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Old 09-12-2012, 08:34 AM   #1
73Mustang OP
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Nighthawk 250 adventure?

Can the Honda Nighthawk 250 be an adventure bike?

For various reasons, one of which is sentimental, I've been thinking a lot about buying a mint '06 on Craigslist and use it as an adventure bike. By adventure, I mean riding local dirt roads with gravel and sand, not around the world trip. I've a 200cc dualsport, and it is too offroad oriented for the dirt roads. It's too easy on the dirt roads, but strains too much on the highway. I remember my Nighthawk could do 80 MPH if I tuck. It had a twin cylinder that put out much more power than the single cylinder on dualsport bikes. But my concern is the suspension. I never rode my old Nighthawk 250 on rough dirt roads. There are bumps occasionally. Sometimes the road gets unexpectedly very rough. Would the Nighthawk's 4" suspension be about to handle it? Would it rattle itself apart on dirt roads? Is there option to strengthen the suspension? How's the street tires on dirt road? Will I be able to find dualsport tires for those wheels? I know there're better machine. I like to know if this can be done with a Nighthawk or is this going to be a complete disaster, like bike bending into a pretzel when it hits a bump, and waste of time?

73Mustang screwed with this post 09-12-2012 at 09:06 AM
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Old 09-12-2012, 12:58 PM   #2
NJ-Brett
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I would like to do something like you are thinking, some small street bike made to be able to do some dirt riding.
In the past, I had a 1969 Triumph Daytona, 500cc twin, 320 pounds, and it did great in the dirt.
No, not motocross or mud holes, but on smoother trails and roads I could fly on the bike.
It was also good for all day street rides and 2 up with my wife on the back.

It just vibrated like mad and had issues cause by hard frequent use, trans and clutch problems, oil leaks, things cracking from vibration, crappy carbs.

So I would like a more modern reliable substitute.

I tried a TU250, put dual sport tires on it, increased the fork preload and put thicker fork oil in, and it was good on very smooth stuff, but any rough stuff at all was nasty, soft limited travel forks and an 18 inch front wheel did not work well at all.
Plus, on a little jump, the footpegs bent down at 45 degree angles, and the brake pedal and shifter were just asking to be broken in any fall, along with the big expensive headlight and gas tank.

So I gave up on that.
Why do they not remake the old Honda SL350?

Maybe an s40 or the nighthawk would be better?

If it was just me, a crf230 or something would do, but what about putting the wife on the back for a ride, or longer street rides to a dirt riding area?
Modern duel sports suck 2 up.
Many modern street bikes suck 2 up (the TU250 is good though).
Most street bikes do very badly in the dirt.

In the old days, a dirt bike was a Triumph street bike with knobby's on it.
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Old 09-13-2012, 06:37 AM   #3
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Dont expect to jump it,be realistic about what your doing, your riding on a dirt road not an MX track.If the bike feels a bit out of shape back off a bit,if you want to go faster and throw rooster tails or whatever buy a dual sport that can do tar comfortably, remember everything's a compromise.Cant help you with tyres but the range seems to be growing everyday, my old beast has odd sizes [for current bikes] but I just take it easy and we get around.
Once upon a time bikes were expected to do dirt roads when necessary but the modern road bike with those big fat expensive tyres sits on top of the dirt and slithers around,the old ones had narrow tyres and were heavy so to a degree cut through the top surface and felt a little more stable,as long as you were aware acceleration and braking depended on that oh so loose surface it was all good.
The CB[Nighthawk?] is an old design and from memory was pretty heavy so if they didn't change to much, would be suitable for what you describe,they were built pretty tough too so your unlikely to break anything in a hurry.
Like I said we get around allright, not her favourite environment but easy enough nonetheless, we get there in the end.



Wish there was a proper type scrambler like NJ-Brett describes, just like the old Trumpy's 500/650 single or a twin some modern bikes come close but not quite.I dont want a dirtbike but I would like a streetbike with higher pipes and a pillion seat that was comfortable enough to take my wife on day trips or longer.Just like a bike with a little more versatility.
Please dont throw V-Stroms and Triumph Scramblers up as 'that' bike they may very well be but for whatever reason,for me, just dont appeal.

