An article by Dave Searle in the February, 2012 edition of the MOTORCYCLE CONSUMER NEWS reported that Honda has documented 26 cases of rear brake lock-up so Honda has recalled all its GL1800s produced in model years 2001 through 2012, and in addition, Honda has put a stop-sale order in place at dealerships until the machines can be checked for problems.
It seems the problem has two parts: In normal operation, when the front brake lever is used, as the left front caliper grips the rotor, it will pivot upward to press on a secondary master cylinder which has brake lines that go back to the rear caliper. This pressure causes the two outboard pistons of the three piston rear caliper to energize, giving the effect of Linked or Combined (as Honda now calls it) braking, a standard feature of the GL1800.
After careful review of its parts suppliers, Honda determined that there is a potential stack-up of tolerances between the various pieces that make up this assembly: the caliper, caliper bracket, the fork leg, the secondary master cylinder and the pushrod that activates the secondary master cylinder. In the worst-case situation, if all those tolerances stack-up exactly wrong and the piston cup inside the secondary master cylinder swells up, there is a chance that the compensating port (a small hole in the master cylinder that is ordinarily covered by movement of the piston as it is energized) could be blocked by the piston cup and unable to release line pressure when the brake lever is released. In this case, residual pressure remains in the system, in effect applying the rear brake to some degree even when the front brake lever is released. The symptoms include a sensation of lost power, lower gas mileage and a sense that the rear brake is dragging. It’s also possible that this can cause the rear disc to overheat to the extent that it can ignite a fire. However, due to the almost fully enclosed nature of the Gold Wing’s rear bodywork, it isn’t easy for an owner to examine the rear brake or caliper.
To test the system, Honda has devised a special tool that it will immediately distribute to all its dealers. The tool will create the effect of maximum tolerance stack on the secondary rear master cylinder so that a pass/fail test can be administered. This is how it works: The left front caliper is held by two bolts. To install the tool, the upper bolt is removed, and the lower bolt loosened. The tool, which is like a bolt with a necked-down section, then allows the caliper to be repositioned upward slightly (by an amount equal to the maximum tolerance stack). If the brake still works correctly in this position, the bike does not have a problem. If it doesn’t, the secondary master cylinder will be replaced free of charge.
By the time you read this, recall notices should be in the hands of Gold Wing GL1800 owners and dealers will be prepared to handle the volume of service calls. If you suspect your own Gold Wing is affected by this condition, it is suggested that you park it until it can be trailered to a dealer for repair.
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