top of page

Connecting rod bearing shells:

There are five thickness grades of shell, identified by colour as well as part numbers. The colours are black (thickest), blue, brown, green, yellow (thinnest). The colour patch can usually be found on the side edge of the shell, but on some time will have erased that patch and then it will be necessary to measure clearances with something like Plastigage.


Rods for cylinders #2 and #4 require shells with oil holes in them, part numbers (1000) 13215-371-003 to 13219-371-003, (1100/1200) 13215-463-003 to 13219-463-003

Rods for cylinders  #1 and #3 should have shells without oil holes. (1000) 13221-371-003,  (1100/1200) 13221-463-003 to13225-463-003


Connecting rod shells for the GL1200 require shells with oil holes for all the connecting rods. (13215-463-003 to 13219-463-003)


It should be apparent that it doesn't matter which type of shell is fitted to the connecting rod caps.

WinGovations Copyright 2016

J G Evans



GL1100 Engine2
GL1100 Engine2

An online source dedicated to Honda's amazing four cylinder Goldwings!

GL1100 Engine2
GL1100 Engine2

How to chose your crankshaft bearings.


How to determine which connecting rod shells you need.


Connecting rod markings:


First, and only of relevance if you have to change a connecting rod for any reason, there is a letter etched on one machined face of the con-rod and cap. This letter indicates the weight of the connecting rod. You will normally find that all the rods in one engine have the same letter, for balancing purposes.

If it is necessary at any point to renew a rod, one with the same letter should be chosen. If this is not possible, the next best solution is that the opposing rod from the opposite cylinder bank should also be changed to the same number as the replacement. This is not a perfect solution but will keep the balance wthin acceptable limits.


IMPORTANT: Rods and caps are pairs, machined together and should always be kept that way. The letters and numbers are etched across both rod and cap on one machined face. It is important to match these up when replacing the cap on the rod.


Crankshaft connecting rod journal markings.


On the crankshaft web next to each connecting rod journal you should be able to see an etched letter A, B, C.

This not always very clear and if you can't make out which letter you have for any journal, again you will have to resort to measuring with Plastigage.

So now you have the data to use the chart opposite to determine which colour of shells to use.

Now go to the bearings page and use that information to find out which part number you need for each rod. Then you can hours of fun on the internet trying to find that particular number.

Remember that you can use either of the two part numbers of the correct colour in the connecting rod cap. This will help when you are searching for parts.


You really need to understand that at this point in time:



All shells are hard to find and some colours are now almost impossible.

Let us assume that you are simply replacing the old and worn shells with the same size new shells. I will cover measuring for different size replacement shells in another article.

Con rod bearing chart

I guess I should start with why you may need to use this information.


Probably you are hearing knocking noises from your engine. Your engine may have been overheated at some point, or run out of lubrication, not been maintained properly running dirty oil and filter, or maybe from simply running up high mileage.

High mileage on it's own is not usually the issue. I know of GL1000 engines running over 500,000 miles and more without being overhauled, due to being given the correct maintenance of clean oil and filter every 3000-3500 miles.


Whatever the reason, I assume you now have the engine in pieces and need to assess the damage to decide which parts you need.


Bearing shells:

If they are good, the running surface of the shell will be a nice, uniform grey colour across the whole surface.


If they have deep scores in the surface, these are probably caused by running dirty oil. They need to be replaced.


If there are copper coloured areas on the running surface, the white metal bearing surface has worn away. Usually caused by a lack of lubrication, they need to be replaced.


If there is obvious wear to one side of a pair of shells, either there is a crankshaft  problem or the connecting rod has a bend in it.

This needs to be investigated further by a machine shop, as very few owners will have the facility to measure crankshaft run-out or bent connecting rods.

There is absolutely no point in going any further with the rebuild until the problem has been resolved, as you will simply end up with the same problem again.



Check all the journals for deep scoring. Very light scoring can sometimes be polished out (by a machine shop, to keep the journals round!) and a thicker bearing substituted for the original size. There are obvious limits to how far you can go with this option, governed by the thickest OEM shell.


Deep scoring means finding another crankshaft. Honda says that these cranks are not suitable for regrind and anyway there are no oversize bearings available outside of the standard shells. No-one makes over-sized after-market shells for these engines.


If there is any sign of 'blueing' on any of the journals, this is an overheated journal usually caused by a lack of lubrication or by overheating thinning the oil until it cannot do it's job. The crank needs to be replaced.

bearing colour (Medium)

Colour Code on side.

crank 1
Crank 2

IMPORTANT- The main bearing bridges MUST be marked as you remove them and replaced on the same journals.

How to determine which main bearing shells you need.


The main bearings are a bit easier to understand since there are a range of only five different bearing shells.


Main bearing shells have similar codes and colours, black through to yellow.  

GL1000 part numbers 13321-371-003 to 13325-371-003, GL1100/1200 13321-463-003 to 13325-463-003


On the same machined face of the con-rod and cap you will also find an etched number from 1 to 3.

The number will be etched across the joint of rod and cap, so that you can see to match the cap to the rod in the correct orientation.

This number indicates the size of the shell hole in the rod/cap combination and is used together with the marking on the crankshaft  journal webs to determine the size of the shells for that rod.

crank 1

On the crankshaft webs there is an etched number from 1 to 3.  See the above picture for the locations of these numbers


This number indicates the size of the main bearing crankshaft  journal. This used together with the marks on the crankcase to determine which shells to use.

Main Bearings chart
crankcase main bearing pad

On the GL1000:

At the front of the right hand crankcase there is a cast pad with Roman numerals on it.

These indicate the size of the crankcase holes into which the main bearing fit.

Apparently these are sometimes not Roman numerals but A, B, C. I personally have never seen this.


ignore the first mark, then from left to right these marks indicate the size (as above the cast-in main bearing numbers underneath) of the crankcase holes from front to rear of the engine.

So now you have the data to use the chart opposite to determine which colour of shells to use.

Now go to the bearings page and use that information to find out which part number you need for each journal. Then you can hours of fun on the internet trying to find that particular number.


Understand that at this point in time, if you want genuine Honda bearings:



All shells are hard to find and some colours are now almost impossible.

Main bearing shells are not quite as difficult as the connecting rod shells to find, but they are still very scarce.



GL1100 Crankcase marks

The GL1100 is slightly different, having only three marks.

Conrod bearing chart
Main Bearing chart
bottom of page