New Honda Shadow tested: 'shock horror, a cool cruiser from Honda!'

Published: 17 February 2010

Honda’s new Shadow Black Spirit cruiser has almost slipped into the UK unnoticed this year, but this black-out beauty is already causing something of a stir as a novice-friendly custom with plenty of Harley Nightster-influenced style. 

The new Black Spirit’s blend of mean and moody ‘rat rod’ styling coupled with Honda reliability makes it an attractive option for riders looking for serious style on the cheap.  

Black and matt grey replaces most of the chrome in a nod to backyard hot rodders of old, there’s ‘bobber-style cut-down mudguards, lowered seat and bars and fat tyres front and rear.

Low-slung comfort
But despite the fairly extreme looks, it’s pretty comfortable. The ‘gun-fighter’ style seat is just 652mm high meaning anyone can easily get their feat flat on the ground. What’s more, you feel as if you are sitting IN the bike rather than on top of it which bolsters rider confidence further. The slightly forward pegs give a natural riding position; the black bars have a comfortable sweep and are an easy reach for all while lever positioning and shape is top notch, with equally good fit and finish.

The engine is the same 52-degree, 745cc V-twin used in the old plain Jane Shadow Spirit, but now, along with its equally new sibling, the retro, ‘50s-styled VT750 Shadow ABS, boasts fuel injection. It puts out a decent spread of smooth power, too, enough to easily run with 850cc and 900cc rivals.

Handling is decent, too, although, especially for larger riders, it’s not perfect.  The single 296mm front disc has great feel and more than enough stopping power, the rear drum is OK, while suspension comprises non-adjustable, 41mm forks up front with twin five-way preload-adjustable shocks at the rear.

A bit soft for big blokes
Unfortunately, this is where the new Honda could be better. The 116mm and 89mm of suspension travel front and rear are simply too softly sprung for my 16-stones, causing it to rebound much too quickly and give a jarring ride down any road. That said, I’m probably heavier than the intended Black Spirit buyer, so this should be less of a problem for most…

Overall, though, the new Honda’s handling is decently composed. Steering takes the slightest effort, feel through the tyres is excellent and ground clearance better than most.

At £6561 It’s an excellent choice for anyone looking for a smaller bike with a big, trendy feel. Spot-on fuel injection, a comfortable ride, and great bars create one sweet ride. But best of all is how it looks – it’s downright bad!

THE FACTS
Honda Shadow Black Spirit - £6561
Engine: 745cc lc, 52º V-twin. Fuel Shaft drive
Power (claimed): 45bhp
Torque (claimed): 48ftlb
Kerb weight: 251kg
Fuel capacity: 14.6 litres
Seat height: 652mm

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