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The Motorcycle Diaries / Part 16

Born without a clue. A lifetime later, situation largely unchanged. Nevertheless, one perseveres.....


Honda Nighthawk 750

I acquired this bike in the throes of trying to encourage a work acquaintance to get re-interested in his motorcycle so he could join me on trips. Instead, he kept trying to sell it to me. When it got to the point of a virtual give-away, I caved in and took it off his hands. I was thus the perplexed owner of two Japanese multis but quickly found that the 750 was ideal for riding around Bristol whereas the monster 1000cc Kawasaki tourer was by far the better ride for the weekend commuting.

When I left Bristol, I parted ways with the Kawa 1000 (see above) and the 750 became my permanent ride. One of the first things I’d done with it was to whip off the rusting, standard 4 into 2 exhaust system and replace it with a Motad 4 into 1. This was more pleasing in so many ways. It was immediately lighter of course, but it also looked better - more stripped down - and the exhaust note was, to my ear, far more satisfactory. I added semi-raised handle bars and a small, elegant headlight fairing to keep the buffeting wind off my abdomen without generating a back draft.

Still my ride at the time of writing (2021), the bike looks so much cooler now and, in fact, looks not a little unlike my old BSA Thunderbolt. Even in it’s less than brilliantly cared for state and despite being almost 30 years old, it still draws admiring looks from passers-by and other bikers. And it’s still got enough poke to blow away the occasional rev-nut at the stop lights or mucking about on the dual carriageway.

I don’t do much touring any more. The old body isn’t as resilient as it used to be, and the upright seating position is hard on the back after more than an hour or so. I have been thinking I could pop it into the back of my van, take it to different parts of the world, and then ride around like a local. Maybe. But really it’s just totally pleasant to roll it out of the garage on a sunny day and cruise out to a not too near coffee shop. Then it’s glorious. That old motorcycle vibe - almost like flying, swaying in and out of the curves, inhaling the seasonal aromas, and occasionally hitting the throttle for a bit of G force exhilaration. As old as it is, it’s still a perfectly functioning ohc 4 cylinder which can deliver impressive acceleration for those smooth overtakes in the winding lanes.

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