Should I replace the GL1800?

igneouss

Premier Member
#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.
 

igneouss

Premier Member
#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.
 

Auburn

Premier Member
#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.
 

Auburn

Premier Member
#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.
 

Auburn

Premier Member
#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.
 

c10

Active Member
#28
I have many miles on FJR1300 , Hayabusa , Wings , , and now racking up miles on a new left over Triumph Tiger 1200 XCX . While the FJR was good its comfort is not like a wing . I find this new Tiger 1200 , and my wifes Tiger 900 GT both are very comfortable , easy to service .
Paid 14,799 for my 1200 after $5100 off MSRP for 2 year old in the crate still . My son owned a 2012 Super Tenere , and it was nice , but top heavy , and vibration is far more than the Triple engines , Wing engine . KTM 1190 Adventure R was a good rig too but Tall .
Good luck . Try to find some place to demo ride . Also look up BMW parts prices . I did just before buying a 2020 GSA low in grey , and decided to back away from BMW . Have a friend who owns a Hayabusa who his K1600 GT had the transmission recall , and after the dealer had some issues with parts from BMW he traded it on a 1250 GS , and he loves it .
 
#29
On chain topic . I was getting 21 to 24,xxx average . Wipe clean after every ride , and light relube . I had geared the Busa 19/43 vs stock of 18/43. This did two things . Corrected speedo from off by 5 mph to match GPS speed , and bumped my average mpg to 48.5 mpg cruising at hwy speeds .
The draw back was no center stand made long trips ( three IBA runs in a 5 day window ) difficult . I purchased a harbor freight wheel roller to spin the wheel on each night at the hotel . The shaft drive is nice if your not into chain replacements / service .
 

EricV

Premier Member
IBR Finisher
#30
I've been trying not to post in this thread. You're not going to like what I have to say. That doesn't make me wrong though. You reference rally use as your experience with your Wing and why you're considering a different bike. At 6' 1" you're not really all that tall, but you're not saying inseam length either, so we don't know if you are short leg, tall torso or long leg, short torso or about the middle of the road. That makes a difference because most riders that say they don't "fit" on a bike are complaining about leg room, knees against fairings, etc.

I am wondering how much better life would be if I could find a decent rally capable bike that weighs enough less to justify the pain of switching to a new bike…

My current bike: 2006 GL1800. Highly reliable and highly ‘farkle-able’. Pretty well dialed in.
Pretty well dialed in doesn't really tell us what you've done, only that you feel it's that way. A GL1800 of that vintage needs some standard upgrades to really transform it's handling. Others have mentioned the Traxxion products, which are excellent.

What have you done to your Wing?

You gave us a list to consider:
Replacement considerations:
Reliability - (nothing made in Europe need be suggested) Argue what you want, it's a small place with small distances and dealer network in the US is tiny compared to Japanese brands. Or HD for that matter.

Weight - (you're riding the bike, not pushing it around.) When during the MD2020 did you really feel the Wing was heavy?

Rider wind protection - (Nothing beats a pre- 2018 GL1800.) No other bike will have that pocket of quiet, still air like a GL1800.

Long distance comfort - (Are you new here?) Every bike requires some ergonomic adjustment, but any bike can be comfortable if you do the work.

Farkle-ability - (You meant to say "Availability of bolt on aftermarket parts") Because farkles used to be crap we made ourselves, and often that still applies.

Cost - (that's relative.) Tell us what your comfort zone is and it will eliminate the suggestions to buy a new BMW or HD. If those were in the running, you wouldn't be concerned about cost.

Stop asking questions and go ride some bikes. You have a lot of inaccurate ideas about the FJR, for example.

For reference, I rode an '04 FJR for a dozen or so 24-36 hour rallies, several cert rides and the MERA 10-n-10, (10 days, 12k+ miles), putting on 160k miles over 9 years. Not huge miles compared to lots of riders here, but enough to know that platform very well.

I rode several 24 or longer rallies, some cert rides and the '13 IBR on a '12 Super Tenere too, and know that platform very well. (110k miles over ~5 years. Also a little shy of 50k miles on a '15 Super Ten.

My wife put ~120k on a couple of GL1800s, I think the last one was an '08 or '09. Set up well, Traxxion suspension, windscreen upgrade, and likely other bits. I have a few thousand miles on that bike too, so have an idea of what a well sorted GL1800 can be.

My Beautiful Wife also put ~110k on a BMW F650GS twin, so I'm familiar with that and can and will call BS on any statements about how modern chains are just as good as a shaft. People that aren't riding rallies say crap like that. Lube your chain twice a day or set up a chain oiler, don't use a high Hp bike and understand that you will adjust the chain once shortly after new, then the next time you need to adjust it, you're nearing End Of Life and the clock is ticking. Lube is for the chain to sprocket interface, not the chain itself. And sprockets get replaced with the chain in sets. Quite frankly, the Math doesn't work on comparing Shaft to Chain. Shaft always wins if you actually ride the bike big miles.

I'm 5'11" and ~260ish w/o gear and have been in that range for a while. Tall torso, 29" inseam.

