A 24-Year Heritage of V-Twins And Customs
Over the years, Honda has built a rich heritage of V-twin and custom-style motorcycles. Before the first factory-made cruisers were introduced, there was an equally important Honda that set the stage for generations to come.
1978: Honda Builds A V-Twin For The Masses
Honda's first V-twin street motorcycle in the U.S. is the 1978 CX500. With a transversely mounted 500cc liquid-cooled V-twin featuring a pushrod-actuated four-valve head and a maintenance-free driveshaft, the CX500 is an instant success with riders. Together with the subsequent introductions of the custom-style CX500C and deluxe CX500D models, the CX500 series tallies more than 96,000 retail sales through 1982.
1983: A Pair of Factory-Built Cruisers
American riders are captivated by the emerging custom-styling cues that appear on many manufacturers' former standard-style motorcycles. Teardrop tanks, pull-back handlebars, stepped seats and flashy chrome are the rage in the early 1980s. Yet no one is ready for the truly radical custom styling of Honda's first purpose-built cruisers, the Shadow® 750 (VT750C) and Shadow 500 (VT500C).
Honda's Shadow 750 features an all-new, liquid-cooled 45& #176; 750cc V-twin. The twin-plug, three-valve heads showcase Honda's exclusive Hydraulic Valve Clearance Adjusters (HVA™), completely eliminating the need for valve adjustments. Honda also debuts the first offset dual-pin crankshaft, a design that offers perfect primary engine balance and allows engineers to tune the engine for added power. Despite its radical profile, the Shadow 750 provides a very comfortable upright riding posture. Successful? Honda customers buy more than 19,000 Shadow 750s in the first year alone.
Honda unveils a smaller sibling to the Shadow 750 in 1983, the Shadow 500. Like its big brother, the Shadow 500 features a liquid-cooled engine with an offset dual-pin crankshaft, three- valve heads with single overhead camshaft (SOHC), a six-speed transmission and a maintenance-free driveshaft. More than 18,000 Shadow 500s are sold in the first year of production.
1983-85: Bigger Is Better
By 1985, Honda is selling almost 80,000 custom-style motorcycles a year, ranging in displacement from 450cc to 1100cc. The success of the mighty V-65 Magna® (VF1100C), introduced in 1983, clearly indicates riders are ready for more displacement. Shadow riders are rewarded with the Shadow 1100 (VT1100C), an all-new design that draws breath from the successful Shadow 750 (and 700cc versions) series. The 45° V-twin engine delivers the same features that customers value in Honda V-twins: liquid-cooling, offset dual-pin crank, three-valve SOHC heads with HVA, shaft-drive, and solid-state ignition. The big twin pumps out gobs of torque and horsepower. The forerunner of a future generation of 1100cc Shadow models, the first Shadow 1100 sells more than 8000 units in its first full year.
1986-88: A Time to Redesign
In 1986 Honda's Shadow 700 receives a major facelift, with stronger custom styling cues that emphasize relaxed, laid-back cruising. In 1988, displacement is increased to 800cc.
For 1987, the Shadow 1100 is also redesigned, with chopper-like styling that fuels increased demand. Despite a slowing market, Shadow 1100 sales jump 23 percent after the new bike's introduction. The popular design is essentially unchanged today in the Shadow Spirit™.
Honda's littlest Shadow, the Shadow 500, is completely redesigned in 1988. The new 600cc, 52° V-twin is called the Shadow VLX. With its sporty, bobtail rear fender, 27.1-inch seat height, and traditional V-twin sound from its single-pin crank design, the Shadow VLX becomes a favorite bike for many first-time riders.
1995: Another A.C.E. Up Our Sleeve
As retail sales of motorcycles show renewed signs of strength, Honda captures the growing interest in classic-style custom cruisers with the introduction of the Shadow American Classic Edition (VT100C2). The Shadow A.C.E.™, as it comes to be called, features simple, clean lines that draw their inspiration from motorcycles of the 1950s. The same trouble-free 1100cc engine that powers the Shadow 1100 now features a single-pin crankshaft and a heel-and-toe shifter. In the first year alone, the Shadow A.C.E. nearly doubles Honda's 1100cc V-twin custom sales.
1997: A New 750 A.C.E.
After a brief hiatus from the lineup, Honda's mid-sized Shadow is redesigned and introduced as the Shadow American Classic Edition® 750. With many of the same design features and styling cues as the larger Shadow A.C.E., the new Shadow A.C.E. 750 quickly becomes Honda's best-selling custom motorcycle.
1998: A Time To Tour, A Time To Remember
Honda introduces the Shadow American Classic Edition Tourer™ (VT1100T). Based upon the more powerful, 1100cc offset dual- pin crankshaft engine, the Tourer adds two spacious 35-liter weatherproof saddlebags and a large windscreen for all-day touring comfort. The A.C.E. Tourer is hailed as one of the best touring values by the motorcycle press.
Honda also pulls the wraps off the Shadow Aero® (VT100C3), a beautifully designed custom that harkens back to the aerodynamic industrial designs of the 1930s and 1940s. Honda's first motorcycle with floorboards is also one of its longest, stretching more than 8 feet tip to tip.
2000: Performance Returns To The Shadow Line< BR> Honda's all new Shadow Sabre™ (VT1100C2) replaces the Shadow A.C.E. and introduces a new level of performance for V-twin customs. Inspired by rider's high-performance street-rod customs on display at bike shows throughout America, the Sabre name is resurrected from Honda's own 1982 V-45 Sabre-a V-4 powered sport-custom that set new levels of performance for its class. The new Shadow Sabre is true to its namesake, outperforming all V-twin customs in its class, and many larger-displacement V-twins as well.
2001: A Value-Laden 750
Honda unveils the Shadow Spirit 750 to enthusiasts. Using the same engine featured in the Shadow A.C.E. 750, its street-rod styling and low, 26.6-inch seat height are a big hit with riders-not to mention the low $5999 suggested retail price.
2001: Unprecedented Styling and Performance-The 2002 VTX
An all-new purpose-built hot-rod, the VTX takes custom styling to new vistas-and boasts the engineering credentials to back up its muscular looks. Long and low but built to go, the VTX delivers awe- inspiring power-a whopping 106 bhp at only 5000 rpm and an astounding 120 lb./ft. of torque at a mere 3500 rpm. The 2002 VTX is a performance V-twin custom that offers an all-new expression of motorcycling style, and an all-new riding experience!