GL650 Silverwing | GTAMotorcycle.com

GL650 Silverwing

jeff96

Well-known member
I've been keeping an eye on winter kijiji deals, and I keep coming back to an old silverwing. I love my little CBR but it sucks at a few things that are important to me: Riding two up (not a huge deal, but may be in the future)
No lockable storage. (Could be addressed with a few hundred dollars)
Tough on the body for long trips (My biggest concern. I'm looking at raising the seat as I'm 6'2", but there's only so much I can do there. I commute an hour to work on it, and I loved the 4000km trip I did on it, except it was getting very painful to be on the bike near the end)

Things I love about it:
Lightweight.
Fun to ride.
Cheap to buy and maintain.
Fuel economy.
Reliable.

Every cool bike I've seen, I've checked out on fuelly.com and cycle-ergo.com . I was surprised to see a lot of bikes (according to the website anyway) wouldn't give me any more room than what I already have. My knees would be even more bent on an sv650 or a gs500f.

Enter the gl650. It seems to keep a lot of what I like and might address the issues I want to fix. Given my penchant for riding in the worst possible weather, that big fairing is looking pretty good. I used to think the old interstates were kind of ugly, but the look is growing on me. The CBR is about as unique looking as a beige Corolla in Brampton. I'm okay with giving up some sportiness for long distance capability, but I'm not sure I'd enjoy a goldwing on my commute.

My biggest concern is the reliability of a bike from 1983, but I don't see much in the way of modern equivalents. My idea is to buy cheap and plan to spend money up front for some restoration.

I enjoyed a test ride on a NC750, but it doesn't have nearly as much fairing. A vstrom would probably suit me well, but they're not cheap. What other models should I consider? Have I overlooked anything in my criteria?




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Wingboy

Well-known member
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The biggest negative i remember about them was the gearing.On the highway the revs are way up there.Restoring an 83 won't be cheap.
 

nakkers

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I believe the 650 was a one year only offering. Honda’s are reliable but, old machines do need service and parts availability can be an eBay wait and see treasure hunt.


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jeff96

Well-known member
Are you thinking of the 500? I've read a lot of people saying that about them. I'm looking at ready to ride bikes. The 'restoration' would be catching up on maintenance that is likely overlooked on a bike this old
@nakkers yes, it was only for 1983. There is some interchangeability with the gl500 and cx500
 
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Mad Mike

Well-known member
I keep a few oldies in the stable, they are easier to fix but a little more work to maintain than modern bikes. Parts are not usually a problem however getting them isn't always quick, easy or cheap as little is available through the OE dealer network. That makes touring and relying on an antique a bit problematic as you might be days - weeks waiting for a simple part.

Two of my old gals were primo touring bikes in their day. They are as ready to hit the road today as they were in '76 and '82 however. If it were 76 or 82 I'd be deciding on which one to take across Labrador this summer -- but it's '19 so any mechanical issue means they come home on a trailer.

Have you considered a late model KLR? 2008 and up with <25,000km are often listed at $3K, I'm guessing they go for $2500 and often have some touring accessories included - AND - there are an immense number of affordable 'farkles' that allow you to economically customize for comfort, style, or function. They might tick all your boxes and eliminate the parts and service availability issue.
 

Iceman

Well-known member
I keep a few oldies in the stable, they are easier to fix but a little more work to maintain than modern bikes. Parts are not usually a problem however getting them isn't always quick, easy or cheap as little is available through the OE dealer network. That makes touring and relying on an antique a bit problematic as you might be days - weeks waiting for a simple part.

Two of my old gals were primo touring bikes in their day. They are as ready to hit the road today as they were in '76 and '82 however. If it were 76 or 82 I'd be deciding on which one to take across Labrador this summer -- but it's '19 so any mechanical issue means they come home on a trailer.

Have you considered a late model KLR? 2008 and up with <25,000km are often listed at $3K, I'm guessing they go for $2500 and often have some touring accessories included - AND - there are an immense number of affordable 'farkles' that allow you to economically customize for comfort, style, or function. They might tick all your boxes and eliminate the parts and service availability issue.
Klr is a great choice, cheap to own, cheap to maintain, cheap to insure, and 400+km on a tank. Plus it'll go nearly anywhere you point it.

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jeff96

Well-known member
Thanks, I have a KLR on the watch list that I wasn't sure about. There's an interesting review on the KLR on Fortnine

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Iceman

Well-known member
Thanks, I have a KLR on the watch list that I wasn't sure about. There's an interesting review on the KLR on Fortnine

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I had a 99 klr. Bought it with 45k on it, literally went everywhere on it, sold it at 87000km. My buddy is still riding it. I really enjoyed that bike, not fast but fun.

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bitzz

Well-known member
I have a '82 GL500 Interstate Silverwing. The one with the stupid beer box (which actually makes it quite rare, as most people scrapped that idiot box). It is one of my more modern bikes.
I call it a "poor man's" Guzzi. Stable, smooth power, easy to ride
With the correct maintenance there is no reason these bikes would not be reliable. CDI ignition, shaft drive, CV carbs are all pretty bullet proof.
Do not forget we are talking about a bike built 35 years ago. It will NEED almost every bearing and rubber part replaced (all still readily available) if you want a reliable ride.
Parts like bearings, piston rings and rubber parts go bad sitting still.
If you do buy the GL I suggest you put bigger front brakes on it.

