Episode XII - Week 1 Road Report
I rode the Wing to the office and back over the last four days, putting about 150 miles on her.
Nothing broke, which impressed my wife. She thought things were hopeless when she came home and found that black/yellow heap in the driveway.
It's a fun ride. I was expecting less maneuverability, frankly, but she responds quite well to steering input, leans comfortably into turns, and has more power on tap than I need - or want my son to try to use.
Tuesday after work, I went over to get her inspected and, I hoped, stickered. I knew the bike ran and stopped, that the lights, horn, etc. worked, and that there are no leaks (save the small seepage under the valve covers that we'll watch and I hoped the inspector wouldn't notice). But did she merit the sticker and Maine seal of approval for road use? I expected to be told that X or Y was not right in some way. A couple people at the shop came over to eyeball the odd flat-4 without a fairing and bags or a German emblem. Much to my pleasure, the inspector was quite satisfied with what he found. I rode out with a gorgeous green 2022 inspection sticker on the plate. 38 years old and legal to ride.
There are issues.
The bike makes a nasty rattle on launch if I'm not super careful and easy. First, I thought I was lugging the engine, but it's worse with more throttle. Tuesday night, the internet led me to GoldWing Docs, where I learned that the chain rattle sound is a symptom of a carb sync issue. OK. We didn't pull the carbs, rebuild, etc. We tried the "in situ" approach, with fuel, Seafoam, and time. Once we managed to get the bike running, things smoothed out reasonably quickly. I knew there were issues because things could cough and sputter soon after a cold start, especially if we relaxed the choke too soon after a start. But it cleared right up once the temps rose a bit. There's little to no hesitation when rolling on throttle, even quickly from idle.
OK. So I ordered a sync tool on Tuesday night, and we'll tackle a carb sync. I'm sure we can handle it, and it'll be good for us. Besides, we can use it on our other bikes, both of which, thankfully, seem to be running just fine right now. Good tool investment.
There's a pretty serious leak in the air suspension up front. I noticed heaps of sag on a hard brake Thursday afternoon and re-inflated the forks that night. I haven't put a gauge on the forks today, but I think things felt a bit too saggy on the ride home. We didn't want to spend more $ than we have to on the bike, so didn't really anything into suspension. But now we have rider - and a fun one at that. Why suffer with a crappy front end?
I ordered Progressive springs for the front, which this forum and others tell me will dramatically improve front suspension and perhaps eliminate the need for air. We'll also look to see if perhaps the hoses aren't tightened down, which would surely cause a problem with an air leak. 38 year old rubber may ultimately be the culprit.
When my son and I were talking about it last night at dinner, he said, "Dad, it's almost 40 years old. It's going to have some leaks."
I responded: "Right. I'm old and sometimes I leak air." The wife was not impressed.
Rear/linked brakes aren't doing it for me. There's just too much play. They definitely work, as I've stopped the bike from 20 mph reasonably quickly with just the pedal, and it's sort of nice that they're not ready to lock up with a flick of the ankle. But we're going to put time in to see if we can bring up the pedal a bit more.
I haven't ridden at night, so I can't be sure we've got the headlight dialed in. We've got an LED in there, and I find they often shine too high and require a downward adjustment of the bucket.
And the rear wheel isn't quite balanced right. I can feel it in my seat, and it's not my imagination. Not sure what the opinions here are on the whole "dyna bead" thing, but we're taking a chance on that some-call-it-snake-oil dynamic balancing product. Some GoldWing riders swear by them. I'm new to the whole thing, and perhaps I'm the sucker born in the last minute.
If Dyna Beads don't work, we're out about $20 and will pull the rear wheel and get a regular weight balance. I can see by running it in the driveway on the stand that is not really side-to-side play, and I think the beads are better for a somewhat "out of round" balance - or whatever that's called.
I tried removing my hands from the bars (carefully!) while decelerating from 45 through to about 30. There's no wobble, vibration in the bars, nothing.
If we can address the carbs, the front suspension, brake pedal, and the rear wheel balance, we'll have a really nice riding bike here. Six months ago, it was practically heading to the dump.
Now, my son has yet to get much time on the bike. Lacrosse season started this week, and he's a four-year varsity starter. He's a bit busy with that, and his travel team is still playing. There's also school, and the girlfriend. Next time we ride together, he takes the Wing. I think it's going to grow on him the way it's growing on me. (I may need to get another one, which will cause problems on the homefront!)
Avatar is a summer '21 photo of the Blue Phoenix, our Winter '21 GL1100I gone naked.