Top 10 Value-For-Money Hondas

Honda’s current motorcycle lineup is packed with value

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Honda Shadow Phantom

062714-2014-honda-shadow-phantom

Honda’s Shadow line of cruisers has been around since 1983 and has featured models displacing as much as 1100cc, but now the Shadow line consists of just four 745cc V-Twin motorcycles. Priced at only $10 per cc, all four models start from the same basic chassis and engine before being outfit with various combinations of wheels and bodywork designed to appeal to different cruiser riders. For this test, we decided to go over to the Dark Side with the Shadow Phantom, which embraces the blacked-out theme trending these days. Its MSRP was reduced from $8,240 for 2014 to match its Shadow brothers.

2010 Honda Shadow Phantom Review

A single glance at the Phantom tells us that value-priced motorcycles can be stylish. In this case, Honda started with a muscular profile joining the spoked wheels and the fat 120/90-17 front tire to the 160/80-15 rear. Bobbed fenders and a gunfighter seat give it a purposeful look, accented by bodywork in either gloss black or a metallic gray. The front end was given some visual weight by slipping some covers over the stanchions of the 34-degree raked fork. With the exception of the chrome exhaust, gas cap, and spokes, give the rest of the bike a satin black finish – including the 52-degree V-Twin engine. When it’s all put together, the dark profile looks much more menacing than expected from a “mere” 750.

This photo of the 2010 Phantom shows how Honda has gradually refined the style over the years. Note the gray fender rails, engine heads and fork covers.

This photo of the 2010 Phantom shows how Honda has gradually refined the style over the years. Note the gray fender rails, engine heads and fork covers.

Sitting on a gunfighter saddle that is just 25.8 in. off the ground, pilots of average height will find the riding position is comfortably compact. The pegs are forward but not overly so, and the grips find a nice middle ground between a narrow drag-style bar and a wider beach bar. The slight forward lean puts the rider in a good position for resisting the wind blast at highway speeds. Riders over six feet, however, may find the riding position too tight.

The Shadow’s loping engine cadence at idle delivers the popular V-Twin pulse. Around town, the easy to modulate clutch and willing engine make quick work of the stoplight-to-stoplight shuffle. While the engine has the power to cruise on the interstate, riders will most likely find themselves looking for a sixth gear (there isn’t one) once the speedometer reads above 65 mph. The vibration isn’t obtrusive, but the engine feels busy at those speeds, making an additional cog in the transmission desirable, particularly if you plan on riding the 200 miles its 54 mpg and 3.7-gal. tank are capable of carrying you.

History of Honda Shadow

The view from the saddle is reminiscent of bigger, pricier cruisers, with the blackout treatment adding to the bike’s perceived value. Wrapping your fingers around the fat grips to initiate turns, the Phantom has a substantial feel. The 120/90–17 in. front tire no doubt contributes to this impression. The steering never feels heavy. Rather, the Shadow’s presence feels closer to that of a Big Twin than a 750. Adding to this big bike feel is its relatively firm suspension, which, in most situations, works quite well. However, sharp-edged bumps make it cross from firm to harsh, transmitting some of the impact to the rider’s hind parts.

The choice of a shaft drive instead of the chain final drive reduces maintenance and adds to the full-sized appearance of the Phantom. Its 64.6-in. wheelbase (only 2.5 in. shorter than the Gold Wing Valkyrie muscle cruiser!) confirms this impression.

Honda has created a value-priced 750 with full-sized appeal – all while keeping the rider triangle manageable for smaller riders. Since there are three other identically priced Shadows to choose from, odds are you’ll find one to suit your tastes. Still, we find it hard to fault Honda’s visual treatment of the Phantom’s art of darkness.

