Bikes and Beards goes Amazon shopping once again.
I've previously written about the Hawk 250, a cheap Chinese dual-sport that promises the on-road, off-road experience for far less money than a name brand motorcycle. I ended up getting a deal on a Kawasaki KLR 650, but I seriously considered picking one of these up instead. Bikes and Beards just picked up a Hawk DLX, an updated version of this bike—from Amazon, of course, because that's how they roll.
The Hawk DLX sells for $2,049 on Amazon. That's close to what I paid for my KLR. Overall, my KLR is the far superior motorcycle. The Hawk does offer a number of features I don't have, however. Chief among them is electronic fuel injection. This has only become common on motorcycles in the past several years. Although my KLR is from 2005, the design is fundamentally unchanged since the 1980s. Between fuel injection and the digital gauges, the Hawk has a clear advantage here. No more fiddling with the choke on these cool fall mornings to warm it up.
Is fuel injection worth the other "quirks and features" that come with an affordable Chinese motorcycle? As with the original Hawk, it comes in a crate, with some assembly required. This is a good opportunity to check over the entire motorcycle for assembly problems, like loose bolts or parts that don't line up. This isn't a matter of if it happens, but when.
The overall construction still doesn't line up to that of an equivalent name-brand motorcycle. The frame is tubular steel rather than aluminum. To make room for the exhaust, they simply pinch the down tube of the frame, significantly weakening it. For the way most people will ride these bikes, this isn't enough of an issue to worry about, but it's a clear sign of the cost-cutting that goes into these.
Comparing the Hawk DLX to my KLR is not a fair comparison. A more fair comparison would be to a modern bike like a Honda CRF250L. The Honda is a far superior motorcycle, but it also costs $5,199, more than double the price of the Hawk DLX. If you want the Honda but don't have the budget, the Hawk looks pretty darn good. That's Bikes and Beards' first impression after assembly and a quick test ride. It's "a million times better" than the original Hawk 250, and "a viable option for a cheap motorcycle."
Coming up they plan to do a direct comparison between the Hawk DLX and an equivalent Japanese bike. Personally, I'd love to see a three-way comparison - the Hawk DLX, a new 250 dual sport like the CRF250L, and a used dual-sport at the Hawk's price point like my KLR 650. Let me know if you'd like to borrow my KLR...