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Nighthawk ST

Modern Bike Rant


Post-crash, fixed up real good like, and ready for the road!

After that major crash on the way to Alaska (my first since 1993), I had a Nighthawk without a fairing. Or instruments, ignition switch, and headlight. So what was a guy to do?

Well, the smart thing would probably have been to say goodbye and move on. This bike had previously been crashed at least four times to my knowledge, twice hard enough to break pieces off the engine. And now, in addition to the exploded fairing, the backbone was kinked, the engine tweaked in the frame hard enough to break one of the motor mount castings, the bars and left peg bent, the forks bent comically forward, etc. All with about 62,000 miles on the clock.

So naturally, I went to work. A fools errand, but when it comes to bikes, there's no shortage of enthusiasm, is there? Fools rush in.

At the end, it worked at least as well as before. The windshield has been problematic, but still probably better than the old quarter fairing. (I didn't have much luck when I tried the windshield above the stock fairing.) But what to call it? Nighthawk GS might work, GS being my initials. And I do use it off-road quite a bit. Or how about a Nighthawk ST, the ST standing either for "sport-touring" or "streetfighter"? Guess I'll go with the latter, at least for the present.

My starting point. The bike had already been fixed up enough to make the 600 mile journey home from the crash site. (Bars and peg bent back, ignition hotwired to a toggle switch, brake fluid reservoir cover "fabbed" up from aluminum siding, floodlight mounted, etc.) You can see how the bent forks give the bike a chopper look.

That's a '87 VF700S (Interceptor?) speedometer, which is surprisingly accurate, despite the donor bike having an 18" front wheel. (All of the gearing must in fact be done at the speedometer gearbox.) The delightful little idiot light cluster is from a '76 CB360 or somesuch. The fuel gauge is "stock", the only instrument survivor from the crash. I wrapped it in a plastic vitamin bottle, and it basicly works. The instrument bracket is some 1/8"x1.25" aluminum stock (subsequently painted). The little cardboard cylinder is an idiot light for low oil pressure, which I use to let me know the ignition is on.

That plywood fairing I never knew I always wanted, holding the headlight and hiding the huge wiring mess. The headlight is also from a VF700S, and for some reason doesn't do a great job. As you can see, this "solution" ain't exactly pretty, but it does work okay. The whole thing hinges downward from the bottom.

Although the bent forks actually worked pretty well (and made the bike feel noticably longer and slower-turning), I went ahead and eBay-ed up a new set. Then swapped out one of the seals from the bent forks, which I had recently replaced. I also put in a $10 Emgo universal ignition switch, which looks great but isn't very reliable. I'm told that the VF700 (etc.) switches actually work great, with a little wiring, but I didn't know this at the time.

Looks pretty good, don't you think? Removing the fairing makes the bike look even more like what it is, a motorcycle. Not a sportbike, or a tourer, or a cruiser -- just a motorcycle. A round headlight and less-angular "fairing' would probably be even better. But as is, I'm pleased. And isn't something like this what we all wish Honda had done when they created the "new" Nighthawk 750 back in '91?

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