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Old 09-13-2012, 10:53 AM   #4
kraven
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I think that the Shadow 600 is a good candidate for this.
It's got a v twin that's more torquey and a fair frame.
Basically the same mods to make it dirty. They sell pretty cheap too and do well on the asphalt at speed.
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Old 09-13-2012, 11:01 AM   #5
Meter Man
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 73Mustang View Post
Can the Honda Nighthawk 250 be an adventure bike?

For various reasons, one of which is sentimental, I've been thinking a lot about buying a mint '06 on Craigslist and use it as an adventure bike. By adventure, I mean riding local dirt roads with gravel and sand, not around the world trip. I've a 200cc dualsport, and it is too offroad oriented for the dirt roads. It's too easy on the dirt roads, but strains too much on the highway. I remember my Nighthawk could do 80 MPH if I tuck. It had a twin cylinder that put out much more power than the single cylinder on dualsport bikes. But my concern is the suspension. I never rode my old Nighthawk 250 on rough dirt roads. There are bumps occasionally. Sometimes the road gets unexpectedly very rough. Would the Nighthawk's 4" suspension be about to handle it? Would it rattle itself apart on dirt roads? Is there option to strengthen the suspension? How's the street tires on dirt road? Will I be able to find dualsport tires for those wheels? I know there're better machine. I like to know if this can be done with a Nighthawk or is this going to be a complete disaster, like bike bending into a pretzel when it hits a bump, and waste of time?
I've ridden mine on a lot of dirt roads. Very poor suspension, but it will make it. you just aren't going to be doing jumps and stuff.

I find it to actually be quite a good tourer, albiet a slow as she goes tourer.
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Old 09-04-2013, 07:55 AM   #6
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Hey y'all with the baby Nighthawk.

How is the ergo when you ride standing on the peg?

I pretty much stand all the time on my Suzuki DR because of its crappy suspension. So, I have gotten used to standing all the time. The Nighthawk's handlebar seems to be more foreward than a typical DS bike's. I wonder if it is too awkward to stand on the peg.
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Old 09-04-2013, 04:03 PM   #7
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The Nighthawk 250 would make a GREAT minimalist touring bike (though not so good for off road) unlike every other late model 250, it actually has an optional centerstand, which is still available from bikebandit.com and cheapcycleparts.com. It has a very comfortable upright riding position, slight forward lean, but nowhere near as much as a 250n Ninja or CBR250. There is no plastic bodywork, and the old tech engine is bulletproof. It's the same engine that's in the Rebel, and one guy on a Rebel forum put 80,000 highway miles on one at full throttle before it ate it's valves. It has no electronics to worry about, and is far more comfortable seat wise than any DS bike. I don't know why I don't have one. Oh yeah, I don't have room.
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Old 09-04-2013, 07:53 PM   #8
NJ-Brett
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Spoke wheels, 315 pounds, two cylinder motor, 4.3 gallon gas tank!
5 inches of fork travel, 4 in the back, normal shocks so you can upgrade them, and do easy fork mods to get better dirt performance.

Looks like a winner to me.
There are a number of tires that fit the rear wheel (16 inch).

http://www.bikebandit.com/vee-rubber...ual-sport-tire

Plenty to fit the 18 inch front wheel.

Sounds like fun to me!
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Old 09-04-2013, 10:19 PM   #9
Kommando
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 73Mustang View Post
Can the Honda Nighthawk 250 be an adventure bike?

