Originally Posted by 81turbota
Thats great to hear about the CV carbs. I'm sure its all in the tuning as well..
Bikes aren't as cheap in Germany as they are in the States...so far I've found, prices are converted to USD. All of these are runners.
1979 1 owner creampuff GS850, 24K miles with a cafe seat for $3000
1981 GS850 46K miles, spare rolling frame and 2 disassembled engines $2100
1979 GS850 50K miles, looks a little weathered $1500
1975 GL1000 22K miles, last on the road in 2008 $2100
1975 GL1000 46K miles, last on road 2005 $1500
Unfortunately, in my month of searching I can't find Craigslist level deals in Europe. Price of entry will be higher, but I have an opportunity to ride over here.I plan on looking at them when I get a chance and weather improves.
Not being able to actually see the bikes, I would personally go with the 46K mile GL. Mileage doesn't matter much to a GL, really, and both of them have been sitting long enough to need freshening up. Might as well save a few bucks if they're otherwise in comparable condition.
Plus, I'm partial to the GL1000, personally. I own a '77 (in bagger form) and a '78 (in humungo-cafe form) and love them both. They are hands down my favorite 70s-era bike. I haven't ridden a GS, but I have had some seat time on a few CB750s and one Z1, and I much prefer the GL. The Z1 is faster, but the GL is more refined and has better road manners in my opinion. If you're going to be riding on the Autobahn at high speeds, that's probably something to consider. My '78 is rock-solid at high speed (although I haven't been as fast as you could achieve on the Autobahn), though some do have issues with wobbling. They are heavy bikes, but the huge, flat engine and underseat gas tank put that weight down low, so they feel much lighter than they actually are. With Progressive fork springs and CB1100F rear shocks, my '78 is no slouch in the corners, considering its vintage. I could regularly outpace my friends on twisty roads when they were riding smaller, lighter vintage bikes like the CB750, CB500, and KZ500.
If you do check out the GLs, make sure the removable frame section on the lower left is not rusted out, and check the center stand support - those are common issues that contribute to instability. Replacing the steering stem bearings with tapered roller bearings helps, too, as does making sure the swingarm bearings are up to snuff. And change the timing belts, if you do end up buying one. If one of those lets go, that's the end of the engine. The 4 carbs are finicky but work great when dialed in properly. And the exhaust note is definitely unique, you're not going to sound like just another inline 4 when you're riding.
I think any of those bikes you've listed are excellent machines, but I'd vote for the GL. Plus, the '75 is the fastest year of the GL1000. The Goldwing didn't really get any faster than that until the GL1500, and even then, it's pretty close.