The following article by Bob Maynard does a great job of explaining the Shadow history.
The Shadow Years (by Bob Maynard)
The introduction 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 date.
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 transmission from
'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 gauges 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 4-speed, shaft drive transmission.
The "VT800C" model replaced the "VT700C". The paint options were either two-toned 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 style 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 Pacific 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 colors 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.
The American Classic Edition was introduced. It featured a 5-speed transmission, 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 horsepower, much to the dismay of some owners.
This was the last year for the "standard" VT1100C with its 4-speed transmission.
The Standard was replaced with the Spirit model VT1100C1 with more chrome on the engine ala the ACE but the same basic duel-crank pin engine as the standard (only with a 5-speed transmission). An ACE Tourer was also introduced based on the Spirit engine but the ACE styling.
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.
Honda Shadow Sabre was introduced, based on the Honda VT1100 engine. The most notable feature was the front cast aluminum wheel.
Some Shadow models used chain drive, but the shaft drive returned in 2004.
Throughout these years the VLX remained essentially unchanged 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 arguably the best engineered.
Source: Honda Motorcycle Identification Guide; American Honda
Motor Co., Inc. 1998
Shannon Koehn (AKA) Bubba1954
'Life's tough......it's even tougher if you're stupid.' -- John Wayne