If you like the Wing, keep the Wing.

The FJR has decent weather protection, but it's not in the same class as the pre-'18 Wings and never will be. It is 300 lbs lighter than the wing. The Super Ten can be set up with ok weather protection, but it's not as good as the FJR. It has a more relaxed hip to knee ratio and more upright rider position. More neutral than the FJR's forward lean. Weight is essentially the same as the FJR when you add luggage to the Super Ten. Both can be comfortable, but there are techniques learned by the rider to maximize that too. "Sport-touring slouch" works well for the FJR.

We can't tell you what bike to buy, or if you should buy a bike. Only you know how you're going to ride it and what's important to you in the final details. Anything can be improved. Most bikes will benefit from a custom seat. The Wing may be the most comfortable stock seat. It also has a short stock range, compared to most of the liter plus Sport Touring bikes. Aux cells fix that for the Wing and other bikes too.

You can ride the IBR on any bike if you take the time to set it up well and learn it's ways, prepare for that and know the bike well. The IBR isn't a good standard for what bikes work well for LD riding. It just shows you that anything will do the job if you want it to. From Wings to HD baggers and including Ninja 250s & '70's vintage Triumph triples, it's a wide range.

My wife bought the BMW F650GS 2 for the '11 IBR. Prior IBRs had shown a tendency to have dirt road bonuses and she felt a lighter bike than her GL1800 would be a good idea since she sometimes struggled with the big bike on uneven ground. She was ~120 lbs and 5'4" at the time.

Then she got the rally pack for the '11 IBR at the rider meeting and found out it was a 48 state ride format. The GL1800 would have been much better for her than the little F650 for that rally. In hindsight, we should have ridden both bikes to the start in Seattle that year so she could have chosen which to use. It just didn't occur to us to do that after she had spent so much time, money and effort into prepping the F650. She would have had less drama with the GL1800, for sure. :)
 

Shawn K

Professional Cat Confuser
Premier Member
#31
@EricV really hit the nail on the head with many of his comments.

If I may amplify one of his comments - the one about weight...

"Heavy" is a criticism that I often hear about large touring bikes. But if I may be so bold, there's one group of people who I've never heard complain about the weight of any motorcycle - those riders who possess advanced slow-speed riding skills.

I'm speaking in generalities with the following statement, and not against any specific person. There's a very large difference between sitting on a motorcycle as it rolls down the road, and knowing how to ride it. I have watched many Gold Wing owners who feel the need to put their feet out like outriggers at any speed below 10mph, and who absolutely will not lean their bike at any sort of parking lot speed. Those are signs of people who have no advanced understanding of motorcycle dynamics, and who simply place themselves upon the seat like a sack of feed corn.

Accomplished horsemen ride their steeds with great skill and beauty because they understand that it takes two to tango. Yet very few motorcyclists understand this, and they suffer for it.

I have no horse in the race (*ahem*) about what motorcycle you choose. But if "weight" is something that you feel has become a priority, you may find that weight is merely a symptom of a problem that could be better addressed by an investment in you, rather than an investment in a different machine. Rider skills are always transferable to another bike, but a different bike will never imbue a rider with skills he did not previously possess.
 
#32
Shawn,
I freely admit to shortcomings. I'm not perfect as a rider or in anything else... About the most I will claim is 'better than average'. Ultimately, all the problems I experience are mine alone. True for all of us, eh?
 
#33
Being able to handle a heavy bike at low speeds is certainly a good skill to have, but it's a bit short sighted to think that people who have that riding skill won't want a lighter bike. Weight is a big factor in how a motorcycle handles and how it feels to ride it. I've had a couple of bikes in my riding career and they all have their ups and downs. I've also ridden friend's bikes. Again, they have their ups and down. Big heavy bikes don't handle like small light bikes. No amount of rider skill will alter physics. A lighter bike requires less effort to maneuver regardless of rider skill. Just because someone considers getting a lighter bike doesn't mean they need more riding skill. It simply means they want a lighter bike.

Take cars as an example. (All numbers gathered from quick Google searching) The 2020 Camaro SS is 455 hp and does 0-60 in 4 seconds. The 2020 Lotus Exige 430 with only 430 hp does 0-60 in 3.2 seconds. It's got less power and is much faster because of weight. In fact, the light Lotus is faster than the 650 hp Camaro in the 0-60. The Camaro SS does the Nurburgring track in 8:20. The Exige 430 does it in 7:53, a full 27 seconds faster. That's nothing to scoff at on a track. The power is basically the same for both cars, but the weight is very different. The much lighter weight of the Lotus makes it handle differently, even at low non-racing speeds.

That difference in handling and performance is only exaggerated when you start talking about the much lighter motorcycles. Losing a couple of hundred pounds from a motorcycle is a night and day difference. A lighter bike will be more nimble and easier to ride around town, and possibly on the highway depending on the particular bikes. Some people simply want a lighter bike.
 
