- The ex Hawk GT

I used to own a gray 1988 Hawk GT (with the passing gear, removed from later versions - I miss that feature) back in Blighty, which ended up with a Spec II slip on silencer, K&N air filter, DynoJet kit, EMC Sport rear shock, CBR400 handlebars, RC30 switchgear and a Powerbronze Bol D'Or twin headlamp fairing.I went all over the place on that bike, and eventually Sod's Law caught up with me, and I had a bit of a crash on it. Oh dear, the fairing was a mess, so it came off and went in the bin. The original headlamp went back on, the bent handlebars were replaced with a nasty set of aftermarket ones and the centrestand got taken off, then the whole thing was sprayed Ford Mondeo blue. I don't want to make you think the bike's a piece of junk, it's just that they seem to bring out the tinkerer in people (and some strange people there are too). As standard, they suffer from lazy steering (drop the yokes about 15mm), crap suspension ($$$s fixes this) and the usual lack of power (an exhaust helps here... my '88 produced 51 reliable rear wheel horsepower with 43,000 miles on it).

When I moved to the US, I bought another one. I charted my modifications here.

Here's the Hawk when I bought it... bone stock, with a few scuffs and dings, with 16K miles.I hate the Hawk handlebars as they're really high up, so I originally fitted some from an old GSXR... more or less any 41mm clipons will do. I also converted the bike over so I could ride it. It was at this stage that I fitted some Race Tech cartridge emulators and CBR600F2 preload adjustable fork caps to sort of the weak front end. I found that it had been worked over by somebody at some point, as the damper rod holes had been welded up and redrilled. That's all well and good, but I had no idea who they'd been set up for.

I finally got around to fitting a Two Brothers Racing exhaust system, with a Factory jet kit and a K&N air filter from the UK. I've also junked the emissions crap, as after 9 years, I'm sure it was full of carbon, and doing very little.I also fitted a set of CBR600F2 handlebars (less of a downward angle than the GSX-R ones, but they make the bike feel like a hooligan flat-tracker), and some shorty rear indicator stalks (as the old ones were a bit droopy). The CBR handlebars meant I needed to change the clutch cable routing to stop the thing snagging. This has tidied up the bike immensely. I later took off the number plate light and moved the plate up, with the rear reflectors mounted on the rear mudguard. I have some space under the number plate that I've put another reflector on - after all, you can't be too careful.

I fitted a CBR600F2 front wheel (with the standard Hawk disc), so I can run 120 section, sticky tyres, a VFR750 rear wheel, modified to fit the Hawk with a centre bolt to match the front. You can modify any of the VFR wheels, but the early 8 spoke rims are 5.5" wide, and look like the RC30 wheels, matching the front wheel better. I removed the chain guard (as it hit the rear tyre), and this necessitated running the rear brake line through the swingarm, so I fitted Speedbleeders at the same time. A Fox racing rear shock was fitted, to finish off the suspension.

I fitted a Shindy steering damper mount with a Daytona damper. This fits OK, and helps me control the slight wobble I get pulling away with a pillion. It took a while to get fitted properly, so it didn't restrict the steering anywhere.

I fitted a Milktree headlight harness (to run power for the headlights straight from the battery), a chain roller (to keep the chain away from the frame), Buell turn signals, with LED tail light bulbs and a Lockhart-Phillips tank protector. I eventually decided that I had too many bikes in the garage, and that I should start tidying up a little bit. After all, I'd been riding Hawks for 14 years. I advertised the Hawk, and it got sold to an enthusiastic guy down in Los Angeles who rented a pickup and came to collect it.