Bikers Workshop Series

Replacing Honda GL1200 Goldwing Timing Belts.

By Steve Saunders.


Honda GL1200 Goldwing timing belts replacement, with photos and video. There is no official set interval for changing timing belts on Honda Goldwings, Honda are vague about this and you have to use your own judgement. The Honda Goldwing GL1200 Aspencade in this article was 26 years old years old with 38,000 miles when I changed the timing belts. The owner didn't know the history of this GL1200 when he bought it, and he decided to play it safe and have the timing belts replaced. Timing belt replacement on the GL1200 is similar to the GL1100 and GL1000 Goldwings. The Interstate and Aspencade models take a bit longer to work on because of the extra plastics that have to be removed.

WARNING; Changing Honda Goldwing timing belts is NOT a job for beginners to take on. Previous experience in changing and setting the tension of timing belts is a must. It is a good idea to have a Honda Goldwing GL1200 Service Manual to hand and I do not recommend this job as your first introduction to Honda Goldwing maintenance. Getting the belt timing or tension wrong is a sure way to bend valves or ruin your Honda Goldwing engine.

Click the thumbnails for a bigger image.


All references in this article to "left" and "right" side are as you sit on the Goldwing, ie throttle side being the right side.


Put your GL1200 Goldwing onto the main stand, remove both side panels and saddlebag lids. Disconnect the battery, to rule out the risk of accidentally cranking the engine when the timing belts are removed later.



Remove the saddle mounting bolts, 6mm Allen key for the right side and 8mm Allen key for the left (fore-aft adjuster) side.



To remove the saddle from the Goldwing, push it backwards and up.


Pull the trim pieces up at the rear edge, then backwards to remove them.



Remove the GL1200 faux tank next. Two 10mm bolts at the front...



...and the two at the rear, right side shown here.


Four Phillips screws hold the left pocket down. Unscrew and remove the pocket.



Carefully lift the faux tank away.


Now for the lower fairing panels, right side shown here. Each panel is held with five Phillips screws. Don't lose the collar/spacer on each screw.



When you remove the bottom screw, take out the painted cross-piece that sits between the two lower fairing panels.



When all the screws are out, remove the panel.



Radiator removal next. First remove the radiator cap and the overflow tube that connects the reservoir/expansion bottle to the radiator neck.




Lower radiator mounts, a 10mm nut on each side. These nuts also hold the brackets that the lower fairing panels screw into at the very bottom.


Now place a container under the unbolt the water pump cover housing to catch the coolant, then unbolt the two 8mm bolts. You may need to tap the cover to break the seal. Don't lose the large o-ring from the cover.



Pull the radiator forward and then use a Phillips screwdriver to remove the radiator upper hose from the thermostat housing cover.



Disconnect the radiator fan and remove the radiator.



Removing the timing belt covers, 6mm Allen bolts. It doesn't matter which one you take off first. Right cover here...



...and left cover here.



Note; Three of the GL1200 timing belt cover bolts are the same length, the fourth is longer. The longer bolt goes in the farthest left hole in the left cover. Don't lose the rubber seals and chrome washers.



Pull the breather hose off, and then unscrew the timing inspection cap from the top of the engine.



Before removing the old GL1200 timing belts, you need to rotate the engine so that the crankshaft and both camshaft pulleys are correctly lined up with the marks on the engine. It is extremely important that you pay attention to what you are doing here. If you have any doubts or are unsure you should get a professional in to help. First two pictures below show the crankshaft being rotated and the T1 mark on the crankshaft lined up with the mark on the edge of the timing inspection hole. Rotate the crankshaft (19mm bolt) slowly clockwise (or anti-clockwise if you prefer, I always go clockwise because there is no risk of loosening the bolt) until the T1 is lined up as shown.



The timing marks on the camshaft pulleys should now be lined up with the marks on the outer edge of the engine as shown in the next pictures. If they are 180% off, rotate the crankshaft another full turn until the T1 mark is again lined up with the mark on the edge of the timing inspection hole. Remember that two full 360% crankshaft rotations equals one full 360% rotation of the camshaft pulleys.
It's a good idea to mark the crankshaft pulley and engine block with Tippex or white paint when you have everything aligned. This saves you having to keep running around to the timing inspection hole to check if the crankshaft moved (it can move very easily). I didn't use Tippex at this stage and only remembered later on. I added that for the video (you will see the Tippex step lower down the page) so you can see how useful it is.



A closer look at the timing marks correctly set up. Note that the raised dot on each cam pulley are the correct timing marks, and they line up with the mark on the edge of the cover as shown below. The right pulley may have another mark (see left picture below) and this is not the correct mark for setting GL1200 belt timing. To avoid errors, look at the UP mark on each pulley. UP should be at 12 o'clock up.



