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  1. #1
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Sep 2016

    Things to Look For When Buying a 1200 Goldwing


    I have started looking to buy a touring bike, and I have gotten interested in starting out on a 1200 Goldwing. So far I have been looking in the Kansas City area, and found several good examples in the $2000-$2800 range.

    My questions are what do I look for when checking out one to buy? I know to check the paint and upholstery to see if they had been stored outdoors a lot, but do I check the drivetrain for abuse or neglect? Are there any quirks to look for when doing a look around in the seller's driveway?

    One of the bikes I found on Craigslist is a '87 SEi with fuel injection. Are there any advantages to this setup vs. a carburated model?

    Can a bike of this age do OK on a cross country trip?

    I appreciate any input you can give me.

  2. #2
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    First remember that this bike is some 29/30 years old. Most dealers refuse to work on any bike older than 10 years! The exception is Harley dealers. Many parts are no longer available from Honda, but there are other sources that you just have to look for. Especially with a vintage bike like the one you are considering.

    When buying a used bike, I like to check all fluids, and not just the level but does the fluid look like it will work. Check for fluid leaks especially clutch and brake lines as well as front forks. How old are the tires, if more than 5 years(go by manufacturer's date and not appearance) you will need to replace. If you have a mechanic that will check the bike out have him do it even if it costs you $100. Remember appearance is nice but the engine and drive train are what takes you across the country. Ask for maintenance records.

    Obviously take it for a test drive. If it is not running, it probably needs more than a new battery so I would walk away unless you want a restoration project and remember restoration projects usually cost more than you will ever recoup, but you have the joy of making it like new or better.

    I am sure others will chime in with more specific data. Don't forget to check Kelly Blue Book and the NADA book for pricing!

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    NJ FL
    Don't know about the fuel injection but keep in mind the 1500 was in production '87 through 2000. It's not like parts are scarce.

  4. #4
    Senior Member gamellott's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    All of what Harvey said and.....

    First things I would look at is the condition of the plastic. If it's cracked or broken, those are usually expensive to replace. A New bike can get totaled based on the extensiveness of the damage to the plastic even if the rest of it is fine. The condition of the vinyl seat is Not as important, IMHO, because half the people out there are probably going to change out the seat to a aftermarket version and if it's 10 years old, your sitting on borrowed time. My GL1800 is 13 years old and the seat is starting to split. I'm debating on what I'm going to do because I have a new toy Paint, Plastic, Rubber, Rust and Leaks are what you should really be looking for. Also, IF my memory serves me right, the 1200s had a timing belt that should probably be replaced immediately after purchase. Unless there are service records to prove that it was done recently, it's something that doesn't get done and you could wind up with a catastrophic failure. Also, considering the age, these things are all water cooled; You should anticipate having to replace all of the radiator/cooling hoses. If they haven't been replaced, it's only a matter of time before the hoses start to fail. They also have a water pump that may require replacing.

    Oh, Fork Tubes!! if they're leaking and have indications of pitting, they will continue to leak and will have to be constantly maintained, if they're not replaced.

    I was under the impression that all of the 1500s were carburated... Again, Age!! Fuel injection is a tad more difficult to work on than a carb, although they all have their quirks. I think that working on a carb is a dying art and you may be hard pressed to find someone to work on them if it's not running right. If you have a problem with a carb, you can just go in and clean them and it's probably going to be $500 or more to get that done... I really don't have an idea how much a Fuel injection problem would be, but you have an electric fuel pump, a computer that runs the timing of the fuel injectors and the ignition and other DIFFERENT stuff than what a carb set up has. Really, either way, it's an age thing and probably a matter of time before you have a problem. My question is if the computer does a self diagnostic that can point you in the right direction of what is wrong like it does on my 1800. I Believe, long term, a carb will wind up being more reliable with fewer electronic gizmos that can fail. But then... Carbs have mechanical linkages and jets and blah blah blah... that could fail as well... It's a catch 22. In the end, it probably doesn't really matter. There are always things that can go wrong.

    I would have a hard time convincing myself that NOTHING is going to happen driving across country on a bike that's 30 years old. If you can think of it, it could happen. OTOH, It could happen on a new bike as well, only you might have better luck finding parts and service on a newer machine. Until you address all of the "Age" related concerns (Mostly Rubber items), I wouldn't attempt something like that.

    You inquired about the drive train. Assuming we're only talking about the shaft and differential, they're pretty much bullet proof. I suspect, with the age, you may need to replace the seals. Even if they are intact, the rubber becomes hard, brittle and leak with age. Depending on how bad it is, it may or may not be something to mess with. Just keep an eye on the fluid and make sure it doesn't spill over on to your brakes and tire. That could be really bad.

    Good luck in your searching!!
    Last edited by gamellott; 09-10-2016 at 03:47 PM.

  5. #5
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Sep 2016
    Thank you very much for info!

    I haven't bought one of these yet- I was looking for some info to help me make a good decision on whether or not to buy one of these. My concern was how much maintenance or repair I was going to need to do if I purchased one. I am currently running around the countryside on a 1982 Suzuki GS850, so I have found out the challenges of keeping up an older bike. Fortunately I was able to find a company that had what I needed for the Suzuki. I knew timing belts and the cooling system could be a problem, but if it means replacing hoses, I can do that. I appreciate everyone honesty on this thread.

  6. #6
    As a gl1200 rider the above concerns are definately note worthy all in all at 29 yrs old if it looks like its been well maintained it has been. Engine oil will tell you all you need to know even if its been changed recently.After the test ride pull the dipstick smell of it if it smells like gas the carbs need synced if it has and brown/green slimy color to it walk away head gasket is likely blown . Listen to the valves when its idleing you should be able to hear them but it should not sound like a rock band is playing in there ... pop the battery cover off and check the wiring imediately around the battery if its hacked up chances are so is the rest if the wiring . Check under the bike look for signs of leaks esp at the back of the trans and the rearend .Use your own judgement and if your comfortable that you can fix what you do find wrong by all means buy it because nothing rivals the ride of a later gl1200 (85-87) these are also the least prone to failure as most all the kinks have been worked out by production. I have owned one of all 3 body styles before the 1800 and my 1200 is by far the best riding, best handleing and most reliable of the 4 goldwings I own. 154k miles and counting.

    Sent from my SAMSUNG-SM-N920A using Tapatalk


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