On what year Gold Wing, there is a difference between the extras on the 1100 and on the 1200 interstate and aspencade and the 1500 interstate and aspencade.
The 1982 GL1100 had some major improvements in the new Aspencade. This machine had an electrically operated air pump for the suspension, accessed from the top of the dummy tank, instead of the previous tyre valve setup (retained on the Standard and Interstate) which required the rider to either keep a manual pump handy or go to the local garage to pump up the suspension. Two-tone paintwork was applied to the Aspencade and all the GL1100's got smaller wheels (18" front, 16" rear) and twin pot brake calipers. The wheel rims were now wider (2.5" front and 3"rear) to allow for wider tyres on all models and self-cancelling indicators were fitted to all models from 1982. All GL1100's from 1982 got neater crash bars which replaced the previous shin bashers (although the new ones weren't perfect either) and dual piston brake calipers all round. The Aspencade also got vented stainless steel discs, two-tone seat and trunk pouches, the Clarion type 2 AM/FM stereo radio, digital dash, CB radio (US machines) and a clock. The stereo, CB radio and air pump are available as options on the Interstate.
The GL1200 arrived for the 1984 model year and continued the trend set by it's predecessor. Competition from Yamaha's Venture (which many motorcycle magazines compared to the Goldwing) no doubt hastened the development of the successor to the GL1100 and the GL1200 was Honda's answer. There was the unfaired Standard, the dressed Interstate and the top of the range Aspencade, which had the Type 3 audio system. New, stiffer frame with major improvements, bigger and more responsive 1182cc version of the flat-four engine with bags more torque and hydraulic valve adjusters, better suspension and handling were the main attractions on the new Goldwing. A hydraulic clutch was another first for a Goldwing. Carried forward from the previous Aspencade were the now even better air suspension controls and linked brakes, and the new Aspencade had a more advanced audio system and upgraded LCD dash. The front wheel was a rather unusually small (for such a large machine) 16" and this gave the steering a very light and quick feel. The styling of the plastics was more aggressive than the GL1100, the fairing, trunk, panniers and lights all had a more squarish brute look which was evident on many motorcycles and cars for a while in the eighties. The flowing lines of the previous model were not quite as subtle on the GL1200, but the integration of the luggage was much better now because there were less gaps and spaces between the panels and much more efficient use was made of the available storage space. Four 32mm CV carburettors managed to give better response with a light feel, without the need for accelerator pumps. The GL1200 was the first Goldwing to drift away from the common Honda "parts bin" approach and most of the parts fitted to a GL1200 were unique to that machine and not fitted to any other Honda motorcycle. Hondaline could supply you with a CB radio and other fripperies considered essential by many owners of the new machine. The aftermarket suppliers had a field day, small cottage industries had sprung up everywhere to feed the habit and the vast range of chrome goodies, backrests, lights etc. available for the Goldwing rivalled that which could be had for Harley-Davidson owners.
1985 saw Honda drop the Standard unfaired Goldwing. Since the introduction of the GL1100 Interstate, sales of the unfaired versions had slumped dramatically and in spit of the objections of the aftermarket fairing and luggage suppliers, this was the beginning of the era when Accountants really did have a big say in marketing policy, so the Standard was unceremoniously put down by Honda. Alongside the Interstate and Aspencade, Honda brought in the GL1200LTD for this year only. The LTD had computerised fuel injection, auto levelling rear suspension and a sophisticated trip computer. The fuel injection, while not entirely without it's faults in the real world, transformed the GL1200 into a real animal which made the carburettor models seem sluggish in comparison. The LTD was only available in two-tone gold/brown. From 1985, GL1200 alternator capacity was increased (though still not by enough to cater for all the accessory lights that owners usually fitted) and the ignition pick-up coils were mounted at the front of the engine instead of the rear. An altered top gear made for smoother cruising in top and the fairing had better ventilation.
1986 saw mainly cosmetic changes to the Interstate and Aspencade, the LTD was replaced by the SE-i, which came in Pearl White only and had little over the LTD except for Dolby noise reduction on the Panasonic Type 3 audio system (the Aspencade got the same audio treatment), an uprated 500 watt alternator and a slightly better seat which was also fitted to the Interstate and Aspencade. The SE-i had ballooned out to over 770lbs. Many people who had bought the supposedly unique LTD the year before felt cheated by what looked like another LTD in the shape of the SE-i in a different colour, the general feeling being that Honda were just cashing in again this year. An Aspencade badge on the saddlebags of the SE-i didn't go down too well with buyers who wanted their own unique Goldwing. The carburettor models were back to 30mm CV's with accelerator pumps, although it made little noticeable difference to the riding experience.
The final year of production for the GL1200 was 1987 and there was little change. No doubt Honda were saving the major surprise for the following year, although the Goldwing faithful had been expecting the rumoured super Goldwing for the current model year. The SE-i was gone and the Interstate and Aspencade got a much plusher saddle, the best on any Goldwing to date. The final drive and differential had been made much smoother and quieter and this meant less chucking and jumping at trundling speeds. All of these improvements meant that the 1987 models were the best sorted GL1200's to date.
GL 1500 DIFFERENCES
1990 saw some decent revisions, when the GL1500SE was placed alongside the GL1500. The SE had two-tone paint, trunk spoiler/light, windscreen vent, lighted handlebar switches, adjustable passenger footboards and foot warmer vents that looked better than they worked. All this extra kit on the SE could be yours for about 15% extra cash over the cost of the stock GL1500. Camshaft and carburettor modifications that year helped to eliminate chucking at trundling speed and the trunk and pannier lids were made to fit better in order to keep water out.
