So, I've joined the ranks of the dark side, but not completely. It's more of a dabble. Maybe it's chaotic neutral if you want to use the AD&D geek reference instead of the Star Wars geek reference.
A couple weeks ago I purchased a '98 F3.
I wanted something completely different from the hawk. It is. Well, it's still a Honda, so the controls are in the right place, and it works, and it's reliable, and all that stuff, but it ain't a hawk.
First thing I noticed is that it's SMOOOOOOOTH. really smooth. like a sewing machine, but quieter.
Second thing I noticed is that I can see exactly why they're such popular squid bikes. Very little engine braking, acceleration that's not alarming (see "Smooth" above), steering that's predictable and straightforward... supple suspension, crap-loads of power if you wind it up.
The third thing I noticed is that it has *NO* personality. It's about as vanilla as I've ever ridden. It's not boring as such, but the bike itself isn't fun. Riding around on it is fun, in fact, it's a blast, but it doesn't feel like I'm riding a [whatever], it feels like I'm riding a nondescript somethingorother that happens to go fast and turn well. For something that's as much fun as it is, I have very little attachment to it. It's just a bike. Weird.
The power at low-mid range RPM (where most riding gets done) is pretty tame, it's enough to get you where you're going without feeling like you're going to get rear-ended, but not so much that it's scary. However, I can see why newbie riders can get themselves into trouble easily. If you open the throttle and some low-ish RPM and keep it open, by the time you think, "I should slow down a bit" and roll off the throttle, the engine has hit the point where you have to roll off quite quickly or the increase in torque/power because of increased RPM is happening faster than it's decreasing from the throttle roll-off.
If you didn't know what was happening, it would feel like it was out of control and would set up all the survival/panic responses like freezing up and looking at the guardrail.
The rear brake doesn't do anything.
The front brake is awesome. This is with original pads, brake lines, calipers, rotors, everything. The brake fluid has probably been changed, it looks good through the sight-glass.
Brakes don't have a power curve.
On a Hawk, you've got a fair amount of torque/power that gets bigger until you're near redline. That curve is *relatively* flat. The Hawk brakes aren't particularly touchy. They're pretty linear too. The result is that one (I) got used to the brakes and engine (and engine braking) all doing sort of the same amount of something, at least within an order of magnitude.
On the F3, the engine power at low RPM is kinda weak, engine braking is relatively nonexistant, but the brakes STILL ROCK! The striking
difference between the go/stop of the engine and the STOP of the brakes took a little getting used to.
The Hawk is a VERY SIMPLE BIKE! Seriously, I was bitching about the carbs on the Hawk, and how they've got lots of little tubes that seem to go to nowhere, and how could anyone understand them, blah blah blah...
The Hawk also has personality, and I *like* it. The F3 isn't going away, it'll be fun on the track, but if someone makes me an offer that's reasonable I wouldn't have any real problems selling it. It feels ... replacable. I'm keeping the Hawks for as long as I can.