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86 Shadow 1100 for $1700? Or 2003 VTX 1800 basket case for $2600?

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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
TLDNR: The high speed freeway passing power and top speed of my 98 VT1100C just isn't enough for my situation. Should I buy a 1986 Shadow 1100 with 40k miles in good condition for $1500-$1700? Or a clean but basket case 2003 VTX 1800 with 19k miles for $2400-$2600?

I have my 98 Shadow Spirit 1100, which I thought would work well for me, and I do very much like at around town speeds, and the low speed acceleration is plenty for me, but freeway riding for me is going to be rough in the area I live with the performance level available.

I live in a small town in South Texas, and everything is like a 2-3 hour freeway ride away, and when I say freeway I mean the right lane traveling at 85-90 actual MPH is pretty much expected. I legitimately was almost run down several times in the 20 minutes or so total of testing the bike when it was only capable of doing 75-80mph according to the speedometer while in the right lane.

Now that I have the running issues fixed the bike is capable of reaching 105-110 gauge speed so probably 95-100ish actual. But of course that takes a bit to reach, and I dont feel like that leaves me sufficient acceleration room to use that as an option to quickly get out of the way of idiots who are not paying attention on the freeways I will need to travel to get anywhere.

Now, I know this isnt really the bikes fault, it was designed for a normal size person when the freeway speed limit was 55. I weigh a LOT and have torso like a barn door, both of which are rough on acceleration and top speed, and the cruising speed I am demanding out of it is WAY past what it was designed to travel continuously.

I am currently considering 2 possible replacements:

Listed as good running 1986 Shadow 1100 40k miles, no issues, Screaming Eagle aftermarket exhaust. Owner says I will have no problems picking it up and driving 3 hours back home. I have got him down to $1,700 just from texting, might be able to wiggle a bit more. $1500-$1700 I could swing today.

I like the idea of the lighter weight bike, the tach, the gas gauge, and the slightly more upright seating position as I don't like my legs super far out forward. I know the 86 Shadow has a lot more power than my 98, but not 100% sure how much quicker it can jump from cruising at 85-90 to GTFO 100-110mph actual, plus the fact that it is 35 years old and has very limited parts support is rough.

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Option 2 is a 2003 VTX 1800 with 19k miles the owner disassembled to custom paint, planned on a ton of upgrades, but lost interest and is now selling as a non running basket case. According to the owner the bike was running well when parked, and no mechanical changes have been made to the bike. The bike appears to be mostly there, the owner says 95%+. I have got him down to $2,600 just from texting, might be able to wiggle a bit more. $2400-2600 is pushing my budget, and would be tight, but I could probably swing it within the next few days.

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I like the idea of the more recent bike that was designed with higher freeway cruising speeds in mind, fuel injection is a HUGE plus, I know the VTX 1800 will have plenty of power once running properly, and a couple of the mods like the seat and the paint job are probably plus as I like high visibility white.

On the downside while I dont mind wrenching and working on some electrical any basket case is bound to be missing at least some parts, a LOT of those mods will be straight up things that I want no part of and will need to be replaced with factory parts, which the bike may or may not come with, plus the VTX 1800 is a straight up pig compared to the 86 Shadow 1100, which would likely make in town riding less fun, but freeway trips nicer.

Both the bikes are a significant drive away in opposite directions, although the Shadow is a bit closer.

What are your thoughts? Would especially love to hear from people who have previously owned either or both of these bikes.
 

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Keep looking?

If the VTX1800 weren’t in pieces, I’d say go that route. And if I understand you, you already have an VT1100 that you don’t feel has enough power, and you are considering replacing it with another 1100?

I can say I have a VTX1300 and wish it were the 1800 now. Still love my 1300 though.

