Progressive Motorcycle
Professional Reviews
Provided by Ehlert Publishing
Cruiser Spirit
by Rider Report

Article provided by: Rider
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February 13, 2008

Depending on when you start counting, Honda has reason to celebrate the 25th year of its Shadow line. The first Shadow 750 cruiser arrived on the scene in 1983, so technically, 2007 would qualify the line for silver-anniversary status. In the spirit of this achievement, Honda has redesigned its existing Shadow Spirit 750 and created a new C2 model to appeal to a more diverse group of riders, without straying too far from its original intention of creating a rider-friendly, easy-to-maintain cruiser.

To give the press a peek at what 25 years of tweaking has done for one of its best-selling cruisers, Honda invited a group of journalists to San Diego, California, for a test ride. We were also treated to a tour of the USS Midway, the longest-serving aircraft carrier in U.S. Navy history. The carrier’s 4.02-acre flight deck probably would have sufficed for a test ride, but instead we were led on a leisurely ride on curvy back roads and along the coast.

The C2 Spirit is powered by the same liquid-cooled, 52-degree, SOHC, three-valve-per-cylinder, 745cc V-twin engine as the previous Shadow, but now it has shaft drive. Honda has replaced the dual-carb system with a single 34mm constant-velocity carburetor for better acceleration. The Shadow’s new single- backbone frame stretches the wheelbase to 65 inches, which adds 1.2 inches and gives larger riders more room. At the same time, the seat has been lowered by more than an inch. How low can you go? Well, at 25.7 inches, I can’t think of another cruiser in the middleweight class that has a lower seat. The first several times I put my feet down at stops after riding I was caught by surprise—whoa, the pavement was right there!

The Spirit’s mix of custom and hot-rod styling mimics a drag bike with its long, low look, and raked fork and fatter rear tire. The bike looks sleek with its integrated taillight and two-into-two bullet-style pipes. For a big-bike feel, the 19-inch spoked front wheel has been replaced with a 21-incher and a 90/90 tire, which gives the steering a lighter feel. The Spirit is easy to handle in all situations, from steering around obstacles at highway speeds to maneuvering around town at low speeds.

While astride the bike, the compact ergonomics made me feel connected to the Spirit. With the new risers, the handlebar was situated just right so that my arms are placed close to my body, and made me feel like I had good control if I needed to make a sudden swerve. All four testers—from 5 feet, 3 inches, to 6 feet—liked the sporty, upright seating position and the comfortable gunfighter-style seat, though we longer-legged riders felt the footpeg-to-seat distance was a bit cramped.

On the road the mellow engine pulls the Spirit along smoothly. Little vibration reaches the rider, and I did not experience the tingling in the seat and grips sometimes associated with V-twins. The rear suspension is handled by dual shocks with five-position spring preload adjustability, with a 41mm fork providing 4.6 inches of travel up front. Overall the suspension is compliant, but a couple of times I was bounced out of the seat when hitting big potholes on the freeway. As is usual for a low-set cruiser, cornering clearance is limited and the pegs touch down easily in “spirited” riding.

A single 296mm disc clamped by a twin-piston caliper gives the Spirit good stopping power up front, though you’re stuck with a garden- variety drum brake in the rear. There are 41 accessories available for the Shadow models and one of the test bikes was outfitted with seven of them, including decent-sized saddlebags with a built-in helmet lock. Wearing a full-face helmet you’ll need to lower your head to read the tank-mounted speedometer, and the rectangular stalk-mounted mirrors provide a clear, wide rear view.

All these years of fine-tuning have created a Spirit 750 cruiser that’s reliable, easy to handle and comfortable. It may not have the power of one of the four turbines that give the Midway its 212,000 horsepower, but the Shadow Spirit certainly has enough muscle to keep a diverse group of riders content. And just like the Midway, the Shadow Spirit endures and has proven to be bulletproof.

Courtesy of Rider Report Magazine, an Ehlert Publishing Group publication.

Article provided by: Rider
Click here for additional magazine information or to subscribe.

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