Since buying my Goldwing six months ago, I’ve made a few modifications and upgrades. I’ve already posted about the addition of a tow-bar for my trailer and a mount for my GPS unit but here are some of the other changes that have been made.
The most significant upgrade has been the installation of a Progressive Monotube cartridge kit in the front forks.
The suspension has been widely reported as being the weakest link in the Goldwing, and as the springs get older, they become less effective. I wasn’t happy with my bike at very slow speeds, such as negotiating turns in the underground garage of our building. The steering felt vague and wobbly at those speeds. On Goldwing forums, other owners have mentioned this ‘slow speed wobble’ and said that it was fixed by a front fork Progressive upgrade. I was also concerned that my bike’s centre stand impacted the ground when negotiating a ramp to enter/exit our garage, when riding with a passenger. Despite being on the highest pre-load for the rear suspension, the bike was striking the top of the ramp.
Progressive offer two options to upgrade the front forks. The cheapest is a set of springs that simply replace the stock springs in the forks. The second option is the monotube cartridge kit that include gas charged dampers as well as springs. I opted for the cartridge kit. I also ordered the Progressive rear spring to replace the stock spring.
To date, only the front upgrade has been completed. As soon as I collected the bike from the mechanic, I noticed an improvement in the slow-speed handling of the bike. That slow speed wobble has been eliminated and I feel more comfortable riding bends, knowing that the front suspension is as good as it can be. Unfortunately, I am still experiencing some problems with the bike impacting the ground when navigating the ramp. I’m hoping that will be remedied once the rear spring is installed.
Whilst the 12-year old stock speakers worked, the sound quality wasn’t very inspiring. So I scheduled a visit to see Paulo and João at Camelos in Braga. They had both done the electrical work on my trailer, so I knew that they would do a quality installation for a good price.
I hadn’t anticipated how much of the bike’s bodywork would have to be removed in order to install a couple of speakers. Removal of the dash fascia provides access to the speakers, but the problem involves the removal of the metal brackets to which the speakers are mounted. If there were replacement speakers that have the same diameter as the stock Honda speakers, replacement would be a fairly simple process. But there aren’t. So the metal brackets have to be removed so that the diameter of the opening can be enlarged, to accept speakers with a larger diameter magnet. And to access the bolts that secure the mounting brackets, large chunks of bodywork have to be removed. This makes it a very time-consuming process.
Once the bodywork was disassembled, the mounting brackets were removed and some fabrication work could commence. The circular openings were enlarged and then four new threaded holes had to be drilled and tapped to accept the new speakers. Next, the plastic speaker surrounds had to be modified to accept the tweeters. The stock Honda speakers didn’t include separate tweeters, but the plastic surrounds include spaces for them. But the spaces were too small. So, some plastic was cut away so that the tweeters could be hot-glued into place. With the fabrication completed, the speakers and tweeters were fitted to the bike and all of the bodywork was re-assembled. It was a lot of work but the end result was worth it. The new speakers made a significant improvement to the sound. The sound is much clearer and also seems to be louder than the stock speakers. Whilst the sound from the stock speakers would get muffled at higher speeds, it is now much clearer and can be heard at speeds that previously rendered the speakers useless. A very worthwhile upgrade. I’m now considering the option of adding rear speakers.
LED Rear Lights
Not a necessity, but I thought I’d try switching the rear lights from regular bulbs to LED units. It turns out that the LED bulbs are much brighter than the standard bulbs. In fact, the LED lights are as bright as a regular bulb with the brake light illuminated. That should be a safety improvement, as it increases visibility to vehicles travelling behind. They also offer a lower power consumption and longer life, when compared to standard bulbs.
My bike has six rear lights – four in the trunk and two in the panniers. The bulbs that I purchased are made by NATGIC and are listed as NGCAT 7443 900-lumen bulbs (see screenshot image). The red bulbs include a brake-light feature and are sold in pairs. I bought three pairs that cost me a total of €55.23, including shipping to Portugal.
I have four of the bulbs fitted (in the trunk). A wiring issue in the lower light fixtures was causing a conflict, so they are still currently housing regular bulbs until the wiring can be sorted out. But that helps in making a comparison between LED and standard bulbs (see photo).
Kuryakyn Trunk Organiser
I have mixed feelings about this add-on. It is designed to provide a convenient storage space for items that might otherwise clutter up the trunk. Whilst making the items easier to access, it is also said to make use of what might otherwise be dead-space (the trunk lid).
Whilst the concept is good, I think the design could be better. Some of the pockets have limited uses, yet take up space that might be better used. For example, I’m not going to store my phone or credit cards in the trunk – so the spaces that are designed for such items end up being unused. I think some more generic storage pockets would have been more useful. As it is, I use the organiser to store my tyre pressure gauge, a side-stand plate (for when I need to park on soft ground) and a phone charging cable. I keep my vehicle documents in a plastic envelope stored in the space between the organiser and the trunk lid.
I think the biggest drawback of the organiser is that it reduces the height of the trunk’s internal storage space slightly – but just enough to make it difficult to close the lid with a helmet inside.
Trunk & Pannier Carpets
This is a very simple upgrade, but very worthwhile in my opinion. The trunk and side panniers have a simple plastic lining. This makes it easy to clean, but things can rattle around the inside whilst riding. Fitting a carpet kit creates a much nicer appearance and also helps to reduce noise from loose articles that are stored in the trunk. And it is easy to lift out the carpet to give it a quick shake, or to clean the surface beneath. I find the carpet particularly useful in the trunk, where there is a CD player installed in its base. The carpet covers the uneven surface created by the CD player cover, leaving a flatter surface without cracks into which small items can get trapped.
Star Washers on Trunk Rack
My bike already had a rack fitted to the trunk when I bought it. But I’ve replaced a couple of the existing washers with star washers, with rubber washers beneath, to reduce the potential for any loads on the rack to split the fibreglass trunk lid. The idea is that the larger star washers will do a better job of spreading the load away from the hole on the trunk lid. Of course, the aim is also to carry only light loads on top of the rack. Unfortunately, a lack of space meant that I could only fit the star washers at the two rear-most mounting points. The other two mounting points must retain the smaller washers, although I have also added supporting washers on the underside of the trunk lid.
When I had new tyres fitted to my bike, I also had Dyna Beads installed. These small ceramic beads are placed inside the tyre and serve to balance the wheel/tyre once moving. They remove the need to add weights to the wheel for balancing and are reported to provide a smoother ride on motorcycles. There are some strong proponents and strong detractors for Dyna Beads, with some calling them a wonder product and some calling them snake oil. So far, so good for me. Time will tell, I guess.
One potential issue that I did not consider before fitting them involves the use of tyre plugs to repair punctures. I have read that the ceramic beads will stick to any excess glue from the tyre plug on the inside of the tyre and that the resulting clump of beads will unbalance the tyre. I imagine that would be dependant upon how much glue was placed on the plug in the first place, but it is something to be aware of. If that does happen, it would necessitate the tyre being removed by a garage to remove the clump of beads. At that point, I would have to decide whether to replace the beads or whether I should go back to the standard use of metal weights on the wheel.
I don’t have any other modifications planned, beyond the rear Progressive spring and possibly rear speakers. But it is entirely possible that more mods are in the future. But I’m intentionally staying away from the money pit of adding more chrome parts or fancy accent lighting.