ShadowRiders.Org – Honda History

15 Feb 2015 | Author: | Comments Off on ShadowRiders.Org – Honda History

The History of the Honda Shadow

The ’70s

In 1970 Honda’s cumulative motorcycle exports reached 5 million. The US imported the industries

first three-wheeler in the ATC90 All Terrain Cycle.

1970 also saw the introduction of the CB100 Super Sport 100′, the CL100 Scrambler 100, the

SL100 Motosport 100 and the SL175 Motosport 175. A 750 Honda won the 1970 Daytona

ln l971 another four-cylinder motorcycle appeared in the CB500 500 Four.

1972 saw the CB350F 350 Four new on the show room floors.

ln 1973 both Mr. Honda and Mr. Fujisawa retired, 25 years after the formation of the Honda Motor

Company. Mr. Kiyoshi Kawashima was named the new president. For sale were the new ‘ATC70’

which was the first mini ATC. The first XR mini model was in the XR75. The TL125 which was

the first trials motorcycle and the first two-stroke sold in the U.S. was released this year.

1971 saw the introduction of several new model concepts in the CB200, the CRI25 Elsinore.

the MT125 Elsinore and the MT250 Elsinore dual purpose models. The CB200, the CL200,

the XL350, and the CB360T which replaced the popular CB350.

1975 saw the roll out of the first liquid cooled, shaft-drive GL1000 Gold Wing along with Honda’s

first off-road-only enduro model in the MR175 Elsinore. The CB-100F Super Sport replaced

theCB350F and a new CB550F Super Sport emerged. The CB750F Super Sport was also

In 1976 Honda released it’s first automatic transmission in a motorcycle with the CB750A

Hondamatic. The GL1000 LTD Gold Wing limited edition model, with only 2000 units produced,

caught the eye of a few lucky buyers.

When 1976 came around, we saw a new kind of four-wheeler off-road vehicle in the FL250

Odyssey. American Honda’s first no-ped, the NC50 Express found homes in the states. The

company became the first to announce that a Japanese motorcycle manufacturer would move a

portion of it’s process to the U.S. A new corporation Honda of America Manufacturing broke

ground to assemble and manufacture products at a facility in Marysville,


New products for 1978 included the first motorcycle counterbalancer and three valved head in the

CB400T Hawk. The first V-Twin motorcycle was in the CS500.

In 1979, Honda products included the appearance of the Superbike of Superbikes with the in-line

six CBX Super Sport along with a double overhead cam CB750F Super Sport with 16 valves.

Honda’s first custom models were released with the CX500C. Also new this year was the

CB750K LTD 10th anniversary limited edition model. The Marysville plant was in full production

by September.

The ’80s

In 1980, a larger GL1100 Gold Wing Interstate headed the model year. It was the industy’s first

full-dressed touring bike. The CB900C Custom was also introduced as the first dual-range

transmission for the street.

In 1981, Team Honda gave America a first in world team motocross. The Honda Race Team

swept both the Motocross and Trophee des Nations events. Team Honda repeated the sweep in

1982. A series of motocross bikes were out as well as a new GL500 Silver Wing and a GL500I

Silver Wing Interstate designed to be a mid size touring bike.

ln 1982, two industry firsts appeared with the introduction of the modern V-Four engines in the

VF750S Sabre with a new hydraulic clutch actuator and in the VF750C Magna. The first

production use of turbocharging with electronic fuel injection specifically designed for a V-Twin

motorcycle appeared in the

CX500TC Turbo. Also new was the FT500 Ascot and the GL1100A Gold Wing Aspencade

with the first audio equipment grouping as

standard equipment. The CB450SC, the CB650SC and the CB750SC were the new

Nighthawk models introduced.

A new president was ushered into America Honda in 1983 with Tetsuo Chino. Along with some

new scooters, Honda rolled out a new CB550SC and CB650SC Nighthawks, the VF750F V45

Interceptor, and the CX650T Turbo. This year was the birth of the Shadow motorcycle. Both

the T750C Shadow/;which incorporated the first hydraulic valve adjuster, and aVT500C Shadow

The Shadow Years

by Bob Maynard

The inntroduction of the first Shadow models was in 1983. It was the result of years of

development and synergies by Honda

to address the needs of the American market. I believe most of our readers will agree it is the best

bike Honda has made to



The VT500C introduced this year was available in Candy Wineberry Red or Black. The

identifying features of this model are the painting of both the fuel tank and rear fenders. The side

covers are chrome and engine covers black. The Black and Red Shadow 500 decal was on the

side cover with a gold outline from ’83 to ’86. The headlight was chrome and rectangular and had a

single horn. The engine was 491cc OHC 3-valve, liquid cooled V-Twin with a six-speed, shaft drive

transmission from

’83 to ’86.

