When Hasselhoff Was Knight Rider, Spencer Rode A Nighthawk

The “S” Stood For “Spencer”

(This was originally published on the old site in 2007)

In the mid-80s, American Honda’s motorcycle advertising included the memorable tagline, “FOLLOW THE LEADER.” And, it was a fitting slogan, since one of their leaders on the racetrack was three-time GP World Champion Freddie Spencer.

In the very midst of Freddie’s golden years, in which he won both the 250cc and 500cc titles in 1985, Honda launched the Nighthawk S (i.e., CB700SC), a tariff-beating quasi-sportbike that became a cult classic and is still revered to this day.

In Honda’s infinite wisdom, they knew that the best way to market a new bike that lost 50cc due to the regulations of the day, but gained a whole lot of performance, was to put Fast Freddie on the bike and let him loose on a racetrack.

A very compelling TV commercial resulted. By today’s standards, it’s kind of whimsical to see the close-up of the rear drum brake being applied by Spencer. But, all things told, the TV spot holds up almost as well as the bikes have over the years.

You can still find used Nighthawk S bikes in good condition, and for excellent prices. The bikes feature no-maintenance hydraulic valve lifters and shaft drive, so they’re as reliable as stones.

Thanks to American Honda for digging the above footage out of their archives.


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