The History of the Honda Shadow
In 1970 Honda's cumulative motorcycle exports reached 5 million. The US imported the industries
first three-wheeler in the "ATC90 All Terrain Cycle".
1970 also saw the introduction of the "CB100 Super Sport 100', the "CL100 Scrambler 100", the
"SL100 Motosport 100" and the "SL175 Motosport 175". A "750 Honda" won the 1970 Daytona
ln l971 another four-cylinder motorcycle appeared in the "CB500 500 Four".
1972 saw the "CB350F 350 Four" new on the show room floors.
ln 1973 both Mr. Honda and Mr. Fujisawa retired, 25 years after the formation of the Honda Motor
Company. Mr. Kiyoshi Kawashima was named the new president. For sale were the new 'ATC70'
which was the first mini ATC. The first "XR" mini model was in the "XR75". The "TL125" which was
the first trials motorcycle and the first two-stroke sold in the U.S., was released this year.
1971 saw the introduction of several new model concepts in the "CB200", the "CRI25 Elsinore".
the "MT125 Elsinore" and the "MT250 Elsinore" dual purpose models. The "CB200", the "CL200",
the "XL350", and the "CB360T" which replaced the popular "CB350".
1975 saw the roll out of the first liquid cooled, shaft-drive "GL1000 Gold Wing" along with Honda's
first off-road-only enduro model in the "MR175 Elsinore". The "CB-100F Super Sport" replaced
the"CB350F" and a new "CB550F Super Sport" emerged. The "CB750F Super Sport" was also
new with the first 4-into-l exhaust system.
In 1976 Honda released it's first automatic transmission in a motorcycle with the "CB750A
Hondamatic". The "GL1000 LTD Gold Wing" limited edition model, with only 2000 units produced,
caught the eye of a few lucky buyers.
When 1976 came around, we saw a new kind of four-wheeler off-road vehicle in the "FL250
Odyssey". American Honda's first "no-ped", the "NC50 Express" found homes in the states. The
company became the first to announce that a Japanese motorcycle manufacturer would move a
portion of it's process to the U.S. A new corporation "Honda of America Manufacturing" broke
ground to assemble and manufacture products at a facility in Marysville,
New products for 1978 included the first motorcycle counterbalancer and three valved head in the
"CB400T Hawk". The first "V-Twin" motorcycle was in the "CS500".
In 1979, Honda products included the appearance of the Superbike of Superbikes with the in-line
six "CBX Super Sport" along with a double overhead cam "CB750F Super Sport" with 16 valves.
Honda's first custom models were released with the "CX500C". Also new this year was the
"CB750K LTD" 10th anniversary limited edition model. The Marysville plant was in full production
In 1980, a larger "GL1100 Gold Wing Interstate" headed the model year. It was the industy's first
full-dressed touring bike. The "CB900C Custom" was also introduced as the first dual-range
transmission for the street.
In 1981, Team Honda gave America a first in world team motocross. The Honda Race Team
swept both the Motocross and Trophee des Nations events. Team Honda repeated the sweep in
1982. A series of motocross bikes were out as well as a new "GL500 Silver Wing" and a "GL500I
Silver Wing Interstate" designed to be a mid size touring bike.
ln 1982, two industry firsts appeared with the introduction of the modern V-Four engines in the
"VF750S Sabre" with a new hydraulic clutch actuator and in the "VF750C Magna". The first
production use of turbocharging with electronic fuel injection specifically designed for a V-Twin
motorcycle appeared in the
"CX500TC Turbo". Also new was the "FT500 Ascot" and the "GL1100A Gold Wing Aspencade"
with the first audio equipment grouping as
standard equipment. The "CB450SC", the "CB650SC" and the "CB750SC" were the new
Nighthawk models introduced.
A new president was ushered into America Honda in 1983 with Tetsuo Chino. Along with some
new scooters, Honda rolled out a new "CB550SC" and "CB650SC" Nighthawks, the "VF750F V45
Interceptor", and the "CX650T Turbo". This year was the birth of the "Shadow" motorcycle. Both
the "T750C Shadow/;which incorporated the first hydraulic valve adjuster, and a"VT500C Shadow"
was in the showrooms. It took a few years, but the
shadow is here and a better bike for the ones that came before it.
Source: Honda Motorcycle Identification Guide;American Honda
Motor Co., Inc. l988
The Shadow Years
by Bob Maynard
The inntroduction of the first "Shadow" models was in 1983. It was the result of years of
development and synergies by Honda
to address the needs of the American market. I believe most of our readers will agree it is the best
bike Honda has made to
The "VT500C" introduced this year was available in Candy Wineberry Red or Black. The
identifying features of this model are the painting of both the fuel tank and rear fenders. The side
covers are chrome and engine covers black. The Black and Red "Shadow 500" decal was on the
side cover with a gold outline from '83 to '86. The headlight was chrome and rectangular and had a
single horn. The engine was 491cc OHC 3-valve, liquid cooled V-Twin with a six-speed, shaft drive
'83 to '86.