With that said, I don’t have decades of bike experience, so I’m not the best person to take advice on bikes from.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 · (Edited)
And if I understand you, you already have an VT1100 that you don’t feel has enough power, and you are considering replacing it with another 1100?
Keep in mind the 85-86 1100 Shadows were very different bikes. Information is harder to find on them, but I know they had more aggressive cams, higher compression, dual disk front brakes, and something like 15-20hp more than my ~62hp 1998 Shadow Spirit (maybe more since I am seeing 78bhp/corrected SAE HP on the 86, whereas I think the 1998 was rated at crank) and peaked at a higher RPM, all of which I would think would help my top end issue. I think they also had a firmer suspension, a bit more upright posture, and were a bit lighter. Basically it seems like the 1985-86 VT1100c bikes had a bit more naked/standard bike in the cruiser mix than a straight cruiser like the newer 1100 Shadows.

All of this sounds great on paper, but I would love to hear how people who have owned the bike felt about how it did at high speeds and quick acceleration on the freeway.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 · (Edited)
All I have to say is that if your current 1100 doesn't have enough power to keep up, I think that you have a curable issue.
Anything is possible, but honestly the more I read stuff on people trying to get power out of these, the more I think my issue isnt worth curing on this bike. I already have a K&N intake, and it seems like most of the people who have actually dynoed their bikes after an exhaust change and tune basically saw almost no power increase, and there are tons of examples of people "upgrading" their exhaust, tuning their carbs, and loosing a significant amount of top speed.

So if I wanted a real power increase I could buy a spare engine, spend a few hundred on trying to find pistons that will bump the compression, maybe get some 85-96 cams, a valve job, new valve springs, clearance and balance pistons, do a port mismatch, swap in the new engine, get an exhaust system, buy a carb kit, take it to a shop and get it dyno tuned etc, and maybe pick up ~20hp. But all of that could EASILY cost a few grand and weeks of part time work.

Or I could go pick up that 86 Shadow 1100 today that makes ~20hp more stock for $1,500-$1,700 then sell my existing 1998 Shadow 1100 for $1,500-$2,000 to break even or maybe even put a couple bucks in my pocket, and have a faster factory bike with upgraded brakes, a tach, and a fuel gauge with 0 effort besides going to pick it up.
 

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why the fixation on honda shadows, tho?

if you want a power-cruiser, to keep up and overtake on the highway, why not get a power-cruiser instead of trying to make a normal cruiser do what it wasnt made to do, which is being sporty or powerful?

in terms of power-cruiser, the Yamaha V-Max is popular.
Or I've also read much about the Suzuki VS 1400 being torquey and "relatively" fast.
However, why not go with a newer bike, like the Scout Indian or the Victory Octane? They have good torque but are also somewhat "power-cruisery" compared to "our" Shadows.
 

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Been on those highways, literally set my cruise at 90 to keep my place in the "slow" lane.

Check cycletrader.com
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 · (Edited)
why the fixation on honda shadows, tho?

if you want a power-cruiser, to keep up and overtake on the highway, why not get a power-cruiser instead of trying to make a normal cruiser do what it wasnt made to do, which is being sporty or powerful?

in terms of power-cruiser, the Yamaha V-Max is popular.
Or I've also read much about the Suzuki VS 1400 being torquey and "relatively" fast.
However, why not go with a newer bike, like the Scout Indian or the Victory Octane? They have good torque but are also somewhat "power-cruisery" compared to "our" Shadows.
I wouldnt say I am fixated on Honda Shadows particularly, but I do REALLY like Hondas, both cars and bikes. Not to say I wouldn't consider other manufacturers, especially reputable Japanese manufacturers, but if I can get a workable Honda option, that would probably be my first choice.

I am still pretty new to this, and working with a constrained budget, so I don't want to get something insane like a Vmax or M109R, both because of the cost and the near instant death feature if I sneeze at the wrong time in town. I would also like to keep the weight down if possible, and while I don't have ANY intention of dragging a knee through corners at any point, I would like something that can get through a reasonable turn without picking it up and manually facing it the new direction I want it to go, which seems to be a running theme/joke with the power cruiser segment.

