GL1800 FAQ

You can also download this in Word document (with links intact) HERE.

Quick disclaimer – these are all my personal opinions, take them for what they are worth. These FAQ’s apply to 2001-2004 bikes.

What tires work best?

This is purely a personal preference, but I will express what I think is the general consensus from my years on the GL1800 forums. The Bridgestone G704 rears and G709 fronts are what I like. You may not get the mileage out of them that you would get with some of the other tire brands, but they are sticky on all road surfaces and conditions, including rain. Some of the other brands gave my bike the infamous “decel wobble” (Point #2 of this FAQ), but the Stones have never done that to me. There are also riders who swear by putting a car tire on the rear, you can read about that HERE. Many riders report that the Dunlop Elite III’s have been very good, but there also seem to be as many reporting the decel wobble with this tire. Other choices are the Metzeler ME880 and the Avon Venom R. A fair amount of riders will put a 70 series tire on the rear with no clearance issues and they report a speedometer correction from using this size tire.

Why do I have a wobble when I decelerate?

That’s the million-dollar question. Many of us have experienced it at some time while owning the Wing. Nobody has been able to pinpoint a single cause. The symptom is a wobbling of the handlebars, usually while decelerating around the 40mph mark and will continue till you stop. If you take your hands off the bars, the wobble can be quite violent on some of the bikes. I have experienced this on my ’02, almost to the point that it would have caused a crash if I hadn’t put my hands back on the bars. People will say – then don’t take your hands off the bars. It’s a matter of principle – a $20,000 bike shouldn’t have an issue like that. With that said, there are some things that can be done to help remedy the wobble. The first is to check the torque of your steering stem bearings, make sure they are at torque specs. The second is to consistently monitor your tire pressures. Most of us like to run 40 to 41 PSI front and rear. The third is to replace the stock (straight) steering stem bearings with tapered bearings. ALL BALL’S is a very reputable company for these (or any) bearings. The fourth is suspension work. You can do things as simple as changing out your fork fluid, to replacing your springs with aftermarket springs (Progressive or Traxxion), all the way up to doing a full blown TRAXXION suspension rebuild front and rear (About $2,000) which I have done and have no regrets. Some riders will also use a fork brace, but I don’t see much mention of this. The bottom line is, this bike seems to be very sensitive to the tires that are on it - some are going to make you wobble, some are not. Tire manufacturers seem to generally point to the rear tire being the cause.

What backrest works best?

This is almost always a resounding response of  “UTOPIA”. While this install is relatively simple, it does require you to slice a hole in the seat just forward of the passenger seating area. While this may seem like a daunting task – to cut your seat on your beloved bike, it really isn’t that bad. What makes the Utopia so nice? There is very little hardware to interfere with the passenger seating, mounting and dismounting. The backrest is adjustable fore and aft, as well as the angle to accommodate your riding position. The backrest itself also flips forward to get out of the way of a passenger getting on and off the bike.

I’ve got a pain between my shoulder blades!

The stock setup obviously cannot perfectly accommodate every rider. I was one who would get a lot of pain between my shoulder blades after about an hour of riding. There are several combinations of things to help resolve this. Maybe the most notable is the REG RISERS, which will bring your handlebars up, and back towards the driver. These risers also give you the ability to set the width of the handlebars within their travel limit. Other components that will also help are the use of highway cruising pegs and a backrest. Good choices for highway cruising pegs are the MICK O PEGS or one of Kuryakyn’s offerings. I just installed the Model D Mick O Pegs and think I am going to enjoy them very much.

Can I use brighter bulbs for my headlights?

Yes, you can. A good choice is the Sylvania SilverStar H7 bulbs. You can put these in both the low and high beam sockets. You can see the difference HERE. These are available at most auto parts stores as well as Wal*Mart. They will have “H7” in the upper corner of the packaging. Don’t confuse them with the 9007 type.

Why won’t my bike track straight?

If you ever take your hands off the handlebars while at highway speeds and find that your bike tracks to the left or right, there is a “trick” you can do to help straighten it out. Put the bike up on the center stand and loosen the two pinch bolts on the left fork axle. Be sure the axle bolt itself is at the correct torque, first.  Mount the bike and while holding the front brake lever, rock the bike fore and aft so you are bouncing the front end off the ground. (Hold the front brake to keep you in place). Bounce it several tines. That should do it. Before you re-tighten the 2 pinch bolts, make sure the alignment mark on the axle head is lined up, and be sure to check the caliper and rotor for the correct clearance. Re-tighten the pinch bolts to torque specs. (I think this procedure is credited to Stu Oltman)
Can I use a fuel injection cleaner in my Wing?

