Tanshanomi's Snap Judgments

Honda GL1200 Standard

Wed, January 20th, 2010

1984 Honda GL1200 Gold Wing Standard
The motor was never intended for racing, but it is still a potent motor with mountains of torque everywhere, delivered with smoothness and refinement. Without the added weight and drag of touring bodywork, the throttle on a 1200 Standard can still be a source of delight, even today.
A naked Wing still handles like what it is—a long, heavy touring bike. Steering is slow and it takes a significant amount of handlebar effort to initiate and hold a turn. The flip side is a rock-steady, comfortable ride at any speed, on any pavement. With a low CG, anti-dive forks and air shocks out back, the standard GL provides a ride that will never startle you.
The naked 1200 not only looks better than the earlier 1000 and 1100 standards, but better than any full-dress Gold Wing before or since.
Two words: Gold Wing. No, wait, three words: Simple Gold Wing.
Easily worthy of a perfect five points back in '84, the point deduction is for what age and high mileage have probably inflicted on any you'll find today.
I came this close to buying one of these in '84. The reason I didn't is that ultimately, with over 63 inches of wheelbase and 650 lbs. of heft, it's too big for comfortable around-town work, too clumsy for the twisties. While this bike really shines on long freeway hauls, full dressers offer more comfort and convenience there. There's a reason the stripped GL1200 was only offered for one year.
The last naked Gold Wing is rare, stylish, accessible, and only Gold Wing I've ever really wanted.
Big bikes should be smooth, secure and comfortable. This one is a great 'big bike' without being a 'great big bike.'