The VT750C also introduced this year was also available in either Black or Candy Wineberry

Red. Special identifying features of this model are the round head lamp, instrument casings and

the chromed front fender. The backrest was standard equipment. The painted side covers had the

Shadow 750 decal. The engine is a 749cc SOHC 3-valve Liquid Cooled V-Twin with a six-speed

shaft drive transmission.


The VT500C’ was available in Candy Scorpio Red or Black. The identifying features include the

fuel tank and rear fenders painted the same. The front fender is chrome and this year the side

covers and engine covers were painted black. The black and red Shadow 500 decal was on the

side cover with a gold outline. The headlight was chrome and rectangular and there was a single

horn. The engine is virtually the same as the ’83 model.

The VT700C was introduced this year as a direct result of increased tariffs placed on Japan’s

imports. The U.S. raised the import tariffs on engine sizes above 701cc’s. So the engine size was

reduced from a 750cc to 700cc to get the bikes into the U.S. This years model was available in

either Black or Candy Scorpio Red on the tank, side covers and rear fender. Special identifying

features of this model are the round head lamp and instrument casings with a chromed front

fender. The front wheel bore a dual disk brake system and dual horns mounted on the front. The

painted side covers had the Shadow 700 decal. The engine is a 694cc SOHC 3-Valve Liquid

Cooled V-Twin with a six-speed, shaft drive transmission from 1984 to ’87. New hydraulic valve

from 1984 to ’87.


The VT500C model was available in either Black or Candy Glory Red. The head lamp was now

round and chromed. This model continued with the dual horns. A two piece seat with an integrated

backrest was incorporated. Starting this year, the engine covers were polished chrome and the

fins enlarged. The Honda tank decal was curved instead of straight.

The VT700C model was available in either Black or Candy Glory Red. Special identifying

features of this model year included the polished chrome engine side covers. The painted side

covers had the Shadow 700 decal. The engine is the same as the ’84 model year.

The VT1100C model was introduced and available in either a two-tone Black and Red or Black

and Silver tank with black fenders. The side cover is painted two tone black and silver. The

Shadow side cover decal is silver. The dual horns are still located on the front and turning

indicators are square shaped. A few guages are located on the tank. The new engine is a 1039cc

SOHC Liquid Cooled V-Twin with a 5-speed, shaft drive transmission for ’85 and ’86.


The VT500C model was available in either Black or a new Candy Scorpio Red. Everything else

was virtually the some for the ’85 model.

The VT700C model was available in either Black or Candy Brilliant Red. On this year’s model, the

front and rear fenders and tank were all painted the same color. The rear fender took on a flair

look over the rounded style. The Honda Wing and Shadow decals were speckled gold and

orange. The engine is the same as the ’84 model with the right engine cover graphic painted black.

The mufflers were a little lower and changed from the flair look to a more straight style. The rear

foot peg support bracket became solid and the back rest was absent this year. The cast wheels

changed from a 10-spoke to a 5-spoke design and the access covers were chromed.

The VT1100C model was available in either Black or a two-toned Black and Silver tank. The side

cover is painted two-tone black and silver on both color options. The Shadow side cover decal

was changed to gold. The engine is the same as the ’85 model.


The VT700C model was available in either Black or Candy Glory Red on a black frame. This

year’s model changed the Honda tank decal to black with a gold outline. The Honda Wing decal

was changed to brown, orange and yellow. The engine is the same as the ’84 model but with the

right engine cover graphic not painted. The side covers are chrome, 5 spoke cast wheels with a

single front disk brake.

The VT1100C model took on a brand new look with a lower 26-inch high seat`, a longer 65 inch

wheel base, a large 3.4 gallon fuel tank and a 41 mm extended front fork design. Both mufflers

were run along the right side and a small back rest was brought back. It was available in either

Honda CB 400 Super Four Special Edition

Black or Candy Wineberry Red. The tank is striped in silver. The frame color is black and the

spark plug wires are yellow through ’88. The engine is a 1093cc SOHC 3-Valve, liquid cooled

V-twin with a 3-speed, shaft drive transmission.


