Honda’s Shadow arm extends all the way to the Spirit 750 which is still a classic cruiser only that a bit more muscular and more into street-rod. They use the same V-Twin engine, making the bike perfect for cruising down the boulevards as well as exploring back-country roads, all at an affordable price. So the competition would better be beware of the Spirit!
The 2009 Shadow Spirit 750 is the kind of bike that adds the salt and pepper to an already existing model and practically achieving the amazing goal of doubling the sells of virtually the same product. Simple recipe equals great results: the fenders were cut down to their minimum possible dimensions for a custom-like appearance. And while the front fender covers a 21-inch wheel, the one-piece seat follows the rear fender’s lines further enhancing the sportier design.
Having proved efficient on the Aero, the liquid-cooled, 745cc, 52-degree V-Twin, SOHC, three valves per cylinder motor responds in matters of power and torque on the Spirit as well. This, of course, works best when mated to the wide-ratio five-speed gearbox which drives the shaft final drive with great benefits such as still and smooth operation and long life.
What the 2009 model year needed was a set of shiny new colors and stylish new 3-D emblems on a few of these.
Honda has been producing the Shadow ever since 1983, but the Spirit model was to came into being in 1997 as a replacement bike for the Standard Shadow and be produced in parallel with the ACE and, starting 1998, with the Aero model.
From its very first year of manufacturing, the engine on the Honda VT750C2 Shadow Spirit would have been the carbureted and liquid-cooled 745cc V-Twin with SOHC fuel control system and three valves per cylinder. The same thing applies to the chassis, the most conclusive features being the 25.7 inches low seat and that 21-inch front wheel.
For more than 10 decades, the Honda Shadow Spirit has carried on being produced with no changes whatsoever despite the different color schemes that were changed or added between 1997 and 2009.
Star Motorcycles seems to have an alternative for all of Honda’s models and the most adequate one in this case is the 2009 V Star Custom, a machine that follows Honda’s recipe by taking the Classic model and redesigning it into a custom motorcycle while also fitting it with a bigger front wheel (19 inches in this case). Still, the engine is the same 649cc, air-cooled, 70-degree V-Twin, SOHC, two valves per cylinder and the seat height is 27.4 inches from the ground. Like on the Spirit, the Star features a front disc brake and drum at the rear and despite the fact that bigger Stars feature belt final drive, this model gets shaft. Any V Star’s key for success is a low asking price and the $6,290 MSRP for the Raven – Midnight Custom seems the perfect choice in this case.
Suzuki offers even more aggressive custom motorcycles, the 2009 Boulevard S40 and S50 models, but because the first is powered by a single-cylinder motor, we’ll have to focus on the bigger and more potent V-Twin powered Boulevard S50 model. This features an 805 cc, four-stroke, liquid-cooled, OHC, 45-degree V-Twin engine that, unlike other Suzi models of the same displacement, isn’t fuel-injected, but fitted with two Mikuni BDS36 carburetors. This also features a bigger front wheel (19-inches) and drum rear brake despite the $6,699 MSRP.
Kawasaki’s Vulcan 900 Custom seems just too big for this battle so we’ll simply skip that.
The Honda Shadow Spirit 750 brings a touch of modernity in the world of middleweight classic cruisers as it can not only be characterized by those timeless looks and a lot of chrome, but also by slimmed-down fenders which expose the standard spoked wheels.
In what concerns the gas tank design, this features no modifications compared to the one on the Aero model. With 3.7 gallons of fuel capacity and hosting the instruments, this stands as a great combination of practicability and style. And so does the nicely finished V-Twin engine which is so characteristic to the Shadow.
The seat is only 25.7 inches from the ground and fills the space between the gas tank and rear fender, with the passenger part stretching all the way up on more than half of that custom rear fender.
Far from being a night rod, the Shadow Spirit 750 is covered in chrome all the way from the headlight to the rear shock covers and everything in between (handlebar, ignition switch cover, swingarm pivot cap, shift lever, rear brake pedal, brake and clutch lever brackets, left and right engine sidecovers, air-cleaner and cylinder-head cover). Yet another testimony is the variation of cool colors available for the 2009 model year: Candy Dark Red. Pearl White/Silver Pinstripe, Pearl Black/Red Pinstripe, Black.
