The Honda Shadow is one of the best cruisers money can buy. They have a great track record for being reliable, easy to ride, and comfortable for putting the miles on. They are a fun and affordable purchase and they even make a great first bike. It was my first bike, and I wrote about the experience here. That being said there are some problems and downsides you should be aware of when purchasing from the VT750 family.
1. Clogged Carburetors
Many Honda Shadows can be found with low miles and cheap prices. This is great for the used buyer, but there can be problems due to the low miles on the motorcycle. Gas goes bad if it doesn’t have stabilizer and if its left to sit in the tank for months or in some cases years. VT750s built before 2011 will have a carbureted engine which can be damaged by old gas.
Over time the gas will lose its quality and start to create deposits in the carburetor. The deposits can happen in the carburetor’s jets disrupting fuel flow to the engine. Thankfully a carburetor rebuild kit and a fresh tank of gas is usually enough to fix the issue.
If you’re purchasing a Honda Shadow, be sure to test ride the bike and run it through all of the gears. Carburetors have several different jets and the open at different points in the engine’s rpm. Its important to get the motorcycle up to speed on a safe road and take the engine close to redline at least once. Any fuel delivery issues should be noticeable by a power drop off or the sound of the engine bogging down. Even if you have a post 2011 Shadow you should still do this on the test ride as it could uncover fuel injector issues.
2. Starter Switch Going Out
Some riders have reported problems with the starter switch going out on their Honda Shadow. This problem is usually caused by a lack of riding. As the motorcycle sits it collects dust on the handlebars and controls. This dust can get under the switches causing them to stick in place preventing the starting of the motorcycle.
To fix the issue, you could start by disassembling the starter switch assembly and using an electronics cleaner to clean the switch. In some cases this will work. Others might have to replace the whole starter switch assembly.
Before you clean or replace your starter switch assembly, be sure that you are using the correct starting procedure.
- Put the kill switch in the off position
- Put the motorcycle in neutral
- Turn the key to the on position
- Make sure the fuel is switched on
- lift the side stand
- Pull in the clutch lever
- Push the starter switch
3. Petcock Rebuild Recall (2007-2008)
The petcock is a common issue on earlier Honda Shadows. So much so that Honda actually issued a recall for it. The problem is that the petcock will start leaking fuel externally. This can create a fire hazard which is obviously dangerous but also nobody wants to waste fuel.
The diaphragm in the fuel valve is the root cause of the problem. Honda issued a recall for the 2007 and 2008 model years for the diaphragms replacement. Thankfully a new diaphragm isn’t too expensive of a part so you should be able to get your Shadow back on the road without breaking the bank if you have this issue.
If your Honda Shadow is from model years 2007 or 2008 check your VIN with your local Honda dealer service department to see if your bike was affected by the recall, or if you’re purchasing used ask the owner if they’ve completed the recall.
4. Bank Angle Sensor Recall (2010-2016)
The purpose of a bank angle sensor is to cut the engine off if the bike tips over. As you can imagine if the sensor thinks the bike tipped over but it actually didn’t, the engine would get cut off.
Honda issued this recall because engine vibration can cause the wire for the bank angle sensor to rub against the joint connector on the wire harness. This will eventually cause a failure due to a loss of the signal. The results is that the engine could stall.
To fix this, Honda will replace the bank angle sensor and relocate the joint connector so that they don’t rub against each other. This will eliminate the chance of failure.
Like with the petcock recall, check your motorcycle’s VIN with Honda to determine if your motorcycle is affected. Be sure to have the recall completed as soon as possible if it hasn’t already had it.
There are some common complaints that Honda Shadow owners have regarding their motorcycles. The first is an underpowered engine. The Honda Shadow 750 makes 44hp and 47 lb-ft of torque. Its no rocket ship. You can get a good rush in second gear at full throttle, but the Shadow is not made for speed.
In fact I found the Shadow a little sluggish north of 65 mph. It can cruise in the 65-75mph all day, but sudden increases of speed take some effort from the 750cc mill. The nice thing about the docile engine is that it is very easy to control and beginner friendly. However you shouldn’t underestimate its power. If you’re a brand new rider and you don’t respect the bike, the Shadow has more than enough grunt to get you into trouble.
The second complaint is an uncomfortable seat. I never really understood this complaint as I thought the Shadow was the most comfortable bikes I had ridden, but at that point, the bikes I was comparing it to were the Yamha TW200 and Ninja 250r. For all of my short rides less than 50 miles, I never found the Honda Shadow’s seat to be an issue. If you were trying to cross the country on it, then I could see it being a problem. The seat can feel somewhat stiff if you’re on it for long periods of time.
Why You Should Buy A Honda Shadow
I didn’t write this article to talk you out of a Honda Shadow. Although it has a few problems, it is an excellent motorcycle. The VT750 is iconic, reliable, inexpensive to own, and a joy to ride. The vibration from the engine is barely noticeable compared to more traditional cruisers. The engine runs smooth and builds power predictably. My Shadow never left me stranded, and I regret selling it. If you have the chance to own a Shadow I recommend you take it!