The Honda Shadow: A Motorcycle with a Cult Following

Mark Spearman
4 min readJan 11, 2023
Honda’s Cruiser. The Shadow

The Honda Shadow is a cruiser motorcycle that’s been in production since 1983. It’s a low-slung cruiser style motorcycle produced at an affordable price. It is still available in 2023 in the following models —

  • Shadow Phantom, bobber style
  • Shadow Aero — shaft drive

2023 Honda Shadows are only available in shaft driver with a 750cc, fuel injected engine.

Over the years, you’ll find many different variations. From 500cc — 1100cc, along with chain and shaft drive configurations. The shadows are highly acclaimed by critics for their price, smooth power delivery, extreme reliability, and comfort.

The First Honda Shadows

In 1983, the VTC500(shaft) and the VT500FT(chain drive) Honda Shadows started selling. In 1985, the VT700C Honda Shadow arrived with a larger engine. 1985 models came with a shaft or chain drive too.

The Shadow Gains Size And Power With Time

As time went on, the engines went up to 750cc and peaked at 1100cc. No matter the engine size, the reliability is high. These motorcycles are often the first bike for many riders and they leave an impression. This often has riders moving up to the top-of-the-line Goldwing models.

The Honda Shadow 1100 is sought after bike due to it’s power. The Honda Spirit 750 was the most popular model.

The Honda Shadow Performance

The Honda Shadow isn’t known for fast performance, but it’s no slouch. The 750 models pulled 50–60 horsepower with after market options available to easily gain another 15 horsepower.

Many shorter riders enjoy the 27 inch seat height. Though low, new riders may struggle with the low speed handling being just a bit unstable. All cruisers suffer from poor low speed handling. All models have a standard transmission with 5 or 6 speeds.

There are not many creature comforts available. Cruise control, radio, etc. are all aftermarket.

Is The Honda Shadow A Cult Classic

For a vehicle to be considered a “cult”, there needs to be a following. Honda…



Mark Spearman

I hail from Central Ohio. I have a diverse background and enjoy writing to the fullest. See more at