The Honda Shadow refers to a family of cruiser-type motorcycles made by Honda since 1983. The Shadow line features motorcycles with a liquid-cooled 45 or 52-degree V-twin engine ranging from 125 to 1,100 cc engine displacement. The 250 cc Honda Rebel is associated with the Shadow line in certain markets.
In 1983, Honda introduced the Shadow series of motorcycles in an attempt to address the needs of the American cruiser market with the VT500c and VT750c. However, due to tariff restrictions in the United States on imported Japanese bikes over 701 cc, the VT750c was reduced to 700 cc in 1984 and was sold as the Vt700c. In 1985, the tariff was lifted and the line soon expanded to an 1,100 cc bike the VT1100c. The VT750c was replaced by an 800 cc version the VT800c in 1988.
The VT600c was launched in 1988 as Honda's new entry level Shadow though still slotted above the Honda Rebel. The line changed little until the introduction of the 750 cc Honda Shadow Ace in 1997. From 2000 to 2007, the Honda Shadow Sabre replaced the VT1100 until the 1,100 cc class was discontinued in favor of the new VTX line, specifically the 1,300 cc offering known as the VTX1300. As of 2011, the Shadow brand has been limited to a single 750 cc cruiser available in Spirit, Aero, Phantom, and RS trims. All other offers are known under the VTX or Rebel brands.
The RS and Phantom are the 2 latest additions to the 750 cc line-up from year 2010. Both are Fuel injected. Shadow RS recalls a flat track racing bike with chain drive, a 'peanut' style gas tank and a slightly higher seat height ( 29 inches ) with foot pegs less forward than conventional cruisers ( meaning a more standard seating position). Phantom is more like a conventional cruiser in ergonomics.
125 cc Class
The Honda 125 is mainly for the UK and Europe market, as it fits within the restrictions placed on learner drivers in the UK and the light motorcycle license in Europe. It is also has a chain drive instead of a shaft drive seen on the larger engined bikes. Sales ended in 2008.
500 cc VT Class
The 500cc "VT500C" introduced in 1983 featured chrome side covers and black engine covers. The headlight was chrome and rectangular and had a single horn. The engine was the Honda VT500, a 491 cc (30.0 cu in) OHC three-valve, liquid cooled V-Twin with a six-speed, shaft drive transmission.
In 1984, The "VT500C' was featured include the fuel tank and rear fenders painted the same. The front fender is chrome and this year the side covers and engine covers were painted black. The headlight was chrome and rectangular and there was a single horn. The engine is virtually the same as the 1983 model.
The 1985 "VT500C" had round and chromed headlamps. This model continued with the dual horns. A two piece seat with an integrated backrest was incorporated. Starting this year, the engine covers were polished chrome and the fins enlarged. The "Honda" tank decal was curved instead of straight.
For the 1986 model year, the "VT500C" model was virtually the same as the 1985 model.
600 cc VT Class
The "VLX" "Shadow 600" (aka "VT600C") was introduced as a new model in 1988. It has a single shock rear suspension, a low 27.1-inch (690 mm) seat height and a long 63.2 inches (1,610 mm) wheelbase with a 2.4 US gallons (9.1 l; 2.0 imp gal) fuel tank. The engine is a 583 cc (35.6 cu in) SOHC three-valve liquid cooled 52-degree V-Twin with a four-speed transmission and chain drive. The wheels are spoked.
In 1989, The VLX VT600C remained largely the same VT600C was not made in 1990 but did make a come back in 1991 offered only in black. The engine and body style was retained from the 1991 model year.
A new deluxe version "VT600CD" introduced in 1993 added more chrome on the engine cases and valve covers. The seat on the deluxe version is soft and tucked. By 1994 the Deluxe model was a standard offering for every year the VLX was made.
700-800 cc VT Class
The "VT750C" also introduced in 1983 with the VT500c. Special identifying features of this model are the round head lamp, instrument casings and the chromed front fender. The backrest was standard equipment. The painted side covers had the "Shadow 750" decal. The engine is a 749 cc (45.7 cu in) SOHC 3-valve Liquid Cooled V-Twin with a six-speed shaft drive transmission.
The "VT700C" was introduced in 1984 as a direct result of increased tariffs placed on Japan's imports. The U.S. raised the import tariffs on engine sizes above 701 cc (42.8 cu in). So the engine size was reduced from a 750 cc (46 cu in) to 700 cc (43 cu in) to get the bikes into the U.S. Special identifying features of this model are the round head lamp and instrument casings with a chromed front fender. The front wheel bore a dual disc brake system and dual horns mounted on the front. The painted side covers had the "Shadow 700" decal. The engine is a 694 cc (42.4 cu in) SOHC three-valve Liquid Cooled V-Twin with a six-speed, shaft drive transmission from 1984 to 1987. New hydraulic valve adjusters and twin plug cylinder heads were used. The "VT750C" was available outside of the USA (Canada and Europe) with a larger engine displacement.
In 1985, The "VT700C" model featured polished chrome engine side covers. The engine is the same as the 1984 model year. The "VT750C" was available outside of the USA (Canada and Europe) with a larger engine displacement.
In 1986, The "VT700C" model rear fender took on a flair look over the rounded style. The engine is the same as the 1984 model except polished instead of black with the right engine cover graphic painted black. The mufflers were a little lower and changed from the flair look to a more straight style. The front pegs and controls were moved forward, the rear foot peg support bracket became solid and the back rest was optional this year. The cast wheels changed from a ten-spoke to a five-spoke design and the access covers were chromed. The "VT750C" was available outside of the USA (Canada and Europe) with a larger engine displacement.
