This is part of a continuing series. To start at the beginning, click here.
Sometimes, all an older bike needs is a little bit of TLC. The fact that this one happens to be a Honda means its chances of survival are high, and so far I’ve been fortunate.
Lately I’ve been tending to some smaller fixes and tweaks as my Nighthawk has become my daily driver. First up were those horrible grips. They looked like they’d been installed sometime in the early ’90s, and the guy that owned it must have reeeeeaaaaally liked them, because despite the fact they were literally falling apart and disgustingly dirty, he never replaced them.
So I went online and started shopping. Ordering new grips isn’t just a matter of picking a pattern – you need to measure the length of your stock grips (or the ones you’re replacing) to make sure the ones you’re buying are the correct size.
Another thing to keep in mind is the size of the flange at either end. Some people like a large flange at the switchgear end, but many custom projects require a smaller one, or even no flange at all.
What I wanted was a large flange, a closed end (since I won’t be installing bar-end mirrors) and a thicker, comfortable grip. I decided on the Oury Road Grips ($14.99).
After happily cutting the old grips off, I thoroughly cleaned the bar, removing all traces of the old adhesive. I don’t like to use adhesive personally, so next I just sprayed some Windex into each new grip and slid them on, twisting and pulling to get the “OURY” to line up correctly. Devil’s in the details, ya know.
Speaking of which, it’s amazing what a difference those nice, clean new grips make to the look of the bike. Between the Solution Finish on the black plastic and these grips, the Nighthawk looks less tired and worn-out, and more like a bike someone actually gives a crap about.
There was one more item I wanted to attend to, and that was the air filter. The previous owner jetted the carbs fairly rich, which makes the bike easy to start and run like a bat outta hell, so I figured putting on a free-flowing K&N air filter wouldn’t require any changes and might even increase my fuel economy a bit.
K&N filters are not cheap, but unlike paper filters they’re washable and K&N offers a million mile warranty on them. Basically, you’ll never have to buy another air filter again. Plus they flow way more air, ostensibly increasing horsepower and torque.
As per the included instructions, I had to make some very minor tweaks to the stock mounting plate, but the installation was a 5-minute job and I was ready to ride!
This bike is really coming together…next on my list is a fresh set of rubber, courtesy of Bridgestone (one of the few companies that still makes tires that fit my old 16-inch rims). Stay tuned….
Running total investment: $256.