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‘78 Honda Goldwing – H Garage

Posted on May 11, 2015 by Andrew in Bobber, Racer. 44 comments


One of the best things about a gig at the House of Burnt Pipes is the fact that you really get to see builders grow and progress in their art. Often, we’ll feature one or two really good builds from someone who we’ll sadly never hear from again. But once in a while, we are lucky enough to get in on the ground floor with a builder who’s clearly headed places and then ride the elevator all the way to the top floor with them. This is one of those times. If there was such a thing as a Custom Bike Master Builder’s Association, this bike would mark Scott Halbleib’s entry submission. Meet his latest build, a.k.a. ‘No. 5’.


Chatting with Mr. Halbleib has become quite the norm for us over the years. Whether it’s gabbing about his new shop H Garage, helping to promote The Kentucy Kick Down, or simply shooting the poop, Scott’s one of those guys that you can tell is genuine a mile off. So when he got in touch recently regarding his latest build, we were more than little excited.

“The original temptation came from the near-purchase of a similar bike at the Mid-Ohio Vintage Swap Meet,” said Scott, as we excitedly pored over fresh shots of the bike. “Months later, a local enthusiast and resurrector of vintage bikes posted one for sale. It was a dusty old barn find that had been sitting for years. The bug to customize an old Goldwing was still there strong as ever, so the purchase was made.”


Scott said that once the new purchase was home, the size of the new luxo-barge metal monster sitting in his now cramped shop dictated its priority. Clearly, nothing else could be done while the ‘wing was owning the place. The original plan was to build a bagger of sorts, but as is usually the case, the post tear-down look of the bike kind of forced its own path. Scott’s new direction? A naked Goldwing with big serving of hot rod inspiration. Hell yes.


“The bike was stripped down completely, the frame and engine were painted and reassembled. Then I took on the fabrication of the covers to create the look of a solid wheel. This was ultimately outsourced to the good folks at Mooneyes.” It’s hard to argue with 65 years of experience. Next up was the air-box. It was opened up and extensively modify to accommodate a large billet breather sourced from Holley. “I won’t lie. I chose it solely because its size and shape was ideal for the project.”


The Honda’s stock fenders were used, with the rear being trimmed and rotated forward for a more sleek, aerodynamic look. Then came the drag bars, new controls and cables, some Motogadget switches and a GPS speedo unit from Speed Hut. The tail light is a flexible LED number which mounts under the rear fender and neatly incorporates turn signals. Paint was stripped from the gas tank (note that the gas tank on this generation of Goldwings is under the seat and the ‘tank’ itself was used for storage) and radiator guards, which were then heated and clear primed.


“I fabricated the face plate and then it and the fenders were painted with a custom-mixed color and finished with a satin clear. The forks were rebuilt and new rear shocks from Progressive were installed. The old brake lines were replaced with steel-braided ones to slow it heft mass down a little quicker. The ‘pegs are from Knight Designs; originally they were made for the KTM Adventure, but I retrofitted them to the Honda with some minor modifications.”


Scott then spent a decent chunk of time coming up with the design for the exhausts and the seat which, along with the filter, seem to skilfully define the bike’s overall look. For each side, twin rectangular tips were modified, sleeved and welded to the main pipes extending back from the headers. Not only do they look mean as all hell but if it rains unexpectedly, small dogs can take shelter in them.


“The seatpan was fabricated from multiple pieces of sheet metal so it could comfortably wrap around the gas tank, which protrudes from the frame under the seat. The foam was purchased from Seat Concepts and was then shaved and sanded down to achieve the desired look – one which includes a recessed area that matches the radius of the gauge.”


Final assembly focused on the alway painstaking process of sorting out the electrical spaghetti and tuning the bike’s carbs. With the help of Modern Metals all unnecessary Nippon wiring was removed, the ignition and charging components were all updated and the relays and switches for the amazing LED fog lights and tail light were finalised.


“Tuning was not going to be an easy task, what with the missing airbox, large filter and wide-open exhaust; so it was outsourced to Chad Francis of RetroWrench. After much research, synching and needle drilling, it runs and sounds exceptional.”



After really loving some of Scott’s previous builds, including a BMW K100 and a CB450 that both sit right at the top of our all-time greats list, we’re more than a little excited to say that No. 5 is alive. Here’s betting that No. 6 will be even better.

[Photography by Craig Schneider]

  • Hardley T Whipsande III

    Nice effort . And yet another example of what can be done when the same old same old path is not followed . e.g Not another Scrambler/Cafe/Bobber . Perhaps a bit too ‘ post apocalyptic ‘ for my tastes . But nicely done never the less . As a historic side note though . ALL Goldwings back in the beginning began their lives as ‘ naked ‘ bikes . Fairings only coming into play , first as an after market option from trend setter Vetter . And much later as an option , then later as standard from Honda itself

    • Nice one. Weren’t the original fairing designs lost or destroyed or something?

  • John Wanninger

    Never thought I’d see a Goldwing I’d enjoy looking at, never-mind desiring to ride, yet here one sits. I’d love to hear what it sounds like. Awesome build.

