A brief summary of how our F6B changed from the time it was produced until the day we purchased the bike, as least as best as I can tell:
- The two-tone gloss black & flat black color scheme was changed to all gloss black by the selling dealership, Honda of Russellville, Arkansas circa 2013.
- The stock exhaust slip-on pipes/mufflers were replaced with a set of Vance & Hines “Monster” pipes; however, the catalytic converters are still on the bike.
- The stock 6.5″ windscreen was replaced with a medium size Clearview Shields windscreen, making the front of the bike look more like a Gold Wing than the sporty “cruiser” or “bagger” persona.
- The stock saddle was replaced with a Corbin F6B Touring saddle, covered in an embossed, faux black snake finish with a mid-saddle back rest.
- The stock suspension was lowered 1″ using a Lower Wing, Inc. shock link, reducing the bike’s ground and cornering clearance, as well as making the center stand un-useable. Interestingly enough, the front suspension was never adjusted to level the bike which caused the steering trail to be altered.
- All of the “Honda” badging was removed and/or replaced with custom-made F6B badging.
- The stock rider’s foot rests were replaced with Kuryakyn “mini footboards” and set of Kuryakyn Ergo II Cruise Mounts were attached to the front engine guards.
- The knock-out panels on the lower driving light housings were removed (poorly, I might add) and a set of HID driving lights were installed in the housings.
- A set of Kuryakyn ISO handgrips were installed over the stock handgrips.
- A set of Kuryakyn Skinni Mini™ Ultra Bright L.E.D. Strip Lights were added around the two large headlights.
- A set of foam “Tunnel Fillers” were inserted into fork tube passage in the fairing to block air movement and road debris from passing through the fairing.
A Quick Recap of My Early Changes Made Right After Acquiring The Bike:
- Replaced the Corbin saddle first with a stock model purchased off of ebay ($189), less a few parts that I only discovered were needed for proper installation. The latter are now on their way to us. Note: the Corbin saddle will be offered up for sale such that the proceeds will defer some of the other equipment purchases.
- Replaced the Clearview Shields 15″ touring windscreen with the stock 6.5″ tall model purchased off of ebay ($85); however, it has proven to be too small for two-up riding so I have purchased two other, taller models via ebay to experiment with: a National Cycles VStream Sport ($107) and a BaggerShield Sport Shield ($89).
- Removed the Kuryakyn Ergo II Cruise Mounts. These were “highway pegs” bolted to the engine protector bars. I’ve never used highway pegs and saw no need to keep them, never mind wanting a cleaner look to the very sleek bike. If I find I need an alternate position for my feet on longer rides Rivco makes a very well-integrated “flip-out” peg that I’ll use. ($0)
- Removed the Kuryakyn Skinni Mini™ Ultra Bright L.E.D. Strip Lights. The previous owner had them wired into the running light circuit and wrapped around the headlights, ostensibly for enhanced visibility but presumably for the added aesthetics as well. I’m just not into decorative lighting. ($0)
- Removed the Kuryakyn ISO handgrips, using a little farmboy engineering to salvage the end-weights for use on an interim basis until I decide if I’ll outfit the F6B with a Throttlemeister throttle lock. There was also an ISO foot shifter cover that had to go. ($0)
How the F6B was configured shortly after joining our stable.
The More Recent Changes:
It was a busy week couple weeks with packages arriving almost every day. Thankfully, that has just about come to an end and I can now shift from buying parts to selling off a few as a way of recouping some of the transformation costs.
Radiator Cowl Badges: It was purely cosmetic, but having the “F6B” branding down on the mid fairings in one typeface and then in a badge on the radiator cowl in a different typeface seemed redundant as well as aesthetically out of balance. I looked at the wide variety of aftermarket badges that were available, but decided the original Honda flying wing badges would be the most appropriate and add-back some of the Honda polish that differentiates their products from others. I purchase the badges off of ebay for $56 and they arrived a week later.
The custom F6B aftermarket badges at left, and then the stock badge at right.
Removing the aftermarket badges required removing several panels from the upper left and right cowlings to get to the access holes behind each badge that allow you to push the badges away from the cowling. With rear access now available, I applied a little heat to the badges to help release the adhesive and then used a nail punch to push the badges away from the cowl to where I could grasp them with my fingers. With the F6B badges off, it was a simple clean-up of the mounting surface before applying the new Honda badges with their pre-applied double-backed adhesive tape.
