Ode to the Queen

Tips and Recommendations from Guru Mike Nixon

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mikenixon
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Ode to the Queen

#1

Post by mikenixon »

This is by way of introducting myself. I trust you'll forgive me for going on so.

I was still in mechanic's school when the GL1000 was announced. Still in my mind's eye I
can see the artist's rendering -- a machine to top the wonderfully capable CB750 that had so
devestatingly upset everyone's perspective of their Triumphs. (What, a machine that doesn't
require the skills of a machinist to own?!) And now Honda, it was said, was poised to top
even that. Would it even be a Z1 beater? Had to be. Man, look at that engine! And two
brake discs! And liquid cooling! Exotic! I don't think most of us appreciated how unsporting
the innaugural Wing was until we saw her in the flesh, so successful was Honda's advance
propaganda. But we were far from disappointed. Maybe not King of the Hill, but certainly the
uncontested Queen of Motorcycling, and as impressive, and capable, utterly reliable, smooth
and fast, and somehow bold and at the same time refined, in that unmistakeable Honda way.
And quiet? One of my strongest memories of 1975 to this day is that understated turbine-like
engine/exhaust whisper. You could hardly hear this motorcycle. And what you did hear was
otherworldly.

I didn't see much of the lady either, as my first Honda dealership was in a neighborhood full of mostly
CB450s, whose gearboxes I dutifully repaired as my 21st birthday approached. However, by
my second shop, my acquaintance with Honda's beautiful and already legendary motorcycle
began in earnest! My Service Manager rode an immaculately-kept completely stock three-
month old candy red, the first one the shop had got in. Not even a windscreen. The man
fit the machine. Like a cat, he was almost effeminately obsessive in his appearance and not
surprisingly equally fussy about keeping his pride and joy's carbs synced, the machine so
quiet he could ride right up behind you without you knowing it (remember him doing that at the
donut shop some weekday mornings) and he shortly to teach me the same carburetor skill.
And ride it he did, in a manner adjudging the machine more a powerful yacht than a stately
steamer. Boy, that bike made my B44 Shooting Star seem like a civil war artillary piece by
comparison! The San Fernando valley dealership naturally had a vertible community of
GL1000 riders as customers in those days, so my apprenticeship was rapid, my appreciation
for the Dame equally as quickly cultivated.

By 1977 I had become as familiar with the GL1000 as I had been 450s and 750s, what with
the tune-ups, wreck repairs and warranty crankcase replacements that come to a large metro
area dealership. By the 1100’s time I was to have amassed over 100 credit units of factory
Honda training, as well as a brief stint at corporate Honda, and although the technological
marvel of such machines as the 1100F, CX Turbo and Sabre 750 stole everyone's hearts,
I still had a warm place in mine for the Queen, the stately regal Mother. Dignified yet approachable. Classy, not obstentatious. A lady.

I'm almost 60 now and still hugely admire the GL1000. I have probably forgotten most of
what I thought I knew about servicing the now classicly beautiful Grande Luxe, or at least my
hands have, if not my heart. I still however proudly own the factory ring compressors, and the
factory aluminum crankcase spacers used when assembling Her Majaesty's engine cases.
Tokens of my apprenticeship, I seem unable to give them up. And I still feel a thrill when I
handle a set of those early carburetors; somehow the years drop away, and I like the fabled
alchemist am eager to once again turn lead into gold (the GL1000’s carb bodies are rich in
zinc, a metal with similar properties to those of lead). I still have the once-coveted carb spec
books, little-known pocket-sized books Honda produced expressly for use by career Honda
mechanics. I still remember how to coax that automotive-derived engine into giving its best,
all the secrets, hard-earned in the trenches but mostly secrets no longer thanks to the viral
power of the Internet. And this is as it shoud be. The astonishment however hasn't faded.
Nor the excitement. The elegently refined machine still beckons to lovers of mechanical
beauty. She is still the Queen. The Grand Dame. May she live long and acquire even more
admirers.

And that's my story. :-)

Postscript: I'm a bit more than 60 now and haven't lost any of my affection for the GL1000, the Queen.
Last edited by mikenixon on Sun Dec 04, 2016 10:07 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Ode to the Queen

#2

Post by gltriker »

All, Hail The Queen!!

Thanks for your great story, Mr. Nixon. Very interesting for me to realize how a person's involvements with a marque fashioned their life.
Cliff

Keep your eyes and ears open and you'll learn something new, everyday. tumb2

New users please visit our "Shop Talk" for common tips and help: <---jdvorchak
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"And your carbs will thank you. They no longer live down stream from a sewage plant." -gregforesi tumb2
"Can't see the paint when your looking thru the handlebars..........." -Oldewing ;)
"I'd rather Ride than Shine" -RAT tumb2 Me Too!!

Cliff

'75 GL1000 home built trike; http://www.ngwclub.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=30&t=39996
October,2017 BOTM :shock: https://nakedgoldwingsclub.com/forum/page/Welcome

previous rides:
1953 H-D Servi-car, naked, 1969-1978 (serial#53G1559 committed to memory!)
1980 CB900 Custom (triked) 1997-2003 .... R.I.P.
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Re: Ode to the Queen

#3

Post by Placerville »

Very nice, Mike (I read it in one sitting). I'm always glad to know of an honest-to-goodness original GL mechanic. Very few of them left in this world. We're very glad you're here. You're an excellent addition to an already great site. anim-cheers1

I see your are a So. Ca. boy. I spent most of my life in that area, all over the San Gabriel and San Fernando Valleys. Worked in Azusa and Santa as a LEO before going to work for at&t. I bought my first Wing, a black '77, from Orange County Honda. 'Them were the days'. Maybe some day you'll wise up and move to No. Ca. with the rest of us 'escapees'. ;)
Last edited by Placerville on Sat Sep 22, 2012 12:56 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Ode to the Queen

