Why the Honda Shadow is a Great Beginner Bike

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Finding your first bike is hard. There’s so many options out there. Do you go with a sport bike, dual sport, cruiser, or a more naked motorcycle. Is the engine to big? Will I get bored of it in a few months? These are all common questions to new motorcyclists. That’s why I thought I’d discuss why the Honda Shadow is a great beginner bike.

The Shadow is a versatile bike friendly for beginner and advanced riders

The Shadow 750 was the first bike I’ve owned, and I think there are many reasons why the Honda Shadow 750 is a great beginner bike. First we’ll have to discuss what makes a good beginner bike.


Before we discuss why the Honda Shadow is such a good motorcycle, we have an announcement to make. We’re excited to be working with Viking Bags and to try out their products! We will come up with a review post once the product testing is done. Keep an eye out for these updates. If your in the market for motorcycle luggage I suggest you check them out, and they make luggage specifically for the Honda Shadow. You can check out Viking’s products by checking out the links here and here.

What Makes a Good Beginner Bike?

A good motorcycle for a beginner is a motorcycle that can be easily controlled. In other words it shouldn’t be an overpowered 100hp 600cc crotch rocket. While these bikes are a blast to ride, they aren’t friendly for new riders.

Weight is an important factor for new riders. When you first start to ride you will be surprised by how heavy a “lightweight” motorcycle is. Don’t be discouraged, as this awkwardness will disappear quicly.

The next factor is wheelbase length. A beginner really shouldn’t be on a chopper with a wheelbase as long as your car. These bikes are a handful at slow speed maneuvers. On the other hand too short of a wheelbase can make the handling at speed tricky.

So what makes the Honda Shadow such a great starter bike?

1. Low Center of Gravity

The Honda Shadow has a very low center of gravity. This makes it an incredibly stable bike out on winding country roads. The bike handles easily from side to side when hustling along bends.

Another benefit to the stability of the bike is that when I move around in my seat, or my passenger moves, the bike holds steady and doesn’t veer around the road.

2. Perfect Amount of Power

Okay I know i’m biased because I own one, but the Shadow’s 45hp and 46.5 lb-ft of torque is absolutely perfect for a new motorcyclist. This Shadow is fast enough to get up and out of its own way, yet not too fast where you run the risk of getting into trouble.

There’s a solid amount of acceleration at any legal speed. I can usually social distance cars and other “beginner” motorcycles. The Shadow 750 is certainly not fast for a motorcycle, but it will more than keep up with cars.

The Honda Shadow has a 750cc liquid cooled and carbureted v-twin engine. The bike isn’t very loud at idle, but you do hear it while cruising down the backroads. A small twist of the throttle gives off a classic v-twin sound.

3. Riding Position/Low Seat Height

A cruiser is one of the best riding positions to learn. These motorcycles have comfortable seating positions making them doable for long distance rides. Having ridden a Ninja 250r, my wrists and back were starting to get uncomfortable after only 20 minutes of riding.

The Shadow is different. Its basically like floating down the road in a comfy chair with a sweet sounding V-Twin soundtrack.

Another benefit of the shadow is that it has a low seat height. Low seat heights are perfect for beginners! There’s nothing more confidence inspiring to a beginner than being able to flat foot your motorcycle at a stop light. Being able to flat foot your motorcycle reduces the chances of you dumping your bike.

4. Low Cost

One of the biggest benefits of the Honda Shadow 750 is its low cost.The bike only needed some basic maintenance, like an oil change and chain lubrication. After that, its been running flawlessly every since.

5. Honda Shadow Reliability

Most motorcycles are reliable, but reliability is Honda’s bread and butter. Honda makes lots of great motorcycle engines and the 750cc Shadow is no exception. There are plenty of Shadow’s running perfectly with well over 30,000 miles on them.

The added benefit of buying a used Shadow is that its a cruiser. Its less likely to have been abused than a “sporty” entry level bike. As with any bike proper maintenance is key to long term reliability. Make sure you lubricate the chain, change the oil, and check the valve clearance to ensure long engine life.

6. Passenger Seat

Okay first of all beginners should not be taking people for motorcycle rides. This is because the added weight increases handling difficulty and really makes the bike feel and ride much different.

However after you’ve gained enough experience taking people for rides can be very exciting for you and your passenger. The Honda Shadow has arguably the most comfortable passenger seat of any bike that could be considered a beginner bike. The engine has enough power too, so don’t worry about being overloaded, and having slow acceleration. While the acceleration will be slightly slower and the handling will feel a little more sluggish, its still perfectly capable of riding with a passenger for long distances.

7. Saddlebags

When’s the last time you saw a beginner friendly motorcycle that could carry a passenger comfortably and had saddlebags? Honda Shadow is an excellent beginner bike because it can do all of these things and more!

The Shadow is easily equipped with saddlebags

The storage capacity offered by the Shadow doesn’t compete with a Goldwing or a Harley Davidson Bagger, but it has more than enough space for a weekend trip if you can pack light.

Honda Shadow Disadvantages for Beginners

As with anything in life there are cons. The first disadvantage of the Honda is its weight. The Shadow is a relatively lightweight cruiser at 507 lbs, but that still is much heavier than the Ninja (250r, 300, 400), and it is substantially heavier than the entry level dual sport offerings.

The heavy weight can make learning low speed maneuvers a challenge. The weight does fade away as soon as the clutch is released, but it does show up during low speed turns.

The last disadvantage is the engine. While I think the engine is great and perfect for all of my needs, there are others who just want to have a sporty ride and an engine that screams over 10,000 rpm. If that’s the case the Shadow probably isn’t for you and that’s okay.


The Honda Shadow is an excellent beginner bike. Its has enough power to be exciting, but not enough to be dangerous. Its low center of gravity and low seat height inspire confident handling. Finally its low cost of ownership makes the Shadow one of the best choices for your first ride!