In the summer of 1999 I was separating from the lying b**ch beautiful, young woman I’d married less than two years earlier and was giving her the car I’d bought after I sold my 1981 CB750-F Super Sport pictured here:
I went to the local Honda dealer and found I could get on a new Shadow 750 Ace for around $5,500. Even though I was self-employed as a graphic designer, they approved my credit. They put on drag bars and I rode off the next day. It was a nice bike. A little under-powered but it looked cool, got great mileage, was cheap to insure, and chicks in San Francisco liked it. She ran the freeways wonderfully with a girlfriend and packed saddlebags. It went over 100 miles an hour and was my baby for almost two years as I put on over 20,000 miles. They gave me forty-two hundred when I traded it in for my VTX.
Since then, I’ve seen Honda do almost nothing to the Shadow 750 but place the speedo in the tank and give it a shaft drive, further limiting it’s power for a little more reliability. Even so, I’ve told many a new rider looking at cruisers to check them out for their first bike.
This year Honda did something new with the Shadow and while it seems they are still following trends instead of creating them (the all-black bike thing is already at least two years old), at least they picked a trend I like.
Forget that it’s a blacked-out Shadow Spirit. They gave it flat drag bars, a sleek and low one-piece saddle, and black rims (a very nice touch). Honda also gave it grey matte color on everything that used to be chrome except the exhaust (should be grey) and mirrors (should be black).
Mechanically, Honda realized that this bad-looking scooter needed a little more oomph so they got rid of the carburetor still found on the other Shadows for a 34mm fuel injected throttle body with an “automatic enrichment circuit,” something they’ve been doing to a lot of their motorbikes recently. The fuel injection should give it a bit more torque than the carb version while making a more maintenance-free bike; unless you change the exhaust, then you know the drill.
I have a great allegiance to Honda, as I’ve owned no other bike brand in almost 25 years, but my concern is that the Phantom costs eight grand. That’s a thousand dollars more than the Spirit. Does black stuff and fuel injection cost that much more? I don’t think so. A fuel injected Yamaha V Star 950 is eight grand, too.
I’d love to roll one around Austin and the hill country for a weekend and let you know how it runs and if it’s worth the price. Maybe some day the majors will allow us that privilege. Until then, I’m going to lay down on the sofa and watch TV, hoping to feel better tomorrow morning.
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