Hi, Steve. It's easy to be confused about ignition ballast resistors. And maybe it's me that's confused.
But, the theory is that the ballast resistor ballasted available energy.
Let's start with the Kettering system's greatest weakness, that of being voltage sensitive. Because Kettering saturates its primary then collapses it before firing its plug, it's extremely voltage-sensitive and at higher rpm this means the system can become voltage-starved. Like no other ignition system, Kettering can run out of voltage. This can actually be observed in the Honda CB350 twin whose charging system regulator often failed, lowering battery voltage, and resulting in the bike running on just the left cylinder. A classic symptom.
The ballast resistor's role, so it was once believed, was to "store" energy by feeding the ignition less voltage when requirement was low, and then more when it was higher. It didn't actually store anything, it just administered. Whether it did this by becoming less resistive with heat (counterintuitive regarding resistors, I know, but my personal theory) or however it did it, this is the idea, at least on 57 Chevys.
That said, it is obvious the ballast resistor on the GL1000 (and on the CX650 Turbo) is not being used in this way. Instead, it is merely a moderately high wattage resistor that enables a lower voltage path to branch out to the ignition coils on demand, in the Wing's case, after starting. In other words, the GL1000 starts on the full 12 volts to its coils but after starting operates them at a lower voltage.
I have never agreed with the idea of doing that. Why only on the GL1000? My feeling is the automotive team that gave the motorcycle division this engine had a pet principle they wanted realized. In my mind there is no legitimate value in operating the ignition at a lower voltage, and I have proven it countless times by bypassing the ballast resistor.
It is interesting to note that technical training exists that recommends the ballast resistor as a load testing tool. I have used it in that capacity but have long since preferred the Ohmmite instead.