This section is dedicated to one of my all time favourite bikes, The CB700SC was, in my eyes, possibly the very besy U.J.M. (Universal Japanese Motorcycle) ever made. ive had mine for 8 years now, it has never let me down, and always raises a stupid grin, even when it is standing still. I will put some Nighthawk specific maintenance information here at times, but it will contain all sorts of Nighthawk pictures and information. If you ever get the chance, just buy one, they are sublime to ride, easy to maintain and a joy to live with.
What started as an internal argument in the honda factory led to the creation of 2 of histories most influential pieces of motorcycle design. To break the American market Honda America wanted a V-Design engine, but the initial response from Hamamatsu was “No, we build inline 4’s, thats what we do best, we just need a better one”. The result, 2 different design teams were set up to with their respective designs. Working completely independently with a fierce internal rivalry, this led to the creation of a twin cam 750 inline four, and the iconic Honda V-Four 750 engine. Every improvement possible was thrown at both bikes, and undoubtedly the exotic V-Four design attracted a lot of attention for Honda, giving the Interceptor better sales.
Just after their release came the Bombshell, The U.S. market imposed a huge import tariff on all motorcycles over 700cc to protect Harley Davidsons market dominance. This led to one of the happiest accidents in motorcycle history. Instead of simply sleeving down the “Barrel” size to reduce capacity, the design team who had developed the twin cam inline 4 engine decided to shorten the crank throw instead. At the same time reaching out to the U.S. custom market for a design look that would give them an “edge”. So was born the Nighthawk S, and the result was beyond anyone’s expectations.
Shortening the stroke of the engine released a beast, the engine just loved to rev. On the original 750 Nighthawk engine max power was achieved at just 7200rpm, the new shorter stroke allowed the 700 engine to rev up 10,000rpm, at the time outside of the race world that was unknown, and the overal power went up a full 10bhp by the time it reached its red line. Torque was up too, 56Nm at 7500rpm on the 750, turned into 61Nm at 8000rpm. In the real world this jump was massive, especially when the changes to the Interceptor had lost 5bhp and 2Nm. For 1 amazing year the Nighthawk SC was released into an unsuspecting market. That 10,000rpm redline created a sound not heard since the race bred 350 fours of earlier years. Acceleration became phenomenal, and the “Mugger” was born. Nothing could touch it over a quarter mile, and with the right rider, its radical for the time geometry, meant it handled like a dream. An aggressive forward biased weight distribution (like all the streetfighters that came years later) and the 16″ wheels made flicking it from side to side easier than anything on the road at the time, and careful use of the left foot to keep it in the higher “sweet spot” of the rev range saw the front wheel reaching for the sky in gear after gear.