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Old 03-27-2008, 02:27 PM   #1
steven1955 OP
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1984-1986 Nighthawk S versus 1991+ Nighthawk

I searched but didn't find an answer here or when I googled around. Not even in the giant "Official Nighthawk Thread."

Ignore age and condition for the moment.. And think in terms of a commuter bike with some weekend use when not riding the DRZ.

Is there any reason an 84-86 700 Nighthawk S might be a better bike than the 91 and newer 750 Nighthawks? Or were the newer bikes an improvement over the older bikes?

I know the 84-86 is about 50 cc lower in displacement, and has a shaft drive. But other than that I don't see a whole lot of difference.

Feel free to define better any way you like.
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Old 03-27-2008, 02:44 PM   #2
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I had a 1985 Nighthawk S for several years, and have looked seriously at the modern generation of Nighthawk very seriously since then. Overall, both are great bikes and you can go wrong. Both use essentially the same engine, transmission, and frame. Very little evolution - Honda really got it right first time.

That said, I personally like the Nighthawk S better. Front brakes were a little better and they had that anti-dive front end, which really worked well. The shaft drive is a huge bonus. It makes for essentially zero driveline maintenance, as long as you grease your splines when you change the rear tire. The shaft drive never seemed to affect the handling substantially - you'll want to put decent shocks on any bike you buy. The S also had hydraulic lifters which meant that there were no valve adjustments to do ever. The cam chain and tensioner ought to last 100K miles, so you never need to open the engine. That little fairing was pretty nice, and I like the looks of the S better as well. I even did some touring on it and it was pretty nice.

My only complaint with the bike was that the fuel capacity was really small. I typically needed to look for a gas station every 100 miles. Also, the petcock was this funky vacuum-activated affair, and I had trouble with mine. Often I wouldn't be able to go to reserve fast enough before the bike would die, especially around town. I learned to work off of the fuel gauge on the dash and look for a gas station before I went on reserve.

If you get one, resist the temptation to screw around with the exhaust. Doing so will require mucho carbuerator work and it still won't be as good as it is with the stock exhaust.

I miss the bike frequently and wish I still had it.

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Old 03-27-2008, 03:12 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by steven1955
Is there any reason an 84-86 700 Nighthawk S might be a better bike than the 91 and newer 750 Nighthawks? Or were the newer bikes an improvement over the older bikes?

I know the 84-86 is about 50 cc lower in displacement, and has a shaft drive. But other than that I don't see a whole lot of difference.
I have an '83 Nighthawk 650 which is essentially similar to the Nighthawk S of the same generation.

I think that the S would be better in terms of maintenance required. The engine is very different from that of the newer 750--it has hydraulic valve tappets so it does not ever need valve adjustments. Like you also noted, it has a shaft drive so chain maintenance is a non-issue.

They have very similar performance figures, though the Nighthawk S has twin front discs.

Pick the one you like best! I got a Nighthawk 650 because it's what was available when I was looking. If I had to choose, I'd probably choose the 750 because it has a bigger gas tank and it's newer.
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Old 03-27-2008, 03:20 PM   #4
Mike Butt
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Paging Photog......

I think a better question would be the '84 CB700S v. VF700S
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Old 03-27-2008, 05:06 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by drcoopster
I think that the S would be better in terms of maintenance required. The engine is very different from that of the newer 750--it has hydraulic valve tappets so it does not ever need valve adjustments.
Not sure what you are thinking of, but the newer Nighthawk 750 also has hydraulic valves. I don't think the engine is that much different.
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Old 03-27-2008, 05:11 PM   #6
rocker59
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1983-up 650, 700, and 750 Nighthawks are "all good".

I owned a 650 back in the '83 - '84 time frame.

Great bike.

Hydraulic valves and shaft drive make for a great commuter. So do the <450lbs weight and 70+hp...
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Old 03-27-2008, 05:22 PM   #7
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Honda is better than most manufacturers in keeping parts available for older models but the parts situation is starting to get iffy for the 700S.

They are great bikes and the shaft drive reduces the maintenance on an already low maintenance bike.

I loved the blue and black.
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Old 03-27-2008, 05:31 PM   #8
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The 91-03 Nighthawk 750 has hydraulic lifters as well. I think one of the weak points on the 700S is the smaller size front wheel.
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Old 03-27-2008, 05:39 PM   #9
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my neighbor has an 85, it has been to Alaska, Nova Scotia, James Bay and over most of the US, he is pushing about 80,000 miles and has no plans to replace it, ( until he wins the Lotto ! ) He ordered a alternator chain tensioner a few years ago and replaced the broken one, Still going strong !

