Honda Shadow

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The Honda Shadow refers to a family of motorcycles made by Honda since 1983. The Honda giant is a cruiser-type motorcycle, meaning it has a relaxed, feet-forward riding position and wide handlebars. This makes it more comfortable than a sportbike, although the lack of fairings means that the rider is exposed more to the wind. The Shadow cruisers come in many flavors, including the Spirit, Aero, Sabre, VLX, and American Classic Edition. Engine sizes range from 125cc to 1100cc. A characteristic engine for the Shadow motorcycle is an 750cc liquid-cooled 45-degree V-twin.

The Shadow is available in several sizes, ranging from the leaner 125cc model to a much larger 1100cc (as the 1300cc-to-1800cc Honda VTX Series does not share the Shadow name). All Shadow cruisers are equipped with V-twin engines. In spite of this, the top speed of a 2001 Shadow 125cc, for example, is a remarkable 80 miles per hour.

The series was originally introduced as a replacement for the Honda Rebel series, although the Rebel 250cc is still produced and nearly as popular as some Shadow models.

A red Honda VT125C Shadow
A silver Honda Shadow

History

This line of Shadows was Honda's second V-twin, a cruiser. The first being the standard Honda CX series (which in Australia was confusingly labeled the "CX500 Shadow.")

In the early 1980s there was no Shadow, although there were similar-style bikes such as the Magna, Sabre, the 1984 Nighthawk (1985 in Canada), and the Rebel. In 1983 the "Shadow" was born. Both the “VT750C Shadow,” which incorporated the first hydraulic valve adjuster, and a "VT500C Shadow" could be found in showrooms (as noted in the Honda Motorcycle Identification Guide published by the American Honda Motor Co., Inc., in 1988).

1983

Honda introduced the first Shadow model in 1983 in an attempt to address the needs of the American market.

The "VT500C" introduced this year; it was available in Candy Wineberry Red or Black. The identifying features of this model are the painting of both the fuel tank and rear fenders. The side covers are chrome and engine covers black. The Black and Red "Shadow 500" decal was on the side cover with a gold outline from '83 to '86. The headlight was chrome and rectangular and had a single horn. The engine was 491 cc OHC 3-valve, liquid cooled V-Twin with a six-speed, shaft drive transmission.

The "VT750C" also introduced this year was also available in either Black or Candy Wineberry Red. 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 SOHC 3-valve Liquid Cooled V-Twin with a six-speed shaft drive transmission.

1984

The "VT500C' was available in Candy Scorpio Red or Black. The identifying features 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 black and red "Shadow 500" decal was on the side cover with a gold outline. The headlight was chrome and rectangular and there was a single horn. The engine is virtually the same as the '83 model.

The "VT700C" was introduced this year as a direct result of increased tariffs placed on Japan's imports. The U.S. raised the import tariffs on engine sizes above 701cc's. So the engine size was reduced from a 750 cc to 700 cc to get the bikes into the U.S. This years model was available in either Black or Candy Scorpio Red on the tank, side covers and rear fender. 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 disk brake system and dual horns mounted on the front. The painted side covers had the "Shadow 700" decal. The engine is a 694 cc SOHC 3-Valve Liquid Cooled V-Twin with a six-speed, shaft drive transmission from 1984 to '87. New hydraulic valve adjusters and twin plug cylinder heads were used. The "VT750C" was available outside of the USA (Canada and Europe) in the identical colors, but with just a larger engine displacement.

1985

The "VT500C" model was available in either Black or Candy Glory Red. The head lamp was now round and chromed. 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.


The "VT700C" model was available in either Black or Candy Glory Red. Special identifying features of this model year included the polished chrome engine side covers. The painted side covers had either the "700" or "Shadow" decal. The engine is the same as the '84 model year. The "VT750C" was available outside of the USA (Canada and Europe) in the identical colors, but with just a larger engine displacement.

The "VT1100C" model was introduced and available in either a two-tone Black and Red or Black and Silver tank with black fenders. The side cover is painted two tone black and silver. The "Shadow" side cover decal is silver. The dual horns are still located on the front and turning indicators are square shaped. A few gauges are located on the tank. The new engine is a 1099cc SOHC Liquid Cooled V-Twin with a 5-speed, shaft drive transmission for '85 and '86.

1986

The "VT500C" model was available in either Black or a new Candy Scorpio Red. Everything else was virtually the same for the '85 model.

The "VT700C" model was available in either Black or Candy Brilliant Red. On this year's model, the front and rear fenders and tank were all painted the same color and the side covers were chrome instead of painted. The rear fender took on a flair look over the rounded style. The "Honda Wing" and "Shadow" decals were speckled gold and orange. The engine is the same as the '84 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 10-spoke to a 5-spoke design and the access covers were chromed. The dual front disc brake was replaced with a single front disc brake. The "VT750C" was available outside of the USA (Canada and Europe) in the identical colors, but with just a larger engine displacement.

The "VT1100C" model was available in either Black or a two-toned Black and Silver tank. The side cover is painted two-tone black and silver on both color options. The "Shadow" side cover decal was changed to gold. The engine is the same as the '85 model.