    • Next time I am up at bike nite, I will try and get a video. This thing thunders the chest as it coasts down the street. It is near perfection.

  • Layne Stewart

    I like the speedo/tach…………

    The air filter is atrocious. The wheels are awful, and so is the square that took place of the headlight. This bike has some nice touches, but a few things need “improvement”

    • Fred

      Get away. Well done pipeburn. A bike to behold. Well done to the creator. This bike jumps off the page for its style and built form. Not everyone’s cup of tea mind you but a true creative and functional custom build. Congratulations and let their be more of these creations grace these pages. Fred.

    • roscoe

      Yep. Made to ‘admire’,not to ride. Much less cornering clearance than stock, which was already at a minimum, blow-you-into-a-semi wheel covers, and of course the ever popular Scrotum Slasher fuel filler. Etc. I still enjoy using my junk for its intended purpose(s)- I wouldn’t ride this around the block.

      • shalbleib

        I ride it 3-4 times a week. A little less clearance but corners just fine. The wheel covers are no worse than stock GL fairing or any modern day plastic covered bike. And the likelihood of catching your balls on the gas cap are pretty slim if you have even some basic understanding of physics or knowledge of riding a motorcycle. Riding a motorcycle is a risk in itself. If I was worried about a breeze, dragging a tailpipe or racking myself if I crashed, I’d probably just buy me a Volvo – they’re supposed to be pretty safe. Cheers

        • roscoe

          “… if you have even some basic understanding of physics or knowledge of riding a motorcycle..”.

          Well, that made me laugh, so thanks for that. And in your defense, maybe you live in a world where ‘an object in motion tends to remain in motion’ doesn’t apply. Or disc wheels aren’t affected by cross winds. Or guys really like riding with a sharp, vertical piece of sheetmetal jammed up against their ‘nads. And they enjoy contorting their right leg around an oddly-placed coolant reservoir. And dammit, the less suspension travel the better, and let’s move the hard parts closer to the pavement, as long as it’s got a cool stance!

          Hey, I appreciate you’re building what you like, but tell me how you’ve improved a stock GL for actual ‘riding’, and not just for ‘admiring’, which was the point of my original post. You can’t because you haven’t. You had a good basis with which to start, too, since the early GLs had the steepest fork rake, the shortest wheelbase, and were the lightest of any subsequent GoldWing, with a decent-for-now, great-for-then 80 hp. A custom bike can both look cool and ride well. Good luck if that’s a path you ever choose to go down, and as always, vaya con dios.

          • Hi again Troll.

            I don’t know why I waste my time but what the hell.

            Said filler neck/cap sits approx 12″ in front of your nuts. In the event of a crash you would be thrown forward yes, but also upward, which in (physics) theory would save your precious testicles. You will most likely hit your legs on the handlebars, yourself on the pavement, etc, like you would on any other production bike or otherwise, but you seem to have forgotten about that.

            Wheel covers – more surface area yes. More than fairings on a new Gold Wing, or any other faired bike, not even close. And if you mean to tell me otherwise, or that it’s a legitimate concern for cross winds, with all due respect, you’re an idiot.

            Yawn… fluid reservoir – sits under your right leg, pretty much where the stock one sat. Come on man, that’s the best you can do?

            Less suspension travel – You must be referring to the 1 1/4″ lowered in the front. The rear is stock. It’s minor but seeing as how you’re so concerned, I’ll address. I had it set at stock height but the feedback up front was a bit vague. Slightly lowered, considerably better. I’d say that affected the “hard part to pavement measurement” maybe 1/32″ of an inch. What was I thinking?

            As for your (typical troll) second paragraph, why are you on here?? It is a custom bike website, you’re aware of that right? And typically that means most folks will choose some form over function. You might want to turn your attention to some touring sites where you can’t get info on some cool highway pegs or flashy lights – stuff that makes your bike all safe and useful. As for this bike, was it meant to go further, in more comfort, hell no. Honda did that with the OEM version. Is it going to blow off the highway simultaneously cutting your nuts off, not a chance. You’re not even a good troll – pick on the seat, it could really use more padding. Troll on

    • It’s always the best bike that divide opinion. This one doesn’t disappoint…

    • Skody McNad

      So you like the “speedo/tach”? An aftermarket, bolt on piece? but all the custom, original, fabricated work does nothing for you? nice..

      Sounds like you should spend your time perusing the CognitoMoto website, they have ton’s of other speedo/tachs you’d love. Be warned though, they do have some pics of custom builds on their website, which you’d have to ignore.

      you are a tard.

  • whytaylorwhy

    Love seeing that old flat four get new life! Makes me miss my GL1100.

  • As someone who has a soft spot for old goldwings, this one disappoints. It just looks unfinished and slapped together. None of the design makes sense as a whole. The small details themselves are interesting. But this misses the mark.

    • Skody McNad

      Anyone who has a softspot for old Goldwings, also has a softspot where their abs used to be.

  • methamphetasaur

    But for why?


