2007 Honda Shadow® VLX
Not perfect, but doggoned close!By (I am an Owner) on Sep 19, 2008
A recent job change meant no real opportunity for public transportation, followed by a sudden spike in gas prices. A motorcycle was looking like a good economic alternative, and I began to do some research. It'd been a little over 8 years since I had my last street bike; a 1986 Kawasaki Vulcan 750. ... I wanted something like the Vulcan; Cruiser-style, not too big, easy to ride, but with better reliability and economy. Price was also a factor. I did some homework and all signs pointed to the Honda VLX. I found a local 2007 VLX with 4,600 miles on the clock. Once I sat on the black bike, I considered it sold.
The low seat height and light weight make the VLX the perfect bike for a beginner or, in my case, a 50 year-old former rider getting used to two wheels again after a long absence. The bike has classic looks, is nimble, has plenty of torque, and gets great mileage (in my case, averaging 55 MPG). It's easy to build (or rebuild) confidence riding on this bike. Some folks hint that the VLX seems built for smaller riders, but I'm 5'11' and 180 lbs and feel quite in proportion with the VLX.
The VLX, like any motorcycle, does have some shortcomings. Happily, those are few. Its light weight (452 lbs) makes the bike easy to maneuver and aids in its off-the-line performance, but the trade off is an inability for the suspension to effectively compensate for less-than-optimal roadways. Yes, the rear suspension is adjustible, but I don't think it capable of fully making up for the VLX's low weight.
The 600cc (actually, 598cc) engine offers more-than-adequate performance for the VLX without feeling unweildy. Although most comfortable and best behaved at 55 MPH and below, the VLX seems just as content to run at 70 MPH all day without sounding strained, but the trade-off is in vibration. Not harsh, mind you, but constant. Vibration and bounce is relayed to the VLX rider's brain through his butt, with the seat being the primary transmitter. Around-town jaunts are fine, but on extended rides the VLX nearly screams for a better padded seat.
The lack of a 5th gear may be partly to blame for the vibration, but I don't regard it as a performance issue. The VLX runs well through the gears and will burst from a running 50 MPH to 65 MPH in 4th gear with no hesitance, but the speed wants to fade a bit when taking on any hills.
Shifting is crisp and effortless, and braking is outstanding. I would prefer that the VLX have alloy rims and tubeless tires, but that's more a niggling personal wish than a concern with the bike itself.
All in all, the Shadow VLX is a sweet little cruiser that is confidence-inspiring and fun to ride, while backed by Honda quality and reliability. It as made getting back on two wheels a pleasure.