The Honda Gold Wing is making a comeback in a serious way. And while the days of khaki shorts and New Balances may not be completely behind this cross-country tourer, the custom scene is constantly giving us new hope and a new image of the Old Gold. Neal English is one member of that scene that brought us something a little unexpected last week: his 1976 GL1000 adventure bike.
Now, riding in Louisville, KY can be a challenge. With the weather cooperating about 30% of the time, you need to be a little more resilient to stay on two wheels out here. Just while talking with Neal this week, he was dealing with constant rain, thunderstorms and flash flooding. But this is exactly the reason he wanted to build something more “adventure” oriented. To be completely honest, I was confused by the choice of a Gold Wing for an adventure bike. I get the budget aspect, and choosing a Honda for a daily is always a good idea in my book, but wouldn’t an XR600l be cheaper, lighter, and better suited for off-road? My first question for the builder was “Why a Gold Wing?”
“GLs make for a great adventure bike due to the high allowable weight rating, shaft drive, loads of torque, and crazy low center of gravity. They love to stay up. Not to mention, as one of the world’s most successful touring bikes, they’re already designed to handle all sorts of weather conditions and altitudes.”
And there ya have it. The vision on this bike was not some “ride it to work, ride it home and park it,” sort of thing. This was truly built as a go-anywhere machine. A high-displacement interstate bike that was equipped with some stiffer rear shocks and some Metzeler Tourance enduro tires, and he was skipping mud puddles and hopping curbs like nobody’s business. But other than that, some mods in the ignition system, aesthetics, and a few modern amenities added to the trunk in the gas tank, the bike is pretty much stock. A testament to a nearly 40-year-old bike’s quality.
This build was done in small shop called FK Studios that Neal started with his buddy Matt Allen, where he did all of the mechanic work, cleaning/ polishing and paint himself. A local upholsterer named Mike Brewer took care of the seat, the only part of the bike that wasn’t done in house. It’s great to see the Gold Wing becoming such a popular platform, and awesome to see people like Mr. English here doing something a little different with it, while keeping it classy. Well done, sir.