowhere nears as tired on the wing as I am on the FJR.

Both fit me really well, though the wing is a more upright position. But the FJR is close with the mods I have done.

For me if I am just droning and eating miles the wing gets the nod, if I am exploring the sporty side, the FJR is the choice. But they are really close as far as comfort goes now. This is really splitting hairs.
I might add that with the wing properly suspended with the Traxxion Full Monty system, the weight is not a factor anymore. Especially when coupled with the anti=dive system in the forks. With the FJR, you have to hold your weight up, the passengers, and the trailers as everything is pitched forward braking for corners. Not a deal breaker for either, just a difference in how they ride.