1991 saw the arrival of the Interstate, which was now the basic model. The Interstate was 40lbs lighter, due to the lack of reverse gear (no, you couldn't fit one later on folks), cruise control and on-board air suspension compressor, more basic sound system and passenger footpegs instead of boards. Interestingly, Honda lowered the seat height of the Interstate by almost an inch by skimming some of the foam, but didn't do so with the other models. Speaking of other models, the previous GL1500 was now the Aspencade. There was also an Anniversary model (for the 10th anniversary of Goldwing production in the USA), which was available in two-tone gold/brown.
In 1992, the Interstate got a slightly better specified audio system but no other real news to report then. This and the following couple of years were not exactly a time of inspiration for the Goldwing, although there was some refinement of the model. Perhaps the GL1500 design team can be forgiven for using up all their imagination on the initial model, leaving little in reserve for future improvement.
1993 didn't see much change either, the SE getting the CB radio (previously an expensive Hondaline accessory) as standard. The cruise control now took it's reading directly from the camshaft, which made it more responsive and from now on the 1520cc engines all had needle roller bearings in the rocker arm pivots. Small improvements like this went a long way and tied up the loose ends.
The following year, 1994 was no different, apart from the usual new colour options and it is testament to the design of the GL1500 that Honda could get away with no major modifications for so long. The GL1500 was so far ahead of the competition in design and specification that it was still selling like hot cakes. Nevertheless, the Goldwing community was becoming impatient for change and the presence of Honda folks at major US rallies this last year handing out questionnaires was an indication that something new was at least being thought about.
Finally, the 1995 model year saw some real change. On the surface, new 20th. Anniversary badges, a new chrome screen garnish, slimmer side panels to make it easier for the short legged to get their feet down and some other styling refinements looked like not a lot had changed. But under the surface Honda had managed to make the suspension both lower and stiffer and this improved the handling no end. Also, with some foam shaved from the saddle, the SE and Aspencade were now 40mm lower than before, which finally made them the same height as the Interstate. These changes gave the Goldwing a new lease of life, although there were many who had expected major changes, like better brakes or fuel injection.
The next two years saw no more real changes apart from the Interstate being discontinued in 1996 (not too many folks mourned it's passing either), but by now we were in the early age of the Internet and with many Goldwing web sites and homepages springing up all over the world there was a huge following eagerly seeking out information on a possible replacement for the now rather middle-aged GL1500. A recall to have the bank angle sensor replaced was announced this year and applied to all GL1500 models back to 1988.
1997 saw the SE's lower underbelly panels colour matched to the main panel colour, helping to make the Goldwing look more streamlined. Symbols instead of text on the handlebar switchgear made it easier to read them no matter where you came from. Some important but invisible changes inside the engine were carried out too. The clutch was stronger and some of the components from the Valkyrie engine (main bearings, piston & ring sets, valve springs, con-rod bolts) were now shared with the Goldwing. The Valkyrie final drive was fitted to the Goldwing as well, as was much of the gearbox which gave marginally cleaner and smoother shifting. Not many folks noticed the difference, myself included and I happily rode my new '97 SE for three years oblivious to the differences until I started doing a bit of research on the different model changes.
1998 saw quite a few cosmetic differences, nine in fact. The Aspencade and SE got a new clear plastic headlamp and clear indicators (these were only on the American market models though, Europeans were fobbed off with the old lights and indicators), white faced instruments, new fishtail type exhaust tips that altered the exhaust sound, two-tone saddle with better back support for the pillion passenger, new rocker covers with "1500" gouged into them instead of the previous classy logo strip (which had previously been gold plated on the SE's), a skimpier engine guard (the older one would have hidden the ugly new rocker cover if it had still fitted) and badges that looked more aggressive than before. These cosmetic changes gave the ageing GL1500 a much sleeker look, although such things as the rear lighting setup and flat looking rear-end were beginning to look a bit fussy in the new age of curves and flowing lines.
These changes were carried through to 1999 but by now everyone was awaiting the much anticipated new Goldwing, which had been rumoured for the last three years. Nevertheless, the recent cosmetic changes to the Goldwing were sufficient to keep sales up (no doubt aided this last couple of years by a buoyant world economy), in spite of such mouth-watering hallucinations of a possible 2000cc eight cylinder Goldwing with auto-transmission, or try the one about a V6 2.5 litre replacement with six speed transmission (I know a few rumour-mongers who had red faces a couple of years later). The power of the rumours was very strong and there was always someone who knew someone that had a relative who drank beer with a buddy employed in the Goldwing plant who put the headlamp bulbs in the GL1500 and this guy was sworn to secrecy but... Thus the fever spread and those of use who lived through the time saw it all, the fake photographs doctored so easily by Photoshop gurus and posted on the Internet by members of a now very computer-literate public, the fake postings on web sites and in magazines etc. It was all good fun though and kept us all guessing for a long time. Surely the new model would arrive for the dawn of the new Century?
Disappointment for the new Millennium though as the 2000 model year saw the GL1500 enter the 21st Century alive and well. The only differences were that Honda had dropped the unpopular white faced instruments and the SE got chromed rocker covers. The long awaited new Goldwing was announced in April of that year and the GL1500 finally stepped down after an almost unheard of thirteen year reign at the very top and an increase in weight to almost 820lbs. Most of the other pretenders to the throne didn't fare so well, the Yamaha Venture and Suzuki's Cavalcade had both competed against the GL1200 but the GL1500 had killed them off in short order. The only real threat to the Goldwing in recent times had been the BMW K1200LT, but Honda were about to answer this and set the standard once again with the GL1500's successor.