Honda GL1000 Gold Wing Cafe Racer

Gold Wing cafe racer. Four words that you don’t normally expect to read in the same sentence but that’s the thing with motorbikes, cafe racers even more so, it’s all about the individual, their tastes and desires.

Richard, the owner and builder of the bike you see here, caught the cafe racer bug when he glimpsed a Rickman Honda whilst working at his local Honda dealership. In the mid ’70s, Richard could be found tooling around Florida on his old Harley Davidson Panhead but his head had been turned by the Japanese in-line fours that were making headlines at that time and he always figured that, when the time  was right, he’d have one and give it the cafe racer treatment. In 1975, when the Honda GL1000 Gold Wing launched, Richard had a crafty “test drive” on the firm’s demonstrator and was blown away. This was the bike that he would one day use as the basis of his cafe racer.

One day turned out to be forty years later when in 2015 he located the ideal donor bike, a 1976 model in Sulphur Yellow with 22,000 miles on the clock.

1976 Honda GL1000 Gold Wing in Sulphur Yellow

1976 Honda GL1000 Gold Wing in Sulphur Yellow

Whilst it doesn’t look too shabby here, Richard tells us that:

“Several years of neglect had the brake calipers all stuck and binding, and the carbs and fuel system pretty well gummed up from ethanol laden fuel that was years old. The frame, paint and chrome was showing its age. The tires were rock hard Dunlop TT-100 that were date coded 1979!”

Frame and cycle parts

First off, Richard pulled everything apart and then the frame, swing-arm, centre and side stands, brackets, rims and hubs, brake calliper brackets and bodies, yokes/triple trees, fork sliders, headlight and gauge shells/buckets, upper pod frame, air box, fuel tank and front mudguard/fender were all sent off to be powder-coated gloss black. On reassembly, the wheel and head bearings were replaced with new items. The standard handlebars were replaced with a Shorty superbike design to which Richard fitted new switchgear.

All three brake discs (rotors) were surface ground and drilled to lighten. The callipers were stripped, rebuilt and painted red to complement the bodywork. All fasteners, wherever possible, were replaced with polished stainless socket heads.


The heads were removed and treated to new valves, springs, seals and a three angle valve job. The engine valve covers, belt guards and carburettor trim were wrinkle powder-coated, and a full set of polished stainless socket head screws were installed to the matt-black engine block. A spin-on oil filter conversion was fitted to the engine which accepts Richard’s preferred WIX filters.

Powder-coated frame and wrinkle-coated engine covers

Powder-coated frame and wrinkle-coated engine covers

The carburettor assembly was professionally re-built by 0ldSchoolCarbs in San Jose, California who fully dismantled and then reassembled it with refinished/re-plated parts and properly re-jetted the carburettors to cure the off-idle stumble early Gold Wings are known for.

Carburettor assembly

Carburettor assembly

The original exhaust headers were replaced with a set from 1978 model fitted with 1.75″ outlet stubs to accept the 24″ reverse megaphone silencers (mufflers).

Reverse megaphone silencers

Reverse megaphone silencers


The seat is a custom fibreglass design with foam pad and pleated cover. The paint is clear over base Audi Brilliant Red. The rear mudguard was removed and not replaced (natch) whilst the front item was replaced with a lighter and shorter after market version.Picture of the finished motorcycle

Picture of the finished motorcycle

Top tip

Richard revitalized all of the rubber components by boiling them in water with wintergreen oil for 2 hours. They came out as pliable as the day they were new with an added bonus – they smelled minty fresh!

What are you waiting for?

If you would like to see the fruits of your labours on this site, submit your details and we’ll be in touch.

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