2024 Honda Shadow Phantom Review – First Ride
Ghost in the machine
I just rode two motorcycles with fork gaiters within a one-week period. Nooo, they weren’t vintage 2-stroke MXers. Both were 2024 models, street bikes, cruisers at that. The first was Kawasaki’s new Eliminator, and the second was Honda’s reworked (I refuse to use “updated” and “fork gaiters” in the same paragraph) Shadow Phantom.
2024 Honda Shadow Phantom
For 2024 the aging Shadow Phantom receives a fresh makeover, but, besides a new rear disc brake, falls short of any performance upgrades. Considering the 2024 Phantom retails for only $400 more than it did 13 years ago, we’re kind of okay with that.
Editor's score: 80.25%
- Exhaust Sound
- Rear disc brake
- Priced right
- Cornering clearance
- Soft front suspension
- $100 for passenger accommodations
Besides their shared affinity for fork boot covers, as the manufacturers refer to them, the two cruisers also bear namesakes born in the ’80s, 1985 for the Eliminator and 1983 for the Shadow. Whereas the Eliminator is an all-new model for 2024 the new Shadow is built upon the foundation of its predecessor.
According to Motorcycle.com’s search engine, the last time we reviewed a Honda Shadow Phantom was in 2010 by my former co-worker, Jeff Cobb. Everything he said about the Phantom’s performance then is pretty much what I’m about to say regarding the Phantom’s performance now. Why? Because thirteen years, four US presidents, the first iPad, the killing of Osama Bin Laden, and the ice bucket challenge later, the two models have nearly identical spec sheets. In fact, if it weren’t for the 2024 model sporting a new rear disc brake, a half-inch more fork travel, and a few other trivial differences, they would be twinsies.
Here’s the real kicker, though. Considering inflation, supply chain interruptions, labor costs, and increasing fuel and shipping prices the MSRP of the 2024 Shadow Phantom versus its 2010 counterpart has risen an astronomical… five percent, from $7,999 to $8,399. What!?! How can that be? I’ll bet 2010 Shadow Phantom owners are kicking themselves right now for not waiting another thirteen years for a better deal. If it helps, the ABS-equipped 2024 model retails for $8,699 (for California it’s ABS or nothing).
Besides the rear disc brake, fork gaiters, and 0.5 more inches of front travel, your four hundred dollars buys a two-tone fuel tank, new handlebar and handlebar clamps, headlight cover, air-cleaner cover, instrumentation, LED turn signals, machine-cut cylinder-head fins, a revised rear fender with an updated single seat. If you want to take a passenger, the seat and footpegs are an extra $99.95.
When I asked Honda’s assistant chief engineer, Hiromitsu Shina, about the hoopla surrounding the redesign of the Phantom’s rear fender he explained how it was purposefully made to meet DOT obligations while also allowing for easy customization. Unlike the old Phantom’s one-piece rear fender, the new structure is a two-piece design with the license plate bracket, taillight, and blinkers all attached to a removable plastic insert. By unscrewing a few fender stay bolts the entire insert can be removed to achieve a more bobbed rear end. Of course, figuring out a clean way to reattach the blinkers, taillight, and license plate is where the customization really begins.
The rider’s seat may now be a solo saddle but its 25.6-inch height above the pavement remains the same, as does the unchanged location of the footpegs. Retaining the seat’s low height is a blessing, but the soon-to-scrape footpegs are not. What changes the Phantom’s rider triangle, compared to its predecessor, is the new handlebar and handlebar clamps. Reaching the handlebars requires a rider to reach a little further up, a little further forward, and a little wider than on the old Phantom. I didn’t find the seating position uncomfortable, but I’m also not in need of such a low seat height. A rider shorter in stature who is attracted to the Phantom’s low seat may find the reach to the bars preferable on the outgoing Phantom.
Our ride day was a return to MO’s old stomping grounds of Highway 39, Crystal Lake Cafe, and Frito Pie. We rode at ridiculously aggressive speeds to the point where the Phantom’s front end was bouncing, its new headlight jiggling and footpegs sparking. Definitely not the way cruisers are generally ridden, but fun, nonetheless, and it proves that when push comes to shove the Phantom will comply to the best of its abilities.
Braking power from its single, front 296mm disc and twin-piston caliper is a notch above adequate, while overall braking performance is definitely improved by virtue of the new rear 276mm disc brake. It’s in the suspension department where the Phantom truly suffers. Nearly all of the 41mm, non-adjustable fork’s 5.1 inches of travel is compressed when even applying moderate braking forces, God forbid hitting a bump with the front wheel while braking. The rear features dual shocks with five-position spring-preload adjustability with 3.5 inches of travel. To keep that incredibly low MSRP I’m okay with shocks as they are, however, it seems a bit more attention should have been paid to bettering the front suspension.
At the heart of the Phantom thumps the same fuel-injected, 745cc, liquid-cooled, SOHC, 52-degree, V-Twin engine, and wide ratio, five-speed transmission with shaft drive that Cobb rode back in 2010. “The engine provides enough grunt for the 549-pound machine to leave a stop light in enough of a hurry to easily outpace most automotive traffic, and its wide-ratio five-speed transmission is long-legged enough to travel the interstate if you are so inclined,” said Cobb. Ditto, says I. Although I would add that the sound emanating from the stock exhaust is exceptionally pleasing. Considering no mention was made of changes to the Phantom’s exhaust system I’m assuming the 2023 model sounded equally guttural.
According to Honda, the tank-mounted display instruments were changed, but I’m having trouble deciphering the differences between last year’s and this year’s clocks. However, the machine-cut cylinder-head fins are an obvious upgrade that adds an upscale appearance to the Phantom’s profile.
Regardless of my critiques and criticisms, one inarguable facet of the Shadow Phantom is its staying power. In Cobb’s 2010 review, he mentions the possibility of comparing the Phantom against its, at the time, contemporaries including the Star V Star 950, the Suzuki Boulevard M50, the Kawasaki Vulcan 900, and the H-D Sportster 883, two of which no longer exist today. When it comes to the Shadow Phantom, Honda’s mantra seems to be, if it ain’t broke, only fix what’s necessary to keep it relevant, which seems to be working.
2024 Honda Shadow Phantom Specifications
Shadow Phantom ABS (VT750CBS)
Shadow Phantom (VT750C2B)
Transverse-mounted 745cc liquid-cooled 52º V-twin four-stroke
SOHC; three valves per cylinder
Bore x Stroke
79.0mm x 76.0mm
PGM-FI w/ automatic enrichment, one 34mm throttle body
41mm telescopic fork; 5.5 in. travel
Dual shocks w/ five-position spring preload adjustability; 3.6 in. travel
Single twin-piston hydraulic caliper w/ 296mm disc
Single twin-piston hydraulic caliper w/ 276mm disc
Rake (Caster Angle)
161mm (6.3 in.)
553 lbs. (claimed)
543 lbs. (claimed)
Deep Pearl Gray; Orange Metallic
We are committed to finding, researching, and recommending the best products. We earn commissions from purchases you make using the retail links in our product reviews. Learn more about how this works.
More by Tom Roderick