The "VT750C" also introduced this year was also available in either Black or Candy Wineberry
Red. Special identifying features of this model are the round head lamp, instrument casings and
the chromed front fender. The backrest was standard equipment. The painted side covers had the
"Shadow 750" decal. The engine is a 749cc SOHC 3-valve Liquid Cooled V-Twin with a six-speed
shaft drive transmission.
The "VT500C' was available in Candy Scorpio Red or Black. The identifying features include the
fuel tank and rear fenders painted the same. The front fender is chrome and this year the side
covers and engine covers were painted black. The black and red "Shadow 500" decal was on the
side cover with a gold outline. The headlight was chrome and rectangular and there was a single
horn. The engine is virtually the same as the '83 model.
The "VT700C" was introduced this year as a direct result of increased tariffs placed on Japan's
imports. The U.S. raised the import tariffs on engine sizes above 701cc's. So the engine size was
reduced from a 750cc to 700cc to get the bikes into the U.S. This years model was available in
either Black or Candy Scorpio Red on the tank, side covers and rear fender. Special identifying
features of this model are the round head lamp and instrument casings with a chromed front
fender. The front wheel bore a dual disk brake system and dual horns mounted on the front. The
painted side covers had the "Shadow 700" decal. The engine is a 694cc SOHC 3-Valve Liquid
Cooled V-Twin with a six-speed, shaft drive transmission from 1984 to '87. New hydraulic valve
adjusters and twin plug cylinder heads were used
from 1984 to '87.
The "VT500C" model was available in either Black or Candy Glory Red. The head lamp was now
round and chromed. This model continued with the dual horns. A two piece seat with an integrated
backrest was incorporated. Starting this year, the engine covers were polished chrome and the
fins enlarged. The "Honda" tank decal was curved instead of straight.
The "VT700C" model was available in either Black or Candy Glory Red. Special identifying
features of this model year included the polished chrome engine side covers. The painted side
covers had the "Shadow 700" decal. The engine is the same as the '84 model year.
The "VT1100C" model was introduced and available in either a two-tone Black and Red or Black
and Silver tank with black fenders. The side cover is painted two tone black and silver. The
"Shadow" side cover decal is silver. The dual horns are still located on the front and turning
indicators are square shaped. A few guages are located on the tank. The new engine is a 1039cc
SOHC Liquid Cooled V-Twin with a 5-speed, shaft drive transmission for '85 and '86.
The "VT500C" model was available in either Black or a new Candy Scorpio Red. Everything else
was virtually the some for the '85 model.
The "VT700C" model was available in either Black or Candy Brilliant Red. On this year's model, the
front and rear fenders and tank were all painted the same color. The rear fender took on a flair
look over the rounded style. The "Honda Wing" and "Shadow" decals were speckled gold and
orange. The engine is the same as the '84 model with the right engine cover graphic painted black.
The mufflers were a little lower and changed from the flair look to a more straight style. The rear
foot peg support bracket became solid and the back rest was absent this year. The cast wheels
changed from a 10-spoke to a 5-spoke design and the access covers were chromed.
The "VT1100C" model was available in either Black or a two-toned Black and Silver tank. The side
cover is painted two-tone black and silver on both color options. The "Shadow" side cover decal
was changed to gold. The engine is the same as the '85 model.
The "VT700C" model was available in either Black or Candy Glory Red on a black frame. This
year's model changed the "Honda" tank decal to black with a gold outline. The "Honda Wing" decal
was changed to brown, orange and yellow. The engine is the same as the '84 model but with the
right engine cover graphic not painted. The side covers are chrome, 5 spoke cast wheels with a
single front disk brake.
The "VT1100C" model took on a brand new look with a lower 26-inch high seat`, a longer 65 inch
wheel base, a large 3.4 gallon fuel tank and a 41 mm extended front fork design. Both mufflers
were run along the right side and a small back rest was brought back. It was available in either
Black or Candy Wineberry Red. The tank is striped in silver. The frame color is black and the
spark plug wires are yellow through '88. The engine is a 1093cc SOHC 3-Valve, liquid cooled
V-twin with a 3-speed, shaft drive transmission.
The "VT800C" model replaced the "VT700C". The paint options were either two-oned Black &
Candy Glory Red or Candy Wineberry Red & Dry Silver Metallic. On the Black unit, the "Shadow"
tank decal is silver and on the Red unit the "Shadow" tank decal is gold. The engine was increased
to a 800cc SOHC 3-Valve liquid cooled V-Twin with a 4-speed, shaft drive transmission.