1987

The "VT700C" model was available in either Black or Candy Glory Red on a black frame. This year's model changed the "Honda" tank decal to black with a gold outline. The "Honda Wing" decal was changed to brown, orange and yellow. The engine is the same as the '86 model but with the right engine cover graphic not painted. The side covers are chrome, 5 spoke cast wheels with a single front disk brake. The "VT750C" was available outside of the USA (Canada and Europe) in the identical colors, but with just a larger engine displacement.

The "VT1100C" model took on a brand new look with a lower 26-inch high seat, a longer 65-inch wheel base, a large 3.44 gallon fuel tank and a 41 mm extended front fork design. Both mufflers were run along the right side and a small back rest was brought back. It was available in either Black or Candy Wineberry Red. The tank is striped in silver. The frame color is black and the spark plug wires are yellow through '88. The engine is a 1099 cc SOHC 4-stroke, liquid cooled V-twin with a 4-speed, shaft drive transmission. Visually, the VT1100C matched most of the styling cues of the Harley-Davidson FXDWG Wide Glide.

1988

The "VT800C" model replaced the "VT700C". The paint options were either two-toned Black & Candy Glory Red or Candy Wineberry Red & Dry Silver Metallic. On the Black unit, the "Shadow" tank decal is silver and on the Red unit the "Shadow" tank decal is gold. The engine was increased to a 800cc SOHC 3-Valve liquid cooled V-Twin with a 4-speed, shaft drive transmission. The "VT1100C" model was available in Black and a new Candy Wineberry Red color. The fuel tank stripe was deleted this year. The frame was color matched to the tank and fenders. The spark plug wires went back to black from the yellow color.

The "VLX" "Shadow 600" (aka "VT600C") was a new model out this year. The color options were Candy Wave Blue and Candy Wineberry Red. The new double-cradle steel frame is color matched to the body work. It has a single shock rear suspension, a low 27.1 inch seat height and a long 63.2 inch wheelbase with a 2.4 gallon fuel tank. The engine is a 583cc SOHC 3-Valve liquid cooled 52 degree V-Twin with a 4-speed transmission and chain drive. The wheels are spoked.

1989

The "VT1100C" model was available in two colors this year, Candy Wineberry Red and a new Indian Lake Blue Metallic. The seat was improvement was softer and tucked. The "Shadow" tank logo was changed to a script style.

The "VLX" "VT600C" color options for this year was Candy Wave Blue or Candy Wineberry Red and the "Shadow" tank logo was also changed to a script style.

1990

The "VT1100C" model was available in only one color this year, Indian Lake Blue Metallic. The frame style and engine mechanics have not changed. The " VLX" "VT600C" was not made this year but did make a come back in 1991.

1991

The "VT1100C" model was not manufactured this year. Seems inventories were still high enough for the '90 models to suspend manufacturing of 91's. Dealerships heard about it and huge orders were placed to buy up all existing stock. The model would return with a vengeance in 1992. The "VLX VT600C" returned this year but in black only.

1992

The "VT1100c" came back with a grand entrance boasting some new custom two-tone paint options on either a black or silver frame; Spectra Red with black or silver inserts on the tank and fenders, Teal with silver inserts, Cascade Silver Metallic with either teal, red or black inserts, Black with either silver, red or teal inserts. There were two different tank decals also available and the seat began to bear a "Made in the USA" stamp. This year all bikes had the California option of an emissions control device mounted below the radiator.

The "VLX" "VT600C" this year came in a bright Candy Glory Red paint. The engine and body style was retained from the '91 model year.

1993

The "VT1100C" was released with some new color options this year, all on a black frame; a Candy Red with either black, silver or pearl white inserts on fenders and tank, Metallic Teal with either silver, black or pearl white inserts, Black with candy red, silver or pearl white inserts, a darker Red with black inserts and a new South Paciflc Blue Metallic with pearl white inserts. Again the two-toned versions could be ordered with one of two different "Shadow" tank decals. Other than the 26 color and logo options, the basic bike is being cranked out pretty much the same as previous model years.

The "VLX" "VT600C" was rolling out the dealerships in Black this year. The Deluxe version "VT600CD" introduced this year added more chrome on the engine cases and valve covers. This model is available in a two-tone Coral Reef Blue with black inserts. The seat on the deluxe version is soft and tucked.

1995

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.

1996

In 1995 the American Classic Edition was introduced. It featured more retro styling that 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, much to the dismay of some owners.

1997

1997 saw the Standard replaced with the Spirit with more chrome on the engine ala the ACE but the same basic engine as the standard. An ACE Tourer was also introduced based on the Spirit engine but the ACE styling.

1998

Honda rolled out the Aero, based on the ACE engine with the single pin crank, but a larger two into one exhaust and more retro styling. In the U.S., the ACE 750 was also introduced.

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 1500 cc class model lines, Honda opted to replace the basic Gold Wing Interstate with a basic Valkyrie with six carbs and boosted engine performance. In 1999 a dressed up Tourer model was added as the Interstate. The Shadow line remains the smaller V-Twins at Honda, one of the most complete lines of V-twin Cruisers on the market, and arguably the best engineered.

2000

Honda Shadow Sabre was introduced, based on the Honda VT1100 engine. The most notable feature was the front cast aluminum wheel.

Some models used chain drive, but the shaft drive returned in 2004.

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