by Troy Johnson
The Super Hawk is a difficult motorcycle to form an opinion on. In typical Honda tradition it gives the rider nothing to seriously complain about, but then again it doesn’t feel quite right. I scratched my head over this situation for a few days before I realized that it is a problem of perception. The Super Hawk looks an awful lot like a sport bike. I expected it to act like a sport bike. It turned out to be a modern standard.
Honda has kept the Super Hawk slim and trim, taking advantage of the V-twin engine configuration to build a compact liter-class bike. This is a stark contrast to Suzuki’s V-twin, the TL1000, which debuted the same year as the Super Hawk and is simply too fat–expecting a long winter Suzuki?
Ease of use is the Super Hawk’s strong point. At low rpm the engine is pretty well reigned in, not acting much like a big V-twin at all. This makes the motorcycle extremely easy to ride through heavy downtown traffic and allows you to forget about the bike to enjoy some scenery along a parkway.
To kick the Super Hawk into a more sporting pace you need to rev the motor over the 5000 rpm mark, and then again you get to forget about the bike. The rider rarely has to touch the shift lever on this motorcycle. Traveling at 50 to 80 miles per hour on moderately twisty roads I wound up using exactly two gears–third and fourth. At this pace the Super Hawk is a hoot to ride. The power delivery is smooth and linear. The Super Hawk’s steering is a little heavier than the steering on a race-replica. You can’t flick this motorcycle through corners, you need to take plenty of time setting up and getting out. Since you do not really have much to do while riding this bike though, you quickly find yourself swaying in a silky smooth groove.
When you urge the Super Hawk to pick the pace up to race-replica levels is when you realize that it is indeed not a race-replica. The steering is simply too heavy. If you care to reference the Super Hawk to an Italian motorcycle–and you do because it is, after all, a bright red V-twin–you are better off comparing it to a Moto-Guzzi than to a Ducati. There is no way this thing can hang with a Duck–any Duck.
After making this discovery is when you start to feel a little uneasy about the Super Hawk. But when you consider the $7,000.00 street price tag, the ample power coursing through the rear wheel, the very nice feeling brakes, the svelte figure, etc. the feeling passes. The Super Hawk is not a monster crotch rocket, it is a solid every day standard.
The specimen featured in this article is a year old and has been fitted with Heli Bar handle bar risers. They definitely are a step toward making the bike a more comfortable all-day ride. Removing the slight forward slope of the seat cushion with a sharp knife would complete the picture here and have the Super Hawk ready to hit the road on a ten day trip.
Here are my complaints on the things that seem ridiculous for a major manufacturer to have overlooked. The wind screen is too low and too close to the rider. It does an admirable job of keeping the wind off of your chest and a smooth stream of air traveling around your helmet when you are sitting upright, but when you crouch into the tank you are greeted by a ferocious wind roaring around your helmet. The mirrors are nearly useless–although I did notice that my riding jacket needs a new elbow patch. The side stand (this same old song and dance?) is too long. At least it isn’t one of those self-dumping spring loaded types. These are the usual minor complaints that seem to spring up around every motorcycle. I guess it might be me.
The Super Hawk turns out to be a solid machine that just needs to find the right rider. If you are looking for a sporting standard that is not going to require much fiddling with in the garage or on the road you may want to take one for a ride.