And honestly, I just dont need that kind of power. I am not going to be doing max speed runs or drag racing or anything, I just want to be able to cruise along with traffic at 85-90mph, and have the option of a quick downshift and throttle twist to snap me forward a couple car lengths if someone decides to change lanes into me without looking.

I would 100% take an Octane particularly, or possibly the Scout as a backup choice, as they both seem like they would fit my needs, and seem like well balanced powerful bikes with bit of standard/naked bike thrown in the cruiser mix, without going to the insane level of a true "power cruiser". Unfortunately there is not any within my price range or driving distance I could even go sit on to check out. But these are a REALLY good suggestion, so if nothing else presents itself I may just have to hold out for one of these at a future date and keep my current riding to around town.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Been on those highways, literally set my cruise at 90 to keep my place in the "slow" lane.
For real. I am not kidding about the nearly being mowed down several times when doing a couple quick tests of my bike at 75-80mpg gauge speed, so probably at least high 60s-low 70s actual speed in the right lane, and that was just on the short jog down 87 from Victoria to Port Lavaca, if I had tried to do that heading out of town on 59 or 77 I would have had my ass handed to me.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
I have 04 Sabre and it will keep with any traffic easily.
Actual top speed on a stock 1100 Sabre with a normal sized rider is probably between 101 and 110mph: 2004 Sabre Top Speed

That top speed would be power/aero limited same as my 1100 Spirit, as they are nearly the same bike with different gearing. Wind drag is a exponential equation with frontal area as a multiplier, that means my barn door torso would slow down that 101-110 considerably compared to a normal sized rider. So a relatively stock 04 Sabre would have the same problems with inability to have any significant acceleration potential if I was cruising on it at 90mph in the slow lane.
 

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The VTX1800 is a big heavy pig, but performs better somewhat than the 1986 VT100c IIRC both are 12 second 1/4 mile bikes in testing and should turn 100 mph fairly quickly even for a large chap like yourself and should manage around 120+ actual mph.

I think the 1100 would be great and a better choice for general spirited riding, the big thing working against it is parts availability down the road.
The 1800 is kinda scary still recent enough for parts availability, but I'm always leery of "somebody else's project" especially an incomplete one.
I'd keep looking.
 

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The 86 1100 won’t have any problems cruising at those speeds, but once you start pushing over 85 mph, you’ll get quite a bit of vibration through the seat and hand grips. Not a big deal if you’re not spending a lot of time at those speeds, but if you’re cooking along at 90 for an hour or longer, it’s not the right bike imho. Never been on a VTX, so I’m no help there. 😎
 

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when I say freeway I mean the right lane traveling at 85-90 actual MPH is pretty much expected. I legitimately was almost run down several times in the 20 minutes or so

I am currently considering 2 possible replacements:

1986 Shadow 1100 40k miles, no issues

I like the idea of the lighter weight bike

plus the fact that it is 35 years old and has very limited parts support is rough.

Option 2 is a 2003 VTX 1800 with 19k miles
a non running basket case

pushing my budget

I like the idea of the more recent bike that was designed with higher freeway cruising speeds in mind
I like high visibility white.

the VTX 1800 is a straight up pig

What are your thoughts? Would especially love to hear from people who have previously owned either or both of these bikes.
Hey Joel,

I have never ridden nor owned an '86 Shadow so I have no reference point to make there.

I like the idea of a lighter weight bike myself, but..., if you are doing any amount of extended interstate traveling, light weight has it's nuances.

Me, I am 5'8" and weigh 140lbs . The bikes I ride require less 'motivation' than someone more 'substantial'.

I would not want to do a lot of interstate riding, on either of my 1100 Shadows, at speeds of 85-90mph sustained. That is not what the Shadows are all about.

I bought a brand new 2002 VTX1800S in March of '03. So I guess that relationship has gone on now for 18 1/2 yrs.

