An Atlanta-based young gun builds a stunning Nighthawk…
Produced from 1991 to 2003, the Honda Nighthawk 750 — aka CB750SC — has never been lavished with the praise and attention of the earlier CB750 models, but it was a highly capable and reliable machine in its own right, weighing 474 lbs with 75 hp on tap — the lightest, most powerful CB750 in the series. Cycle World would name the Nighthawk one of their “Best Used Bikes,” saying of the air-cooled 747cc DOHC powerplant:
“The engine is practically bulletproof, a descendant of the CB750F powerplants that date back to the very late 1970s… A Universal Japanese Motorcycle, the type of bike that helped make Honda, Kawasaki, et al famous.”
Enter Alex Child of Atlanta’s Vandals Moto, a flat track racer and custom builder who’s had the honor of working with friend of the blog and living legend Bryan Fuller of Fuller Moto on projects such as the Majestic 2029 — now displayed at the Haas Moto Museum & Sculpture Gallery.
Back in 2018, we featured Alex’s original Nighthawk 750 build, “Casper,” which earned him an invitation to the 2019 Handbuilt Show and cemented his love for this “bastard step child” of the CB750 series.
“Starting with a Nighthawk on my very first build in 2017, I quickly fell in love with how reliable of a platform the bike was. Like everyone else, you’ve always got a bike that stands out to you. A lot of builders like the Yamaha Virago or the Honda CX series; I like the Nighthawk 750.”
Now Alex is back with “Casper 3.0,” the latest evolution in his custom Nighthawk series. The bikes are named after his best friend, who was there for the building of Alex’s first CB750:
“I decided to name the bikes and bike after my late best friend who passed away at the beginning of 2018 when I was finishing my first CB750. Dave would regularly come by the shop and hang out and occasionally sleep on a bike lift from time to time. Dave’s nickname was Casper so when it came time to name the bike, the name Casper was very fitting. Sometimes names just pick themselves and that was the case in this one.”
For number three of the Casper series, the base was a 1995 model:
“Aesthetically unappealing from factory, this bike had to have a compete rebuild to get where we wanted to go. The lack of aftermarket parts available for this bike also put a huge road ahead of us.”
First things first, Alex ditched the standard front end for a set of GSXR forks, complete with a set of Cognito Moto yokes, and swapped the standard swinger for a single-sided model from a Ducati S4R. The tank is one of our favorite elements, a highly modified Kawasaki KZ650sr unit with the Vandals emblem custom-cut on a waterjet by Fuller Moto’s Bryan Heidt and powdered clear by Jared Morris (Bullet Bob Moto) of Custom Coaters Atlanta. Steel Dragon Performance machined the airbox, while Phil Cato of Cato’s Custom Upholstery knocked out the upholstery.
All in all, this is one of the most striking Nighthawks we’ve ever seen, a bike that illuminates the hidden potential in these underestimated machines. Below, we get the full story from Alex himself, as well as more photos from his fiance, @whitneybebe.
Custom Nighthawk 750: In the Builder’s Words
I’m Alex Childs from Atlanta, Georgia. I own a small shop called Vandals Moto.
Nighthawks are my thing. This time I’ve built a Nighthawk I would really like to share.
Starting with a Nighthawk on my very first build in 2017, I quickly fell in love with how reliable of a platform the bike was. Like everyone else, you’ve always got a bike that stands out to you. A lot of builders like the Yamaha Virago or the Honda CX series; I like the Nighthawk 750. Heck most people chose a SOHC or DOHC Honda from the 70s and 80s. 2019 was an amazing year as the second Nighthawk that I built was selected to be in the Handbuilt Show in Austin, Texas. That year I was also given the opportunity to work with Bryan Fuller of Fuller Moto in Atlanta. I was lucky enough to help complete another amazing bike that was featured at the Handbuilt show, the Majestic 2029 that’s now on display at the Haas Motorcycle Museum in Texas. It was very much an honor to help and work with a motorcycle and hot rod icon like Bryan Fuller.
On to the build. I started with a 1995 Honda Nighthawk 750. Really the bastard step child of the CB750 series. When builders approach a custom build the CB is obviously at the top of the list, 70s SOHC and 80s DOHC are very infamous platforms. The 90s 750 was very much the opposite. Aesthetically unappealing from factory, this bike had to have a compete rebuild to get where we wanted to go. The lack of aftermarket parts available for this bike also put a huge road ahead of us.
I ditched the front end and chose 2014 Suzuki GSX-R750 forks with a Cognito Moto triple clamp set up. The new GSXR front end gave the bike the stance we needed to start chopping the rear end of the bike.
Ditched the original swingarm and chose a Ducati S4r single sided swingarm with a very cool trestle frame. We used the frame from the swingarm and rear shock, designed and built the new subframe around it.
The main focus at this point on the build was the tank. I chose an aggressive-looking tank that I’ve seen a lot of builders use on XV750’s and 920’s, a Kawasaki KZ650sr tank. I chose to shorten the tank and we cut out and modified the underside and shortened it about three inches to make the tank better fit the frame. The tank was then sanded down to the original metal and powder coated clear to give that dark metal effect.
I knew i needed to bring a new degree to this bike and step up the game for the ol’ Nighthawk 750 I was building. The Vandals tank emblem. A visit to Super B (Bryan Heidt) of Fuller Moto Atlanta and we utilized their water jet and cut out the emblems with two pieces of 1/8 inch steel carefully tacked together.
This being a CV-style carbureted bike, the carbs were designed to take a full airbox so the bike can perform properly. They say it’s impossible to ditch the airboxes on this machine, but that’s just a forum wives’ tale you hear about guys who haven’t even tried to run pods or aftermarket air intakes on their bikes or had poor results. It wasn’t so difficult. I had to ditch that huge ugly airbox so I reached out to Mike of Steel Dragon Performance in Minnesota.
Steel Dragon specializes in intake systems for cars and mostly CB model motorcycles. I’ve run their twin airboxes on all our Nighthawk 750s. These airboxes are very properly built and machined by hand with internal velocity stacks that really make this machine sound nice. With a proper jet tune and sync the engine was running flawlessly. We’ve worked with Mike of Steel Dragon many times over the past couple years and have been able to design and redesign these airboxes to a near perfection. Matched with a Mac header system and cone slip on exhaust, she sounds like a monster coming down the road.
A pair of Pirelli Mt60s really set off the aggressive stance for this motorcycle. Using Cognito Moto rearsets and their triple clamp systems, Cognito brings the details to the motorcycle world and the craftsmanship is of course second to none. Huge thanks to Devin and Nick at Cognito for helping out with the build. The famous Phil Cato, at Cato’s Custom Upholstery from the hit TV show “Iron Resurrection” recently moved his home base from Texas to Atlanta over the past year and was able to help out on the seat and like everything else Cato does, killed it.
I tried to bring the best minds together to finish this build. Trying to keep a minimalist and original line but with a modern approach. A lil bit of hot rod roots and talent were used to build and complete this machine that I am nothing less than satisfied with.
Follow the Builder
- Web: vandalsmoto.com
- Facebook: @Vandalsmoto
- Instagram: @vandalsmoto
- Photography: @whitneybebe
Very, very nice! Usually I don’t care for less than the most aggressive street rubber on a street bike, but in this case the MT60’s look excellent.
Speechless perfection. Every last aspect of this build is well thought out and the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.
Great job! Love the air box. That Ducati swing arm looks amazing. I would like to see the swing arm get more attention, like a nickel finish. I wish I could afford such a classy bike!