Yes. Several of us have used Chevron’s Techron Concentrate Plus fuel system cleaner with no ill side effects. I was experiencing some hesitation in the lower gears when hitting the throttle and ran a half bottle of the Techron concentrate through a full tank of gas and noticed a significant improvement within that tank of gas. I now run a half bottle of that through the bike about twice a year.

What is a good source for doing my own maintenance?

There are two things that will help you tremendously when doing your own maintenance: Fred Harmon’s maintenance DVD set and the parts list for your particular bike. Fred’s DVD’s walk you through many of the routine maintenance procedures from replacing your air filter, to removing the gas tank, to doing your own valve clearance check. He does it in a logical sequence and in a manner that is simple for a novice mechanic to easily follow. You can get Fred’s DVD set HERE. The parts list can be your best friend if you need a close-up view to identify what nut/bolt/washer/part goes where. It is also quite beneficial when you need to order parts from Honda. You can look up the parts yourself and take them to your local Honda shop and save the time of having the Honda parts person look them up. The parts lists are in .PDF format and can be downloaded to your computer HERE. (They’re free)

Why do my RPM’s surge or “hunt” while at idle?

Your ECM more than likely just needs to be reset. Here is a very simple procedure for doing that. Note that you cannot use the throttle at all during this process or it will not reset the ECM. With a cold engine, start the bike and let it run until it reaches normal operating temperature. Listen for the cooling fans to kick on. Let them cycle through one cooling phase and when the fans shut off, turn the bike off. The next time you start the bike, it should be running more smoothly. This procedure can come in handy if riding in greatly varying elevations.
Someone alternately suggested that the ECM could be reset while the bike is warm. That method – start the bike and let it run for 90 seconds without touching the throttle, turn the engine off and then restart it.

Hairspray or glue for my new handgrips?

This depends. I’ve used hairspray as “glue” when putting on new grips. While I think it works fine if you have a tight enough fit, it may tend to “melt” in very hot weather. I’ve noticed that with one of my grips recently on 100+ degree day. So I would more than likely choose a glue specifically for handgrips going forward, but hairspray will work if in a pinch or if in a cooler climate. The plus side to hairspray is that it gives you more working time to get the grip placed as you want. My experience with the grip glue is that it cures extremely fast, so you have to work fast when placing the grip.

Why do I have such a harsh front suspension?

Chances are it’s because of a sticking anti-dive. The anti-dive unit is mounted on the front of your left fork. If you are experiencing a very harsh front end, there are a few things you can do to remedy it. First thing is to pinpoint the issue. If your anti-dive is malfunctioning, you can more than likely duplicate it by mounting the bike, holding the front brake tightly and “bouncing” the front end several times. If it suddenly stops its travel like you are hitting something solid, that’s a sticking anti-dive. If your bike is under warranty, you can try and have the dealer fix the issue with a new unit. Another option is to disable the anti-dive yourself. Some of us have cut the plunger off to disable it, while others have inserted washers to prevent it from activating. I chose to cut the plunger off over a year ago and have not regretted it since. You can see the procedure HERE. This isn’t for everyone.

How do I optimize my radio volume?

Outside of adding an amp and aftermarket speakers, there are some basic settings that will give you more sound at cruising speeds than what the default settings will. With the radio on, push down on the volume button that is located on the center console (not the left handlebar) this will bring you to the "Auto Vol Spk". Turn the volume button until that setting is at "Mid" or "High" then push down again on the volume button to get back to the radio main screen. Go to the "Mode" button on the right hand side, opposite the volume button. Push this down and go to the "Bass" setting, try putting that setting 2 lines to the left of center so you are decreasing bass. The stock speakers can't really handle much bass, so there is no point in trying to push it. Once you have that set, push the mode button again and go to the treble setting, put that 2 lines to the right of center, giving you a little more power on the higher frequencies. Once that is set, push the mode button one more time and you will see the "Amb" (Ambiance) setting, put that on "Low".

With the settings as described above, you now have the auto volume set to kick in, right around the 60mph mark when you are cruising. You can experiment and see which works best for you - having the Auto Vol Spk on mid or high.