This Honda Shadow is another bike that has found a new home now. I had this bike for 8 years it never missed a beat, always started first time, ticked over with a steady sublime warble and revved better than any VT600C you could find. It will always hold a special place in my heart because it was the bike that got me riding again after a serious knee injury. Far from standard, it was an understated bike in many ways, until you hit the start button.
The First Honda Shadow
This was a series 1 Shadow VLX and as you can see it was far from standard. The base as a series 1 is slicker and narrower than the later models and there are some important differences as well as the narrower more minimal design. Firstly, this was a twin carb engine, NOT single carb. If you look online you will see comments about problems getting the twin carb system to work with anything non standard. Well, it was all done. The air box went, replaced by twin bell-mouths with stainless gauze filters (velocity stacks if you prefer).
Hand Made Exhausts
I replaced the tame, standard exhaust system with handmade stainless steel open drag pipes. I then wrapped the whole length with titanium wrap and polished the slash cut tips. It produced more power, but it was the power delivery that made the real difference.
This wasn’t a relaxed cruiser, it was a full on fire-breathing monster. You can see from the before and after graphs above, the power curve carried on climbing much after standard, giving me an extra 1500 revs of usable power. I spent a long time on the fuel system finishing with a full power dyno run. The snap of the throttle was awesome, and the slick 4 speed box helped launch you away with the sort of power you’d normally only expect from a much bigger bike.
You felt your arms stretch as you opened it up. It took a steady throttle hand to keep it tamed, but the power spread was smooth and even. This also revved much better than any other 600 Shadow. Beyond the arm stretching launch, you were quickly propelled along up to and beyond any legal speed.
An old school ABS system is fitted (it’s called brake control) and the traction control is taken care of by the huge back tyre footprint.
TheHonda Shadow VLX Is The Lowest Lightest Small Cruiser Worth Looking At
This bike got me back riding after a smashed knee, in my opinion it’s the lowest lightest cruiser that’s worth looking at, with the classic look of a rigid frame (rear suspension hidden under the seat, 28 years before triumph worked it out), clean minimal lines, an immaculate paint job, custom elements throughout, and a whole shed load of attitude.
I replaced the original clocks with a small single analogue speedo. I fitted Billet yokes and swinging arm end caps to replace the standard ones. A single custom right side mirror was used because it was built as an everyday rider. I spent endless hours tweaking the fuelling on this bike to get it perfect, and you could never hear an engine sound sweeter, from tick over right to the redline.
This motorcycle was stripped back and kept very minimal but also practical. I liked its minimal lines and didn’t need the luggage I had brought so in the end never fitted it.
It rode like a dream, air assisted front forks were dropped in the billet yokes to lower the bike and make the turn in faster. Custom tail light cluster, mudguard and a minimal sissy bar finished the look of the rear and gave a solid anchor point to strap luggage to. I was asked to show it a few times but to me it was a rider not a show bike.
A Peach Of A Honda Shadow Engine
The engine really was a peach. You could thread it through traffic really easily with it’s light weight and ultra low centre of gravity. It would happily plod along at tick-over through town or along twisty lanes, but was always ready to pounce into action at the slightest hint of throttle. You can launch off with a force you’d really not expect from a bike this size. The sound of the open drag pipes and the roar of the twin bell-mouths which sit under the tank was addictive. The window shaking boom of the long open drag pipes means no-one could ever say they didn’t hear you.
All in all everything was done to make sure this classic 30yr old bike would be as reliable as anything you could buy today. Started first touch of the button every time. I am a collector, who collects them to ride, but every so often I will let one or two go to create space for more.
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