#34
Thanks. That's how I feel. All things equal, including low speed skills, a bike that weighs 400lbs less will be easier and less fatiguing to ride. My hats off to folks that complete an IBR 2 up on a GL1800.

Being able to handle a heavy bike at low speeds is certainly a good skill to have, but it's a bit short sighted to think that people who have that riding skill won't want a lighter bike. Weight is a big factor in how a motorcycle handles and how it feels to ride it. I've had a couple of bikes in my riding career and they all have their ups and downs. I've also ridden friend's bikes. Again, they have their ups and down. Big heavy bikes don't handle like small light bikes. No amount of rider skill will alter physics. A lighter bike requires less effort to maneuver regardless of rider skill. Just because someone considers getting a lighter bike doesn't mean they need more riding skill. It simply means they want a lighter bike.

Take cars as an example. (All numbers gathered from quick Google searching) The 2020 Camaro SS is 455 hp and does 0-60 in 4 seconds. The 2020 Lotus Exige 430 with only 430 hp does 0-60 in 3.2 seconds. It's got less power and is much faster because of weight. In fact, the light Lotus is faster than the 650 hp Camaro in the 0-60. The Camaro SS does the Nurburgring track in 8:20. The Exige 430 does it in 7:53, a full 27 seconds faster. That's nothing to scoff at on a track. The power is basically the same for both cars, but the weight is very different. The much lighter weight of the Lotus makes it handle differently, even at low non-racing speeds.

That difference in handling and performance is only exaggerated when you start talking about the much lighter motorcycles. Losing a couple of hundred pounds from a motorcycle is a night and day difference. A lighter bike will be more nimble and easier to ride around town, and possibly on the highway depending on the particular bikes. Some people simply want a lighter bike.
 

Shawn K

Professional Cat Confuser
Premier Member
#36
I appreciate your tactfully worded physics primer. The conclusion I drew was that lighter things weigh less then heavier things.

It appears that I misunderstood the intent of this thread. The title was "Should I replace the GL1800?", which I took as the author seeking different perspectives on the pros and cons of keeping his current motorcycle (BTW, "Hondapotomous" is a great name!). However, I can see from the reactions in this thread and the author's other thread about rear end issues on the 1200GS that the actual subject of the threads is "I want to sell my GL1800 and buy a 1200GS".

When I first read the thread and saw the statement "I’m sure there are other bikes and look forward to hearing how everyone else has solved this problem. While I hate to say it – keeping the HondaPotomous might be the answer", I took that as the author seeking opinions from other people, so I gave mine. I missed the second paragraph where the author stated "It's about time to retire the HondaPotomous". That was my mistake.

I'll also bow out of the other thread about rear drive issues on the 1200GS, because it's clear to me now that the desire is to have a decision confirmed, not debated.

Sorry for the misunderstanding on my part. I get confused sometimes when people ask questions.
 
#37
Shawn, you are sort of correct. When I wrote the original post I did not have a specific replacement in mind. Then I stumbled on a GSA that interested me enough to go look at it. Prior to that I was leaning toward the Tenere. I had not even considered the GSA because I did not seem to be enough better than the Tenere to justify the additional money. But then this basically new 2013 GSA presented itself as an option. Fooling around with it (for me my opinion) it feels much lighter than the GL1800.

Being a newb to BMWs I then asked questions about that bike. Have to admit, I did not expect the strong and somewhat contradictory opinions.

But in the end I could not resist the deal. Lots of expensive options on the bike and many thousands of dollars less than a new bike. About the only pricey thing I need to add is electronic cruise control.

I do appreciate the advice and opinions I have received. It's all good and I am reminded that this community is perhaps the most knowlegeable there is on these subjects.
 
#38
Yea, you can stunt ride with a big heavy bike. Check this out. Track racing big ole' baggers! Whoda thunk it? (Spoiler alert: It's mostly Harleys in the race, but there are two Indians up on the podium at the end. Go Indians! Can we still do The Tomahawk Chop, or is that not PC enough anymore?)

With enough determination and hard work, you can do just about anything with a big bike. I bet you can find a video of someone taking a big Goldwing off road and doing jumps with it. I'm not trying to say a GL1800 is a bad bike or anything like that. I'm just saying that sometimes a 21 ounce Estwing just works better than a 6 pound maul, even if you've got the muscle to swing that 6 pounder all day long. Sometimes, a 1,000 pound GL1800 isn't the right bike. There's nothing wrong with grabbing the Estwing instead of the maul. Just ask Chris if he rides that 1600 any differently than a 600. He'll tell you they don't handle the same.

Oh My God!! Here it is! A pair of Goldwings doing jumps off road. 2 seconds worth of Googling found it.
 

EricV

Premier Member
IBR Finisher
#39
Being a newb to BMWs I then asked questions about that bike. Have to admit, I did not expect the strong and somewhat contradictory opinions.

But in the end I could not resist the deal. Lots of expensive options on the bike and many thousands of dollars less than a new bike. About the only pricey thing I need to add is electronic cruise control.
Print that out and post it on the wall in front of your computer screen. Really, do it today.

Then look at it every time you come home from the dealer.