Lightweight. Dependable. Performance packed. And as easy on your wallet as it is to use. That’s the Nighthawk, Honda’s 250cc all-arounder that goes way beyond what typically defines an intro bike (although it is peerless in that respect). Whether a total beginner or a seasoned vet, the Nighthawk offers every rider the perfect combination of performance, Honda reliability, and perhaps best of all, value.
The Nighthawk is where full-size motorcycling meets small-sized budgets in a lightweight, easy-to-use package. Being introduced as the cheap and reliable naked bike that is supposed to initiate beginners in the world of motorcycling, the 2008 Honda Nighthawk, following the previous introductions, completes that exact purpose and more.
Honda fist launched the Nighthawk series in 1982 featuring relatively big models initially produced in three sizes, CB450SC, CB650SC, and CB750SC. These models were more than inspired from the existing CB’s but they were enough styling and substantive improved in order to be introduced as brand new.
1987 was the year of sporty motorcycles and cruisers but the Nighthawk series didn’t fit any of the descriptions so Honda quickly adapted. This meant that no Nighthawks were going to be produced until the manufacturer would decide where the company needs to be directed.
This intolerable situation persisted until 1990, when Honda, finally realizing the error of its ways, resurrected the Nighthawk series in the 1991 model year. This is when the CB250 was introduced as a very well designed and affordable machine, a package that was hard to beat.
Since the new Nighthawk was introduced, Honda has wisely left the design unchanged even though some small changes saw their way through. The 1993 model year presented a repositioned helmet lock and future changes brought a new aura with the use of color changes. The engine was black painted for 1997, a feature that was kept for further years also.
Now, the Honda Nighthawk continues its purpose of initiating new riders while still bringing an old feel with its looks and standard features.
I kept thinking at a strong competitor for the Nighthawk and I simply couldn’t find it. Honda produces this fun providing motorcycle in order to offer variety and affordability in a general competitive market but no other manufacturer targeted this area because it is not a very important segment and they all know the naked bike expert.
Suzuki gets us ready to tap all the thrill that motorcycling has to offer by presenting the versatile GZ250. It’s designed to offer exactly the kind of performance beginning riders are looking for and with a seat height of less than 28 inches and a dry weight of just 302 pounds, the GZ250 is a joy to maneuver around town, even in tight traffic. And that lightweight responsiveness is completed by brisk engine performance and a wide powerband.
The GZ250 is also styled so you’ll fit right with your riding buddies. It has classic Suzuki styling – long, low and lean – which doesn’t make it quite the competitor for our naked Honda. Suzuki considers the machine as being standard and this was enough for me to arrange a battle between the two although I already know the winner.
The Nighthawk is probably the simplest machine featuring the Honda signature but this does not necessarily mean that reliability and comfort aren’t covered in smooth lines and healthy design characteristics.
By changing nothing but colors from 1991 until 2008, Honda makes a real demonstration of success and continuity even though the Nighthawk didn’t presented and changes concerning apparel. What’s there to change? The bike looks excellent with its beautifully shaped fuel tank covering the light weight frame while the seat connects the middle section with the rear end. This part also features a smooth design and carefully implements the taillight on the rear unit.
Front end, as well as the previous elements, reminds us of the first CB series which presented a round headlight complemented by two beautiful chromed indicators. What makes this bike look even better is the nicely shaped front fender completing the overall design.
2008 brings a new black paintjob which contrasts beautifully with the chrome on the headlight and indicator covers but what goes best with the color are the lightweight wire spoke wheels with chrome wheels.
My first few hundreds of miles were gathered up on a 1992 Honda Nighthawk, a motorcycle that took care of my initiation and left me lose when needed, so the joy of riding a 2008 model year was very big. I felt like I was reunited with an old friend and the bonding process was instantaneous because Honda kept the machine as it was initially created.
Once on the move, I tried to erase all the riding knowledge and behave as I did when I first discovered the bike that helped me develop my skills. I haven’t succeeded but this led to a surprising result of my test drive as I discovered that I might have traded in my old bike too early.
The engine offers enough power to follow a rider’s initiation beyond developing skills and that is when the Nighthawk is exploited on its true capabilities. Once experience is gained, the small Honda begins showing you new ways of detaching traffic by using the decent powerband and five-speed transmission.
