1989 Honda NT650 HAWK GT

The Bike That Changed My Life

RIDER: Bob Hesch
NOW & THEN: Service Manager, West
  Hills Honda, Pittsburg, PA

"I bought this bike new in 1991 as a leftover. Like the similar-vintage CB-1, Honda couldn't sell Hawk GTs when they first came out, and then they became cult bikes. I've kept this one because it's unique-looking with the single-sided swingarm, and you don't see many of them anymore. I also had a CBR600, and at the end of the summer had to decide which one I'd sell. The CBR was faster, but I knew I'd get in trouble on it. The Hawk was just as much fun on a back road, so I kept it. I rode it for years and always parked it outside, because my wife Nancy and I live in a motor home.

"We were on vacation in Myrtle Beach in September 2004 when Hurricanes Francis and Ivan hit. I was watching a University of Pittsburgh football game on TV when they showed how flooded Pittsburgh was. I thought, "Uh-oh, this is not good!" When we returned to our motor home, it was parked in 8 feet of water and the Hawk had been completely submerged for two days!

"When I saw that, I thought, 'That's the end of that bike.' But I decided to try and fix it. I tore the engine covers off and changed the oil five or six times, cranking it over with a kerosene-oil mixture to force out all the water. Well, that was 12,000 miles ago; the Hawk now has 39,000 miles on the odometer. I ended up replacing the seat and wheel bearings, but that was it.

"In September '05 I raced it before heading down to the Gulf to help clean up after Hurricane Katrina. While I was in New Orleans, I wondered if there were any submerged bikes around. I'll bet some of them could have been salvaged, though that was salt water, which is much more corrosive. I was lucky that my Hawk GT was only swimming in fresh water."

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