Parts seem as available as for BMW's
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Old 03-27-2008, 07:34 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike Berlien
Paging Photog......

I think a better question would be the '84 CB700S v. VF700S
Not gonna get into this one. I'll start writing CB700S Haiku and would be up all night in the throes of CB700SC lust.

I need to get mine outta the shed and back on the road.
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Old 03-27-2008, 07:47 PM   #11
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The Nighthawk S kicks ass! Great style, good performance, low maintenance, I lusted for them as a teen. I like the blue ones but the red/white/blue in 86 was a very nice paint scheme.

The only downfall I can think of is the 16 inch front wheel and tire selection.

The newer version looks bland to me but probably has the same or better performance overall.
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Old 03-28-2008, 10:00 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by steven1955
I searched but didn't find an answer here or when I googled around. Not even in the giant "Official Nighthawk Thread."

Ignore age and condition for the moment.. And think in terms of a commuter bike with some weekend use when not riding the DRZ.

Is there any reason an 84-86 700 Nighthawk S might be a better bike than the 91 and newer 750 Nighthawks? Or were the newer bikes an improvement over the older bikes?

I know the 84-86 is about 50 cc lower in displacement, and has a shaft drive. But other than that I don't see a whole lot of difference.

Feel free to define better any way you like.
I had a Nighthawk S and was selling Hondas through the 80's full time and up until last summer part time. I regret having to sell the S when I was laid off from work.

I think the Nighthawk S had a better general finish. It didn't have some of the cheap looking parts of the new 750, like the brake pedal and the single disc front brake. I believe the old S runs quicker and likely handles better than the newer 750. In my eyes the S with the stock paint layout looks hotter than the new 750 as well. Even the old 650 has better lines. And when it comes to the shaft final drive, that definitely makes it a winner.

I doubt the 16" wheels will be any disadvantage over the next ten years as far as tires are concerned. Many tire manufacturers still make good quality 16" tires for bikes like the S and the older sportbikes. From a mechanical point of view, what repairs or maintenance? You change oil and other fluids occasionally. I also agree, don't screw with the pipes, it isn't worth it. The bike sounds cool the way it is, just not loud.

If I ever get another - and I'm picky, I want another 86 red/white/blue one - The only thing I do want to do is put on a set of 17" wheels, regardless of what it takes. My only reason is that is the only "dated" looking thing about the Nighthawk S is the fat donut tires. A set of 17's would update the look and it would be just as hot looking as ever.

Can't tell I like them, can you?

Oh, if you do like the look of the 750, don't let my comments stop you from buying. That thing will be just as bulletproof, with the exception of the chain drive. But hey, I get 15,000 miles per chain and sprockets on my dual sport with the crappy maintenance I do. You should get 20,000 miles out of a good O-ring chain and steel sprockets with a reasonable occasional spritz of chain lube.

I think any of the hydraulic valve lash adjuster motored Nighthawks are phenomenal and on par with most anything out there new. The only BIG change on motors has been fuel injection, but the 83-86 550/650/700 and the 90's 750 have good carburetion anyway. I got 50 mpg with my 700.
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Old 03-28-2008, 11:53 AM   #13
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Talking

The Nighthawk S has the sporty look and a spin it engine (very smooth though) The 650 Nighthawk had the frisky engine.
The 750 was designed on the power cruiser look and literally disappears under you, at no point does it intrude (or detract ) from the ride.
Both are long term/ long ride champs.
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Old 03-28-2008, 10:51 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Photog
Not gonna get into this one. I'll start writing CB700S Haiku and would be up all night in the throes of CB700SC lust.

I need to get mine outta the shed and back on the road.


In RWB please.
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Old 03-29-2008, 06:30 AM   #15
steven1955 OP
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Thanks for all your replys. I feel that even the older Nighthawk would be a safe purchase.

There's a clean looking 85 in the local CL, but the seller is not responding to e mails. (Hopefully it's not one of those CL sellers who don't know how to take their ad down when an item sells, so the ad lives for weeks cluttering up CL.) There are also a couple of 91s, also in CL but further away, but I like the looks (and price) of the 85 better.

steven1955 screwed with this post 03-29-2008 at 11:31 AM
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