The History Of The Honda Shadow
Two motorcycles models were introduced by Honda in 1983 that were to have a big impact on the motorcycling community. One was the Honda Shadow 750 and the other the Honda VF750F Interceptor. They were very different in design but both models extended motorcycle engineering enormously.
With an innovative V twin engine Honda’s engineers produced an engine for the Shadow with two cylinders arranged in a V configuration that considerably reduced vibrations. In previous V twin engines with the angle between the cylinders not at 90 degrees imbalance causes vibration and added weight, complexity and cost is caused by the counterbalances needed to damp these down. Honda overcame this problem by using an offset dual pin crankshaft which achieved a perfectly balanced V twin engine with a narrow angle, the first of its kind. Honda later used this design in the VT500C Shadow and the VT500 Ascot.
The Shadow also had other design innovations including a one way Sprague clutch, designed to stop wheel chatter which was also a problem with previous V twin engines. Three valve cylinder heads and twin plugs, still used by Honda in Shadows produced today, were also introduced with this model of Shadow. Three valves improved fuel flow and reduced emissions are a result of twin plugs. These innovations increased mileage and liquid cooling stabilised the temperature for lower emissions and better performance.
These innovations substantially increased performance giving the Shadow a performance equal to that of motorcycles with at least 50% more displacement.
Honda didn’t stop there however. Other features included hydraulic valve adjusters, electronic ignition, hydraulic clutch and front brake and other features designed for easy maintenance and improved performance. needing only regular oil changes and spark plugs replaced on a regular basis it was one of the easiest motorcycles to maintain in its day.
innovative and forward thinking design is great but looks are equally important! General opinion is that the Shadow’s looks were also a huge leap forward. During the 1950’s and 1960’s classic American cruiser styles had become increasingly popular and these designs were incorporated into the Shadow from the drawing board rather than slapped on as an extra as other motorcycle manufacturers were doing. This gave a completely integrated style to this cruiser. Design considerations that made the Shadow stand out from the crown include cast wheels, angled muffler, twin seats, backrest and a stylish front end.
The VT500C, introduced in 1983 was available in Black or Candy Wineberry Red. Both the rear fenders and fuel tank were painted, the engine covers were black and the side covers chrome. From 1983 to 1986 a Red and Black Honda Shadow decal with a gold outline was on the side cover. The headlight was rectangular and chrome and there was a single horn.
By 1985 colours available were Candy Glory Red or Black and the headlight was now round. it also had dual horns and a twin seat with an integrated backrest. In this year the engine covers were chrome and the fins were enlarged.
One of the most popular lines ever produced placed Honda at the front of the cruiser movement. Today the Honda Shadow is as popular as it was when it was introduced more than two decades ago.