L.A. BIKE REFURB: Better than new.

Click on images to enlarge them.

Finding the perfect bike shop. This specific service mattered to me, a lot. It's the first major service since India 30,000 km ago – and the bike has had a serious beating for the last couple years without being touched by a GoldWing specialist.

I've decided to keep this great bike forever, so wanted every little detail 100% perfect.

Also, I didn't want to just go to a Honda dealer and risk getting a newbie mechanic or a 'checklist' service. I sought TLC by a seriously experienced expert, searched online, found many shops in South California claiming to be "Wing specialists," but I don't know them apart.

So I asked Max McAllister, the very smart and helpful Prez of Traxxion suspensions – "Who are his best forks service people in LA area?" He recommended JBJ Cycles [link] in Santa Ana. Was he ever right!

A rare 'the-way-it-used-to-be' family-owned GoldWing, Valkyrie and Victory garage, the only bikes they love and maintain; also make GoldWing trikes; were the first GoldWing-only shop in South California 15 years ago.

Everyone who works at the shop owns a few Wings (including antique GL1000's) and they have between the three principal guys there – get this: Two million miles on bikes! 2,000,000 miles - all in USA. They obviously know the bike. And have iron butts.

So, I emailed ahead from Australia, made an appointment, gave a detailed list of parts to order; everything was waiting.

John Wear is the mechanic. Jack Wear is his dad – who only works at the shop Saturdays (the rest of the week he owns a company that does all the vehicle service for Boeing in the area, quite an endorsement of his mechanical ability.) Mike Douglas works with John throughout the week.

They spent from 10 AM to 5 PM on a Saturday (normally closing at 3 on Saturdays) – working on Black Bike at full speed, no other bikes on the bench but mine. Yesss! Dedicated TLC as sought.
. . .– Rebuilt the tired front forks, cleaning them using an
. . .. . electro-sonic oven(?)
. . .– Removed the rear end completely and checked splines
. . .. . universal joint etc.
. . .– Did compression test and all six cylinders are perfect.
. . .– And every little thing in between.
. . .– John even found the wrong type of bolts used in remounting
. . .. . the saddlebags in Bangkok.
. . .– Wrong bolts used on mufflers in India.
. . .– Made everything right in detail.

He just knows the bike and is properly fastidious. I stood there and watched. Absolutely the best wrench. Five stars.

Evidently people send their bikes from Australia to JBJ and some ride across a couple states for service here! (The latter I can understand, but from Oz?) It's rare to find this kind of service, in this day of big shops and rotating personnel.

The cost? $475 for all labour including adding a bunch of costly 'bling' items I picked. Plus parts of course, but they too were reasonably priced.

With some costly parts, tires, wheels, new chrome engine covers, etc – total bill with tax was $3,200 well spent, worth every dime.

Jack (left) John (right) Wear. The best GoldWing shop I know anywhere.

What was done to Black Bike:
(A) Basic Maintenance:
. . .New front wheel bearings (precautionary.)
. . .New Bridgestone* tires (JBJ's fav brand – never had any defects!)
. . .Change engine & rear drivetrain oil
. . .Replace all other fluids (clutch, brake, coolant)
. . .Air filter K&N brand (it costs more but is the best)
. . .New battery (not needed but ...)
. . .New Vesrah brake pads (read only great things.)
. . .Traxxion fork service - new oil, seals, bushings
. . .Replace Honda remote control for trunk (broke mine)
. . .New stainless steel belly pan (mine was totally destroyed!)
. . .New chrome Honda exhaust shield, badly dented in Italy ($166)
. . .Many other routine maintenance items.
(B) Bling and add-ons
. . .New chrome wheels ($600) – old ones were beat up.
. . .New plastic dashboard cover in all-black ($265) - ditto.
. . .New windshield ($170) - ditto.
. . .New chrome engine head cover ($390) - just because.