The VTX1800 is a fully capable 'cruiser' type bike to handle the riding situation you offer up. The VTX1300 final drive is a direct replacement/bolt-up to the VTX1800, which means...interstate RPMs are reduced by 350rpms. The 1300 final drive swap makes the speedometer readout dead nuts on and throws the odometer reading off by 10%...meaning...for every 100 miles traveled per the odometer you need to add 10 miles to the total. With the 1300 final drive installed and the much larger diameter 'car' tire installed on the rim, the engine feels like it is running just above idle. Because of where most of my actual riding takes place, the foothills and mountains of NC and VA, the final drive swap didn't work out to be a plus for me, so I put the 1800 final drive back on. Someone living and riding on flatter topography would enjoy a great benefit from it.

A 240 rear tire on the VTX indicates that it has to have a SUMO X widened swingarm kit on it. You would do well to educate yourself about the nuances of that. There are things that have to be sorted out when making that change.

The owner of the bike was obviously doing their own thing to turn the bike into a show/look at me/or...lackadaisical type cruiser bike. It was their thing and they tired of it.

Crap, in the list you provided alone, there is $5000 worth of additional mods they were doing.

With your reference to the VTX1800 being a 'pig', I can only guess that you are new to riding. Any bike will do what you want, you just have to make it do it. In all these years I never consider my VTX to be overly cumbersome. I spent the necessary time needed to learn how to turn it at slow speeds, medium speeds, and high speeds. My friends equate my riding style as looking like a monkey playing with a football (they don't say playing though).

But anyway, I am tired of typing right now so I am going to stop.

John
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
The 86 1100 won’t have any problems cruising at those speeds, but once you start pushing over 85 mph, you’ll get quite a bit of vibration through the seat and hand grips. Not a big deal if you’re not spending a lot of time at those speeds, but if you’re cooking along at 90 for an hour or longer, it’s not the right bike imho. Never been on a VTX, so I’m no help there. 😎
I wonder if it worse than the 98 VT1100c Spirit at 85+? Because I noticed it gets to vibrating pretty good through the grips and pegs about then as well.

The VTX1800 is a big heavy pig, but performs better somewhat than the 1986 VT100c IIRC both are 12 second 1/4 mile bikes in testing and should turn 100 mph fairly quickly even for a large chap like yourself and should manage around 120+ actual mph.

I think the 1100 would be great and a better choice for general spirited riding, the big thing working against it is parts availability down the road.
The 1800 is kinda scary still recent enough for parts availability, but I'm always leery of "somebody else's project" especially an incomplete one.
I'd keep looking.
Yea... That pretty much mimics my thinking. Either of these bikes could turn into a money pit, but the 86 Shadow's potential of doing it is down the road due to difficulty finding rare parts, but from what I am reading if it is currently in as good a shape as the owner says, it likely has another 20k+ miles in it before it needs anything major, and even then there is still a lot of overlap with newer shadow stuff as far as the drivetrain goes. The VTX 1800 has the very real potential of being a money pit from the word go, and turning into a parts hunting nightmare, plus the extra 200lbs is something I would like to avoid if possible until I get more experience. I am still a fairly new rider, and having the strength to catch something the size of the VT1100 has come in handy already, but that would likely be much harder with the VTX 1800.

I wish I had a better idea of how quickly a 86VT1100c could jump ahead a couple car lengths when already cruising at 90 mph, but honestly since my current 98 VT1100 can just barely make the speeds required, but just not get there fast enough, I feel like the additional 20%+ power should be sufficient. So I am thinking either of these should meet my freeway cruising requirements, but the VT1100 should be a bit better around town and in corners, whereas the VTX1800 would probably be more comfortable on the 2-3 hour freeway trips at 90+ mph.

Honestly with my budget and everything I am kinda thinking I could grab the 86 Shadow now, and probably sell my existing 98 Shadow to come up with a net neutral cost. Then use the '86 as my regular ride while I save up and keep an eye out for a good deal on a running Octane, Scout, or VTX 1800, so I can at least test them out and see how I feel about them in person.

