Bikers Workshop Series

Replacing Honda GL1500 Goldwing Timing Belts.

By Steve Saunders.


Replacing Honda GL1500 Goldwing Timing Belts, instructions with photos. 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. This particular Honda Goldwing GL1500SE was ten years old with 57,000 miles, the age of the Goldwing and not the mileage being the deciding factor for the owner to have the timing belts replaced. Timing belt replacement on the GL1500 is a bit easier than on the older Goldwings in that the radiator doesn't need to be removed, and the whole job can be done in a couple of hours by anyone used to working on Honda Goldwings. Allow yourself a full morning to be on the safe side, this is a job you do not want to rush on your GL1500.

WARNING; Changing 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 GL1500 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 GL1500 Goldwing onto the main stand. Disconnect the battery, to rule out the risk of accidentally cranking the engine when the timing belts are removed later. 

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The lower cowl and fairing panels need to be removed, starting with the filler panel as shown below.

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Cowl removal next. A stubby Phillips screwdriver is a good idea on the screw just behind the fender.

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The fairing deflectors each side of the GL1500 next (left side shown).

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Fairing lower panels next (left side shown).

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Now for the two timing belt covers. Eleven 10mm head bolts total, eight on the longer cover and in two sizes just to confuse you.

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The left side longer cover is trickier to remove from the GL1500 than the short one. With the eight bolts removed, carefully pull it past the hoses and wires. I find removing the smaller crankshaft pulley cover from the longer cover gives a bit more space and something extra to get a grip on.

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Now the part where you really need to have your wits about you. Before removing the old timing belts from your Honda GL1500, 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 rotated and lined up with the arrow mark on the GL1500 engine block.

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The two pictures below show the left side camshaft pulley lined up with the mark on the casing.

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The two pictures below show the right side camshaft pulley lined up with the mark on the casing.

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If the camshaft pulley "UP" marks are instead upside down, continue to rotate the crankshaft until the crankshaft T1.2 is again lined up with the arrow mark on the engine case and the camshaft pulley "UP" marks are the right way up as shown in the previous pictures. Two full 360 crankshaft rotations equals one full 360 rotation of the camshaft pulleys. 
The picture on the right below shows another timing mark on the engine casing. There are two of these on the casing, one on the inner run of each timing belt. These markings are more difficult to see and get a straight view of when lining up the pulleys, and for that reason most Honda Goldwing mechanics use the outer marks shown in the above pictures instead.

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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. 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.

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The right side timing belt comes off first. Warning; Keep an eye on the camshaft pulleys when removing the belts, in case one or both pulleys spring out of position by one or more teeth. It isn't uncommon for this to happen and if it does, you can rotate the pulley(s) back in position before fitting the new timing belts.

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The two ignition pulse generators will obstruct the left timing belt removal and need to be moved out of the way.

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I used Gates T275 timing belts for this GL1500. Others are available as well as the OEM Honda belts, so you have several belt options to choose from. Please don't contact me asking which is the best belt to use, you can get opinions on our forum here from the great members who help fellow Goldwing owners every day. Before you fit the new timing belts, clean around the area to get rid of any debris and dirt.

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Warning; Before fitting the new timing belts to your Goldwing, check those timing marks again, and again. If the camshaft or crankshaft moved off the timing marks, you must (slowly) rotate them back to their correct positions. The new left belt goes on first.

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After checking the timing marks again for about the 15th time, adjust the timing belt tensioners next. Loosen the two bolts on each tensioner. The tensioner springs don't usually have enough strength to pull the tensioners up enough to take up the slack in the new belts. I usually give them a gentle push towards the belts to snug them up properly. You need to have between 5-7mm of play on the long side of each timing belt (opposite each tensioner). Don't overdo it or 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.

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Slowly rotate the crankshaft 90 forward and back to the timing mark, to make sure it doesn't lock up. Then rotate the crankshaft two full 360 turns and stop when the T1.2 mark on the crankshaft pulley is back at the arrow mark on the engine, ie your starting point... 

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...and the camshaft pulley "UP" marks should be lined up again with the marks in the engine casing as shown earlier, and again in the pictures below. Warning; It is extremely important to get this right, otherwise starting your engine with timing belts not lined up will result in bent valves or even a ruined engine. If the engine locks while you are rotating it, STOP IMMEDIATELY and find out where you went wrong before going any further.

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If a camshaft pulley is off the mark by more than one tooth, you will have to slacken the tensioner for that belt and pull it off the pulley so that you can rotate the pulley until it lines up correctly. Then refit the belt, check the free play is no more than 5-7mm and rotate the crankshaft two more 360 turns and see if all the timing marks now line up correctly. Once the engine rotates without locking up and all the marks line up, you can start the engine. Before you hit the starter button check that no hoses, wires or anything else are likely to get caught in the belts or pulleys when the engine is running. 

Do not attempt to start the engine until you have rotated the pulleys and are satisfied the timing marks are correctly lined up, starting your engine with timing belts not lined up will most definitely result in bent valves at best or even worse a ruined engine. If you have any doubts, rotate the engine and check again. If the engine locks up while you are rotating it, retrace your steps until you get the timing marks lined up properly before even thinking about starting the engine.

Watch and listen carefully while the engine is running. If you can hear a whining sound from the tensioners, the belts are too tight and will need to be readjusted. When the engine is running there should be some visible free play or wobble in the belts on the sides opposite the tensioners, but not enough so they can slap up and down and hit the cover when they are refitted. When you are satisfied that everything looks and sounds right, stop the engine and make a last check on the belts free play before fitting the timing belt covers.

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Now you can refit the timing belt covers.

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Refit the plastics you removed earlier and you are done. Note; When refitting the lower fairing panels, take care that you place the running light tabs between the lower and upper fairing, as shown in the picture below (right side, different GL1500 in picture). It's easy to get it wrong and put the running light tabs on the outside of the lower fairing tabs. If you do this, the tabs will snap off the lower fairing when you screw it back in place.

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