Passenger Backrest & Luggage Rack: This was a really important, albeit expensive “must have” for the bike. Without the backrest, riding two-up with Debbie would be a non-starter: she needs her backrest!
As mentioned in my last update, the back rest came from Japan at a cost of $266 and the mounting hardware and luggage rack came from Ohio for another $260. Amazingly, both packages arrived on 2 September, several days ahead of the original ECDs. Of course when I say they arrived, they got into the hands of our local post office where upon they were not necessarily delivered promptly or without angst. Not sure what’s up with the USPS: seems like they’ve gone to contract labor or something. Anyway, I was thrilled that they arrived as quickly as they did and I had them on the bike Wednesday night.
Installation required removal of the saddle side rails, saddle and then the upper rear cowl which is somewhat tricky. With the cowl removed, there were four parts that had to be added to the bike to support the backrest and/or luggage rack installation.
The first two were plastic panel cover plates that went in the rear center top cover. The new parts were simply covers with pre-formed access holes for the mounting brackets that replaced the solid, stock cover plates. While I could have saved about $80 by simply drilling holes in the stock covers and buying only the lower pair of brackets from an aftermarket company, I opted to go with the Honda OEM parts for a factory-finish installation. With the rear center top cover removed the two screws that held in the small cover plates were now accessible: it was a two-minute parts swap. Also, with the top cover removed it was now easy to see where the other two metal attachment plates for the passenger back rest and luggage rack would go.
The only trick to installing the metal brackets was figuring out if the antenna mounting bracket went under or on top of the bracket as it was not clear how they stacked-up at first. However, upon closer inspection it had to be under not over. And, with the bracket installed and the top cover back in place it was just a matter of stacking up the passenger back rest, four bushings and the luggage rack, all of which were attached to the brackets using four bolts.
The final fit and finish was excellent. Moreover, Debbie did a test sitting and gave the backrest a big thumbs-up. It fell in pretty much the same place as the back rest on our Harley-Davidson Road King CVO which she has no problem riding for hours upon hours without any discomfort. And, at least in my humble opinion, I think the F6B looks more complete and balanced with the back rest and luggage rack.
The Mustang Tripper Fastback Deluxe Saddle: As mentioned, when I first saw the stock saddle (pictured above with the back rest photos) I could tell it would probably not be as comfortable as it should for Debbie. The very blocky, two-tier design just looked like it would hit her in the back of the thighs in a way that would become uncomfortable even on hour-long rides. As luck would have it, one of the aftermarket saddles that looked like it addressed this issue was the Mustang Tripper Fastback and I found a second-hand one for sale that had been in use for a few years. The seller had it shipped out last Tuesday and it arrived just two days later on Thursday afternoon via UPS: that was impressive! And, upon opening the box the saddle was equally impressive. Fantastic quality and the cover looked “as good as new”.
As I went to install the new saddle I’d finally figured out why I’d been having so much trouble installing and removing the stock saddle that I’d purchased via ebay: it was missing four large rubber & metal mounting bushings which was causing the mounting bolts to go too far into the mounting bosses and damaging the threads in the bosses. While I’d address the missing parts with the seller later on, my immediate concern was re-tapping the threads in the bosses so the new saddle installation would be trouble-free. It added about 20 minutes to the seat installation process but it was time well spent.
The Mustang saddle had a much better fit and finish that either the Corbin or the stock saddle and, in terms of comfort, it did in fact eliminate the interference issue for Debbie just as expected. And, because the Mustang saddle moves the rider down and back an inch I’d no longer need to have the lowering link on the bike to accommodate my somewhat short inseam. Now, I will have to note that having me sitting an extra 1″ lower in the saddle is not something Debbie was thrilled with. She doesn’t like to be perched up above me on a motorcycle and as you can see in the photo below, there’s a fairly significant difference in height between where my butt hits the rider’s saddle and where Debbie’s butt hits the pillion position on the saddle. She says it’s not awful and something she’s already getting very used to.
Getting back to the missing parts on the stock saddle, I’ve since shared correspondence with the seller and he’s purportedly found the missing parts and is sending them my way. That’s a good thing! After all, the stock saddle is of no use to me without them!
