Daily News 5/16/97

First Look: 1998 Shadow A.C.E. Tourer

American Honda capped off their largest new-model line-up in ten years recently with the introduction of the all-new Shadow American Classic Edition Tourer. This early-release 1998 model becomes the second addition to Honda's new Tourer series, the big Valkyrie their first to receive the new touring treatment.

Honda's big goal with the Shadow Tourer was to retain the flamboyant, fifties custom-cruiser look of the 1100 A.C.E., while incorporating a smoother ride to go with the lightweight touring equipment of the new Tourer series. To acheive the required ride, Honda replaced the A.C.E.'s loping, shaky single-pin-crank V-twin engine with the smoother, offset-dual-pin crankshaft design found in the standard Shadow Spirit 1100.

Ride smoothness is further enhanced via a rubber cushion engine-mounting system. Given the full A.C.E. classic styling treatment, Honda then outfitted the new bike with several key features that highlight the Tourer model over its standard A.C.E. sibling.

Large handlebar-mounted windscreen, color-matched, locking hard saddlebags and wider, reshaped passenger seat delineate the Tourer series options. Fiberglass saddlebags feature a large perimeter rubber seal and should offer excellent weather protection.

Fit and finish reflects Honda's usual high quality and acute attention to detail.

Both front and rear wheels are all-new 10-spoke cast aluminum units -- a departure from the standard A.C.E.'s laced-spoke wheels -- and sport new low-profile, wide radial touring tires. Chrome fender extensions both front and rear add a classic touch.

During our brief stint riding the new A.C.E. Tourer, we found around-town and open road rideability to be smooth and balanced, with nowhere near as much of the built-in shaking you get from the standard A.C.E.'s single-pin crank engine.

The large windscreen keeps windblast off the rider's chest, making its relaxed, cruiser-style riding position much more tolerable over the long haul. Luggage capacity in the stylish saddlebags is surprisingly good, with enough space to pack for a two-up weekend tour. Probably the A.C.E. series' biggest hinderance to backroads riding though, is ground clearance. Or lack of it. And the Tourer edition offers no improvements, grinding its footpegs with annoying regularity at almost every cornering opportunity. Maintaining a sporting pace is possible, but precarious.

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