For various reasons, one of which is sentimental, I've been thinking a lot about buying a mint '06 on Craigslist and use it as an adventure bike. By adventure, I mean riding local dirt roads with gravel and sand, not around the world trip. I've a 200cc dualsport, and it is too offroad oriented for the dirt roads. It's too easy on the dirt roads, but strains too much on the highway. I remember my Nighthawk could do 80 MPH if I tuck. It had a twin cylinder that put out much more power than the single cylinder on dualsport bikes. But my concern is the suspension. I never rode my old Nighthawk 250 on rough dirt roads. There are bumps occasionally. Sometimes the road gets unexpectedly very rough. Would the Nighthawk's 4" suspension be about to handle it? Would it rattle itself apart on dirt roads? Is there option to strengthen the suspension? How's the street tires on dirt road? Will I be able to find dualsport tires for those wheels? I know there're better machine. I like to know if this can be done with a Nighthawk or is this going to be a complete disaster, like bike bending into a pretzel when it hits a bump, and waste of time?
Scramblerize it. Upgrade the rear shocks. Swap some dirtbike forks onto the front, with a matching wheel that has a disc brake. Find some knobbies to fit the wheels (www.motorcycle-superstore.com and www.bikebandit.com). Fabricate a skid. Gusset whatever seems too flimsy...frame, pegmounts, etc.

Don't ride it like an enduro or MX bike. Ride it like a scrambler.
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Old 09-05-2013, 07:27 AM   #10
73Mustang OP
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But what about the ergonomic? The distance between peg and handlebar.

The handlebar seems too far forward to ride standing on the peg. Doesn't it?
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Old 09-05-2013, 08:10 AM   #11
131unlimited
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um, why ? a 250 for the road? Why not just get a KLR or DR and take it anywhere including the highway.
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Old 09-05-2013, 08:13 AM   #12
NJ-Brett
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No way to tell untill you try it.
And they make loads of different handllebar shapes and bends.
There is one for sale not too far from me, and I might check it out this weekend.
I just want a cheap starting point, things can be changed somewhat if the basic packaage is ok.
Peg strength and location, suspension, wheel size, seat, weight.

My TU seems like it would be good in the dirt, but its not.
3.5 inches of fork traavel with an 18 inch wheel does not work.
A wide gas tank will get dents very easy, the big headlight will get smashed, brake and shifter stick way out, and the foot pegs bend down VERY easy....
Its too nice on the street (and looks to good) to smash it all up in the dirt.

No rocks around here, so a low exhaust is fine, no skid plate needed.

If you wanted to do it up, I could see fitting the front forks, wheel and brake off some dirt bike, fit longer shocks and lace on an 18 inch rear rim.

Get most of the parts cheap on ebay or at the salvage yard...
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Old 09-05-2013, 09:06 AM   #13
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um, why ? a 250 for the road? Why not just get a KLR or DR and take it anywhere including the highway.
Nostalgia. Something different.

I just tired of seeing the same thing over and over. DR, KLR, XR, WR, KTM. They're all knock offs of one another.

Wouldn't it be fun to ride something a little different than 99% of the poeple out there?

Parallel twin engine. Drum brakes. Round headlights. Shiny chrome bits. Dual carburetors. Looks like the good old times
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Old 09-05-2013, 10:09 AM   #14
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And besides, some want a bike without stickers all over it and 12 inches of suspension travel, with a goofy looking gas tank, radiators with wings sticking out, high center of gavity and a crappy seat.
70 or 80 mpg is also a plus.

I really have no interest in riding a bike that looks like a modern motocross bike, unless I was racing for money.

I looked at a dr350 last weekend. Great bike, nice suspension, 6 speed trans, enough power, not real heavy.
It looked crazy, blue frame, garish pink graaphics, tall seat, triangle for a gas tank.
I am older and can not wrap my head around bikes looking like that.

For me, a motorcycle looks like an old Triumph, or cb350, or sl125, or xl250, etc.

I also want something I can not go fast on, something low, light, under powered and under suspended, so when I crash, I am doing 40 mph, not 80, and I fall from 3 feet, not 6 feet up.
The FUN is TRYING to go fast.
Doing 40 mph down some double track on an sl125 likely feels insane, and doing 80 on a nice KTM is ho-hum boring.

70 to 80 mph was no problem on my dr650, and I had it over 100 mph in the dirt (speedo reading, not actual speed), and that is not a good idea for an old guy....my insurance coverage is not as good as it used to be...
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Old 09-05-2013, 10:11 AM   #15
fastdadio
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Whats the hold up?

Damn, I just realized this thread is a year old. So, is this thing done or what? We want pics! and a ride report.
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