The bike is a 1991 Honda Nighthawk with just over 180,000 miles on it. It's around 230ccs, and carburated.

This is my first bike, so I don't have any idea what is typical behavior for a motorcycle. It's been running great, but there are a couple of things which I don't know how to gauge the severity of. I'm relying on this bike for my commute, so what I want find out is if this bike is safe to keep using as a commuter, or if I should stay off of it until I can take it into a shop.

It was really wet and cool yesterday morning, so you could see exhaust rising out of tailpipes clearly. A large amount of exhaust was rising from all around the engine block as I was idling at stop lights on my way home. It appeared to be coming from somewhere on the front of the engine where the exhaust is outputted, but the bike had gotten pretty wet the night before while it cooled enough to put a cover on, so I wasn't sure how much of it was exhaust and how much was steam. There is exhaust coming out of the tail pipes, but I don't know if it's less than it ought to be.

Here's a photo:

View From left

I know that this model has an issue where the exhaust pipe cracks near the shifter/break pedal, but that's not the case here. The exhaust was definitely coming from further up. When I got back home I put it in neutral and felt around the connection between the exhaust pipes and the engine block, but couldn't feel any sort of breeze. By that point it had warmed to the point where you couldn't see the exhaust anymore either, so I'm stumped. I'm tempted to say that it was just steam, but there seemed like way too much for that to be the case.

The reason this concerns me is that when I first got the bike, the shop that I took it into welded up a crack in the aforementioned spot and mentioned that if exhaust wasn't flowing right it could back up and kill the engine (kill as in render scrap). I have been getting random stalling, as mentioned here, so I'm wondering if this is potentially related to that, perhaps the early stages of a terminal problem.

  • Welcome to the site. A few pictures would go a long way to help us understand where the smoke is coming from. You can use the edit button to add pictures.
    – Zaid
    Apr 27, 2017 at 19:29
  • That's part of the issue, I can't find the source of the smoke. It would just be pictures of the bike. Apr 27, 2017 at 19:35
  • You could at least indicate the area where you think the smoke is appearing from. The reason I recommend you to add pictures is because it could be something as mundane as a leaky exhaust gasket, or as serious as an oil-starved camshaft. I don't know if the pictures would reveal the probable culprit, but I feel it helps in documenting the issue and reducing the likelihood of random folks taking a stab at Internet-armchair-diagnosis :)
    – Zaid
    Apr 27, 2017 at 19:41
  • There we are. Looking at those covers, it's probably just that I need new gaskets. They don't look like they've ever been changed. Apr 27, 2017 at 20:10
  • Yup, I'd consider it a maintenance item that would eventually need to be replaced, so it wouldn't be a bad idea to get a new pair of gaskets installed even if it isn't the source of your troubles.
    – Zaid
    Apr 27, 2017 at 20:39

1 Answer 1


It may have been steam as you mention it was raining/wet. Normally if there is an exhaust leak you will see black sooty areas around any cracks or holes, there doesn't seem to be anything like that around the headers or joints you show in the picture. Everything looks fine there although it would be difficult via a picture to tell if the manifold gaskets were leaking a little. If so its not leaking much.

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