The Honda Shadow has been around for more than three decades. It has seen many incarnations, but the concept of a comfortable, affordable, state-of-the-art cruiser remains unmodified. Read on to find out about the past, present and future of the Honda Shadow. Three decades later, the Japanese Queen of the Roads is more alive than ever.
The first introduction of the Honda Shadow Line to the world was in 1983. Models presented almost 35 years ago were an attempt to disembark into the American market. The cruisers line of the Japanese company gained terrain and are now an established name. The first bikes were smaller than the ones that we usually see nowadays. Those first ones were the VT500C and the VT700C. This later one is a diminished VT750C due to tariff restrictions on Japanese bikes over 701cc. Eventually, the lifting of the restrictions allowed the American landing of the traditional 750cc. The line grew tremendously and offered models between 125cc and 1,100cc. Still a classic today, the Honda Shadow can be seen cruising most roads across the country.
All Honda Shadow models are built around the same concept: laid-back classic American cruisers. The Japanese company made a strong commitment to maintaining traditional lines and features. The chrome exhausts, fenders fully figured and round front light are retro-friendly. Also, the old-school symmetry is crucial for the feel and experience. The rider is seating low and the centre triangle makes the fork projection more pronounced. This driving position is a tested-and-true American tradition. As Honda declares, it has gained its spot as one of the most popular road-bikes in the country. It is not uncommon to come across Honda Shadow drivers on most open roads. Also, since the bike is not so heavy, it can be a fantastic street bike too.
The Honda Shadow 750 is perhaps the most iconic size and version of this iconic bike. The motorcycle size and the engine that moves it are ideal for entry-level riders. Although it doesn´t require so much upper-body strength, it does have a massive V-Twin sound of a beast. It is a retro-lovers motorcycle without many modern additions and an honest approach. Most riders agree that although it´s not an American-made bike, it is a great cruiser. Most also agree that although they are not Honda fans, love the Shadow line. It is a strange crossover. The Honda Shadow is such a classic approach to an American tradition, it became one itself.
The Honda Shadow 750 Spirit is what a boxing fan could call a welter-weight motorcycle. It´s got all the bells and whistles of bigger bikes and the manoeuvrability of a street one. The V-Twin engine is the classic for all the line, yet the bike is a stripped-down, minimalistic version. The broader and more ornamented versions like the huge ACE sported the same engine. This Honda Shadow 750 Spirit feels more powerful and extremely light next to them. The narrow, stylish front wheel is the pure attitude. Coupled with the roar of the V-twin, together they make a grand entrance to any circumstance. With this, we are not saying that the Spirit is a loud bike. Quite on the contrary, it is quiet and dependable. Low maintenance and high mileage is a typical story to all Shadows.
The Spirit was clearly designed as a road-ready vehicle. It sports a five-speed transmission with an O-ring-sealed chain final drive. The short clutch and throttle make her a fast bike. The Honda Shadow 750 Spirit performs flawlessly in all scenarios. Riders agree there are no fails on top speed or acceleration. Although the 52°, liquid-cooled, 3-valve per piston V-Twin engine is common on Shadows, the Spirit feels faster. The minimalistic approach to ornamentation and body specs might be the key.
The body positioning is quite comfortable for the open road. When driving among the city traffic can be a tad annoying. The bar is seated on two rubber risers working as cushions. This helps a lot to isolate vibrations and absorb bumps. The 5-position spring suspension is another excellent addition for this. The lowest seat in the market plus the pegs located long forward, define the body position. It is very aerodynamic to avoid the wind in the chest but is not so handy in the city. When you have to start and stop so much and use your feet, having them so far is annoying. All in all, with pros and cons, it is a great addition to the Shadow line. It can be suitable for new riders, small riders and short trips.
The biggest news with the inclusion of the Honda Shadow 750 Aero is the shaft drive. All the Shadow range had historically sported chain drive. With the addition of the Shaft in this model, Honda takes a leap. Shaft drive is low-maintenance and utterly reliable. This powertrain change was a needed modernisation requested by drivers. Competitor´s bikes all have a shaft drive. Kawasaki Vulcan, Yamaha 650 V-Star and Suzuki 800s all have it. The bike is also quieter since the dual exhaust system turned into a single one. This brings out a bark that´s more adjusted to present times.
