It was like walking down the aisles of kennels at the animal shelter, row after row of sad-eyed, wild-eyed, silent, yapping, wagging dogs…and then you see her and you just know. That’s YOUR dog.
I’m kinda over the round headlight ’60s and ’70s look, and anyway those pre-date me. I’m a child of the ’80s, and as soon as I laid eyes on this black-and-blue beauty amongst the crowded thumbnails of the Greater Los Angeles area Craigslist I knew it was the one.
I didn’t even know what I was looking at; I hadn’t been searching specifically for this model. I didn’t even bother to do much more than rudimentary research: OK, Nighthawk 700S, only made from 1983 to 1986…hydraulic valves, cool…shaft drive, interesting…it’s a Honda so probably bullet-proof. I called and it was still available. He sent me more photos. I bought a train ticket to Fullerton and withdrew some cash from the bank. I rode it home.
It was meant to be.
I named the bike Joan, as in Jett. Because duh. Pretty sure it’s non-binary though as I also find myself thinking of it as a he, as in let’s get this bad boy started. I have a strange compulsion to tease out my hair, put on some garish makeup, tight leggings and stilettos and have my friend Julia do a photoshoot with it.
It hadn’t exactly been neglected, nor had it been immaculately cared for. The guy I bought it from was the second owner–his buddy was the original owner, and after riding it for a while he and his wife had a kid and he parked it for 15 years.
In 2016 he sold it to his friend, who replaced the completely gummed-up carbs with NOS (new old stock) ones, spooned on fresh rubber and put in a new clutch, battery and some other items. Now, nearly three years later, he’d grown bored with it and listed it for sale.
It needed a bath. Water spots were baked onto the black engine, it was missing a mirror, the grips were disintegrating, the speedometer gear assembly was broken, the cheap aftermarket seat cover made the seat hard to latch into place and much of the black plastic was faded grey. It looked tired and old.
But when I look at it I see what it can be. What it really is.