The "VT1100C" model was available in Black and a new Candy Wineberry Red color. The fuel
tank stripe was deleted this year. The frame was color matched to the tank and fenders. The spark
plug wires went back to black from the yellow color.
The "VLX" "VT600C" was a new model out this year. The color options were Candy Wave Blue
and Candy Wineberry Red. The new double-cradle steel frame is color matched to the body work.
It has a single shock rear suspension, a low 27.1 inch seat height and a long 63.2 inch wheelbase
with a 2.4 gallon fuel tank. The engine is a 583cc SOHC 3-Valve liquid cooled 52 degree V-Twin
with a 4-speed transmission and chain drive. The wheels are spoked.
The "VT1100C" model was available in two colors this year, Candy Wineberry Red and a new
Indian Lake Blue Metallic. The seat was improvement was softer and tucked. The "Shadow" tank
logo was changed to a script style.
The "VLX" "VT600C" color options for this year was Candy Wave Blue or Candy Wineberry Red
and the "Shadow" tank logo was also changed to a script style.
The "VT1100C" model was available in only one color this year, Indian Lake Blue Metallic. The
frame sryle and engine mechanics have not changed.
The " VLX" "VT600C" was not made this year but did make a come back in 1991.
The "VT1100C" model was not manufactured this year. Seems inventories were still high enough
for the '90 models to suspend manufacturing of 91's. Dealerships heard about it and huge orders
were placed to buy up all existing stock. The model would return with a vengeance in 1992.
The "VLX" "VT600C" returned this year but in Black only.
The "VT1100c" came back with a grand entrance boasting some new custom two-tone paint
options on either a black or silver frame; Spectra Red with black or silver inserts on the tank and
fenders, Teal with silver inserts, Cascade Silver Metallic with either teal, red or black inserts, Black
with either silver, red or teal inserts. There were two different tank decals also available and the
seat began to bare a "Made in the USA" stamp. This year all bikes had the California option of an
emissions control device mounted below the radiator.
The "VLX" "VT600C" this year came in a bright Candy Glory Red paint. The engine and body style
was retained from the '91 model year.
The "VT1100C" was released with some new color options this year, all on a black frame; a Candy
Red with either black, silver or pearl white inserts on fenders and tank, Metallic Teal with either
silver, black or pearl white inserts, Black with candy red, silver or pearl white inserts, a darker Red
with black inserts and a new South Paciflc Blue Metallic with pearl white inserts. Again the
two-toned versions could be ordered with one of two different "Shadow" tank decals. Other than
the 26 color and logo options, the basic bike is being cranked out pretty much the same as
previous model years.
The "VLX" "VT600C" was rolling out the dealerships in Black this year. The Deluxe version
"VT600D" introduced this year added more chrome on the engine cases and valve covers. This
model is available in a two-tone Coral Reef Blue with black inserts. The seat on the deluxe version
is soft and tucked.
Source: Honda Motorcycle Identification Guide;American Honda
Motor Co., Inc. l988
In 1995, the V-Twin market really got going, the market expanded and all the manufacturers were
coming out with new, larger and expanded model lines. Harley had begun to wear out its welcome
with many although the sales remained strong, the market began to pass it by because of sheer
numbers, many devoted enthusiasts of Japanese and European brands and its continued the
continued distain of a segment of the market. Harley did build a new facility in Kansas City and
introduced a new engine in 1998 for the 1999 model year.
Yamaha introduced variations on its V-MAX/Venture engine called the Royal Star and this line
expanded with a smaller version.
1996 was the last year for the "standard" VT1100C. In 1995 the American Classic Edition was
introduced. It featured more retro styling that the standard with a full rear fender and induced
vibrations from a single crank engine. The model also lost about 10 horse power, much to the
dismay of some owners.
1997 saw the Standard replaced with the Spirit with more chrome on the engine ala the ACE but
the same basic engine as the standard. An ACE Tourer was also introduced based on the Spirit
engine but the ACE styling.
In 1998 the Aero came into being, again based on the ACE engine with the single crank, but a
larger two into one exhaust and more retro styling. In the US, the ACE 750 was also introduced.
Throughout these years the VLX remained essentially unchaged mechanically but the models and
the options were changed yearly, as they were on all models. While many of the manufacturers
began to expand 1500cc class model lines, Honda opted to replace the basic Gold Wing Interstate
with a basic Valkryie with six carbs and boosted engine performance. In 1999 a dressed up Tourer
model was added as the Interstate. The Shadow line remains the smaller V-Twins at Honda, one of
the most complete lines of V-twin Cruisers on the market, and argumentably the best engineered.