#4

Post by GL1-242 »

Welcome,

Paul
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Re: Ode to the Queen

#5

Post by mikenixon »

Placerville wrote:Maybe some day you'll wise up and move to No. Ca. with the rest of us 'escapees'. ;)
Thank you for the welcome. Yes, escaping is often on my mind. Preferably out of the state altogether. :-).
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Re: Ode to the Queen

#6

Post by Placerville »

mikenixon wrote:
Placerville wrote:Maybe some day you'll wise up and move to No. Ca. with the rest of us 'escapees'. ;)
Thank you for the welcome. Yes, escaping is often on my mind. Preferably out of the state altogether. :-).
I can agree with that wholeheartedly.
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Re: Ode to the Queen

#7

Post by Roady »

What an excellent story. We're proud to have you on the team. :-)
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Re: Ode to the Queen

#8

Post by zman »

Welcome to the forum mikenixon. Your name seems familiar, I don't know if it is from another bike forum or automotive forum , audio forum or maybe we met before.
Anyways I too was riding around on 350 honda`s and yamaha R5, kawasaki H1&2 and such when Honda came out with the GL1000, It was an event for the time considering what was out there. Never rode one and I never had though about buying one till about 6 months ago but age crept up and comfortable ride is all I really want anymore.
1980 1100 Interstate, 1978 GL1000
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Re: Ode to the Queen

#9

Post by Hal »

zman wrote:Welcome to the forum mikenixon. Your name seems familiar, I don't know if it is from another bike forum or automotive forum , audio forum or maybe we met before.
:mrgreen: The "Early Wing Guru" tag and 6 stars is a clue....... ;)
"The Moving Finger writes, and having writ, moves on,
nor all your Piety nor Wit
can lure it back to cancel half a line...

so....probably best use Tipp-Ex in future?"

1977 GL1000 in bits
1978 SR 500 Yam
1995 Harley Sportster/Buell street-tracker
1992 Grinnall Scorpion SC3 prototype
2002 Caterham SV 220 Evo (4 wheeled motorcycle) :mrgreen:


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Re: Ode to the Queen

#10

Post by Neil »

Hey Mike, welcome to the team. Great introduction. Looking forward to your wisdom and knowledge on the site.
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Re: Ode to the Queen

#11

Post by Oldewing »

Ramble at will Mr. Nixon, great stuff, glad to have you here action1 action1
82 GL1100 Interstate-Oldewing (under going work, fresh frame, NEW motor)
68 CB 350 Hiding in my shed, soon my darling soon........
06 GL1800 daily rider
83 QR 50 Wifeys bike
76 GL1000 Fur Sail............
Sometimes I wrestle with my inner demons.........
Other times we just hug.......

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And always remember: beer has food value--but food has NO beer value...
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Re: Ode to the Queen

#12

Post by gregforesi »

I'm almost 60 now and still hugely admire the GL1000. I have probably forgotten most of
what I thought I knew about servicing the now classicly beautiful Grande Luxe...
Welcome to the club.
I'm over 60 now. Remembering things on a day-to-day basis is a constant challenge.
(Now where the heck did I put that thing...you know...got two in-line wheels with a motor between them?)
2006 GL1800 (Brutus Maximus)
1978 GL1000 (White Trash - 2012 BOTY
(If you want to discuss the Trashmobile, Webers, Rearsets, Clubmans, or other stuff then send me a PM.)
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Re: Ode to the Queen

#13

Post by Rat »

Egad ..... he can WRITE too ......

Welcome to the 'Wingdom Mike.

Delighted to have you here and Thank You for the Sponsorship.

Gord action1
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‘76 project .... R2B3 ....
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My Original 'RAT' was an '82 CB900/1100F
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Re: Ode to the Queen

#14

Post by BearWing »

Great tale, Mike Nixon. Like yourself, I was a witness to the Motorcycles of the Middle Seventies, which still exist for me as the Golden Era; it was the public realizing that Disco was a birth defect, Princess Lia in the harem outfit, and the extraordinary good writing of Cook Neilson, Gordon Jennings, and Phil Schilling in Cycle magazine.

I found my DNA being bound up with the Suzuki GT750M LeMans, primarily because the only motorcycle dealership within forty miles was a Suzuki shop, and during my it-sure-wan't-Lassie childhood, I used to stop nearly every day at that shop and do everything but stalk and fondle the merchandise, until the management asked me to stop (please). Those Suzukis represented the freedom, the power of escape, and I guess that they still do; if my house were afire, right after my brilliant and beautiful wife and my dogs, I'd try a fireman's carry to drag my Buffalo to safety. Probably unnecessary, now that I think upon it. That bike has given me such pleasure that it would most likely saveus, and then call to fire department on its own.

While I watched the GL1000 introduction in the motorcycle press, I went down the Devil's Path, and got a Kawasaki Z, for the raw, untrammeled power of the beast. It wasn't until last year that I finally bought my first 'Wing, which -- as I've already bored everyone here to yawning somnolence with the story -- still astonishes me with what an extraordinary motorcycle it is, making me regret the 'lost' thirty years.

Welcome, sir, and BTW, I know of two Mike Nixons in SoCal, both International Grandmaster mechanics; one is from the CBX Project, and can balance and sync six-pack carbs with his toes, and the other rebuids warbird engines, particularly the Merlin V-12 banger for the P-51. Any relation, please?
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Re: Ode to the Queen

#15

Post by mikenixon »

Never tried it with my toes.....but The Motorcycle Project is indeed my primary website (http://www.motorcycleproject.com). To that extent I resemble that person.... Are you one of my clients? Thank you for the kind words and hearty welcome!
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