First Impression: 1998 Honda Shadow Aero -

Billy Bartels
by Billy Bartels

El Nino this, El Nino that. El Nino is all we've heard about in Southern California for months. When is this thing going to go down? Well, apparently just in time for the arrival of Honda's new VT1100C3 Shadow Aero. A wet House of Blues parking lot. Rolling out from American Honda's Torrance, California headquarters into a mild drizzle, the first thing we noticed about the Aero is the very comfortable ergonomics.

No protruding airboxes or other funny stuff, just wide, low bars, a firm seat and very well-placed floorboards. Cruising up into the hills of the Palos Verdes Peninsula, the single-pin 1100 whump-whump- whumped its way up the steep inclines without a care about gear selection, only getting slightly out of shape when traversing wet road stripes.

The color combo that would have been featured here, had we not got rained on. As light as the morning precipitation was, a rainsuit seemed silly, and surely jeans and a leather jacket would be enough.

However, at the crest of the peninsula, El Nino let his wrath be felt. A full-on downpour of Florida- like proportions dropped from the sky, without the benefit of gulf-stream warmth. Suddenly, wearing geeky-looking Gore-Tex seemed like a very good idea. Riding through six inch deep floodwaters at about 15 mph, the Aero kept a very even keel.

The floorboards (first ever on a Honda) kept the feet drier than they would have been otherwise. After a brief stop at a military museum, we headed back to Honda's HQ for a van ride to lunch at Hollywood's House of Blues.

We couldn't form much of a riding impression from our rain-soaked 30 mile jaunt, but we liked what we found. If you're a big fan of the ACE 750, you'll be a big fan of the Aero.

Although the styling is not ground-breaking, it isn't a carbon copy of you-know-who (hint: They're based out of Milwaukee). The detail on the Aero is beautiful, with tasteful chrome accents and well-finished pieces. We hope to get the big 1100 back for a full test against Suzuki's new Intruder 1500LC, Harley's new Road King Classic, and all the other cruiser big boys some time this spring, after El Nino goes away.

Witness the huge chrome headlight/speedo assembly, with matching idiot lights set into the triple clamp.
The huge two-into-one fishtail provides 15% more horsepower (claimed) than the original Ace.
Over a yard of bar greets the Aero pilot.
100 ISO film was a bit slow on a heavily clouded day.
The three valve V-twin has hydraulic valve-lash adjusters for less maintenance.
"Shaker" style rubber-isolated floorboards theoretically keep your feet from falling asleep on long trips.
The wide, thin seat follows the line of the fender. Very nice.

Manufacturer: HondaModel: 1998 Shadow AeroPrice (two-tone): ,995.00Engine: liquid-cooled 45 degree V-twin, single crank pinBore and Stroke: 87.5 x 91.4mmDisplacement: 1099ccCarburetion: Two 36mm CVTransmission: 5 speedWheelbase: 66.1 inSeat Height: 28.5 inFuel Capacity: 4.2 gal with .8 gal reserveClaimed Dry Weight: 623 lbs
Billy Bartels
Billy Bartels

More by Billy Bartels

Join the conversation