Bikers Workshop Series

GL1500 Final Drive Replacement.

By Steve Saunders.



Removing the final drive and driveshaft from a Honda GL1500 Goldwing, instructions and photos. The final drive on the Honda GL1500 Goldwing in this article gave up after 115,000 miles. The first signs of a problem was a clicking noise from the rear of the Goldwing when the driveshaft started to slip as it stripped the splines in the drive unit. Low mileage used GL1500 Goldwing final drives are easy enough to come by as a lot of Goldwing owners convert their Honda Goldwings to trikes and replace the Goldwings final drive with the trike kits rear axle and differential. 
Any GL1500 final drive and driveshaft will fit any other GL1500. The plastic shields on later models are different and you can use your old shield on the replacement final drive if you need to.
This article covers removal of the GL1500 final drive and driveshaft. I will cover dismantling and inspection of the final drive unit in a later article.

Click the thumbnails for a bigger image.


Put your GL1500 Goldwing onto the main stand and remove the side covers. You won't need to remove the saddle, I only removed it here because I had other work to do on this Goldwing at the same time as replacing the final drive.

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The lower trunk cover has to come off the GL1500 to facilitate saddlebag removal.

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Remove the four Phillips screws from the lower cover.

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Be careful removing the trunk lower cover, the tabs in the trunk side reflectors are easily damaged by the ham-fisted. With the four Phillips screws removed, pull the cover down gently, then slide it towards the rear of the Goldwing...

gl1500finaldrive5.jpg (208087 bytes) that the ends clear the trim behind the trunk pockets.

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Remove the metal trim clips from both GL1500 saddlebag corner pieces...

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...then remove the Phillips screws under each trim clip...

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...and remove the corner pieces from the Goldwing.

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Disconnect each saddlebag light connectors underneath the corner pieces you just removed.

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Now pop the plastic clips on the ends of each saddlebag release cable off the bar.

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Remove the plastic clip from the end of each cable so the cable can clear the saddlebag later.

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Here is a closer look at the clip, you can see the slot for removing it from the cable.

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Each saddlebag is secured to the frame by four bolts.

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With the bolts removed, pull the saddlebags away, remembering to pull the release cable out.

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On models with air compressor, pull the air hose out of the right saddlebag.

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Muffler removal next. You can remove them with the exhaust shields still fitted, but the shields off gives you more room to work.

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Remove the nut from each rear exhaust bracket...

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...then loosen the front clamp on each muffler...

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...and swivel the mufflers down and off the collector box.

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Remove the left shock lower 14mm bolt, which also supports the rear brake caliper bracket...

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...and then remove the right shock lower 12mm bolt.

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If the bolt clears the threads and won't come out the rest of the way, you can get a thin drift into the hole from the wheel side (wheel removed here for clarity) and tap the bolt out.

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Now remove the 27mm axle nut...

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...loosen the axle pinch bolt...

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...and tap/pull the axle out.

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Wiggle the rear caliper and bracket off the brake disc as the wheel comes out, and put the bracket and caliper up out of the way so the brake hose doesn't get strained.

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With the wheel out, pull off the drive flange and inspect the condition of the flange splines, and the cush rubbers in the wheel.

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Final drive removal is just four 14mm nuts away...

gl1500finaldrive51.jpg (167245 bytes) pull the drive unit and driveshaft out of the swingarm.

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You can see how badly worn the splines are in this final drive...

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...compared to this final drive which is in good condition.

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The good and bad driveshafts side by side. Note the dust seal on the good driveshaft and the stopper ring on the end of the old driveshaft. The stopper ring should be discarded as it is only fitted in the Goldwing factory for production line purposes. Grease the new driveshaft splines before you refit the shaft to the final drive later.

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A closer look at the worn driveshaft, dust seal disintegrated.

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All GL1500 final drives and driveshafts will fit any model year GL1500. The plastic shields are the only difference between early and late models...

gl1500finaldrive52.jpg (221249 bytes) you can see here...

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...and you may need to reuse your old shield on the replacement final drive. They swap straight over with no need for modifications.

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The old driveshaft had a spring fitted, apparently to help quieten the driveline. The new driveshaft didn't have this spring, so I decided to swap it over from the old driveshaft...

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Push the new driveshaft back into the new final drive and slide the whole assembly back into the swingarm.

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Sometimes it might take a bit of effort to get the other end of the driveshaft into the UJ (universal joint). If you have problems, get a helper to slip a screwdriver under the UJ rubber boot and lift the UJ up a bit while you push the final drive and driveshaft home.

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Bolt up the final drive once the drive is pushed fully up to the swingarm.

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When refitting the rear wheel, remember the spacer on the left side...

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...and note the position of the spacer and large washer either side of the brake caliper bracket as you push the axle back all the way home.

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Tighten the 12mm pinch bolt...

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...and the 27mm axle nut.

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The oil had been drained from this final drive before it was shipped, time to refill it. The 17mm filler cap is at the left of the drive, and the 17mm drain plug is below it.

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Remove the filler cap and put the oil in. The drive is full when the oil overflows from the filler hole.

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When refitting the trunk lower cover, remember to push the tabs on the cover inside the trunk pock trim.

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