How Good is the 1984 Honda Nighthawk 650 as a Motorcycle compared to newer bikes?

This bike has feature that are hard to find on many of the newer bikes. Such as Shaft drive, a gear shift indicator, and an upright seating position. It's not a boring "standard" motorcycle (as it is classified), but it is not over the top either in the area of styling.

To me it's like the Baby Bear's Porrige...it's "JUST RIGHT"!

16 Answers

Relevance
  • 1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    Here are some advantages and disadvantages to buying an early '80s Japanese bike in general, with a little content specific to the Nighthawk. For the record, one of my current bikes is an '83 Yamaha Seca 550 (though there is a Nighthawk down the street from my house that I've been eyeing...)

    CONS

    BRAKES: My Seca has a single disk up front and drum in the rear. I believe the 650 'Hawk has dual disks up front and drum in the rear. In either case, compared with more modern bikes, "adequate" is a generous description of the stopping power and lever feel of these setups.

    SUSPENSION: The swingarm will feel like a wet noodle if you hit rough pavement in a tight turn. The forks will dive hard when you grab a fistfull of those wooden front brakes--upgrading to progressive springs should be a first priority. The dual shock setup in the rear is fine, though the seals are likely to be weepy and the bushings shot if they're still the original units.

    ELECTRICALS: Time and exposure to the elements does bad things to wiring. Gremlins have likely taken up residence somwhere in the harness. If so, you're going to have to chase them out with a multimeter and a soldering iron.

    UNKNOWN SERVICE HISTORY: Did a prior owner run the bike under the mistaken assumption that the motor oil was a total-loss system? Do the wheel bearings sound "crunchy"? Does the inside of the fuel tank look like a postcard of the Painted Hills National Monument? There's just no knowing what amount of abuse and neglect this bike has been subjected to in 20+ years.

    AESTHETICS: I really can't put into words how much I hate square headlamps on bikes.

    PROS

    IT'S CHEAP: At least, it ought to be. If you're paying more than $1500 for this bike, it's either in showroom condition or you're using Canadian dollars.

    IT'S SIMPLE: A shaft drive in good condition is no-muss, no-fuss. Carb tuning, though viewed with horror and suspicion by a lot of riders nowadays, is no black art. Yes, synching four CV carbs is a bit of a PITA the first time you do it, but you'll get the hang of it quickly and it doesn't need to be done very often. Plus, being good at it (and owning your own Morgan CarbTune) gives you a kind of instant celebrity status in crusty-biker circles. Oil changes don't require 45 minutes of plastic body-panel removal. The list goes on and on...

    YOU CAN TINKER: Bikes like this aren't so old that you can't get parts for them anymore, but they are old enought that you can always justify swapping out this or that part by saying "it's worn out". Break something? Go to the wrecking yard and get another of the same. These are great bikes to learn maintenance on.

    IT'S A STANDARD: More than any other, perhaps, the Nighthawk is the quintessential UJM. It's a little bit sport bike, it's a little bit touring bike, it's a little bit commuter, it's a little bit everything.

    IT'S A HONDA: This goes a long way towards mitigating the unknown service history listed above. Hondas of this era are well-known for their reliability in the face of ridiculous abuse.

    IT COMES WITH A SUPPORT GROUP: Ain't the internet grand? Just about every bike has one or more websites, user groups, email lists, and owner clubs. Check out Micapeak, Usenet, and Yahoo to find groups of like-minded Nighthawk owners who eat, sleep, and live all things 'Hawk-related.

    So, final analysis: A modern 650 (like the Suzuki SV650) will ride circles around an '84 Nighthawk. Mechanically, it is one or two generations more advanced than the 'Hawk. But what do you expect? It's brand-friggin'-new! On the other hand, it will also set you back at least another five grand over what the Nighthawk will cost you. And, being new, it doesn't invite the rider to delve into the delights of shadetree wrenching. From the standpoint of "smiles-per-dollar", the Nighthawk is the better value.

    • Login to reply the answers
  • 3 years ago

    Honda Nighthawk 650

    • Login to reply the answers
  • 1 decade ago

    I'm not big on shaft drives.... I had a Seca Turbo back in the 80's. If you got on the throttle coming out of a turn, the torque from the spinning shaft would upset the balance of the bike. A chain or belt however, rotates in the same direction as wheel travel and any "lurching" results in a positive direction. The same goes for crankshaft rotation....

    "GOOD" is a relative term, -Sure it is a good bike, pretty much anything Honda makes is a "good" bike, Just depends on what you want to do with it. If you want something to ride to work on, or just to enjoy a sunny day, the bike is fine - but does not even come close to today's bikes. Otherwise they'd still be making them.

    But hey, if you like it...all the power to ya.

    • Login to reply the answers
  • blb
    Lv 5
    1 decade ago

    I had a 1981 Honda Nighthawk 650 and loved it. I bought a newer bike but still kept the 1981. It is a great little bike.

    • Login to reply the answers
  • How do you think about the answers? You can sign in to vote the answer.
  • 4 years ago

    I just got an 85' Night Hawk 650, I love it. But I love the old Hondas, I've got 3 a 84' 700s, and a 91' NH 750.

    • Login to reply the answers
  • 6 years ago

    JUST GOT A 83 NIGHTHAWK 650 WITH 9K MOVED UP FROM A 88 SUZUKI GS450 WITH 25K. THIS 83 HAS NOT BEEN RODE MUCH LESS THAN 200 MILES IN PAST YEAR BY LAST OWNER. RUNS GOOD BUT NEED ALL FLUIDS CHANGED. NO SMOKING NO LEAKS STARTS RIGHT UP. AT 65 MPH THE BIKE FEEL GOOD BUT AT INTERSTATE SPEEDS OF 75 MPH IT FEELS LIGHT. I PREFER THE BACK ROADS ANYWAY. GOOD OLE BIKE ALMOST A ANTIQUE

    Attachment image
    • Login to reply the answers
  • 1 decade ago

    It would be ok if you just want something to ride around on.

    It's not very fast, it's heavy and the looks are a little displeasing to the eye.

    The shift indicator is a pretty useless feature, if your too high or too low you'll know it if you've rode much. If you want a standard that looks good and has power get a honda 919. I love mine and it's got killer looks.

    • Login to reply the answers
  • 1 decade ago

    I have a 1978 Honda CB400A and it just keeps running and running etc. with no problems

    you can't go to far wrong with a HOnda

    if it ain't broke don't fix it

    of course if you have an image problem then that's another question

    • Login to reply the answers
  • 1 decade ago

    In my opinion, (and anyone is welcome to disagree) the early to mid-80's Honda's are the most dependable bikes on the road. I ride an '85 Goldwing with almost ninety thousand miles, and never had any major repairs required. As the previous answer stated, you ride upright, the drive shaft makes for a smooth comfortable ride, and I prefer water cooled engines any way.

    • Login to reply the answers
  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    i've ridden a shaft drive final, and it gave a very smooth ride. shift indicator i wouldnt care either way....but if it gave an exceptionally smooth ride for a small sized bike, ya cant beat it. and carburated bikes would be much easier to work on vs fuel injected.

    • Login to reply the answers
Still have questions? Get your answers by asking now.