HONDA BROS / HAWK GT 400/650 (1988-1992) (stills taken from video road test)
- Excellent build quality, they cost as much as a CBR600 brand new
- Superb reliability, 100,000 miles plus, just ask a despatch rider
- Low seat height
- Reasonably torquey, the engines are in a low state of tune and are under stressed as a result
- Elegant and simple design
- Poor ride, poor fork damping especially.
- Limited tank range, especially the more thirsty 650, still better than a modern sports bike though!
The BROS was introduced in 1988 and ran until 1992 in Japan. Never officially imported however many grey imports were brought into this country. They are getting more rare as time goes by.
WHICH ONE TO GO FOR:
The 400 makes a great first bike thanks to it's 'on the nose' power output of 33bhp, that allows riders on restricted licenses to ride it without fitting a restrictor. The 650 has 45 bhp, 60% more torque and slightly taller gearing which makes it a more practical proposition. That said, the 400's are much more widely available and can still be fun, just not on the motorway! The 400 will reach just the other side of 100 mph and the 650 another 10 mph on top of that.
RELIABILITY AND COMMON FAULTS:
Reliability is superb, V-Twins do have a tendency to chew tyres and chains even with this small amount of power. Service them well and they'll run past 100,000 miles.
The only faults really are the cheap suspension components used. They last well, but give a poor ride, especially at the front. There are plenty of quality aftermarket rear shocks to choose from though and the front end can be improved by using 'Cartridge emulators'.
As with all imports that have been stored for any length of time, check for rust inside the fuel tank.
Designed at the same time as the legendary RC30 and including the ground breaking Elf designed Pro-Arm, the little BROS was an unusual niche bike that has since become popular as a despatchers bike thanks to it's excellent reliability and durability. Because of the quality of materials and exotic design they cost almost as much as a CBR600 at the time and sold poorly as a result. Face lifted in 1990, the MkII featured lighter 3 spoke wheels (18 inch on the back as opposed to 17 inch), with a wider front rim, sleeker tinted indicators and a PGM ignition system. Both 400 (NC25/Product Two) and the 650 (RC31/Product One) are outwardly exactly the same size and practically the same weight.
The engine is derived from the VT500 unit and has appeared in such bikes as the NT 600 Revere and the NTV 650, as well as the newer Deauville, PC800 and Africa Twin. The 400 is a sleeved down version of the 650.
The BROS was re-badged the 'Hawk GT' in the states and had a few alterations. Most notably more widely spaced gear ratios. They never got the MkII.
HOW TO AVOID BUYING A LEMON BY USING MY BUYERGUIDE BELOW
Before seeing the bike:
- If it is a private sale make sure you view the bike at the sellers premises - this will help determine if the seller is genuine
- Always ask the seller to make sure the bike is cold when you come to view it - warm engines can hide a multitude of sins
Find out whether the bike:
- Has got an MOT certificate, is it taxed and for how long?
- Has got a race can fitted and if so is the original included?
- Has it ever been crashed?
- Has got a current V5 and is registered in the sellers name?
- Is there any outstanding finance, if you're in doubt buy a HPI report or similar?
- Does the bike still have both original keys and the toolkit?
- Does the bike have a service history, and if so is it a main dealer one?
How to check the bike:
- On liquid cooled engines check for a film of oil in the radiator header tank before warming the bike up - the presence of oil would signify internal engine leaks or a blown head gasket.
- Make sure the oil on the dipstick or in the sight glass is smooth and has no bits in it or milky scum - again this could mean internal engine leaks.
- On starting from cold make sure the engine does not turn over sluggishly - this could mean a worn starter motor and/or a defective battery.
- Check for oil leaks around the engine and on the ground where the bike has been stood - any leaks could indicate expensive oil seal replacement or crash damage.
- Check all the lights work and that both levers activate the rear brake light.
- Run a finger up the fork stanchions and check for oil and rust - leaking fork seals are fixable, but it will cost you if the forks need re-chroming, also sometimes dismantling forks will damage the fork bushes and they'll need replacing.
- Check to make sure the rear shock isn't leaking oil and that any shock linkage is moving smoothly.
- Find out how old the tyres are regardless of their apparent wear - some old tyres can appear fine until the conditions get slippy. If in doubt, factor in replacement.
- If the bike is a European or American import check to see if the headlight has been altered for UK use.
- Check the brake disks for obvious signs of wear, hairline cracks between the vent holes can indicate critically thin disks. Check the brake pads to make sure they still have plenty of material left.
- If possible spin each wheel off the ground and check for damaged rims and worn wheel bearings.
- With the front wheel off the ground carefully move the steering left and right of centre and feel for any notches in the head stock bearings
- Check the Engine and Chassis numbers match the V5, sometimes, especially on imports there will be no engine number on the V5 but this does not necessarily mean a problem, it's optional when you are registering the bike in the UK.
- Check the sprockets to make sure they're not 'hooked' and check the chain is not at the end of it's adjustment.
- Check behind as many panels as possible for signs of repair. They may point to more serious accident damage, the quality of bodywork repair should indicate the quality of any other repairs. There's no substitute for orginal panels.
- Check for bent levers, scuffed mirrors/bar ends/indicators for signs of a drop.
Road testing the bike:
- Make sure the bike starts and idles easily, the tick over may have been set high to cover up idling problems or a rattly clutch basket.
- Check for smoke on start up, a bike in good condition that has been run regularly should be smoke free, unless it's a 2 stroke of course.
- Make sure the brakes do not bind and feel for pulsing through the brake levers, this indicates a warped disk.
- Make sure you can select all the gears easily and that you can find neutral when you come to a stop.
- Check for a slipping clutch by accelerating hard in top gear from a lowish speed.
Finally, trust your instincts about the car and the seller and do not let your heart rule your head - if you are not happy just walk away!!
Want to see why the BROS is a despatchers favourite? Does it make a good first bike? How fast does it go and how far on one tank of fuel? What it's really like to ride and live with in the real world? You can see the BROS in action (warts and all) in our comprehensive and fully independent video road test - simply click on the link below: