Honda shadow 750 – An Affordable and Novice Friendly Cruiser

The Honda Shadow 750 has been synonymous with the Cruiser motorcycle scene since 1983 when it was first introduced as a means to compete in the American market where Harley Davidson V-twins were dominating. 

Since then Shadows have come in the form of 125cc bikes all the way up to the big 1100cc. 

The motorcycle that has remained the most consistent in the line up and the one that has seen various guises has been the Honda Shadow 750. 

In this article I am going to take you on a journey of the Honda Shadow 750 so you have all the information you could possibly need should you be considering purchasing the famous Japanese cruiser.

Let’s get started.

Table of Contents

Honda Shadow 750 History

Honda Shadow 750
a 2007 Honda Shadow Spirit 750 enjoying the Californian view

In 1983 Honda released the (Shadow) VT750c. However, shortly after its release the US imposed import restrictions on Japanese bikes over 700cc, partly as a bid to prevent manufacturers competing with the homegrown V-twins; as a result Honda produced a VT700c.

The restrictions were soon lifted though and in 1985 the 750 was back. It was short lived as it was soon replaced with a 800cc version in 1988.

It wasn’t until 1997 that the Honda Shadow Ace 750 was introduced back into Honda’s cruiser line-up and since then it has been seen in various guises including the Spirit, Aero, RS and Phantom. 

The Honda Shadow 750 was initially introduced with a chain drive whereas the most current versions have a shaft final drive – maintenance is superior with a shaft drive. 

Despite having a stint where there were no Shadow 750 variants on the market, Honda didn’t leave them out of the line-up for long.

In the US Honda’s current line up sits the Shadow Phantom and Shadow Aero both with the same 745cc engine. 

The only Honda cruiser style options in the UK are the Rebel CMX500 and the latest Rebel CMX1100. 

Is the Honda Shadow 750 a good bike?

It is now the year 2021 which is 38 years since the release of the very first Honda Shadow 750.

After 38 years in production in various forms it is safe to say that the Shadow is a staple in the motorcycle world and one that likely won’t be going anywhere anytime soon – as the used market is also very healthy. 

Not many bikes have such longevity, so what makes them so special?

  • Styling is classic cruiser, beefy tank, smooth curves, low seat and chrome components complete the traditional look. (Blacked out versions are also available for a more current style).
  • The presence of a Shadow gives the impression it is a much bigger capacity machine then it actually is.
  • Power delivery is smooth and there is enough of it on tap to excel around town and on long highway stretches.
  • Engine vibrations are minimal compared with other V-twins.
  • Super friendly riding position, so no outrageous ergonomics to deal with. Confidence inspiring upright position to see the road ahead (great for learner riders).
  • 2-up riding no issue, the pillion has plenty of room and should be fairly comfortable.
  • Handling is easy, predictable, no surprises, it will get where you want it to go without fighting you. 
  • Stamped with Honda’s trademark reliability factor. 
  • Excellent value. New models have been affordable and priced competitively at every stage of their release, making them accessible to a wide audience. The used market is very active and there are many bargains to be had. 

Honda Shadow Prices

A brand new Shadow Phantom in the US has an MSRP of $7,899 while the Shadow Aero has an MSRP of $7,799. 

For a brand new 750cc cruiser motorcycle that has classic styling, Honda reliability and performance, those prices are perfectly reasonable and undercut the likes of Harley and Indian’s base models quite significantly.

For example a 2021 entry level Harley Davidson Iron 883 starts from $9,749; the Indian Scout Sixty is priced from $8,999.

However, where the Shadow 750 truly excels and is great value for money is on the used market.

A used Shadow can be picked up from as low as $3,000 and that includes plenty of custom Shadows if you shop around.

In the UK Shadows are just as affordable with examples starting from £2,500. I found one with under 17,000 miles on the clock, some service history and immaculate chrome, it is the nicest example I found even compared to models going for upto £5,000.

Why are Honda Shadows so cheap?

It is a bit of a mystery as to why Honda Shadows are so much more affordable compared to other cruiser style bikes of the same model years. 

It mainly comes down to the fact that when you think of a cruiser you naturally think American and the American brands will continue to dominate this segment as a result. The original V-twin cruisers came straight out of HD and Indian factories way back at the beginning of the 1900s. 

More value is placed in the American bikes and as a result they are coveted more and seem to hold their value significantly more.

However, that is not to say the Shadow and other non-American cruisers are no good and actually it is quite the opposite.

Honda are known for their reliability and that doesn’t waver with any generation of the Shadow. Parts are easy to get hold of, you have options of shaft or chain drive depending on the model you are after. Simply put, the engines are bullet-proof. 

Parts such as exhausts, seats, bars are likely cheaper compared to their American counterparts and where you have made a saving on the bike itself you can quite easily afford to customise and upgrade to suit your needs. 

The fact that also plays into their value is that there are so many bikes on the used market, the competition for nice models is low and so the overall value remains low. 

Honda sold thousands of Shadows over the years and they are solid bikes that last therefore the used market is buoyant. 

Fundamentally the Honda Shadow is a motorcycle that sits right at the back of the show, and can easily go unnoticed. It is a subtle cruiser that doesn’t need to be the centre of attention and as a result it never has been. 

While there is always a fuss when the likes of HD, Indian, Triumph etc release a new bike or re-invent an old model, the Shadow has just always been there, whether it was present in Honda’s line-up or just hanging out in the used section of the dealership. 

