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.
When it comes to lightweight cruisers, Harley’s 883 Sportster has been the staple of the category. Around, in one form or another, since the 1950s, it has earned the term OG for the class. Fast forward to 2002 and here we have the 883R Sportster going head-to-head with the Honda Shadow Spirit 750. With 50 years to study the venerable Harley-Davidson, Honda’s Shadow presents a bare-bones, lightweight cruiser that isn’t intimidating to the (relatively) new cruiser rider – traits it shares with the Harley. So who does it better? America or Japan? Read on to find out.
The Honda Shadow has been around forever (well, 1983 if we’re being technical). How many other manufacturers, save for Harley-Davidson, can claim such lineage with one model line? Not many. Heck, the Shadow is still around today! But for this Church feature we’re going back to 2007, since that was the year the Shadow got a refresh and Pete Brissette was there to review it. After reading Pete’s take on the bike you get the sense the Shadow is showing it’s age, but it’s character, charm, and user-friendly rideability make it a perennial winner in Honda’s lineup. For more pics of the Shadow, visit the photo gallery.
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.