IIRC the land speed record for a 500cc push rod, un faired motorcycle is held by a GL500.
They can be fast....
 

Mad Mike

Well-known member
Thanks, I have a KLR on the watch list that I wasn't sure about. There's an interesting review on the KLR on Fortnine

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I like that review too, however I don't think most KLR owners are expecting to ride like that, and if I'm not mistaken the KLR reviewed was 30 years old! The reason that bike went for 30 years mostly unchanged is because the design is so damn good, it's retired is because the engine didn't suit today's emission requirements. If you can stretch your budget a wee bit, a Vstrom or Versys might be a good fit too. I bought a 650 Vstrom last spring, it has exceeded my expectations. I'd be equally pleased with a KLR.
 

TK4

Well-known member
CX/GL500s and 650s - things to watch out for:
Stator failure. Not unusual, and requires pulling the motor.
Final drive coupling. If not properly greased on a regular basis the spines wear out. Good luck finding a replacement.
As has been mentioned, on anything of that vintage the likelihood of having to spend $$$ on regular wear items (bearings, seals, etc.) is high.
 

JavaFan

gringo diablo
Site Supporter
a big fairing on a middle weight bike is not common

can't think of anything made in the last 25 years that came stock in that configuration
 

Baggsy

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The big knock for me against a Silverwing, without having ever owned one, would be all that Tupperware.

I suppose it would depend on how easy it is to take on and off and whether any tabs are broken or missing.

The V65 Magna I had from the same era, was easy to work on, except for one spark plug; the '01 Connie I had was lots of work to remove body panels, just to get at the parts.
 

MacDoc

Well-known member
Site Supporter
Nother vote for the KLR650 ..my 2004 is simply bullet proof despite only being ridden a few months a year ( mind you the guy that maintains it is a helicopter jockey sooooo ).

It's taller and lighter than the Stroms and handles rough pavement with aplomb.

It will cruise at 120-130 with decent tires, big tank is a bonus and they are inexpensive.

Buzzy at speed but grip buddies kill that and street tires.

For your size ...it's a good choice.
 

Hack

Well-known member
I'm waiting for a CX650E to fall into my lap one day...
I had one as my first bike back in '91... It may not be the greatest machine, but I had a lot of good times on it... 'Rode it to Ft. Lauderdale and all over SW Ont

Nostalgia I guess...
 

jeff96

Well-known member
@TK4 yeah, when I stopped consider reality, I'm okay with a bit of wrenching like adjusting valves or changing brake pads. I already have a bunch of unfinished projects, I don't want to buy another one.

Thanks for the advice everyone. It looks like I need to look more closely at a KLR. With that big front dirt bike fender, I didn't think it would be right for me at first, but the more I read, the more I like it

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jeff96

Well-known member
I'm waiting for a CX650E to fall into my lap one day...
I had one as my first bike back in '91... It may not be the greatest machine, but I had a lot of good times on it... 'Rode it to Ft. Lauderdale and all over SW Ont

Nostalgia I guess...
Please view this ad:

1983 CX650 - Ready to go for spring.,
https://www.kijiji.ca/v-street-cruisers-choppers/kitchener-waterloo/1983-cx650-ready-to-go-for-spring/1397570718?utm_source=com.google.android.apps.docs&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=socialbuttons&utm_content=app_android

Price: $*1,200

Download the application from the Google Play Store.
http://goo.gl/Hs9Yg

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nobbie48

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Site Supporter
Times have changed. 650 used to be decent sized bike, now it's a starter. Goldwings and SUV's have something in common. A lot of people have gotten so large that the old sedans and medium sized bikes don't fit anymore.

I had an 85 Goldwing and the wiring was a mess. I think every previous owner hacked in lights and patched the harness. I gave up on stators and reg / rectifiers.

Smaller motors mean a lot more shifting. Going from the 1200 to a 1500 has reduced the amount of shifting a lot. I don't know how that translates to a Silverwing riding two up.

The economics of restoring a bike absolutely suck unless you're being paid to work on someone else's bike. For your own it's worth it only if you find a rare bike of your dreams that you will keep forever.

The money you spend on fixing an old bike is money you won't have when the right one comes along.

Commuting on a Goldwing at around 1000 pounds is OK when moving at a decent speed but single digit speeds are foot draggers. At almost 4 feet wide one doesn't nip in and out of traffic. Fuel mileage is like a small car.

Check insurance. Older bikes are often declined for regular coverage. Vintage insurance may be cheap but could restrict mileage.
 

wonderings

Well-known member
I would go with the KLR myself if looking for a budget do it all bike. Has a stellar reputation at being rock solid. You can literally go anywhere in the world and have no problems finding parts for it as the bike has not changed much over the years. Simple to work on, tons of after market options for reasonable prices. I have never ridden one myself, but have followed it for years and always admired the reputation of the bike. I went opposite the KLR into BMW territory, no simple bike, all bells and whistles which I love.
 

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