Replacing that Lowering Link: One of the things I quickly realized I’d have to address with this particular F6B was the lowered rear suspension. The seller, like me, is inseam challenged so the seat height of the F6B can make your footing marginal on any other than dead flat surfaces. But, taking an inch out of the ride height and cornering clearance on any motorcycle creates trade-offs and I quickly realized how quickly that cornering clearance can be consumed just on our local roads. Having ‘found’ the Mustang saddle, I knew I’d gain the same inch of standover height that the Lower Wing, Inc., lowering link provided, so I went ahead and found a stock shock link from a salvage yard on ebay for $39 that came off a 2013 GL1800 with 11,000 miles; new ones have an MSRP of $256 and even at a discount are around $200. The link arrived on Thursday, same day as the saddle.
After confirming the Mustang saddle provided me the solid footing I’d need with the Lower Wing link removed, I cleared my calendar for Friday morning so I could take on the link removal project. I will say that not being able to use the center stand made changing out the link a bit more of a challenge, noting it was the installation of the lowering link that rendered the center stand useless. Instead, I had to use my J&S lift to raise the bike up high enough to get access to the three large bolts that secured the link to the motorcycle frame, shock and dog-bone linkage, noting the center stand needs to be up to use the J&S lift and here’s the rub: it’s hard to access the bolts with the center stand up and two of them won’t come out unless the stand is down. Therefore, it became a two-step process whereby I removed the nuts from the three bolts while the bike was on the J&S lift, then lowered the bike onto three 4×6 pieces of lumber to raise the bike the extra inch needed to use the center stand. Once the bike was up on the center stand the bolts came right out and the lowering link was out.
Putting the stock shock link back in required the use of a small hydraulic jack to compress the shock enough to get the shock bolt holes aligned with the link, but that was the only tricky part. After that it was just a matter of torquing the bolts back to factory spec, getting the lumber out from under the bike and then removing a small shim from the side stand to adjust the lean angle of the bike back to the stock configuration.
The removal of the lowering link immediately returned the center stand usability, it restored the original handling / steering characteristics as well as the stock cornering clearance and with the addition of the Mustang saddle I still was able to get both feet flat on the ground when stopped and seated in the saddle.
I think I already have a buyer for the lowering link which new sell for $385. I’ll need to see if I can’t find what these things sell for second-hand. Same with that Corbin saddle.
Finding the Right Windscreen: It’s always a bit of a challenge to find the right amount of wind protection for a motorcycle. On one hand, you don’t want to be beat to death by wind blast or buffeting but on the other there’s a reason you’re inclined to ride a motorcycle instead of driving a car; just ask any dog and they’ll explain.
So, the F6B presents us with a few challenges in this regard. The GL1800 was designed to have a full-size fairing but that sort of kills the “bagger / cruiser” persona of the GL1800B / F6B. Of course, as we’ve now learned first hand the very stylish-looking F6B windscreen at just 6.5″ tall is simply too short to be effective at speeds above 45 mph for a single ride and only 30 mph for two-up.
At least from my perspective, what you see below represents the two extremes for windscreens: the Clearview Shields 15″ (Medium) windscreen on the left is 3″ too tall for me and the Honda original equipment 7″ tall windscreen on the right is too short. Oh yeah, it looks really good and would actually be a pretty good windscreen for the summer but that’s about it: no way it could be used for two-up riding.
The following windscreens “appeared” to be good candidates with screen coverage and heights that fall in between the two models above. The one on the left is the National Cycles VStream Sport model and the one on the right is the BaggerShield Sport Shield model.
The VStream Sport model is about 12″ tall when measured the same way as the first two windscreens, whereas the BaggerShield Sport is 13″ tall. However, the Lexan polycarbonate VStream incorporates a “flip lip” across the top edge of the windscreen similar to the Clearview Shields models as well as some shaping at the outside edges whereas the BaggerShield is just a curved piece of aircraft grade Lucite acrylic. The shaping on the VStream made all of the difference and the height was spot-on for allowing me to see over the top edge instead of through it, which was also a problem with the BaggerShield.
Therefore, at least for the time being, the VStream will be the windscreen of choice for both my daily commute as well as any weekend riding Debbie and I do on the Honda. The BaggerShield will be going out on ebay as it’s just not useable for me and it’s also not returnable after being used and, well, how the heck do you know if they work without installing it and riding around.