The Shadow withstands the test of time and perhaps it is taken for granted as a result and that is what plays into its pricing. 

Don’t be put off by low prices, in fact embrace them and get yourself a bargain.

What is the Honda Shadow 750 top speed?

95mph is the most recorded top speed on the later Honda Shadow models with 45 horsepower being produced from the 745cc engine. 

Scrolling through various forums some owners of older models (chain final drive) have stated a top speed of 100mph.

Bike condition, road condition, and skill of the rider are all things that will come into play when assessing top speed.

Is the Honda Shadow 750 novice friendly?

The Honda Shadow 750 is an excellent beginner bike for the following reasons:

  • Low centre of gravity paired with a low seat height, so you keep your feet planted firmly on the ground when stationary and it is easy to feel secure when moving at slow speeds.
  • Affordable price tag whether new or used. Buying a used Shadow for around $3,000 you will worry far less if you drop it (which is most likely as a novice) than you would if you were riding a $10,000 new bike.
  • It has enough power for you to grow into, but not enough to scare anyone away and the lazy power delivery will keep you nice and relaxed getting up to speed.
  • Parts and maintenance are cheap. As a novice I always recommend you getting to know the basics of the bike, like doing an oil change and tightening your own chain. With an affordable bike like this you can afford to change things around and use a wrench – then if things go wrong (if they do and you need a bit of help) it won’t break the bank to get a mechanic to sort things out.   

Top Speeds review of the Shadow also agrees with the sentiment that the bike makes for a good starter bike. “I have to admit this is an easy, docile bike. The Aero model has the full fenders front and back giving it a classic look and is the bling-bringer of the pair. The 745 cc engine makes it non-threatening for folks who might be entering the big-bike market for the first time. Though the engine is small, it still gives you that V-twin sound and the handlebars reach back to give you a comfortable, “cruiser” rider triangle.”

Honda Shadow 750 Specs (2021 Phantom and Aero)

Engine and Transmission –

  • 745cc liquid-cooled 52° V-twin
  • Bore x Stroke 79mm x 76mm
  • Induction – PGM-FI, 34mm throttle body
  • Ignition – Digital with 3-D mapping, two spark plugs per cylinder*
  • Compression Ratio – 9.6:1
  • Valve Train – SOHC, 3 Valves per Cylinder 
  • 5-Speed
  • Shaft Final Drive

Chassis, Suspension, Brakes –

  • Front Suspension – 41mm Fork
  • Rear Suspension – Dual Shocks with 5 position spring-preload
  • Front Brake – Single 296mm  Disc with two-piston caliper
  • Rear Brake – Drum

Dimensions –

  • Rake – 34°
  • Trail – 161mm
  • Wheelbase – 64.6”*
  • Curb Weight – 549 lbs*
  • Seat Height – 25.8”*
  • Fuel Capacity – 3.7 gallons
  • MPG – 56mpg

Warranty –

  • One Year Warranty – Option to Extend 

*specs listed above for Phantom model see any differences with the Aero model below

Phantom –

  • Model ID – VT750C2B
  • Colors – Matte Black Metallic, Adventure Green

Aero –

  • Ignition- Digital transistorized with electronic advance
  • Wheelbase – 64.5”
  • Curb Weight – 560 lbs
  • Saddle Height – 25.9”
  • Model ID – VT750C
  • Colors – Ultra Blue Metallic
  • ABS Version available 

Honda Shadow Phantom 750

The Honda Shadow Phantom is the Shadows darker bobber style machine. 

Blacked out rims, engine, fenders and other blacked out components aid the moody look of the Phantom. 

Spoked wheels, pull-back handlebars and bobbed fenders top the Bobber look off. 

The only bit of bling on the Phantom is the exhaust pipes, all other components are black with the exception of the tank which does offer an Adventure Green (military style). 

“Our past experiences with the Phantom have highlighted its easy-handling and comfortable manners, especially for shorter pilots.” Cycle World

Honda Shadow Aero 750

Contrary to the Phantom the Shadow Aero lives within the realm of traditional cruisers. 

Only one color option is available for 2022 which is an Ultra Blue Metallic which visually is very ‘50’s beach cruiser and is pretty stunning. 

There are two options available with the Aero, one that includes ABS and one that doesn’t. The addition of ABS means there is a rear disc brake as opposed to the traditional drum brake. 

There is plenty of bling on the Aero as opposed to the Phantom:

“Chrome highlights include cylinder-head covers, air-cleaner cover, engine side covers, brake and clutch-lever brackets, rear brake pedal, shift lever, handlebar, rear shock covers and more.” Honda

The chrome combined with the paint work of blue with silver inlet on the tank gives that very old school vibe reminiscent of 50’s Harleys and Indians.

The saddle on the Aero is more suitable for long-distance and carrying a passenger. The passenger pad is thick but is also detachable for those solo journeys. 

Unlike the Phantom the Aero has full metal fenders. 

“The Shadow Aero persists for all those who want a simple, reliable machine that can crush a commute and make a weekend road trip smooth and enjoyable as anything on the road.” Cycle World

Verdict

The Honda Shadow 750 is an impressive and affordable machine that should really fetch much higher prices on the used market than it does. 

Solid V twin engine, reliable throughout, cheap parts, and a hundred ways for you to create a custom cruiser without breaking the bank. 

There is nothing to not like about the Honda Shadow. 

It makes a brilliant motorcycle for a novice rider and equally will suit experienced riders who want a no-frills, no-stress cruiser for everyday riding.

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