Five Must-Have GL1800 Items

Bottom line:
What every "Adventure" GL1800 Needs

Stuff I have tested daily for two years RTW on a fully laden bike 2-up – and absolutely would not go without on a similar major trip.

And yes, I would do it again on a GL1800; no second thoughts on that.

. . .I have not done A-B comparisons in some of these items, but I know
. . .these specific products and their manufacturers well. With apologies
. . .to competitors Traxxion and RaceTech, I have never tried a
. . .front-rear pair of either brand.

. . .Ask around in chat rooms and expert Wing suspension shops –
. . .other iron butts likely know both brands. Listen only to opinions
. . .of 100,000-mile-plus serious Wing nuts who have tested the
. . .specifically branded items for a year or so.

In order of perceived importance:

1. Traxxion AK-20 & Fork Brace [link] front fork kit. Day-night immediate improvement in every handling situation. It's perfect, period. It would be silly to suggest a laden two-up GL1800 can handle like a sports bike, but with this precise, firmer front end, it's a lot closer! A different bike with this addition. Daily love.

[Important: Try hard for extra front-rear ground clearance, drop front forks a bit, investigate slight fork extension? Do not know if extension is possible but I'd certainly try.]

2. RaceTech GS-3 [link] rear suspension. It's almost impossible to overload a big bike more than this one has been while beating the heck out of its suspension, especially with all that extra weight at the aft end. My big regret is not replacing Honda's rear suspension before leaving home. GS-3 is a superb handling improvement and never (ever) bottomed out on me, while the Honda pre-load is set at between zero and five! Get an experienced after-market suspension expert to do it; replacing the rear end is three hours of work, so it better be set 'just right' first time.

[Important: Definitely get 1" more rear ground clearance via suspension, RaceTech CAN do it. Do not worry about increased front fork rake due to a raised rear end, 'twitchy' handling is not a major GL1800 issue. More important, bike needs all the ground clearance it can get overseas. See next item.]

3. Belly Pan [link]: Absolutely essential for engine safety. My old aluminum belly pan was bashed and literally torn with a few gaping holes in it. I replaced it with a light stainless one as is the link. If not for the old pan, quite likely my engine case (there is no oil pan on a GL1800!) would have been damaged; that's serious trouble mid-nowhere. Then there's the plastic coolant bottle under there, exposed to rocks being thrown up ... this is a cheap necessity even at home. Next time on 'adventure travel', I'd get a bash plate custom made of thicker, strong stainless and strongly bolted to the frame; wish I'd done this before leaving home. Regardless, remember we made it RTW; I think the belly pan helped, a lot.

4. Drink Butler Mug [link] x 2 front/rear. Think I'm kidding? This dehydration-preventer and general comfort-convenience item is our most-used single (non-drive-train) accessory. Health and safety first! Storage space for water is at a premium – plus Butler's thermal retention is excellent. It's a strong, simple, very-well-made product that does its job perfectly for years in any conditions. Again daily love, nay, it's love every half hour. We keep sippin' water in spill-proof safety, especially in hot weather; or when caffeine fixes are needed to keep alert. Get one or two, go for a long ride, then tell me I'm a sissy for having a cup on my handlebars.

5. Torq Master Pipes - with baffles [link]. Approximate 3 hp + 3 ft-lb torque improvement; nicer look; beautiful thick chrome job on recent production runs; and mainly we love the improved sound all day every day. Love that growl, sorely missing on Honda original equipment. This seriously powerful bike should not sound like a Honda Accord! And the lower back pressure did not affect the engine adversely in the slightest – all six cylinders passed the compression test perfectly. In A-B comparisons, it sounds way better than Cobra. Take the baffles out with one quick bolt per side and it out-Harleys a Harley; we only ride with baffles in.


That's it: My hard-core short list of the best-best items adventure GL1800's ought to have in my personal-iron-butt-RTW opinion. Criteria are daily functionality, safety, handling, comfort and sheer riding pleasure. (I've had two years to think about it.)

The companies that make them are first class. Excellent post-purchase service in the cases of the two suspensions, exhaust and mugs. Although I do not know who makes the belly pan, it fits and is well made.

One could go on about packing, comfort and 'bling' products; there's lots of those in the other tech blogs herein.

Note: Tires are the other clearly major 'biggie' I'd have included in the list, but there's no hands-down winner, given recent manufacturing failures. I would have picked Metzeler ME880 but ... read Indonesia East blog. Will update tire reports later once my new Bridgestones have been well used.


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1 comment:

  1. Peter,
    Saw you at the GWRRA meeting, what's the URL for you other site please.