Another significant change was the replacement of the dual carbs. The Honda Shadow 750 Aero sports a single 34mm Keihin constant-velocity unit. This makes adjustability easier and improves the overall feeling of the bike. Also, a part of the new design is the single overhead camshaft with three valves and two spark plugs for each cylinder.
The Honda Shadow Phantom is a stealth version of the Honda Shadow 750cc. The stripped-down matte-black design is very attractive to a certain public. The name of the series had never been so well portrayed by a bike. Although, if you decide to go for the all-mate-black design, you´ll make more than one head turn. The finish is flawless and coupled with the few chrome parts; it is a one-of-a-kind bike. Together with the Aero, they are the legend-bearers for Honda Shadow 2017 and Honda Shadow 2018. Differences between them are tiny, including a minimal price variance. When it comes to the aesthetics and accessories, those looking for a more traditional bike will definitely choose the Aero.
The Honda Shadow Phantom is intended for those looking for a different motorcycle. The matte-black finish is becoming increasingly popular, and many companies offer such a finish. What sets the Phantom apart is the combination of black and chrome, past and future. Also, the modernisation of the engine including the programmed fuel injection is a plus. Also a shaft-drive bike, the Phantom is the Honda Shadow 2018 most distinct model.
Historically, the Honda Shadow line is an affordable one. The strategy deployed in 1983 is still in place at full steam. The Japanese brand assaulted the American market with high-quality products at an affordable price. They made the decision not to compete with the mid-weight models against elite brands like Harley Davidson. This price-tag differentiation technique granted them a faithful tribe of followers. This doesn´t mean they don´t endure competition with other brands. There are plenty of models from well-established brands that compete directly with the Shadow. Suzuki, Yamaha, Kawasaki or Indian, all have a mid-weight bike trying to win the market. A company, the size of the Honda Corporation, has different lines where they inject their money. According to them, the Shadow is their best-selling street bike for the third year consecutively. So, we know very well where they are investing right now.
Price tags on the Honda Shadow 2018 present a minimal variance. The Honda Shadow Phantom is slightly more expensive than the Honda Shadow 750 Aero. Prices are $7,799 and $7,599 respectively. This more of a complication for most buyers because you´re left deciding on specs, colours and comfort rather than the price tag.
For being such a popular model, there are plenty of options for buying a used Honda Shadow. There are many options for new models like Honda Shadow 2017 but it also possible to find 80s models. As it is a very popular motorcycle, there is no “collector´s market”, and most used ones run for half the price of the new. Although buying a used vehicle is a challenging endeavour, with the Honda Shadow, this is not the case. Honda is very famous for its reliability, and the replacement parts aren´t hard to find. This combination makes it relatively easy to find used bikes in good shape. There are plenty of models with high mileage and proper service that still ride at their best.
It is ideal for those who travel long distances and need to take many things. Keeping the “Cool factor” intact requires the throw-over saddlebags on each side. To be comfortable knowing that they won´t come loose and lost, you need this accessory.
Honda Shadow is a reliable bike, but nobody likes riding with wet pants. The cover is made of waterproof material and also has the Honda logo. This is a must-have for bikes that remain out in bad weather conditions.
Smart Turn System (STS) – will take care of your »blinker fluid«, and you will never run out of it again. Jokes aside, it is a system that will keep you from the false indication of your intentions, if you, for some reason, forget to cancel your turn signal. The Smart Turn System is very popular among Honda Shadow riders, furthermore, it is one of the most common motorcycles that our customers list when ordering their next favourite add-on.
If it sounds like a feature you want to have on your shadow, make sure to enter your motorcycle details in the form below, and submit your email to learn more about this amazing product!
Smart Break Module (SBM) – Shutting down the throttle of the bike will immediately make you go slower. In fact, most bikers on the road hardly ever hit the breaks but use mostly the engine braking. This great little device senses the speed and the down-shifting and activates your stop light immediately. It could avoid many accidents. You will feel more secure with it when on the highway or a big road. You can install it on your brand new Honda Shadow.
The Honda Shadow is the perfect bike for those who don´t want to spend too much but still have the big-bike experience. Honda is not an elite brand in the motorcycle business but has gained its reputation. It is not the same feeling as riding a Harley, not even in the larger models. On the other hand, you will get the reliability and technology. The line currently includes only two models, but you can get older, bigger models too. The Honda Shadow is a classic, and it lives up to the legend, a bike to buy confidently and keep for life.