The 1987 "VT700C" model featured the same engine as the 1986 model but with the right engine cover graphic not painted. The side covers are chrome, five-spoke cast wheels with a single front disc brake.
The "VT750C" was available outside of the USA (Canada and Europe) with a larger engine displacement.
In 2004, the VT750C Shadow Aero was redesigned with larger valenced fenders to give it more of a retro look. It also moved from chain drive to a sealed shaft drive which decreases the amount of required maintenance. As for the engine, it remained a V-Twin but included 2 spark plugs per cylinder to increase efficiency. It also got rid of the second carb so only a single carb feeds the engine with fuel.
Honda Japan created a series of VT400 (Japanese) models for the Japanese domestic market in 1997, practically identical to the VT750 series but with smaller displacement engines. From 2009, Honda Australia imports the VT400 as a Learner Approved Motorcycle alongside the popular VT750.
1,100 cc VT Class
The "VT1100C" model was introduced in 1985. The dual horns are still located on the front and turning indicators are square shaped. Fuel and temperature gauges are located on the tank. The new engine is a 1,099 cc (67.1 cu in) SOHC Liquid Cooled V-twin with a five-speed, shaft drive transmission for 1985 and 1986. The engine is the same as the 1985 model.
The "VT1100C" model took on a brand-new look for 1987 with a lower 26-inch-high (660 mm) seat, a longer 65-inch (1,700 mm) wheelbase, a 3.44 US gallons (13.0 l; 2.86 imp gal) fuel tank and a 41 millimetres (1.6 in) extended front fork design. Both mufflers were run along the right side and a small back rest was brought back. The engine is a 1,099 cc (67.1 cu in) SOHC four-stroke, liquid cooled V-twin with a four-speed, shaft drive transmission. Visually, the VT1100C matched most of the styling cues of the Harley-Davidson FXDWG Wide Glide.
The "VT1100C" model was not manufactured in 1991, but returned in 1992 with a "Made in the USA" stamp on the seat. This year all bikes had the California option of an emissions control device mounted below the radiator.
American Classic Edition (A.C.E.)
In 1995, the V-Twin market really got going, the market expanded and all the manufacturers were coming out with new, larger and expanded model lines. The American Classic Edition was introduced this year. It featured more retro styling than the standard with a full rear fender and induced vibrations and 'Harley-Davidson-like' sound from a single pin crank engine. The model also lost about 10 hp.
1997 saw the Standard replaced with the Spirit with more chrome on the engine AKA the ACE but the same basic engine as the standard. An ACE Tourer was also introduced based on the 1100 Spirit engine but the ACE styling. The ACE Tourer came with a two-into-one-into-two exhaust system and hard, color-matched saddlebags. The last of the 6,000+ Tourer models was produced in January 2001.
In the U.S., the Shadow 750 ACE (VT750C), and ACE Deluxe (VT750CD) with chain final drive were introduced for the 1998 model year.
In 1998 Honda rolled out the VT1100C3 Aero, based on the VT1100C3 ACE engine with the single pin crank, but a larger two into one exhaust and more retro styling. The 1100 Aero was discontinued after the 2003 model year, and the shaft-drive VT750C Shadow Aero was introduced as Honda's only 750 cruiser for 2004. The 750 Aero and ACE ended with the 2003 models.
Throughout these years the VLX remained essentially unchanged mechanically but the models and the options were changed yearly, as they were on all models. While many of the manufacturers began to expand 1,500 cc (92 cu in) class model lines, Honda opted to replace the basic Gold Wing Interstate with a basic Valkyrie with six carburetors and boosted engine performance. In 1999 a dressed up Tourer model was added as the Interstate.
Honda Shadow Sabre was introduced, based on the Honda VT1100 engine. The most notable feature was the front cast aluminum wheel. Every model was a shaft drive. 2007 was the final year Honda made the Shadow Sabre.
- Freund, Ken (January 29, 2004). "2004 Honda Shadow Aero VT750 Road Test". Rider.
- Blake, Adrian (25 March 2010). "Honda powers into 2010". Owen Sound Sun Times. Retrieved 14 February 2014.
'The RS is Honda's attempt to break the mould of the cruiser design in Honda's 750 cc segment, like the Fury did for the 1300s.' says senior product manager Warren Milner.
- Bond, Steve (13 March 2010). "Honda's Shadow RS beats cruiser rap". Wheels.ca. Toronto Star Newspapers Limited. Retrieved 14 February 2014.
The 'RS' stands for 'retro standard' and that sums it up perfectly. It’s not really a standard, it’s certainly not a sportbike and it’s not really a cruiser either.
- Hinchliffe, Mark (22 August 2009). "Learners retain some cred on Honda VT400". Australian. Retrieved 14 February 2014.
- "2005 Honda VT750C Shadow Aero OWNER’S MANUAL" (PDF). Honda Motor Co. 2004. Retrieved 3 March 2014.
- "2004 Honda Shadow Aero 750". Motorcycle USA. 26 May 2004. Retrieved 3 March 2014.
The biggest news with the Aero is that Honda dropped the chain drive from the old 750's in favor of a quiet maintenance-free shaft drive. Now this 750 competes on a level playing field with the Suzuki Intruder and Volusia 800's, the Kawasaki Vulcan 750, and the Yamaha V-Star 650, which now may feel the pressure to bump up their displacement to the 750 range soon.
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