Tunnel Fillers: What the Heck Are These? When I had the bike taken apart to work on the windscreens I found two large pieces of foam stuffed down in the fork tunnel of the bike’s fairing. These foam fillers are apparently designed to fill the gap between the fork tubes and the fairing to keep cold air, bugs, water, and road debris from coming up and hitting the rider. In doing some quick research on these things I learned there are people who think they’re the greatest thing ever, whereas other people see them as a solution looking for a problem. I’ve pulled them out, but have not yet decided what to do with them beyond that. We’ll see if they are of benefit when the cold weather comes this winter.
J&M Speaker Upgrade: Having been spoiled by the four speaker sound system on our Harley-Davidson Road King CVO, the two speaker system in the fairing just seemed a bit lacking on the Honda.
As I was doing my homework and learning about the F6B I stumbled across the high output J&M FSPU-GL06-XT speakers that were a plug and play replacement for the stock Honda speakers. At $129, that seemed like a reasonable approach given how much better most aftermarket speakers are vs. the factory spec. I ordered them on a Tuesday and they arrived on Saturday at noon via FedEx. Installation took all of about 15 minutes as the dash cover on the Gold Wings pops off and the speakers are each held in with four screws and a single two-pin power/signal wire. From the J&M specs, the XT’s are rated at 3 ohms impedance and 140 watts max power, they feature a very thin, hard, injection molded combination carbon fiber/polycarbonate cone, titanium colored dust cover, super flexible rolled edge, high sensitivity voice coil and dual-donut design high-flux strength Neodymium magnet structure, to provide for maximum air movement & voice coil cooling, along with superior bass and midrange response.
The original equipment speakers are at left with the dash off, XT’s installed at right.
The J&M XT speakers definitely sounded a lot better than the original equipment: very clear, crisp and with better bass response just as advertised. So, at least to me, well worth the cost since the entire sound system is built around just the two-speaker system.
Switching Out Mini-Footboards for OEM Pegs: As noted, the previous owner swapped out the basic Honda OEM foot rests for a pair of Kuryakyn Mini-Footboards. While I’ve learned to like the footboards on our Road King, they were nicely integrated with the Harley’s foot shifter and brake pedal such that the footboards did not interfere. That was not the case for me with the Kury Mini-Footboards and the Honda’s foot controls.
While I was surfing one of the F6B owners discussion forums I noted someone was also looking for a set of OEM driver’s foot rests and in the midst of his search apparently found a set about the same time another list member offered up a set. I jumped on those and bought them for $32. The seller had them in the mail in no time and they arrived on Saturday, about the same time as the J&M Speakers.
The aftermarket mini-floorboards at left that I replaced with stock foot rests.
I had the footrests changed out in about 10 minutes and really enjoyed having them on our first post-change ride on Saturday afternoon.
Homemade Glovebox & Saddle Bag Key Knobs: One of the odd design features of the Gold Wing are the lockable glovebox and saddlebags. While on the surface having secure storage on a motorcycle seems like a really good idea, and it is. However, in most cases a key lock is in addition to a latching mechanism that can be operated without a key, but then locked if needed.
On the Honda, that was not the case: the saddlebags are either locked and latched or unlocked with a key sticking out of the key hole. Same thing goes with the glovebox: you can only open the glovebox with a key. The work around that Gold Wing owners have come up with over the years is using a replacement radio knob and spare keys to create a “key knobs” for the glovebox and saddlebags.
I’d ordered the radio knobs for this little trick from a local dealer on Wednesday and they arrived on Friday afternoon. There’s actually a video out on the web that describes and demonstrates in detail how to make these key knobs, but in short it takes about 20 minutes to cut the keys to the right length for the two different key knobs needed for the glovebox and saddlebag locking mechanism. Add another 10 minutes for putting a notch in the middle of the radio nob and then 6 minutes for mixing and then filling the radio knobs with epoxy and getting the keys centered as the epoxy sets up. Twelve hours later, we’ve got key knobs!
So, What’s Left To Do?
In theory, I’ve got everything I need for the original purposes of this bike: replacing the BMW R1100S as my daily driver. However, as much as Debbie enjoys riding on the Honda there’s a 50/50 chance it could end up being our only motorcycle going forward! More to follow on that. But, if that were to be the case the Honda would definitely need some type of throttle lock installed for longer rides as a pseudo cruise control and I’d also need to add a trailer hitch and wiring for the Bushtec trailer, never mind getting the Bushtec repainted.
Beyond that, it’ll need an oil, oil filter and air filter change in about a month along with a change to the brake and clutch fluid.
So, there you have it: you’re up to date! And here’s the bike as it sits today: