Starting to look for next winter’s project

bosco659

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At the spring bike show last weekend, a bike caught my eye and I thought it may be a good for a project for next winter. The bike is an ‘84 or ‘85 Honda Nighthawk. From all the intel I’ve gathered so far, they appear to be a decent bike. Any thoughts on this? They seem to be fairly affordable and by the looks of it, very low maintenance. Here’s the one(s) at the show.

C36097E2-54EC-49EE-9312-FEDA728A5E86.jpeg
 

toglhot

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Pretty well any bike is ok, except maybe a Honda. Honda have a curious habit of linking the engine with the gearbox via a primary chain. Nothing wrong with primary chains linking gearbox and engine, all the Brits have them, but Honda, in their infinite wisdom, installed the primary chain in the middle of the crankshaft??? So, if you have to replace it, its a big job. Not sure if Honda went down this road with the nighthawk, the engine just looks like the standard CB series, so I assume so.
I found they make a snatching noise, so, you're always listening for it thinking something is about to go 'bang'!
 

bosco659

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Pretty well any bike is ok, except maybe a Honda. Honda have a curious habit of linking the engine with the gearbox via a primary chain. Nothing wrong with primary chains linking gearbox and engine, all the Brits have them, but Honda, in their infinite wisdom, installed the primary chain in the middle of the crankshaft??? So, if you have to replace it, its a big job. Not sure if Honda went down this road with the nighthawk, the engine just looks like the standard CB series, so I assume so.
I found they make a snatching noise, so, you're always listening for it thinking something is about to go 'bang'!
Interesting. Didn’t know that. I’ll have to research reliability issues in that area. Thx
 

toglhot

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I'm not aware of any reliability issues, it's just an irksome design in my view and like I said, I hated the snatching, expecting something to go bang all the time, and that was with a new chain!
This is the SOHC version, but the DOHC version is much the same, just has two cams.
All bike engines have design flaws I suppose, just look at the XS, but a primary chain in the middle of the crankshaft is just too big a flaw for me.
 

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jpdevol

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Any thoughts on this?
One of the most maintenance free bikes of the era: hydraulic valves, hydraulic clutch, drive shaft. Pretty good handling and decent power for a downsized 700cc. I always liked the styling too: quarter fairing, tank, etc. The primary chain was a non issue
 

gggGary

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Minority opinion and a "stay away" vote.
It's not the Primary chain....
https://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Honda_Nighthawk/Known_Problems
The starter and alternator are on a chain drive
1680780935201.png

It also is buried so deep the cases need to split. Unlike the primary chain this one is prone to stretching and eventually disaster.
Dragged a cheap one home once, read up on the funny noise and sent it right back down the road. I disclosed the issue, not my fault if the buyer didn't fully understand the implications. Excessive knowledge of a problem can be a slippery slope.
I'm sometimes sharp enough to search "model, year" and problems before heading out with the van on a hot-buy mission. :cautious:
 
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Raymond

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Grandson had the red/black version for a while. IMHO, it was a snoozer, altho the engine may have been tired or out of tune on that one.
Do you mean riding was a soporific experience? Back in the '70s, had a Honda CB550 Four K. Thought it looked smart, or wouldn't have bought it, it was reliable, I wanted to like it, but in the end it was just too bland.
 

jetmechmarty

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I believe that drive chain was an invention by Borg Warner. They made the chain that doesn’t stretch. It was that that made the 1966 Oldsmobile Toronado and the 1967 Cadillac Eldorado possible. It allowed the TH400 transmission to be adapted to front wheel drive.

I believe the Honda Nighthawk and my XS1100 employ the same chain.
 

bosco659

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Interesting comments. Thx.

I’ve read much about the bottom end lack lustre performance. Seems this engine is a bit of a dog at the bottom end but is quite rev happy and comes alive around 8,000 rpm all the way through to redline around 11K. I’d rather have bottom end torque but may be able to live with this as each year we all get a bit older. Methinks the 6 speed tranny will help a bit with rideability.

Of concern though is the the internal chains. I need to look into this. Most of the bikes I've seen for sale locally have 30K+ km on them so I wonder how long these chains will last before presenting themselves as problems. This isn’t the only bike that could the the “winter” project. If I get scared away from it there’s plenty of time to find another.

On a side note, if anyone out there sees a mid ‘70’s Ducati Jupiter scrambler for sale in their area, please lmk. I’d make a road trip to bring one of those home. Thx
 

Vincenthdfan

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I had that exact bike when I was stationed in Alaska early in my Air Force career. I absolutely fell in love with the looks of it is why I bought it. It looked fast sitting still and I always got complements on it as well.

I absolutely HATED that little quarter fairing windshield though....I could never get my head in clean air no matter what I tried I got bad helmet buffeting.

It had an on/off powerband kind of like a two stroke too...pretty gutless and electric feeling, boring really. It was however, truly a maintenance free motorcycle.

I've mentioned it before, I've tried multiple times to like Hondas (CB-900, CB-650, CB-700S, CB-750, VF-500, V-65 Magna) but they just never seem to have the same "soul" feeling to them that many of my other bikes have had...at least the more modern ones I've mentioned. I have a few old classic ones that are a blast to ride and fun to tinker on. This bike doesnt fall in that category for me unfortunately.
 

46th Georgia

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I had that exact bike when I was stationed in Alaska early in my Air Force career. I absolutely fell in love with the looks of it is why I bought it. It looked fast sitting still and I always got complements on it as well.

I absolutely HATED that little quarter fairing windshield though....I could never get my head in clean air no matter what I tried I got bad helmet buffeting.

It had an on/off powerband kind of like a two stroke too...pretty gutless and electric feeling, boring really. It was however, truly a maintenance free motorcycle.

I've mentioned it before, I've tried multiple times to like Hondas (CB-900, CB-650, CB-700S, CB-750, VF-500, V-65 Magna) but they just never seem to have the same "soul" feeling to them that many of my other bikes have had...at least the more modern ones I've mentioned. I have a few old classic ones that are a blast to ride and fun to tinker on. This bike doesnt fall in that category for me unfortunately.
Kinda' like Bic lighters and Glock pistols,dead nuts reliable, but no soul.
 

bosco659

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Its all about that "character" and "soul"...some bikes have it, some just miss the mark, for me anyway. ;)
That’s what I liked about my Suzuki GT750 water Buffalo. That bike had so much character. Had a blast owning it and riding it last year and perhaps this summer will regret I let it go. I think that’s my attraction to vintage bikes. New stuff like my Ducati will hopefully be great to ride, but it will mist likely be just another bike.
 

cra-z1

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I just got done with a XJ550 that also has a primary drive off the crank. Its tensioner is spring loaded plus oil pressure which keeps the slapping down. The CB550 is also of the same design. In general they are reliable but yes you do have to split the crank. I agree that these smaller bikes are pretty gutless but I kinda like them for riding on the back roads and just slowing down a bit. Makes getting on this much more fun.
BMW.jpeg
 
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