Scotland’s JM Customs builds a modernized Honda Nighthawk…
The original SOHC Honda CB750 may get the lion’s share of the attention from bike builders and vintage bike aficionados, but the later Nighthawk 750 (CB750SC) has been finding its way into the spotlight in recent years. Introduced in the early 1980s, the Nighthawk would remain in production for more than twenty years, becoming the lightest, most powerful CB750 in the series — 75 horsepower, 47 lb-ft of torque, and a dry weight of 460-70 lbs. It was a capable, affordable, near bulletproof machine that harkened back to the Universal Japanese Motorcycles of old. Said one 1991 review:
“Now we have come full circle. Honda has created a modern version of the original UJM with the 750 Nighthawk. It wasn’t just another model for Honda. Lots of research and development went into discovering and perfecting what this reborn UJM would be.”
Enter our friends James Moir and Graeme Findlay of Scotland’s JM Customs, who’ve been steadily building out their space to four workshops and five staff. They’re a full service and repair shop, and they also build one-off custom bikes like the “Iron Horse” Nighthawk 750 you see here:
“Our brief was to build a naked street bike that would take our client back to his motorcycling roots, but with a whole bunch of modern flavour.”
They went all-out on this one, fabricating a new subframe and mudguards, sinking the battery box into the swingarm, and carrying out a mono-shock conversion:
“This bike being a mono-shock doesn’t just dramatically transform the look of the bike; it performs on another level too.”
They reshaped the tank, swapped in the forks and brakes from a KTM 690 Duke, laced up a set of KTM wire wheels, and took the engine down to the cases and back. The bike is littered with trick powder and Cerakote, as well as modern electronics like the GPS speedo and Axel Joost keyless system.
“What you have is a motorcycle that looks insane, handles fantastic, and the sound it emits sets a permanent maniacal grin on your face, haha!”
Owner and leader designer James Moir says he’s super proud of the final product, but the team effort that went into it — especially mechanic Graeme Findlay. Below, we get the full details on the build from James himself, as well as more great shots from photographer Oliver Young.
Honda Nighthawk 750 Custom: In the Builder’s Words
We started out with a super low mileage donor bike; our brief was to build a naked street bike that would take our client back to his motorcycling roots, but with a whole bunch of modern flavour. His first motorcycle as an adult was the mighty CBX1000, so we knew we had to create something that really stood out from the crowd for him. Here at JMC we like to push ourselves and do things differently; we knew we were going to have fun with this build.
We started out by cutting off the rear subframe, fabricating new tubing for a more fluid, raised bone line. We made a tail loop at the rear and the rear mudguard is worked in sheet metal, all smoothed over. Added gussets to the subframe, notched and drilled for a nice effect after powder-coating. The rear subframe also holds some bolt-on rear foot pegs as our client wanted the option of a pillion rider.
An aluminium base plate was fabricated below the seat, which holds some of the electrical components.
We knew we wanted to rid this ride of its twin shocks at the rear, so we machined mounts that attached to the original lower shock mounts and fabricated a frame which bolts on for a mono-shock conversion. As with most of our builds, we worked with our friends at Hagon, who built us this awesome custom shock to our specifications. This bike being a mono-shock doesn’t just dramatically transform the look of the bike; it performs on another level too.
We also worked a rear hugger style guard in sheet metal onto the mono shock frame. We utilised the space inside the swing arm for a battery box. Sinking the battery in, covered with a custom cover and strap which has our logo laser-etched onto it. Doing this really kept everything neat and compact.
We always knew that we were going to keep the original tank; it really has great lines for this bike. The only thing that was really bugging me after we’d made the new and improved subframe was the rear of the tank. It had this bulbous shape to it that just wasn’t working. So, we broke out our mallets and reshaped the two rear sections on the side of the tank. By doing so it accentuated the two top ridges and gave this bike a waistline. Way better!
The short front mud guard we fabricated from aluminium, and created a mount with a rotor guard on either side. We also installed aftermarket rear sets, powder-coated in gloss black.
The wheels came from a KTM 450 that we had in storage. Spoked wheels on this custom just made sense — wire wheels are just classier. With the rear wheel, we cerakoted the hub gold, powder-coated the rim gloss black and re-spoked with stainless spokes.
With the front wheel, we opted for the same colour scheme but we laced in a new SM Pro twin disc hub from a KTM 990. Both wheels are wrapped in Maxxis Supermaxx rubber. We machined a custom front spindle and spacers to accommodate the KTM wheel up front with the newly installed front end.
The rear brake setup was the stock setup from the KTM 450 that we used the wheels from. The front brakes are radial calipers from a 2018 KTM Duke 690. All calipers were stripped, rebuilt, and cerakoted in gold. Our mates at Fastec Racing machined us two rotor spacers which carry the KTM 990 discs. As with all of our creations, we feed our brakes with custom lines by HEL Performance.
The rear shock was a custom mono shock by Hagon, The front suspension was from a 2018 KTM Duke 690, rebuilt and the tubes cerakoted in gold. The aluminium Yolks are custom made to our specs by Fastec Racing. The Front and rear end Conversion really elevated this build in our opinion. Giving the whole ride a super aggressive stance.
ELECTRICS / COCKPIT
We installed some Renthal low rise moto bars for our client’s comfort, Domino race throttle and grips, and aftermarket levers. We fabricated a mount to house some Daytona Velona gauges and relocated the choke plunger. On the bars we internally wired some awesome billet switches from Motone Customs. Bar end indicators were installed too.
The momentary switches are controlled by an Axel Joost H-Box, Keyless module by Axel Joost and GPS speedo sensor, which is tucked away under the tank, making everything super neat and manageable. We also installed new ignition coils, leads and caps. Also a Daymaker LED headlight up front — another super modern touch to this ride.
A full engine split, inspection, and vapour-blasting was carried out. We knew weren’t going to find anything untoward with this motor. Everything was completely rebuilt after we detailed the motor in matte black with polished accents on the cooling fins, adding some additional bling with a candy red alternator cover and metallic gold valve cover and casings. We replaced all the engine bolts with shiny new stainless ones. The carbs were treated to a full tear-down and vapour-blasting. We finished the float bowls in gloss black and caps in candy red.
We took the original headers and went from 4-1 to a 2-1 either side with a twist. The wrapped exhausts run round the frame rails, tying in to one another with a side exit SC Project can. This bike absolutely rips!
PAINT / POWDER COAT
The frame work and brackets were all powder-coated gloss black. We hit the tank With a candy red and metallic gold combo, separated with gloss black coach lines. We painted the gas cap gloss black too, and finished the whole deal off with gloss black JMC logo decals on top of the candy red.
The custom battery cover and strap were created with our logo laser-etched onto it. We fabricated the seat base and we had Hurley Custom Seats create this slick brown leather work!
We were surprised at the lack of performance parts available for this model, so to set this Nighthawk apart, we opted to go with the custom pipes, tuning the carbs, and changing the gearing. We went up two teeth at the rear. The bike may have lost a little in the top end but with it being a naked bike it’s all good. What you have is a motorcycle that looks insane, handles fantastic, and the sound it emits sets a permanent maniacal grin on your face, haha!
We are super proud of this creation. In our opinion it is some of the best work me and my team have put out there to date.
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Photography: Oliver Young (@olliecyoung)