Workbench May 2014

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stu and bike

Technical Questions and Answers


I have a 1997 GL1500 SE with 50,000 on the clock. I have some maintenance questions for you. In the last two years I’ve changed the coolant, bled the clutch and brakes, put in new
plugs, synchronized the carbs and changed the front fork oil during a fork rebuild. Every year I change the oil, filter and final drive oil. What else should I do? I was thinking I should replace the timing belts and, in reading your recent articles, the sub air filter. What else would you recommend? One last question: I will need a new battery when spring gets here. Which do you recommend, a gel type or a traditional lead-acid?

Thank you for your advice.

Loren Moak

via email


Your owner’s manual and the factory service manual both contain a maintenance schedule based on time and mileage. Though it doesn’t cover oddball things like the sub air filter, it’s a really good guide. The only other thing I can think of offhand would be the rear splines on the drive shaft and in the final drive coupling. These originally were not considered a regular maintenance item, but Honda issued a technical service bulletin later on advising technicians to inspect and lube those splines at 16,000-mile intervals.

If you’re not the bike’s original owner, then it may make sense to inspect and/ or replace the timing belts because there’s no telling what some previous owner may have done under those belt covers. WORKBENCH TECHNICAL QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS BY STU OLTMAN But generally, unless you hear noises or see fluids escaping from the timing belt enclosure, your timing belts are probably in like-new condition. Those belts are critical to engine longevity and are much more robust than typical accessory drive belts as installed on automobiles. Without regard to time, Honda specified “inspection” of the GL1500 timing belts at 100,000 miles. But regardless of accumulated mileage, if one had gone to the trouble of removing all parts necessary to get at those belts for a look-see, it wouldn’t make much sense to close the patient back up without replacing the belts.

Batteries — perhaps the most misunderstood component on the bike. Your GL1500 came equipped with a traditional flooded-style lead-acid battery — the type that needs routine checking and filling. I definitely do not recommend installing one of those. Not that they’re not good batteries, but lack of regular maintenance causes them to become useless in short order. Other types of lead-acid batteries include Gel and absorbed glass mat (AGM). Don’t confuse the two — there’s a difference between a gel battery and an AGM, and I’d recommend the AGM (sometimes referred to as valve-regulated lead-acid, or VRLA).


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3 Responses to “Workbench May 2014”


    Stu, if I am changing the front rotor covers over to up-dated newer ones,
    should I be replacing the front brake pads at the same time ??

  2. jim "zeke"

    Stu , thanks to your notes on cruise control ,l found that if l push the clutch lever forward of the rest position the green light will come on .is there any way to clean the contact point of switch .( like take lever off and use soft tooth brush ) 2nd Q l found it hard to follow the directions on how to manually lower head lights as l have put in progressive fork springs and larger front and car tire on rear of a sidecar unit. 3 rd Q , does the tire balance mark line up with to the valve stem,as they have mark and. 6 weights about 4 / 6 in away. keep up the fine teck talk Q & A thanks again zeke


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