Douglas Snavely and His 1978 Honda Goldwing

1978 Honda Goldwing

1978 Honda Goldwing

What was your goal with this project?

I rode it the way it was for a while, but I came from a road racing background, and started to convert it to something I was more comfortable riding.

What kinds of parts/modifications did you add?

Living and riding on the Dragon led to most of the modifications, the goal being to run faster and smoother. One of the first real mods was changing the front forks out for a set of Kawasaki GPZ 750 forks. This was for better brakes, and the anti-dive feature, and the 16” wheel. At the same time I altered the wheel base by changing the neck angle, reducing it to allow the bike to turn in quicker. I added a 16” wheel in the rear to maintain stance; also Progressive shocks and fork springs. In its present state it also has Yamaha clip-ons with Harley controls, and custom rear-sets to help balance the front-to-rear weight distribution. NOS [single stage] air horns, custom LED turn signals in the tips of the Ducati exhaust pipes, and a Honda CBX fairing with custom LED turn signals frenched into the lower leading edges. Cold air induction to a pressurized air box, and an array of custom-mounted gauges for voltage, oil pressure, clock, boost, and a video screen with live-feed view to the rear. The seat is a one-off custom out of fiberglass.

How long did it take you from start to finish?

So far, I have been working on it since 1982. I do not say it is finished. Rather, it is a work in progress.

Why did you name it Cyborg?

A cyborg is a product of cybernetics, the melding of biological and mechanical—referring to myself being the biological, and the bike being the mechanical. I also have a number of steel plates in my body from previous motorcycle accidents, making myself also somewhat of a cyborg.

What sorts of awards has it won?

My efforts so far have gotten me a video interview with Dave Despain for Speedvision while at the Springfield Mile. However, the segment, to my knowledge, never did air. At the same race, Willie G. did a double-take and told me he was very impressed.  I also won a number of first-place awards at state Goldwing events, a very nice trophy at a Cycle World show at the Honda Hoot in Knoxville a few years back, and voted bike of the year on the NakedGoldwings.com website. This organization has over 5,000 members and is dedicated to older ’Wings and customs.

What do other Goldwingers say to you when they first see it?

Most bikers of all makes seem to gather around it where ever I go, and I often spend up to an hour answering questions. Most other Goldwing riders, especially of the newer models, don’t know quite what to think. Nothing on the bike is really just a bolt-on, and I think that confuses them a bit. But most wind up liking it in the end.

How did you first hear about US 129?

While at a road race at Road Atlanta, I heard about US 129 at the Tennessee/North Carolina line, and made the trip up to check it out. I found it to be all that was said about it. I stayed a week at the Crossroads of Time store and motel, and rode the road every day. I came to know some of the local riders, and while there made a deal with the owner of the store/motel to work as the manager. A short time later I created the Deals Gap Riding Society, and gave the road the name “Dragon.” This was based on the air photo of the road looking like the back of a dragon, and to create an imagine that was easy to promote.

How did you popularize it?

Making 129 so popular was a combination of luck and hard work. But coining the name Dragon, and instilling the “318 curves in 11 miles” image, I appealed to bikers all over the world, who saw it as a challenge that had to be met. My newsletter from the “Deals Gap Riding Society” told of the escapades on the Dragon of their fellow riders. Many just had to see what it was all about in person. I also enlisted the help of Rider magazine, which did a very good segment on the Dragon. Many people have made a lot of money because of this effort. I personally have not made a penny. However, like a proud father who has watched his child grow to a superstar, I have my reward. And without it, the bike called Cyborg would most likely not have been created. And in the end, the bike and my memories are worth more to me then any amount of money. The dragon, like the bike, has a life of its own. And that’s my reward.

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