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Nighthawk ST

Modern Bike Rant


In June of 2003 I was heading for Alaska and the Yukon. Unfortunately, half way up the Oregon coast I met a pickup truck with other ideas. I came out of it very sore but without a scratch. The bike wasn't so lucky. Fairing, headlight, instrument cluster, and ignition switch ended up in a very large pile of very small pieces. And the forks and frame were bent. Etc, etc.

Fortunately, I'm a little bent too. So my plan is to use this as a customization opportunity. "After removing excess weight (fairing/instruments/ignition switch/etc) we went to work on the frame geometry. Then, certain mods were made to the electrical system. We also managed to save a few grams by substituting a piece of aluminum trailer siding for the brake fluid reservoir cap. A custom and asymmetrical handlebar bend was applied. And so on..."

I should mention that if I had hit the pickup, and the bike had slid to a stop, instead of the other way around, this story would have had a much less happy ending. That's partly why I have no complaints.

As it happened, the family that runs the restaurant (Philly West, in Waldport, Oregon) at the crash site came to my rescue. They put me up for two nights, fed me, and ran me around on errands. Best of all, using no more than parts on hand, plus a Walmart floodlight, hardware store bolt, and a roll of electrical tape, they got the bike back into running order so I could happily limp/tour home. Rob and Charlie and Shannon and Mary, I'll always be in your debt!

As you can see, much of the excess plastic has been removed in a misguided 45MPH weight-saving effort. Note my new ignition switch at upper left, next to the aluminum-trailer-siding brake fluid reservoir cap. Marvelously light, aluminum. And that $8 Walmart floodlight does a fab job of lighting the general area in front of the bike. Do they sell electrical tape in bulk?

The new view from the pew. I kind of like it, actually. Hopefully the future will see a sizable windscreen, more conventional ignition switch, 70's-style round headlight, and 1980 CB750 speedo and idiot light panel. Then I'll have an '85 Nighthawk, wearing 70's parts, that looks like a 90's Nighthawk 750. Sounds totally bitchin', actually, I'm psyched!

My saddle bag held up amazingly well. I thought 45MPH would have splintered it. If that darn truck hadn't been in the way, and the bike had been able to slide to a stop, the saddlebag probably would have caved, but the rest of the bike might have been largely okay.

Now, really, why should forks be straight? And symmetrical? Actually, I just wish they'd bent the other way. I wasn't planning to build a cruiser. (I wonder if I can rotate the forks 180 degrees? That would turn it into a sportbike!)

Beginning the journey towards a new life. A windshield that never worked well with the stock fairing may now give good service. (Maybe my neck won't hurt so much when touring?) A 1980 CB750 speedo and instrument lights cluster, and 1974 CB450 headlight, should be eBaying this way soon.

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