By Andy MacDonald
“Tech Q&A” editor for Rider Magazine
(reprinted from June 1995 Wing World, with updates added)

The bank angle sensor on the GL1500 Gold Wing is a shield-shaped box that resides between the right saddlebag and the bike’s subframe, about where the Co-Rider’s right thigh would be. It is a safety device. In the event your Wing should topple over, the bank angle sensor shuts down the fuel pump and ignition system. As such, it is a great feature.

However, the bank angle sensor can malfunction after a period of time—not miles—and here’s why!
Inside the shield-shaped box is a pendulum whose movement is baffled by a fluid. I’m guessing the fluid is some form of silicone. That fluid evaporates over time, allowing the pendulum to swing wildly whenever the bike encounters any bump in the road, rough surface, or even when the rider jiggles the handlebars.
Try this test. With your GL1500 engine idling and the bike at a standstill, give the handlebars a good shake. If the engine immediately quits, your first suspicion might be a wiring problem in the handlebars, for the symptoms would be the same. So you turn off the ignition key, mutter, “What the heck!?”, turn the key back on, and presto, it’s running again.
You might think whatever happened was just an anomaly and proceed unwittingly onward, unaware that the sensor could be tripped again at a time you’d least expect it.
I’ve heard of some mechanics bypassing the bank angle sensor on 1988 and 1989 GL1500s. 1990 and later models have different wiring that doesn’t allow this “paper clip” trick to work. So some guys were going in, drilling a hole in the box, and pinning the pendulum with a sheet metal screw so it couldn’t move. Don’t do this!
A properly working and functional bank angle sensor is a good thing, so don’t try to defeat its purpose. Instead, replace the dysfunctional one with a new one.
I’ve had some success with repairing some of these units, but liability reluctantly forbids me from giving you the details here. But I do recommend you determine if your bank angle sensor is working properly so it doesn’t cause your Wing to quit when you least expect it. Either you or your mechanic should be able to perform the “handlebar shake test” to determine if your Wing has the bank angle sensor problem.
The costs to correct this problem aren’t that much (around $100 for part number 35160MN5003 that lists for $81.86) and labor (around $20 to $30), and are well worth it to keep this effective safety device intact and working well.

Shortly after the above article was published, on June 27, 1995, American Honda began a voluntary recall of all 1988-1993 GL1500 motorcycles to replace faulty bank angle sensors. At the time, Honda estimated about 50,000 Gold Wings would be affected by the recall. Also recalled were 4,500 Honda ST1100 sport touring motorcycles, also equipped with bank angle sensors. Our sources at Honda tell us that the material of which the device’s case was made was actually absorbing the fluid; it did not evaporate. Bikes that had the faulty bank angle sensors replaced by Honda dealers during this recall program had a mark hammered into the frame to indicate the replacement was made.
The price for the sensor has naturally increased over the years (currently around $100) and there are now three part numbers for the affected models. For the ’88 and ’89 GL1500, the part number is 35160-MN5-003. For the ’90 through ’92 model, it’s 35160-MAF-003. The ’93 model takes number 35160-MT8-003. If your ’88 through ’93 Wing exhibits the symptoms described by Andy in this article, your dealer can inspect your bike and determine whether the recall was ever applied.