    Is this bike designed for humans? because i feel like the thing that made that seat has only had the term ‘human’ described to it, and doesn’t really understand how this whole ‘sitting’ thing is actually supposed to work yet.

    The rest of the bike is also a collaboration of what and why. You can’t really just put all of the odd things you’ve been wanting to try on a single bike, as it ends up being a visually confusing mashup of sorts.

  • I think this qualifies as a “Fat City Death Sled”!

    …and I mean that in a good way! 😉

  • P.J. Grakauskas

    ohhhh man, I cant wait to see it in person at KKD! well done Scott!

  • bjax

    With reader opinions this divided, I’d call it a success unseen.
    The GL has always carried its fuel under the seat, so it’s great to see one without the ornamental “tank.” The air filter emphasizes the unique engine layout of the GL. Could do without the mesh panel up front since it’s not covering anything.

    • Motown

      I’d agree that I’m confused about the fairing in the front. You show a picture with the taillight running, but -being that that setup’s been done- the real interest for me is the headlight/signals. The other thing I’m confused about is the water bottle. Is that just a cupholder? If so, awesome!
      I’m disappointed to learn that this guy is a bike builder, and not a wing enthusiast. I hope this foray into GLs won’t be short lived.
      This beast has already made the rounds at the Naked Goldwing Club, with rave reviews abound. Those guys are always interested in fresh perspectives on their oldwings, and this build has plenty of that. Congrats, Scott.

      • shalbleib

        If there’s no fairing (what I call a numberplate for no real reason) then you see the frame neck, cables, etc. It’s a design element with some function, which also matches the radiator over. The fog lights replace the headlight and do a lot better job. The turn signals are built into the taillight thanks to some creative thinking from Chrome Glow and Motogadget. I don’t run front turn signals. Hell, I typically don’t run any. The water bottle serves as a replacement for the radiator overflow. Another Wing tho… I don’t know, maybe down the road. I like trying something different each time. The next one to finish with be a Honda FT500. Thx Motown

        • Motown

          Thank you, Scott.

  • Gedigedi

    Hell yeah! Way to think outside the box.

  • something old from the future, fantastic

    • guvnor67

      Love to see and hear it in the flesh- ‘Wings being so large it’d have 1 hell of a presence!!! Not everyone’s cup of Darjeeling bit It’s mean n different, and that’s a good thing!!! Could imagine this in Blade or somethin !

      • I’ve… seen things you people wouldn’t believe… Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched c-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhauser Gate. All those… moments… will be lost in time, like [small cough] tears… in… rain. Time… to go and ride my Honda…

  • cam
    • Robert F. Russo

      Is that a supercharger hiding under the tank? That things a beast. Love it!

      • cam

        yes, it is supercharged. In my opinion they have created a balance through stripping xs and adding kw..

  • bruce wayne

    Damn Ive never liked goldwings but this one I love 🙂

  • Tank under the seat! I was wondering how it would get from A – B without a petty station in between. Pretty wow bike plus the Short Circuit reference makes me want to watch Steve Guttenberg movies all afternoon.

  • revdub

    Another stunner, Scott. Stellar fit and finish as always. Not surprisingly, the overall design is well thought out and just plain badass too. Love it. Can’t wait for Kentucky Kickdown.

  • Bultaco Metralla

    Great bike, love the air filter sitting proud, the overall look and the craft..

  • Fast2Furious

    This bike is totally bad ass the builder has absolutley transformed the mild mannered Goldwing into an amazing mechanical monster.

  • Let me say first off that I have nothing against this bike, but I think there’s way too much hyperbole in the article. Frame, engine, wheels and fenders are stock Honda. Wiring, wheel covers and tuning were all subcontracted out. Not a bad customizing job, but I think that calling this the mark of a “Custom Bike Master Builder” does guys like Allen Millyard, Paul Brodie and Aniket Vardhan an unfair turn.

  • Inspires me to buy and old GL and take everything off of it except for the essentials. Thanks for showing us what a real “naked” Gold Wing looks like.

  • Andreas Nehls

    love ducati, but this is awesome

  • Mike o’donovan

    yes some different ideas! square double barrel out the side exhaust very nice touch.

  • Sean Dennis

    As a fabricator and builder I can appreciate the effort, but the bike is just ugly. Just my opinion which doesn’t mean a thing in the end. If you like it, more power to you.

  • Carl
  • snt2

    Andrew, I’m working on an ’81 GL110. I’ve been looking all over for a rear fender similar to the one on this bike. I found a slim LED tail light that would fit nice under this fender. Would you please let me know where you purchased this one? Thanks… By the way, this is a very nice build and looks very clean. Mine won’t be near as nice (budget), but I will try to see what I can do.

  • snt2

    Andrew, It also looks like you modified (changed out) the rear swing arm so you could fit a fatter rear tire. What bike did you get the rear swing arm/differential from? Was it a difficult modification? Thanks again…

  • snt2

    I’m working on a 1981 GL1100. I like the look of this bike! I would like to know where you got the rear fender. Thanks.