Honda Shadow 1100 Specsby Rob Wagner
America's bad-to-the-bone love of V-twin bikes goes back to WWII; Japan, not so much. Soldiers, in particular fighter pilots, returning from the war with cash in their pockets and a yen for the brutal thump of radial engines found a spiritual connection to big cruisers with radial-derived V-twin engines. In the 1960s, Honda found a niche in America with the "you meet the nicest people on a Honda" advertising campaign. But a dogfight with Harley Davidson was inevitable if Honda was to keep a piece of American streets. Enter: The Shadow.
The Honda Shadow 1100 motorcycle belongs to the Shadow line of cruiser bikes produced by the Japan-based Honda Motor Company Ltd. The Shadow has been produced since 1983 and ranges in engine displacement from 125 cc to 1,099 cc. Larger Honda motorcycles, ranging from 1,300 cc to 1,800 cc, do not belong to the Shadow line. Among the Shadow models manufactured are the VF100s, the Shadow ACE, the ACE Tourer, the Shadow Sabre and the Shadow Aero. The VT1100 model debuted in 1985, and continued on to 2000 until it was renamed the and reconfigured as the lightweight Shadow Sabre. The 2007 model year was the last for the Shadow Sabre.
The Honda Shadow 1100 was medium-sized cruiser for riders who wanted a bit more heft and road comfort for long distance traveling, but was smaller than touring bikes that were difficult to handle in the city. The bike generally came in black, Pearl Dark Red, Metallic Dark Gray and Candy Dark Red, depending on the model-year. Late 1990 models were offered in Pearl Ivory Cream, Pearl Glacier White, Pearl Hot Rod Yellow with black trim and American Red with Pearl Glacier White, among other color schemes. Mechanically, the motorcycle generally remained unchanged over the years; however, its styling did gradually evolve. Oil and cooling lines in the later 1990 models, for example, were relocated to improve the bike’s profile. However, it maintained a utilitarian handlebar-mounted speedometer, perhaps as a gesture to its roots.
Dimensions and Chassis
The seat of the 2000 VT1100 C3 Shadow 1100 stood 28.5 inches off the ground. The front forks were angled at 32.4 degrees, with the fork travel allowing 4.7 inches. The rear trail was 6.3 inches. The wheelbase measured 64.6 inches. The Shadow carried 4.2 gallons of fuel in the tank with just a tad over a half-gallon in reserve. The 2000 Shadow Sabre’s front and rear brakes were single discs measuring 12.44 inches in diameter for the front brakes and 10.86 inches in diameter for the rear. Tire size was 120/90 x 18 inches. The suspension featured spring-loaded rear dual shock absorbers adjustable in five positions. The shocks had a maximum travel of 3.9 inches. The 2000 Honda VT1100 C3 Shadow’s dry weight was about 615 lbs. The 2000 Shadow Sabre that replaced it was considerably lighter at 573 lbs.
Drivetrain and Performance
The engine of the Honda VT1100 C3 Shadow model was a 1,099 cc water-cooled, 45-degree V-twin with an 8.0-to-1 compression ratio. Its bore measured 3.44 inches, and the stroke 3.59 inches. The engine, equipped with twin carburetors, generated 58 horsepower and 70 foot-pounds of torque. By contrast, the lighter 2000 Shadow Sabre made 64 horsepower and 72 foot-pounds of torque. Power went aft on the 2000 Shadow through a five-speed transmission; early versions were equipped with a four-speed transmission.
The 1998 Shadow Aero 1100 could achieve an average 35 MPG with a range of 147 miles on a full tank of gas. It ran the quarter-mile in 15.13 seconds at 85.7 mph, holding a steady 3,310 RPM in top gear at 60 MPH. The lighter Shadow Sabre 1100 trounced the older VT model in acceleration, hitting 60 mph in about 6 seconds flat, and thundering through the quarter-mile in 14.26 seconds at 88 mph.
Rob Wagner is a journalist with over 35 years experience reporting and editing for newspapers and magazines. His experience ranges from legal affairs reporting to covering the Middle East. He served stints as a newspaper and magazine editor in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Wagner attended California State University, Los Angeles, and has a degree in journalism.