With the timing marks all lined up correctly, the timing belt tensioners need to be slackened off and locked in the slackened position to allow the belts to come off. Start with the belt on the right side. This is a good time to check the condition of the  timing belt tensioners. Spin them to make sure the bearings are not rough and that there isn't any excessive play in them. Also check the surfaces where the timing belts run along the tensioners. There should be no pitting or roughness.
Note; when removing the belts, one or both cam pulleys may spring out of position. In this case it was the right one that moved (you can see it better in the video at the end of the page). This isn't a big deal so long as you remember to move it back into position when fitting the new timing belts.



Now for the left belt. If the belt won't clear the crankshaft pulley where it meets the lower pulse generator at the closest point, rotate it a very small bit so the belt clears the pulley. When you take the belt away you can rotate the crankshaft back so the T1 mark is lined up again.



Here is the Tippex being applied, after again checking the crankshaft T1 mark is aligned. It is better to do this earlier, but still came in useful even at this stage. Before you fit the new timing belts, clean around the area to get rid of any debris and dirt.


New Gates 5043 timing belts. There is no shortage of choices of GL1200 timing belts. Gates also supply the T070. You also have Quinton Hazell QTB142, Napa 250070, Dayco 95070, ADT37501 and some lesser known brands. Please don't contact me asking which is the best belt to use or where to buy them, you can get advice on our forum here from the great members who help fellow Goldwing owners every day.


Check the timing marks again (and again...), and fit the left timing belt first. Then release the belt tensioner and let it drop against the belt. Very often on Goldwings, the tensioner spring is too weak to pull the tensioner down enough, sometime pressing the belt down gently with a finger (3rd & 4th picture below) helps settle the tensioner, but don't lever them with a screwdriver. In some cases, you may need to gently push the tensioner against the belt. Light tension is all you need, and you should have between 5-7mm of play on the long side of each timing belt (opposite each tensioner). Don't overdo it and remember that these are not fan belts, otherwise you risk damaging the tensioner bearings. Don't have them too slack either or the belts will slop about and hit the timing belt covers when the engine is running.
This part of the job is where previous experience in fitting timing belts is invaluable. Tighten the 12mm bolts when you are satisfied, you will be rechecking the free play when you rotate the engine to check the timing marks again. If you don't have the feel for tensioning the belts, it would be a good idea to get someone with experience to do this part of the job for you.




Now fit the right side belt, after first checking that the right camshaft pulley is aligned properly. Remember, this is the one that sprung out of place when I removed the old timing belt. Set the tension as described already. Check the other camshaft pulley and the crankshaft to make sure they didn't move while you were fitting this belt.




Once again and before we rotate the crankshaft, check all the timing marks.



Now it is time to rotate the crankshaft, two complete 360 turns, the Tippex marks you made earlier will help you. The first complete turn will have the camshaft pulleys half way (180) around, and the second complete turn will bring them the rest of the way around to their timing marks. At this point the crankshaft T1 mark should be aligned with the mark on the edge of the timing inspection hole, and both camshaft pulleys should be aligned with the marks on the engine case as shown in the pictures above and below. If everything is lined up and the belts tension feels right, you can put the covers back on.




Refit the timing belt covers. Remember the longest bolt goes in the left cover towards the outside. The rubber seal strips can be a pain to keep in place and it is okay to use a small amount of glue to keep them on the timing belt covers while you refit them. The last thing you want is for one of those strips to fall in and get caught in the timing belts.




Refit the radiator to the Goldwing. Fit the upper hose first and that will hold the radiator steady while you reconnect the fan switch and sit the radiator onto the mounts. Make sure the rubber blocks on top of the radiator sit snug against the frame, and that you refit the collars in the rubbers on the bottom mounts before fitting the brackets for the lower fairing panels to screw into. Bolt up the water pump housing cover  and make sure the large o-ring is in place.






Now fill the radiator with coolant. I used photos from a GL1200 Standard to show this, the absence of a fairing on the Standard will give you a better view of the work. Once you have some coolant in the radiator, it is time to start the engine. Once the engine is running, blip the throttle to burp any trapped air out of the radiator. Once all the air is gone, top up the radiator and put the cap on. Then fill the reservoir/expansion bottle to the fill line.



The rest of the job is just reassembly of the parts you already removed. Lower fairing panels, faux tank, saddle etc. This is the lower fairing panel on the left side.





The saddle and other bits and pieces are easy to refit. If you got this far, you don't need any further help from me. If you do need to ask any questions, please post them on our forum here and you will get all the help you need from the great members there.