* PS: a note on tires. I'd ordered ahead a new pair of Metzeler ME880's from JBJ. They are still my favourite rubber-meets-road except for two bad rear ones in a row. JBJ however has experienced delaminations and premature spot-wear on Metzelers, just as I did: So, it's not just the SE Asia batch as I'd assumed!

JBJ said they've had the best luck with Bridgestones, never had any factory defects. These million-mile pros, you have to listen to them; I took their suggestion. That said, I'll keep my ears to the ground for Metzeler, and hope they fix this issue soon.

The tires I took off were: Metzeler ME880 front and Bridgestone rear. Both were new in Indonesia and both were fine at around 10,000 km. Both had life left in them, but I decided to start with new tires and wheels in North America.

. . .I'll never forget how brilliantly great the Metzeler pair was from
. . .Israel –> India. 22,000 km through some of the worst roads, heat,
. . .abuse with narry a problem: The kind of stuff biker brand loyalty
. . .is made of!


Bike detailing in LA area: Picture Perfect Detailing [link] in Signal Hill was recommended by JBJ as a shop they and many bikers use. Picture Perfect do lots of bikes, did a great 2-man x 4-hour job on mine. Buffed out many scratches, polished, waxed. The bike's sun-soaked colour came back, leatherette and plastic look renewed, it's almost like new. $150. High marks.

New blingy chrome front wheel.
Old powder coated one had been scratched beyond touch up.
Hard to tell from a photo
but bike polished looks like it never left North America.
New chrome engine valve covers.


Rear Suspension Tweaking: My new RaceTech G3-S [link] was shipped to me and installed in Bangkok some 15,000 km ago. Meanwhile I bounced the hell out of it with an extremely heavy load, especially in Indonesia. It still worked, was not at all 'shot,' but JBJ thought it was a bit soft.

Since RaceTech was only 30 miles away, decided to drop by and get them to check it, mostly as a precaution. What amazingly great service, again.

Dropped by late one afternoon; their senior tech/engineer Tony Marasco tried to adjust it lying on the ground, told me to come back next day when a service bay was available – they tweaked it to perfection first thing in the morning.

Nicest most helpful bunch of people one can imagine. Erick Hilton and Christie (in marketing) were service stars when sending me the kit to Thailand – I was a pain in butt with all my requirements, questions and emails, but they did it all smiles precisely on time.

Plus, what a large, busy, spotlessly clean facility, packed with bikes they are working on; mostly off-roaders, some 4-wheelers. I had no idea RaceTech is such a large outfit.

They tightened up the rear end, it's firmer and better. Actually it's absolutely perfect. With Honda's pre-load adjustment set at between "0-5" (out of 25) with a passenger and full luggage aboard, the bike feels tight as a drum, handles like no big bike should. With Honda OEM suspension I had pre-load set at "15-20" – but even so it was mush and bottomed out, a lot.

Highest marks to the RaceTech G3-S. Get one, I mean it, an enormous difference.

(I've got to move to South California. Service here means SERVICE!)


Perfection re-found: On the freeway that afternoon, running as if on rails at 100 mph (160 kph); doing tight U-turns in parking lots for testing; cornering hard on ramps; stopping and starting hard to test everything – I wanted to whoop aloud like a kid with a new toy.

The bike feels better than new. Yes, literally, better than new. No new GoldWing feels this good, mainly due to the vastly improved after-market suspension.

Front (Traxxion) and rear (RaceTech) suspensions are absolutely perfect. The Traxxion fork brace is a necessity, has been brilliant from day one. The bike steers and handles beyond what I can describe in words, especially considering it's some 1,300 lbs (600 kg) laden, and this highway bike has been treated almost like an enduro for many miles in the past couple years.

New tires make such a difference, plus new perfectly balanced wheels.

The entire Honda drive train is absolutely perfect, quiet, smooth as velvet, far better than last week, given that everything is new. It was never better, even new out of the box.

It shines and shows like an almost-new bike.

For a Round The World biker, this defines happiness.

This baby is my first 'forever keeper' vehicle.




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