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Honda's Shadow RS: Long Slung, Sporty Cruiser

By Arv Voss, March 12th, 2011

Honda returned to its roots with the Shadow Spirit 750 C2 in 2008. The first Honda Shadow appeared with the 1983 Shadow 750. Today, the Honda Custom Cruiser stable has grown dramatically, with the Shadow Phantom and Shadow RS, Fury and Fury ABS, Sabre and Interstate models.

My review for this month is of the Honda Shadow RS. It looks to the past for its nostalgic flavor, while featuring state-of-the-art modern technology.

My test bike came with a base price set at $7,799 and the final sticker totaling an estimated $8,149. My test bike sported a Pearl White metallic finish.

The Shadow RS features a low-slung, sporty cruiser design, on a par with Harley-Davidson's Sportster model. A 19-inch chrome, laced spoke wheel and classically styled headlamp lead the way for a narrow, custom look. The bars are conventional on standard risers, within easy reach. The fuel tank, which holds 2.8 gallons (including 0.7-gallon reserve), is of the stretched teardrop variety. The seat is 29.4 inches high, in a one-piece gunfighter style that extends over the abbreviated rear fender to accommodate a passenger.

Powering the Shadow RS is a 745cc SOHC, 6-valve, liquid-cooled V-twin motor with PGM electronic fuel injection and one 34mm throttle body, coupled to a wide ratio five-speed, wide ratio, sequential manual gearbox that meters the driving force to the 16-inch chrome laced rear wheel via an O-ring sealed chain final drive.

The exhaust exits through sleek, 2-into-2, staggered shorty pipes on the right side. Tires are by Dunlop: 100/90 19 M/C 57H front, mounted on a chrome lace spoke wheel / 100/80 B16 M/C 71H rear, also mounted on a chrome lace spoke wheel. Suspension consists of 41mm forks with 4.6 inches of travel forward, and dual spring over shocks with five-position spring preload adjustability and 3.5 inches of travel in the rear.

Bringing the 507-pound (dry weight) bike to a halt is a single disc on the front wheel, and a drum unit out back. Controls are mounted forward, but the bike's relatively short 61.5-inch wheelbase translates to a mid-mount end result for long-legged riders.

The Shadow RS is a very attractive midsize cruiser that not only looks retro cool, but performs smoothly and reliably, while sounding good as well. However, it doesn't have a deep Harley-type "pototo-pototo" rumble, so it consequently it won't come across as offensive to one's neighbors either.

Acceleration response is quite good, and the riding position will prove to be comfortable for riders with normal inseams, while my long legs "longed" for controls a little further forward. Short jaunts were okay, but longer rides required an occasional stretch session.

The speedometer is mounted above the headlight in attractive retro chrome housing, along with other instrument lights and informational readouts. The classic styled turn signals are not self-canceling, so one has to remember to manually cancel after activating and completing the turn.

The large, integrated taillight offers a custom look and is highly visible, which is a good thing. The Shadow RS is well balanced and handles easily, with a slightly heavy front feel due to the larger 19-inch front wheel and tire at low speeds -- highway cruising negates that sensation, and the ride quality is very comfortable.

The Honda Shadow RS makes for a satisfying and desirable sporty cruiser with a bigger bike appearance and feel, but at an affordable and attractive price. There are a sizeable number of chrome goodies already on the bike, but there are also several available accessories to increase the size of one's investment. Accessories are grouped into three categories: Touring, Chrome, and Billet.

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