The VT800C model replaced the VT700C. The paint options were either two-oned Black

Candy Glory Red or Candy Wineberry Red Dry Silver Metallic. On the Black unit, the Shadow

tank decal is silver and on the Red unit the Shadow tank decal is gold. The engine was increased

to a 800cc SOHC 3-Valve liquid cooled V-Twin with a 4-speed, shaft drive transmission.

The VT1100C model was available in Black and a new Candy Wineberry Red color. The fuel

tank stripe was deleted this year. The frame was color matched to the tank and fenders. The spark

plug wires went back to black from the yellow color.

The VLX VT600C was a new model out this year. The color options were Candy Wave Blue

and Candy Wineberry Red. The new double-cradle steel frame is color matched to the body work.

It has a single shock rear suspension, a low 27.1 inch seat height and a long 63.2 inch wheelbase

with a 2.4 gallon fuel tank. The engine is a 583cc SOHC 3-Valve liquid cooled 52 degree V-Twin

with a 4-speed transmission and chain drive. The wheels are spoked.

frame sryle and engine mechanics have not changed.

The VLX VT600C was not made this year but did make a come back in 1991.


The VT1100C model was not manufactured this year. Seems inventories were still high enough

for the ’90 models to suspend manufacturing of 91’s. Dealerships heard about it and huge orders

were placed to buy up all existing stock. The model would return with a vengeance in 1992.

The VLX VT600C returned this year but in Black only.


The VT1100c came back with a grand entrance boasting some new custom two-tone paint

options on either a black or silver frame; Spectra Red with black or silver inserts on the tank and

fenders, Teal with silver inserts, Cascade Silver Metallic with either teal, red or black inserts, Black

with either silver, red or teal inserts. There were two different tank decals also available and the

seat began to bare a Made in the USA stamp. This year all bikes had the California option of an

emissions control device mounted below the radiator.

The VLX VT600C this year came in a bright Candy Glory Red paint. The engine and body style

was retained from the ’91 model year.


The VT1100C was released with some new color options this year, all on a black frame; a Candy

Red with either black, silver or pearl white inserts on fenders and tank, Metallic Teal with either

silver, black or pearl white inserts, Black with candy red, silver or pearl white inserts, a darker Red

with black inserts and a new South Paciflc Blue Metallic with pearl white inserts. Again the

two-toned versions could be ordered with one of two different Shadow tank decals. Other than

the 26 color and logo options, the basic bike is being cranked out pretty much the same as

previous model years.

The VLX VT600C was rolling out the dealerships in Black this year. The Deluxe version

VT600D introduced this year added more chrome on the engine cases and valve covers. This

model is available in a two-tone Coral Reef Blue with black inserts. The seat on the deluxe version

is soft and tucked.

Source: Honda Motorcycle Identification Guide;American Honda

Motor Co. Inc. l988


In 1995, the V-Twin market really got going, the market expanded and all the manufacturers were

coming out with new, larger and expanded model lines. Harley had begun to wear out its welcome

with many although the sales remained strong, the market began to pass it by because of sheer

numbers, many devoted enthusiasts of Japanese and European brands and its continued the

continued distain of a segment of the market. Harley did build a new facility in Kansas City and

introduced a new engine in 1998 for the 1999 model year.

Yamaha introduced variations on its V-MAX/Venture engine called the Royal Star and this line

expanded with a smaller version.

1996 was the last year for the standard VT1100C. In 1995 the American Classic Edition was

introduced. It featured more retro styling that the standard with a full rear fender and induced

vibrations from a single crank engine. The model also lost about 10 horse power, much to the

dismay of some owners.

1997 saw the Standard replaced with the Spirit with more chrome on the engine ala the ACE but

the same basic engine as the standard. An ACE Tourer was also introduced based on the Spirit

engine but the ACE styling.

In 1998 the Aero came into being, again based on the ACE engine with the single crank, but a

Honda CB 400 Super Four Special Edition
Honda CB 400 Super Four Special Edition
Honda CB 400 Super Four Special Edition

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