The quiet back roads north of San Diego inspire a lazy, humming rhythm as we zigzag toward our planned coffee stop. The guys from Honda are leading the way and I'm sure the other journalists in the bunch are, like myself, kicking back, relaxing, and enjoying the scenery. Mornings like this epitomize the carefree joys of cruisers, and Shadow 750s have been producing the pleasures of this kind of ride for nearly twenty-five years.
Honda has always been expert at finding a winning formula and sticking with it. The Shadow, like the iconic Gold Wing and Interceptor, has maintained its place in the model lineup since the days of parachute pants, having been molded and adapted to changing tastes and markets with numerous tweaks and variations on a theme. But beneath it all, the spirit of the original is still very much alive. Introduced back in 1983, the Shadow 750 featured a liquid-cooled, 750cc, V-twin engine mated to a near maintenance-free shaft drive. The bike's comfortable amenities and immediate popularity were sure indicators that Honda was in the American cruiser market to stay.
Over the horizons of 2007, the Shadow 750 is still going strong and continues to fascinate the riding public. To date, it remains Honda's best selling custom with over 243,000 units sold. That's indeed an enviable number in a crowded cruiser market, and the brand-new Shadow Spirit 750 C2 is proof that Honda has no intention of letting their guard down.
The stated intention of Big Red's engineering team was to make the new Shadow C2 "look longer and lower like a larger displacement machine." On this front, I'd say mission accomplished. The hot-rod cruiser appearance is based around the single backbone frame used on the more retro-styled Shadow Aero. This allows for an extended wheelbase and a low 25.7-inch seat height. A 21-inch front wheel lightens up the look of the front end and accentuates the bike's low-slung stature. Other goodies sure to catch the custom customer's eye include a sleek gunfighter seat, a shorty rear fender featuring an integrated taillight, and liberal doses of chrome gracing a number of the bike's key style elements, encompassing the shroud around the tank-mounted gauges, a chic, tear-drop air cleaner cover, and the twin, bullet-style mufflers.
There's no denying the visual appeal of this new Honda, but looks are only half of the show. After throwing a leg over the new Shadow, it's not too hard to comprehend why this model has appealed to so many for so long. I was immediately impressed with the ergonomics comfortably accommodating my 5'-10" frame. Tipping the scales at a wispy 503 pounds dry and sporting a low 25.7 inch seat, the C2 will certainly generate interest among smaller riders by granting them the confidence of having their feet firmly planted on the ground as well.
A stab to the starter button and the single crankpin 52-degree, six-valve, V-twin eagerly rumbles to life. And no one needs to worry about overheating while slogging through traffic - there's a radiator tucked neatly and discreetly between the front frame rails. Once underway, the sprightly nature of the Shadow leaps to the forefront. There's no struggle with this bike, which happily goes where directed even at ultra-slow parking lot speeds. Out on the open road, things remain just as easygoing. The 41mm front fork and twin rear shocks, delivering travel of 4.6 inches and 3.5 inches, adeptly soak up small to medium size bumps but can be somewhat overtaxed by potholes and larger freeway joints. Handling is light, responsive, and downright fun as long as the Shadow's cruiser parameters are respected.
Fed by a single 34mm constant velocity carburetor, the very capable mill thrums along effortlessly and responds crisply through all five gears, putting the power to the ground by way of a maintenance-free shaft drive. Only at speeds north of the highest posted restrictions does the Shadow's V-twin begin to reach its limitations.
Sporting a single twin-piston caliper clamping a 296mm disc up front and a 180mm drum system on the rear, the bike's stopping power is surprisingly good, though a little extra effort may be required in "surprise" situations.
Overall, the Shadow Spirit 750 C2 is guaranteed to appeal to a wide array of riders. Whether you're looking for a stylish ride for those weekend excursions, a practical, fun-to-ride commuter machine, or a user-friendly bike to get you started, or re-started, in the great sport of motorcycling, the Shadow is a proven winner. And let's face it, the ticket price of $ 6,799 is incredibly easy to embrace, leaving the personalization door wide open to the plethora of genuine Honda chrome, billet, and touring accessories readily available from your local dealer.
There's no doubt that the spirit and vitality of the original Shadow endures in its 21st-century cousin, and the ride is just as enjoyable as ever.
Honda Shadow Spirit 750 C2
+ user friendly, style, handling
Distributor American Honda Motor Company, Inc.
MSRP $ 6,799 - $ 7,099
Engine SOHC, six-valve, V-twin
Bore x stroke 79mm x 76mm
Carburetion single 34mm CV
Ignition CD with electronic advance
Frame single backbone
Front Suspension 41mm inverted fork, 4.6in travel
Rear Suspension twin shocks, preload adjustable, 3.5in travel
Rake/Trail 34°/6.2in (158mm)
Brakes Front/Rear single 296mm disc, 2 piston caliper / 180mm drum
Tires Front/Rear 90/90 x 21, 160/80 x 15
Dry Weight 503lbs (228kg)
Wheelbase 65in (1651mm)
Seat Height 25.7in (653mm)
Fuel Capacity 3.7gal (14l)
Fuel consumption n/a
Colors ultra blue metallic,red/flame,black/flame, black