+ Highs

  • Big bike feel
  • 25.8 in. seat height for shorter riders
  • Blacked out styling
- Sighs

  • No sixth gear
  • Suspension harsh at times
  • 25.8 in. seat height cramps taller riders
Honda Shadow Phantom Specs
MSRP $7,499
Engine Capacity 745cc
Engine Type Liquid-cooled, 52 degree V-Twin, three valves per cylinder
Bore x Stroke 79mm x 76mm
Compression 9.6:1
Fuel System PGM-FI with 34mm throttle body
Transmission 5-speed
Clutch Wet, multi-plate
Final Drive Shaft
Frame Steel tubular backbone
Front Suspension Telescopic, 41mm fork; 4.6 in. travel
Rear Suspension Dual shocks with five-position spring-preload adjustability;
3.5 in. travel
Front Brakes Single 296mm disc with twin-piston caliper
Rear Brakes Drum
Front Tire 120/90-17
Rear Tire 160/80-15
Seat Height 25.8 in.
Wheelbase 64.6 in.
Curb Weight (claimed) 549 lb.
Fuel Capacity 3.7 gal., including 0.9-gal. reserve
Colors Black, Gray Metallic
Warranty One year, unlimited miles
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  • Craig Hoffman

    Yamaha is giving Honda good competition in some areas. The new FZ09 has a gem of an engine for 700X money and they are just coming out now with their twin. Hopefully Yamaha take a cue from Honda and offers their new bikes in a variety of formats. An FZ09 powered ADV variant with a roomier feel and more fuel capacity could be a big winner. Yamaha needs to get with it and produce a WR450R version of it’s excellent 250R already too.

    Good to see the manufacturers realizing we are not all made of money. The auto manufacturers seem to have completely lost the plot. Unlike cars, motorcycles are not vehicles to lease. There has to be an affordable value oriented option in the new market, or the used market becomes the whole market.

    • Jason

      The FZ-09 and FZ-07 are interesting bikes but they have one glaring omission: no ABS. This is 2014 and ABS should at least be offered as an option especially considering that ABS is standard on these models in Europe.

      • The People’s Champion

        i heard the FZ09 is limited to a 132mph… that’s N650 territory and the bike is shod with poor suspension for its engine.

        • Jason

          Limited to only double the speed limit? I think that should be adequate for public roads.

          • The People’s Champion

            by that logic we should all be riding those 80-90mph capable 250s no?

          • Jason

            Top speed, engine displacement, power, and acceleration are all very different things. I have no need to go more than 132 mph but that doesn’t mean that I want to ride a 250.

  • octodad

    purchased CTX700n w/ABS-DCT. having a blast on this scoot. pal w/ the street glide always wants to take mine for a spin. I enjoy riding his cycle, but prefer my little Honda. slow speed handling is superlative, and it can snap my head back as I roll on the throttle. get a lot of compliments on the cool look and ergonomic seating. big Red is dominant force w/awesome motorcycles. I am a fan…

    • Sarang Borude

      How does it do on freeway speeds, Is it easy enough to pass vehicles?

  • sgray44444

    Thinly veiled advertising? Not hardly- there’s no veil at all!

    • Steven Holmes

      Advertisement or not, it’s pretty nice to see that “Big Red” has so many cost effective options out there for me to try. Be nice if the other major manufacturers had similar lines to choose from. It’d make for good competition if the rest of ‘em had comparably cost effective product lines.
      Something to be said about Honda’s reliability and longevity though… that’s pretty hard to beat.

    • http://www.motorcycle.com/ Sean Alexander

      You see many negative observations in advertisements? Like slow to accelerate, limitations of its suspension, etc? How about actual measured MPG instead of OEM claims? I see them in this set of short reviews, which also happen to echo the full reviews done previously on Motorcycle.com when Honda wasn’t an advertiser at all.

      • sgray44444

        That’s what is so distasteful about the whole article. It has the appearance of genuine journalism, but it really is just an advertisement for Honda.
        Of course you can find negatives for any motorcycle. They are all built to a price point and application, so saying a cheap motorcycle does not have good suspension is just stating the obvious. Everyone knows manufacturer’s MPG claims are done under more ideal conditions.
        Hey, I don’t care if Honda is a huge sponsor and you take this route. I still like to read about motorcycles of all kinds. It doesn’t speak well to your credibility though.
        Do I believe the reviews were biased? No, actually I don’t. But, I do think that the review being about a single manufacturer’s entire product line says something.
        Everyone knows that Honda makes a good reliable bike. It’s just odd for a magazine to focus completely on one manufacturer’s product line without the word “advertisement” being on the top of each page.
        The word disingenuous comes to mind as I read this thread and the article.

        • http://norimek.com/blog Robert C. Barth

          I have yet to obtain Honda’s specified fuel economy on either of my two Hondas. I always get much better! (no kidding)

  • Piglet2010

    Will a Rebel really go 80-mph – most reports I have seen put top speed at less than 75-mph?