Guess tomorrow will be the day to hook up the trailer, get out some cash, and do a 5 hour round trip tomorrow to go look at a 35 year old Shadow. I will let you guys know how it goes.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 · (Edited)
Hey Joel,

I have never ridden nor owned an '86 Shadow so I have no reference point to make there.

I like the idea of a lighter weight bike myself, but..., if you are doing any amount of extended interstate traveling, light weight has it's nuances.

Me, I am 5'8" and weigh 140lbs . The bikes I ride require less 'motivation' than someone more 'substantial'.

I would not want to do a lot of interstate riding, on either of my 1100 Shadows, at speeds of 85-90mph sustained. That is not what the Shadows are all about.

I bought a brand new 2002 VTX1800S in March of '03. So I guess that relationship has gone on now for 18 1/2 yrs.

The VTX1800 is a fully capable 'cruiser' type bike to handle the riding situation you offer up. The VTX1300 final drive is a direct replacement/bolt-up to the VTX1800, which means...interstate RPMs are reduced by 350rpms. The 1300 final drive swap makes the speedometer readout dead nuts on and throws the odometer reading off by 10%...meaning...for every 100 miles traveled per the odometer you need to add 10 miles to the total. With the 1300 final drive installed and the much larger diameter 'car' tire installed on the rim, the engine feels like it is running just above idle. Because of where most of my actual riding takes place, the foothills and mountains of NC and VA, the final drive swap didn't work out to be a plus for me, so I put the 1800 final drive back on. Someone living and riding on flatter topography would enjoy a great benefit from it.

A 240 rear tire on the VTX indicates that it has to have a SUMO X widened swingarm kit on it. You would do well to educate yourself about the nuances of that. There are things that have to be sorted out when making that change.

The owner of the bike was obviously doing their own thing to turn the bike into a show/look at me/or...lackadaisical type cruiser bike. It was their thing and they tired of it.

Crap, in the list you provided alone, there is $5000 worth of additional mods they were doing.

With your reference to the VTX1800 being a 'pig', I can only guess that you are new to riding. Any bike will do what you want, you just have to make it do it. In all these years I never consider my VTX to be overly cumbersome. I spent the necessary time needed to learn how to turn it at slow speeds, medium speeds, and high speeds. My friends equate my riding style as looking like a monkey playing with a football (they don't say playing though).

But anyway, I am tired of typing right now so I am going to stop.

John
Well I have to ask since you know a lot more about the VTX than I do, would you buy that project for $2400-$2600 if you were in the market for a cruiser you would ride around town and on long freeway trips at 90+?

The wrenching doesnt scare me, and I dont mind the color he painted the bike, it is just more of a concern with how much I may have to spend on stock parts to get it back to where it could ride and handle like it was supposed to when it came from the factory.

Edit: Heck, now I am back to being undecided.... I mean, I could swap the Shadow out basically for free and be back up and going quickly. The 1800 VTX would be a much longer project, but it is also one I would probably keep for many years once I got it where I wanted it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Sounds like what you need…is a Hayabusa. 🤔
No thanks, I have made it 41 years without once going to jail, I would like to continue that trend.

Although now that you say that a Hayabusa can cruise at 90 in the second of 6 gears with plenty of go left to accelerate quickly... And it does weigh about the same as a Shadow.....Hmmmmm....

Seriously though, I actually stopped by the one local motorsports dealer we have in town, and sat on a few bikes, and just out of curiosity I sat on a Hayabusa... I recently heard someone describe a Hayabusa as what Suzuki engineers in the 90s came up with to beat the CBRR while blasted on coke and pounding NIN songs on 11. Just sitting on it stationary in a showroom, I could believe that.
 

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Your bike is a 5 speed correct? I know my 2002 Spirit is so high geared that I thought it was slow accelerating at highway speeds until I figured out that 5th gear is best used at 70mph or higher. My bike loves 80 mph. Higher than that and it seems to guzzle fuel. I guess the speeds where I'm at are a little lower. Do you have a windscreen? As mentioned above aerodynamic drag is exponential over 55mph.
 
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