Like on all Shadows built until 2009, the Spirit 750 C2 is an unmistakably easy to ride motorcycle with good accommodations, especially for the long haul and backed up by a lively V-Twin engine. This starts very easy and revs freely at idling speeds while worming up before the adventurous ride.
I got my hands on the bike in the middle of the city so passing through crowded streets was the first challenge that the Shadow Spirit was to experience. Being a middleweight cruiser, it has a low seat height (under 26 inches) and a low center of gravity and not only it can be easily maneuvered in the parking lot, but also handles easy in tight spaces so you won’t be needed to be careful at other mirrors than the ones mounted on your bike’s handlebar. Still, I was unsatisfied with the footpegs up front positioning as it makes it hard on the rider when lifting and repositioning the feet from and to the ground.
Outside the harsh city riding conditions, the bike feels stable as a healthy engine pull raises the speedometer needle at around 90 mph, which was also the top speed I’ve hit during my test. The riding position now shows its bright side even though I would have preferred a wider seat. I guess hamburgers do widen one’s bottom and that’s very likely to be the reason of my slight disappoint too.
The 745cc, 52-degree V-Twin provides you with kind of an ear-tickling exhaust note which is pretty much uncharacteristic to Honda engines, but also makes sure not to uncover its fairly small displacement when being revved up for passing by traffic participants. Yet, you won’t be needed to downshift as the wide-ratio five-speed gearbox only requires a heavy hand on that throttle in order to prove its point.
That also applies when going out of corners in third gear on twisty roads, but that’s where you are more likely to be impressed by the ease with which you’ll be leaning the thing into position. It will feel stable and reassuring, like any big cruiser out there while your heels won’t manage to touch the asphalt at any point.
The plush suspensions are ideal as long as the road doesn’t present any bumps. Because when these enter the scene, you’ll find that the 4.6 inches of travel front and 3.5 inches of travel rear will be easily bottomed up, especially if you’re carrying a passenger. This last will already be experiencing some serious fatigue due to the annoying knee-up riding position so the bumps will have the last of him.
As you can suppose, you’ll be begged for a quick stop and in this case, applying both brake levers seems like the adequate solution. Relying on a 296 mm disc brake and a rear drum brake, the stopping capacities of this bike are simply not doubtful. Before sharp turns or when simply needed to slow down, the twin piston calipers acting on that front disc will prove efficient enough so it is most likely that you’ll use that alone in those situations (at least so I did).
Overall, the ride is very pleasurable (except the times when you carry a passenger) and the Honda Shadow Spirit 750 C2 meets the demands of both beginning and experienced riders alike (as long as these do know what to ask from it).
The manufacturer’s retail price in the case of the 2009 Honda Shadow Spirit 750 is $6,999. Indeed, it is the biggest among middleweight cruisers, but did anybody say that this Honda isn’t the best in its class? I reckon they didn’t.
Shadow is a name filled with heritage and by adding this extra model, Honda shown how easy things can go even further on the steep slope of longevity. It is like yesterday they’ve added it to the lineup and by now it has twelve years of production on its back. No wonder as it is a very fun and easy to ride cruiser in the first week after buying it and a decade later. How can you possibly beat that? Let’s just hope that Honda will offer the answer in the form of a redesigned 2010 model year.
Engine and Transmission
Type: liquid-cooled 52o V-twin
Bore and Stroke: 79mm x 76mm
Compression ratio: 9.6:1
Valve Train: SOHC; three valves per cylinder
Induction: Single 34mm constant-velocity carburetor
Ignition: CD with electronic advance, two spark plugs per cylinder
Transmission: Wide-ratio five-speed
Final Drive: Shaft
Chassis and Dimensions
Suspension Front: 41mm fork; 4.6 inches travel
Rear: Dual shocks with five-position spring preload adjustability; 3.5 inches travel
Brakes Front: Single 296mm disc with twin-piston caliper
Tires Front: 90/90-21
Wheelbase: 65.0 inches
Rake (Caster angle): 34o30’
Trail: 158mm (6.2 inches)
Seat Height: 25.7 inches
Fuel Capacity: 3.7 gallons, including 0.9-gallon reserve
Curb Weight: 536 pounds
Features & Benefits
New for 2009
Honda Genuine Accessories