The Future Motorcycle: 1985 Honda Nighthawk 650

The Honda Nighthawk was bombproof, easy to ride and is worth a look over 30 years later.

| January/February 2018

1985 Honda Nighthawk
Engine: 656cc air-cooled DOHC inline four, 60mm x 58mm bore and stroke, 9.5:1 compression ratio, 72hp @ 9,500rpm (claimed)
Top speed: 119mph (period test)
Carburetion: Four 32mm CV Keihin
Transmission: 6-speed, chain final drive
Electrics: 12v, capacitor discharge ignition (CDI)
Frame/wheelbase: Dual downtube steel cradle/57.5in (1,460.5mm)
Suspension: Telescopic forks front with TRAC anti-dive, dual shocks w/adjustable preload and damping rear
Brakes: Dual 10.75in (273mm) discs front, 6.3in (160mm) drum rear
Tires: 100/90 x 19in front, 130/90 x 16in rear
Weight (dry): 434lb (197kg)
Seat height: 31.1in (787mm)
Fuel capacity/MPG: 3.4gal (12.9ltr)/45-55mpg
Price then/now: $2,798 (1983)/$1,100-$3,500

“I have beat the hell out of my Nighthawk, crashed it twice, ran it harder than anyone should ever run a nearly 30-year-old bike and it’s never missed a beat. Over 15,000 miles, all I’ve done besides routine maintenance is replace a battery and rebuild the master cylinder.” — Nighthawk owner, posting in an online forum

Fifteen years after Honda quit making them, Nighthawks are such popular bikes that eBay posts a Buying Guide for the model. Bombproof and easy to ride, Nighthawks continue to be an excellent choice for a first bike that a rider won’t outgrow in four months.

Good for just about anything you would want to do with a street bike — getting to work, riding around town, going on trips and even doing a little canyon carving, what they aren’t good for is keeping mechanics in business, as they’re legendary for their reliability.

From CB750 to Nighthawk

The Nighthawk was an outgrowth of Honda’s classic CB750 Four. During the 1970s, the popularity of the CB750 led Honda to try several different engine sizes and a slew of different cycle parts. In the late 1970s, the chopper craze inspired the Honda CB650 Custom, a 627cc single-overhead cam version with a stepped seat, longer front forks, pullback bars and a fair amount of chrome. The Custom was sold between 1980 and 1981, but for 1982 Honda added some cosmetic changes and renamed the model the Nighthawk.

Although the 1983 650 Nighthawk was superficially similar to the Honda Nighthawk that preceded it, the bike was actually an entirely new bird. Starting from the top end, its all-new engine sported 16 valves, double overhead cams, hydraulic valve adjusters, an automatic cam chain tensioner, a hydraulic clutch operating the 6-speed transmission and solid state ignition. A driveshaft transmitted power to the rear end and twin discs with twin-piston calipers provided stopping power at the front. Honda marketed the new machine as powerful, sporty and maintenance-free, and the contemporary tests echoed its claims.

kansas rider
3/30/2018 9:57:43 PM

My 1985 Honda Nighthawk has only 12 thousand miles. I only paid 400 dollars for it and had rust in gas tank. Poor thing left outside for years. Took it to a mechanic and he cleaned and rebuilt the carbs. It runs like a charm very reliable. At 6000 rpms it cruises at 70 mph in overdrive 6th gear never hesitates. I can’t ask for a better motorcycle !

1/11/2018 1:02:37 PM

With modern computer 3-D printing, it should be easy, cheap and fast to create replicas of any classic bike part.

1/11/2018 1:02:20 PM

With modern, CAD/CAM and 3-D printers, one should be able to make any part, quickly, cheaply and easily.

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