Like Kawasaki’s Vulcan line, Honda has had Shadow cruisers in its lineup since the early 1980s. Over the past three decades, engine displacements have gone up and down, models have come and gone. But since the 1,100cc Shadow Sabre was retired in 2007, the Shadow pedigree has lived on in the middleweight class only.
For 2013, Honda offers four Shadow models: the roadster-styled Shadow RS, the blacked-out Shadow Phantom, the drag-custom Shadow Spirit 750 and the Shadow Aero tested here, all starting at $8,240. What they all have in common is a liquid-cooled, fuel-injected 52-degree 745cc V-twin with a single-pin crank and shaft drive (except the chain-driven RS). The base-model Aero comes in black; our test bike has a two-tone metallic silver/pearl white paint job that adds $300 to the bottom line. It has a very classic look, with valenced fenders, wire-spoke wheels and a generous helping of chrome, though some of what you see on the engine and elsewhere is made of plastic. An ABS model is also available in black only for $9,240. Touring-ready variants of the other bikes in this comparison are available, but the Aero only comes in one configuration. Honda offers a full line of touring accessories for those so inclined.
Having the smallest displacement in this comparison, it’s no surprise that the Honda’s engine has the lowest output. As measured on Jett Tuning’s dyno, the Shadow generates 44.7 lb-ft of peak torque at the rear wheel, with more than 40 lb-ft available between 2,200 and 5,000 rpm. Horsepower climbs smoothly and steadily to a peak of 39.9 at 5,600 rpm.
The smallest engine and lowest curb weight (560 pounds) helps the Honda return the best fuel economy—an average of 51.3 mpg. But it also has the smallest fuel tank (3.7 gallons), limiting range to 191 miles.