This bike's a hoot, it makes me smile whenver I ride it
Before I bought it, the bike had sat for three years, sitting covered in the owner's garage. It is in mostly mint shape, the tank is in very good shape, trim pieces too and just a smidge of rust on the swingarm, but no big deal and the seat is mint. All it needed was a battery, oil change, plugs, and carb clean/sync to get it going.
I thought I'd buy a battery and ride it home, but I installed the wrong kind of battery and blew the main fuse. Oops! Thankfully, it had a main fuse, otherwise it would have been much worse of an issue.
I had it towed to a shop and they changed the oil, installed a new main fuse, battery and plugs, carb sync and clean, and it has been running fine ever since.
Right now, the speedometer isn't working right, registers about 20 mph less than actual, so will have to get that fixed once I have either the money to pay to get it fixed or the gumption to take it on myself. Looks like the cable junction where it goes into the hub is really gunked up, so maybe it just needs a good cleaning (?).
I've test ridden a lot of bikes over the past year, more than 40, because when I got my M endorsement last June I just fell in love with bikes and had a hard time deciding -- there's so many choices. My first was a Yamaha Maxim 700 and sold that last year. The last bike I had was a Kawi Spectre 750 that I sold this past Spring.
The Nighthawk is just a blast to ride around, whether in town, or on twisties or on the highway. The seat is very comfy (it's a Saddleman), I can ride for a couple hours and it feels fine, plus the acceleration is very good -- even from down low in the revs. The motor's got plenty of power for me and it winds up nicely, with a good burst of speed/power above 5K or so.
The handling is easy and intuitive in town and on the highway and curves. It's not super top-heavy so low speed handling is a cinch and high speed is stable. I've even ridden it on some local dirt roads and it handled that surprisingly well too -- but it's definitely no dual sport. :)
The riding position is very comfortable as well, though at highway speeds, the wind does get tiring.
And I like the "neo" classic look of the bike too, the air-cooled motor, the four into two pipes.
I've read some other reviews and I agree about desiring a sixth gear, that'd be nice, but it still does fine with five.
One odd thing about the transmission is I do occasionally get a missed shift from first to second. It's not consistent and I don't know what the deal is, but it happens almost every day I've ridden it, but only about once per ride.
I'm real sensitive to too many vibes through the bars, and this bike is pretty smooth with just a bit of that, but not enough to make my hands go numb or get tingly like on a Ninja 500 that I almost bought.
Choke application is infrequent, and when I do have to use it, I usually only need to put it on about one quarter and it starts right up. It did sit for nearly two weeks recently, and I used full choke and it started right up, no prob.
I don't really have any negatives for this bike. Only issues that are really bugging me are the rear shocks -- can't seem to find a setting that's comfy all around. So it seems if I keep the bike, I'll have to buy some Progressive shocks/springs for it (from what I've read on the forums).
Also, it's my first chain-drive bike, and I miss the low maintenance of the shaft drive bikes I owned before. But chain maintenance is about the only regular maintenance item outside of oil changes and tires, that one has to do on this bike, so will see if I can learn to live with the chain.
Also, I'll probably invest in a windshield of some kind to help on the highway and when it gets chilly, but I really like the naked look of it without a lot of stuff bolted to it.
The bike came with a really nice Eclipse tail bag and I bought some soft saddlebags for it, as I'd like to do a trip or two before the season ends, so will see how it (and me) handles a two or three day jaunt.
Would you buy another motorcycle from this manufacturer? Yes
Review Date: 14th August, 2013