Back in RoadRUNNER’s August 2014 issue we introduced our Budget Touring Project Bike. The goal was to prove how affordable motorcycle touring can be by purchasing the cheapest road worthy motorcycle we could find and take it on tour. We bought a 1984 Honda Shadow 700 for $ 1,000 and spent less than $ 500 getting it ready for touring duty. To see how well our budget bike accomplished its mission, I decided to ride it for a long day trip from my hometown of Winston-Salem, NC, deep into the Appalachian Mountains.
Down the Parkway
It's a bright, clear summer morning when I roll the old Honda out of the garage. After fiddling with the choke and a couple stabs of the start button, the little V-twin rumbles to life, though it doesn't seem too happy about being disturbed so early in the morning. As I follow 67 West through the small towns of East Bend, Boonville, and Elkin, I start to get familiar with this bargain touring machine. The Shadow is older than I am, and it certainly hasn't made it this far without picking up a few quirks along the way. With a side panel or two missing, this Honda's not going to win any beauty contests, but after its initial reluctance to start, the bike's running just fine. I'm aiming for the Blue Ridge Parkway (BRP) and enjoying some curves along 21 as I pass side roads with names like Railroad Grade and Raccoon Holler.
By the time I hit the Blue Ridge, I'm already impressed with how comfortable the small bike is. The seat, though quite squishy, isn't bothering me at all. The seating position is nicely upright, and highway pegs give me the option to stretch out my legs. The only troublesome thing I notice is that the rear brake is nearly non-existent, even though we replaced the shoes for the Project Bike article. I make a mental note to tighten the linkage when I get home.
It's a perfect riding day in the mountains of North Carolina. The sun is shining, and the sky is filled with thin wisps of cloud. The sun climbs higher, and so do I, keeping the temperature hovering around 70 degrees. Winding down the Blue Ridge, a new breathtaking view unfolds every mile or two with convenient turnouts to stop and soak it all in.