To those who say that the financial crisis puts an end to one’s possibilities of buying a new bike, Honda replies with the 2009 Shadow Aero. This bike addresses to a wide range of riders in search of classic retro styling, low seat height and, of course, V-Twin power, all at an unmatchable cost. What power of dreams? In this case, reality hits straight in the face!
Honda’s strategy is to keep the Shadow being built as a simple motorcycle powered by a 745 cc, liquid-cooled, 52-degree V-Twin, SOHC, three valves per cylinder engine that doesn’t fall in the fykes of fuel injection. Instead, a 34 mm carburetor does the job while the gearbox is a five-speed, wide-ratio unit, like on any big boy cruising machine. The shaft final drive requires minimum maintenance and it is one of those units that die hard, especially if made by Honda.
Not only the Japanese manufacturer provided it with a classic bang, but also with timeless design and five new color schemes in order to stand out wherever you ride it.
The world had first seen the Honda Shadow back in 1983 when it started being produced and marketed. Referred to as the “VT750C”, the middleweight cruiser stood out thanks to a round head lamp, instrument casings and the chromed front fender while the painted pieces featured either Black or Candy Wineberry Red color.
Back in the early days, Honda was into performance even in the case of cruisers so the engine behind that first model was a liquid-cooled, 749cc V-Twin, SOHC, three-valved with six gears and shaft drive transmission.
Starting 1984, the U.S. increased tariffs on imports from Japan and because the engine’s 750 ccs raised the tax even more, Honda found itself needed to reduce displacement to under 701cc and call the bike VT700C Shadow. The V-Twin engine now displaced 694cc and it was fitted with new hydraulic valve adjusters and twin plug cylinder heads. A dual disk brake system was also added. While outside the States, it carried on virtually unchanged, the NA model was either Black or Candy Scorpio Red painted that year.
For 1985 they kept the engine configuration and cylinder capacity and the bike carried on with only a Candy Glory Red color scheme replacing the previous Candy Scorpio Red. The Black was also carried on.
1986 was to bring a rethought riding position, with the controls moved forward. The 10-spoke cast aluminum wheels featured now a 5-spoke design and the front braking system only featured a single disc brake. The suppressed engine carried on indulging, but it was now polished instead of black painted. Colors available on that model year were either Black or Candy Brilliant Red.
In 1987, the frame was black painted in order to match the Black or Candy Glory Red schemes available that year.
The year 1988 was to bring an engine upgrade to 800cc and so it result the “VT800C” name. The engine type didn’t change, but the transmission did into a 4-speed one. Final drive was still shaft. Two decades ago they would have also introduced the two-tone color schemes: Black & Candy Glory Red or Candy Wineberry Red & Dry Silver Metallic.
Starting 1989, Honda only produced the “VT1100C” and “VT600C” Shadow models.
But in 1998, the U.S. marked would have seen the all-new ACE 750, a machine built around an ACE engine with a single crank and a larger two-into-one exhaust, chain drive and retro looks. This formula was to be carried on until 2003 without significant changes.
Starting 2004, the 750 Ace was to be superseded by the 750 Aero a more modern machine that replaced the old 34mm carburetor with twin 36mm carburetors although the engine remained the same. Shaft drive was now back and it took the place of the chain final drive that had meanwhile stood as a noisy and hard to maintain feature of the bike. Suspensions were stiffened and the rear tire was now smaller. The Aero added 14 pounds to the overall weight, but seemed like the perfect bike for Honda to carry on producing with little changes until this day.
2009 V Star 650
Star motorcycles also present the 2009 V Star Classic, an air-cooled, 649cc, 70-degree V-Twin, SOHC, two valves per cylinder powered cruiser and a decent competitor for Honda’s Shadow Aero middleweight model. The Star motor is fitted with two 28mm Mikuni CV carburetors, mates to a five-speed gearbox and transmits the power to that rear wheel through a shaft final drive. Slightly weaker that what you would find on the Honda Shadow, at least the engine has to move a little less mass (544 lbs compared to Honda’s 553), but that won’t make the difference if the Star rider had a little too much bacon at breakfast.
The striking part is that the bikes are almost identical looking, making a decision even harder to get. Also, Star’s $6,490 MSRP is a pretty heavy argument against the Honda.
Kawasaki doesn’t offer anything in between their Vulcan 500 LTD and the Vulcan 900 Classic so, being nothing middle in that, we’ll have to dig some more.
2009 Suzuki C50
Suzuki’s Boulevard line of cruisers is also quite offering and the closest bike in displacement to the Honda and Star is the 2009 Boulevard S40. But that features a single-cylinder engine and custom design, which excludes it from our list in an instant. Searching for a V-Twin, we get across the S50, but still not featuring classic design.
The 2009 Suzuki Boulevard C50 is V-Twin powered and features timeless looks, but with 805 ccs and fuel injection it clearly wins this battle. And the MSRP is $7,299, making for the choice of those who look for better power and torque figures without the implicit additions to the price.