Honda Shadow VT750C Review
Honda Shadow VT750C
A striking composition of black and chrome, the 2005 Shadow is a remodelled version of Honda’s earlier 750 V-twins – the VT750C2 and VT750DC. The new bike is lower and sleeker, and with the retro styling that echoes its bigger 1600cc and 1800cc sisters, looks a lot bigger than it is.
Which is why throwing a leg over the low-slung saddle and lifting it off the side-stand is such a pleasant surprise. Tipping the scales at 237 kg and close to the ground, it’s easy to manoeuvre and control – and injects immediate rider confidence. The low seat height (658mm) also makes reaching the ground easier for shorter riders, and that should extend the bike’s appeal to a wide range of both new and experienced enthusiasts.
Inherited from its forerunners is the 52o liquid-cooled V-twin engine. But the 2005 Shadow’s plant has been enhanced. Compression’s been bumped up slightly to 9.6:1 for a little extra punch, and there are two spark plugs per cylinder for improved combustion efficiency.
It sports single overhead cams and three-valve cylinder heads, and the long-stroke design (bore/stroke = 79 x 76mm) helps simulate a big V-twin feel and low-rpm torque.
A pair of 34mm VE carbs do a good job of mixing the fuel, and the engine fires up easily. Absolutely no problems with cold starting. The sound from the two-into-one exhaust is surprisingly muted.
I’d prefer something a little throatier, but at least it keeps the neighbours happy.
Despite the enhancements, the engine is not overly powerful, but therein lies its appeal as a commuter machine. Around town the low-end and mid range torque is more than acceptable for easing the bike through traffic. Honda’s trademark gearbox reliability is evident: gears shift smoothly and effortlessly with a very light clutch. In another departure from its predecessors, the new Shadow is equipped with a shaft final drive system.
It adds to the smoothness, and no doubt reduces maintenance.
Out on the open road, the Shadow cruises happily at 110 km/h, but it needs a bit of time to climb to 140. It’s without doubt one of the most comfortable bikes I’ve ridden. The designers have created a sensible compromise for those of average height (like me).
I’m around 5’10 and found the positioning of the foot-pegs and reach to the bars perfect. After a 160km run sitting back in that wide, low-slung seat, few of my muscles complained. Taller gents might find the configuration less satisfactory.
Suspension (in front) comprises a non-adjustable, 41mm conventional fork with 116mm travel, and dual rear shocks with five-position spring preload adjustability (90mm of travel). They provide a firm but comfortable ride. Steering is light and the bike tracks well and feels stable all the way through bends.
Again, that helps to build a new rider’s confidence.
Braking is handled by a single 296mm disc up front with twin piston callipers, and a 180mm rear drum. As always, the best stopping power is achieved by using both – relying on the rear brake only might find you stopping a few seconds later than anticipated.
Fuel economy is good. Expect around 200 km from the 14-litre fuel tank. But there is no fuel light or gauge, so when the engine starts coughing it’s time to activate the reserve switch which gives access to an additional four litres.
It’s retro – pure and simple – and it’s very classy. Wire wheels, fat tyres, two-into-one pipes with a large, slash-cut silencer, the VTX-style headlight, the wide bars, the large tear-drop tank, the valance fenders, all that chrome. bundled together with the low-slung riding position – well, it all shouts ‘Classic Big Bike’ design.
Even the instrumentation is minimalist. Simple and clean, it features a large tank-mounted speedo with an LCD insert for the dual tripmeters. And with the liquid-cooled engine, the designers have taken extra care to keep the radiator well-hidden between the frame tubes – it’s unobtrusive and doesn’t detract from the clean lines.
The new Shadow is a friendly, fun to ride bike. It’s easy on the eye, relatively inexpensive to run, and retailing at just under $11k, it won’t make your bank manager’s eyes water.
Best of all, it lets you live the dream. On the VT750 Shadow, you too can loosen your tie, hook your Armanis on to the foot-pegs, and take on rush hour with a smile.
The new VT750 is equipped with HISS – the Honda Ignition Security System – for preventing ride-away theft. Mounted under the left side of the seat, the Shadow’s ignition switch is programmed to only accept either of the two keys supplied with each machine.
Since the engine is totally disabled at the very heart of its digital ignition system, no other key can turn the switch or start the engine, and neither can the bike be hot-wired and ridden away. A blinking red indicator LED on the Shadow’s tank-mounted instrument panel warns off potential thieves.
Honda VT750C Specifications
Engine: Liquid-cooled, four-stroke, 6 valve SOHC 52o V-twin
Bore x Stroke: 79mm x 76mm
Compression ratio: 9.6:1
Carburettors: 34mm VE-type with throttle sensor
Ignition: Fully transistorised electronic
Final drive: Enclosed shaft
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