Shifting is very simple and after a few miles, confidence is the dominating feeling on Honda’s creation. I appreciated the engine and transmission union because they offer reliability, simple maneuvering and deductible behavior. All these features result into an easy to control motorcycle, the ideal feature at a bike designed for starters.
On a starters bike again, I was now monitoring riding position and comfort. Beginning motorcyclists have to feel comfortable when riding their machine in order to pay attention at the road ahead and properly process the feedback provided by their bike. In order for the Nighthawk’s abilities to be correctly understood and for the rider to keep the bike a longer period, the riding position allows for a comfortable ride and the low seat invites smaller rider to join the club.
The controls are at quick reach and the indicators are easy to read, exactly how you would expect from a beginners ride. They don’t require the rider to take his eyes off the road and with a bit of practice, controls can be simply memorized with the bike standing still.
I noticed that suspensions are set to offer comfort and to react at their best in order for the rider to understand how its machine behaves when strongly braking or powerfully accelerating. Yes, it can accelerate sufficiently fast with the help of its two cylinders and 26mm CV carburetor offering crisp throttle response throughout the rpm range.
I have a soft spot for this model Honda but I have to say that the bike also comes with a downside. In fact, people who buy this bike have a downside and that reflects on the period that the bike remains at its owner. I suggest you to keep the bike longer and end up knowing every single feel provided and reaction.
Your first big step in motorcycling can be marked with the retail price of on only $3,699 for which the Honda Nighthawk will be commercialized. Apart from being reliable, easy to maneuver and comfortable, the Honda is also cheap which means that it can also stand for a simple way of transportation without needing replacement.
Overall, the Nighthawk is and excellent bike for starters because it reunites all the qualities necessary for a bright two wheels future: it has a decent amount of power and great handling abilities but I rather let you discover this fun motorcycle that will surely satisfy your needs and go well with your beginning status.
Engine and Transmission
Type: air-cooled vertical twin-cylinder
Bore and Stroke: 53mm x 53mm
Compression Ratio: 9.2:1
Valve Train: SOHC; two valves per cylinder
Induction: Single 26mm CV carburetor
Final Drive: O-ring chain
Chassis and Dimensions
Front Suspension: 31mm fork; 4.8 inches travel
Rear Suspension: Dual rear shocks with five-position spring preload adjustability; 3.9 inches travel
Front Brake: Drum
Rear Brake: Drum
Front Tire: 90/100-18
Rear Tire: 120/90-16
Wheelbase: 56.3 inches
Seat Height: 29.3 inches
Fuel Capacity: 4.3 gallons, including 0.8-gallon reserve
Curb Weight: 315 pounds
New for 2008
-New Black color
Twin-cylinder 243cc SOHC engine offers plenty of smooth, easy-to-use power.
Large cylinder fins for efficient engine cooling.
Screw-type valve adjusters simplify maintenance.
Single 26mm CV carburetor offers crisp throttle response through the rpm range.
CD ignition requires no maintenance.
Maintenance-free automatic cam-chain tensioner.
Good-looking and quiet chrome exhaust system.
Simple, easily adjustable cable-operated clutch and easy-shifting five-speed transmission.
Durable O-ring drive chain.
-Single-cradle steel frame is lightweight and strong.
31mm front fork offers a compliant, controlled ride.
Dual rear shocks offer five-position preload adjustability for varying loads and conditions.
Powerful drum brakes front and rear.
Lightweight wire spoke wheels with chrome rims.
High-quality tires offer excellent traction and long life.
-Relaxed standard riding position and ergonomically designed seat offer a high level of riding comfort for both rider and passenger.
Large 4.3-gallon fuel capacity and outstanding fuel economy offer excellent cruising range.
Round halogen headlight.
Low seat height of just 29.3 inches.
Easy-to-read instrumentation includes a handy tripmeter.
Convenient steering lock for added security.
Transferable one-year, unlimited-mileage limited warranty; extended coverage available with a Honda Protection Plan.
Purchase of a new, previously unregistered Honda USA-certified unit by an individual retail user in the United States qualifies the owner for a one-year complimentary membership in the Honda Rider’s Club of America (HRCA).
Available Genuine Accessories
-Touring Accessories: Tank Pad.
Chrome Accessories: Backrest.
Additional Accessories: Cycle Cover.