The Honda HawkGT NT650 was designed by Toshiaki Kishi and was the second Honda with Pro-Arm having the model designation RC31 coming immediately after the RC30. The Japanese version model was named the Honda Bros. The RC model designation is for bikes up to 750cc, though the Pacific Coast (PC800) has an engine of more than 750 cc and a model designation of RC34.
The bike's main distinction is in its frame and swingarm. The dual spar aluminum frame and single sided swingarm (licensed from ELF) were pretty high tech in 1988. The mildly tuned motor is descended from the VT500 and has been seen, in one guise or another, in several other models.
The bike was ahead of its time in many regards and as a result was not a strong seller despite the bike having grown to cult status. The Hawk GT was one of the first modern Naked bikes, released several years before the Ducati Monster and eventually the Suzuki SV650. Some sources claim that Triumph found much of the inspiration for the t509 Speed Triple/t595 Daytona from the Hawk GT and if one compares the two bikes side by side, the Triumph mimics many of the Hawks lines and shapes.
During the initial production run, the cost difference between the Hawk GT and the CBR600 was less than 1000 dollars, resulting in very slow sales for the naked bike. However, by the mid-90's, left over models were being snatched up and current owners are passionate about their Hawks. Clean examples can fetch upwards of $3500 to $5000, more than the bike sold for new.
The NT650, Hawk GT 647, RC31 was introduced in 1988 and produced through 1991. In 1988 the bike was sold in the colors Tempest Gray Metallic and Candy Flair Blue. For the remainder of the bikes production run it was only sold in red. There are only very minor changes between the 1988 model year and the 1989-91 model years. California Models were designated NT650L.
In 1989, the front suspension damper rods were changed to have only 2 (rather than 4) holes. The front brake calipers were also changed to have screw-on covers over the mounting pins.
In 1991, the oil lines were run internally through the engine, rather than externally.
The NT650'88 Hawk GT was sold in 1988 in one of two available colors: Tempest Gray Metallic or Candy Tanzanight Blue. The gas tank decal reads "HAWK HONDA" the side cover reads "GT 647" The headlight was round. The frame was an aluminum spar. There was a single-sided swingarm. The engine was a 647cc SOHC 3-valve liquid cooled V-twin linked to a 5-speed transmission and a chain drive. The serial number began JH2CR310*JM000001
The NT650'89 Hawk GT was sold in 1989 in just one color: Italian Red. There was no basic difference from the 1988 model. The 1988's had four holes in the stock damper rods while the 1989 model had only two. An oil line from the pump to the head on the 1988 model was mounted differently on the 1989, but otherwise shaped the same. The serial number began JH2CR310*KM100011
The NT650'90 Hawk GT was sold in 1990 in Italian Red. Again there was no difference from the previous year. The serial number began JH2CR310*LM200001
The NT650'91 Hawk GT was sold in 1991 in Italian Red. However, it was sold only in California this year. The serial number began JH2CR311*MM300001
A cousin to the Hawk GT, the Revere was available in Europe. The steel frame, shaft-drive, larger gas tank, longer rear end, and 600cc motor differentiate it from the Hawk GT. The NTV650 replaced the Revere and added the Hawk motor, moving it up to a 650. The NTV650 was replaced for 1997 with the Deauville, basically an NTV650 with full bodywork and hard saddlebags - not too different in general appearance from the PC800.
The Bros came in two versions (400cc and 650cc) for the Japanese market, when Honda stopped selling the Hawk in 1992 they continued the Bros in Japan for one more year. A close ratio gear box (which drops into the Hawk), different wheels, and lower clip-ons were the major changes.
While never imported to the UK officially, the BROS is available in many European markets as a grey (unofficial) import.
Part of the dismal sales for the Hawk was the lack of clarity in its design: was it a standard with a high-tech frame or a sportbike with a low-tech motor and no bodywork? The Revere and its progeny had no such dichotomy as they dispensed with the high-tech frame and swingarm. The result is a workhorse standard that has become popular in the UK as a delivery bike.
The Hawk GT is often described as a cult bike. Many owners modify their Hawks to accent the standard qualities it has as a light, sporty v-twin: torquey power delivery and easy cornering. With a top speed below 120 mph and a 0-60 mph time of about 4 seconds no one is going to fear the straight line performance of the Hawk. Find a favorite section of tight twisty road and the story changes.
Popular modifications include:
VFR 750 rear wheel, CBR 600 front wheel and twin disc brakes, CBR 900 FireBlade rear shock absorber, CBR 600 forks, Aftermarket exhausts, Aftermarket fairings.
Although the Bros was never officially imported into Ireland, a large number of grey imports coupled with its reasonable price, good reliability and economy mean that it is a very popular bike, particularly with couriers.