Top 10 Best Honda Gold Wing Models 

Honda’s Gold Wing is 50 years old this year – here are all the key models

2004 Honda GL1800 Valkyrie Rune

It’s the mark of a great motorcycle when its model name becomes a standalone part of the biking lexicon. Fireblade springs to mind, or, even better, Bonneville. It’s an even greater testament to a model’s success when it comes to defining and dominating a whole market sector – think BMW GS or Harley-Davidson Low Rider. But, beyond even that, very few motorcycle models get to celebrate their 50th anniversary.

Take a bow, Honda Gold Wing, which this year marks 50 years in production.

The bike that evolved to become the definitive ‘full-dress tourer’ was unveiled in Las Vegas in September 1974 and then launched in Europe at the Cologne Show the following month. Conceived as Honda’s new flagship in succession to the CB750 it was first envisaged as a sportster targeted at the US market before adjusting the brief to suit long-distance touring rivalling bikes from Harley, BMW and Moto Guzzi.

First developed under Shoichiro Irimajiri, famous for Honda’s 1960s multi-cylinder GP bikes and, later, the CBX1000, the project was known internally as the ‘King of Kings’, was a bike of many firsts including being the first liquid-cooled four-stroke, and first with twin disc brakes, while an early prototype, the M1, was even more radical in being a flat six, before being reduced to four cylinders to shorten its length.

After that first 999cc GL1000, the Gold Wing evolved through GL1100, 1200, 1500 and two 1800cc versions, pioneered the ‘full dress tourer’ concept with the first Interstate in 1980 and that bike’s successors introduced ever-increasing tech and luxury enough to cement the Wing as the definitive bike of its type.

Along the way, there has also been a series of custom spin-offs including the Valkyrie, Rune and F6B. Today, the Gold Wing lives on as the high-tech GL1800 with over 650,000 of all types, now sold. Here’s our pick of the best…

1975-1979 Honda GL1000

 Although eventually launched as a long-distance tourer and conceived to be fitted with Honda accessory fairings and luggage, these never went into production and the Wing was launched as a ‘naked’, prompting accessory manufacturers, particularly Vetter with its Windjammer fairing, to leap into the void. A big success in the US, where 13,000 GLs were sold in 1975, it was at first initially widely derided in Europe as a ‘two-wheeled car’ due to its weight and bulk.

 1980-1983 Honda GL1100

Although in 1979 Honda began offering accessory panniers for the Wing, it still didn’t offer a fairing. That all changed with the second-generation GL1100. As well as now being 1084cc, the GL1100 was longer and heavier and, in March 1980, was joined by the first Interstate complete with full-fairing, hard panniers and top box. 

That bike’s success prompted the launch of a more luxurious model, the first Aspencade in 1982 with a larger seat, two-tone paint and extra features. Meanwhile, Honda also began assembly of the GoldWing in the US in 1980, at its Marysville, Ohio plant.

1984-1987 Honda GL1200

Enlarged again in response to growing competition from the likes of Yamaha’s new V4 XVZ1200 Venture, the bored and stroked 1182cc GL1200 pushed the original four-cylinder boxer engine to its limits prompting Honda to begin development of an all-new flat-six design for 1988. In the meantime, as before, three versions of the 1200 were initially offered: the unfaired standard, Interstate and Aspencade, although the overwhelming popularity of the latter two led to the dropping of the standard version after only one year.

 1988-2000 Honda GL1500

 The mid-‘80s was a golden era in the US for full-dress tourers and saw the arrival of not only Yamaha’s XVZ1200 Venture (which grew to 1300cc in 1986) but also, in 1985, Suzuki’s V4 GV1400 Cavalcade and, the following year, Kawasaki’s ZG1200 Voyager. As a result, development work on. 

An all-new, six-cylinder Gold Wing began in 1984 with the result launched at the 1987 Cologne Show. At 1520cc with fully integrated bodywork and luggage, air suspension and even a reverse gear, it was a quantum leap over the old, set the new benchmark, saw off all rivals and remained in production for 13 years.


1996-2000 Honda GL1500 F6C ‘Valkyrie’

 Inspired by the US popularity of retro, ‘bagger’ style cruisers such as Harley-Davidson’s Road King, Honda launched its first ‘naked’ Wing since 1984 in the form of the F6C ‘Valkyrie’ (although the Valkyrie name wasn’t used in Europe). Available initially in a variety of forms (either naked, with plexiglass screen and soft panniers or handlebar fairing and full luggage set) it wasn’t the success hoped for and was dropped after 2000.

 2001-2017 Honda GL1800

The first new Gold Wing for 13 years was improved in every way. A larger 1832cc engine saw power increase from 100 to 117bhp, a new, extruded aluminium beam frame contributed to a big overall weight loss and additional features included the likes of an optional airbag and satnav system. It was also the last of the US-built Wings, with production in Marysville halting in 2010 before tooling was shipped back to Japan to resume in 2011 with some detail changes known as the ‘second generation’ model.

2004 Honda GL1800 Valkyrie Rune 

 A limited edition, US-only model (although some were ‘grey-imported’ to Europe), the Rune was a radical, custom-style, naked cruiser based on the new GL1800 but with outlandish styling including leading link front suspension. Produced for one year only, today they’re highly collectable.

2013-2016 Honda GL1800 F6B

In 2013, Honda brought out a new variation on the traditional Gold Wing, itself being available in two models, The F6B and F6B Deluxe. The F6B is basically a greatly stripped-down version of the 'standard' Gold Wing with most of the chrome trim being 'blacked out', giving the F6B a look that should appeal to many cruiser buyers.


2013-2016 Honda GL1800 F6C ‘Valkyrie’

In 2013, alongside the new ‘bagger’ Wing, the F6B, Honda also revived its naked Wing concept, with the F6C Valkyrie – although again it wasn’t called the Valkyrie in Europe. With a cut-down, cruiser look (although necessarily retaining the slightly clumsy-looking side-mounted radiators, it also had a larger, narrower 19-inch front wheel. 


2018-current Honda GL1800

All-new design with a new four-valve, 1833cc engine producing 125bhp, a lighter, more compact chassis featuring a novel, Hossack-style double-wishbone front suspension, all-new styling and full updated equipment and electronics including riding modes, infotainment, traction control and even a semi-automatic DCT transmission, the new 1800 was faster, lighter and more luxurious than ever and remains in production as Honda’s flagship to this day.