I’m fascinated by custom Gold Wings: it’s strangely appealing to see these heavyweight tourers stripped of all excess, and they invariably have good bones. This machine is a 1983 GL1100 belonging to Kevin Rowland of WagonGear, who describes the transformation as a “winter-time tinker build, lots of head-scratching and junk parts.” The original owner dropped the bike and damaged most of the bodywork, to the point where he hid it under a blue tarp for more than twenty years. So when Rowland got the ‘Wing, everything that moved and wasn’t soaked in oil was shot.
The carbs and brake components were corroded, as was most of the suspension, but the price was right. Rowland fitted a pair of choked-down Weber 40 carbs from a VW, GSX-R forks and a custom mono shock. He also added the hand controls from a CBR, and installed a hydraulic clutch: “It doesn’t take long to get tired of cramping your left hand at stop lights with those romantic old Honda cable clutches”. The tank is from a CB750, supplemented by an old aluminum propane tank that’s been chopped, sectioned and turned into an auxiliary. “After lots of welding, some machining and a bunch of custom parts, she hit the road again,” says Rowland. “It’s just a fun bike. The biggest problem with the build is the constant question, ‘What is it?’ It’s an issue I didn’t think of beforehand, and it’s something you should consider before taking all the logos off a machine.”
“Most people can’t believe it when I tell them it’s just a 1983 Honda Gold Wing. Other than cutting a few things off, the frame is still stock, the carbs give it a bit of a different punch, the pipes make it sound like an angry VW and the stance is a little more aggressive.
“But it’s still a super reliable ‘road-sofa’.”