Honda Shadow Spirit
Honda VT 1100C Shadow Spirit
Four stroke, 45°V-Twin, OHC, 3 valves
1099 cc / 67.1 cub in.
Bore x Stroke
87.5 x 91.4 mm
3.8 L / 4 US
2 x 36 mm Keihin carbs.
Solid-state digital - two spark plugs per cylinder
67 hp / 49 kW @ 5500 rpm
91 Nm / 9.27
kgf-m / 67 lb-ft. @ 2700 rpm
41mm Telescopic forks, 150mm wheel travel
Dual shocks, spring preload adjustable, 100mm wheel
Single 316mm disc 2 piston caliper
730mm / 28.7 in.
250 kg / 553 lbs
15 Litres / 3.9 US gal
The Shadow Spirit is a cruiser taking its
styling cues from classic choppers of old. A pullback handlebar, bobbed rear
fender, cruiser footpegs and a powerful V-twin engine make this as fun to
stare at as it is to ride.
Thanks to a brawny 1099cc 45° V-twin engine,
the Shadow Spirit delivers performance to match its classic styling and
low-slung good looks.
Features & Benefits
New for 2005
New Candy Red color joins classic Black.
The Shadow(r) Spirit's offset-dual-crankpin,
smooth-running 1099cc 45° V-twin engine pumps out massive low-end and
The engine's broad power delivery and five-speed transmission offer
exceptional rideability around town and on the open road.
Three-valve cylinder head design utilizes two spark plugs per cylinder for
efficient combustion and high power output at all rpm.
High-capacity nine-plate clutch with cable operation.
Maintenance-free hydraulic valve-lash adjusters make routine valve
adjustments a thing of the past.
Other maintenance-free features include digital ignition and automatic
Dual 36mm CV carburetors offer crisp throttle response at all rpm.
Reliable electric-starter system.
Shaft final-drive system provides smooth, virtually maintenance-free
Specially designed steel frame gives the Shadow
Spirit(tm) a long, low custom stance.
Large, 41mm extended front fork provides 6.3 inches of plush yet
Dual chromed shocks feature an advanced internal valve system for a
Large-diameter front disc brake with twin-piston caliper combined with a
heavy-duty drum rear brake provide excellent stopping power.
Strong and lightweight five-spoke cast alloy wheels.
Massive, 170/80-15 rear tire offers a wide footprint and a radical custom
Relaxed, comfortable riding position results from a long, low chassis and
low, 28.7-inch seat height.
Large, 4.2-gallon fuel tank offers extended cruising
Handlebar switches and controls use internationally approved ISO graphic
Custom saddle and padded passenger backrest offer a high level of rider
and passenger comfort.
Powerful halogen headlight.
Convenient push-to-cancel turn-signal switch.
Comfortably padded large-diameter handgrips.
Polished aluminum handlebar switch housings and triple-clamp assembly.
Chromed side panels and dual staggered mufflers.
Maintenance-free YTX battery.
Transferable one-year, unlimited-mileage warranty; extended coverage
available with a Honda Protection Plan.
Ownership includes one-year complimentary membership in the Honda Rider's
Club of America(tm) (HRCA(r)). Benefits include: discounts, travel benefits,
roadside assistance, one year complimentary subscription to Honda Red
Rider(tm) magazine, access to HRCA Clubhouse Web site (www.hrca.honda.com),
access online to Honda Common Service Manual. For HRCA details, call
Touring accessories: Cruiser Shield, Magnetic Tank Bag
Chrome accessories: Backrest with Pad, Rear Carrier (two types), Radiator
Trim, Backrest Trim, Clutch Lever Bracket, Lever Bracket Holders, Horn,
Handlebar Levers, Oil Filler Cap, Front Fender Ornament.
Billet accessories: Backrest Trim, Front Tank Mount Cover, Driveshaft Bolt
Cover, Oil Filler Cap, Ignition and Clutch Cover Set, Master Cylinder Cap,
Oil Dipstick, License Plate Frame.
Additional accessories: Cycle Cover.
1100cc V-Twin Motorcycles Compared: Yamaha Virago
vs. Honda ACE, Aero and Spirit
The 1100cc V-twin motorcycles give you four ways to ride the road to happiness.
Yamaha's venerable Virago is still a favorite, but Honda now has three
challengers -- the Aero, the American Classic Editon (or ACE) and the Spirit.
There should be one for any
From the April, 2009 issue of Motorcycle Cruiser
|1100S98 Xl 1998 4 Bike Group Shot View
Photography by Fran Kuhn
It has been less than two years since we last lined up the various 1100-class
tandem V-twins against one another; but Honda has shuffled the deck in this
class twice since then. Last year it introduced the Shadow Spirit, an updated
version of the original Shadow 1100. The Spirit uses two offset crankpins to
balance the 45-degree twin's power strokes, eliminating most of the vibration.
This year Honda introduced the Aero, a variation of the best-selling Shadow
American Classic Edition (A.C.E.), which returns to the line. The A.C.E. and
Aero use a single-crankpin variation of the same basic engine design. The final
contender is Yamaha's stalwart Virago 1100. The familiar 60-degree, air-cooled
V-twin isn't too different from the first Virago introduced in 1981.
Assembling the bikes for a head-to-head comparison turned out to be time well
spent, since it provided some surprises. Ride any one of them around by itself
and it seems not too different from the others. But run them side-by-side, or
jump off one and onto another, and some pretty substantial differences emerge.
Engine & Performance
1998 Honda Ace Side Left View
Honda 1100 A.C.E.: Price...
read full caption
1998 Honda Ace Side Left View
Honda 1100 A.C.E.: Price - $9199-9599; displacement - 1099cc; wet weight - 622
lb;seat height - 28.7 in.; wheelbase - 65.0 in.; fuel capacity - 4.2 gal.; fuel
mileage: 38.3 mpg; quarter-mile acceleration - 14.92 sec., 86.2 mph.
This is the area with the biggest surprises when the four bikes are directly
compared. Ride each one alone, and the A.C.E. might seem a little slower when
passing a truck on a hill. But put the bikes side-by-side on the same hill, in
top gear with open throttles and the Virago bolts away from the others. The Aero
pulls away ever-so-slightly from the Spirit (another surprise) and the A.C.E.
lags behind. The order is the same when you start in first and work through the
gears, except the Spirit pulls ahead of the Aero. The Virago makes its
acceleration edge with gearing and rpm. It revs much higher than the 5000 power
peak of the Aero and A.C.E., and is geared lower too. However, its two-valve
engine also makes good power down below 2000 rpm.
On California "winter" mornings, all four would come to life without using the
handlebar-mounted choke controls; though the A.C.E. took the longest to warm
completely and felt just a little lean at lower throttle openings than the
others. Fuel mileage ranged from the Spirit's 42.5-mpg average to the 35.1-mpg
average of the Aero. The Virago averaged 40 mpg and the A.C.E., 36.6.
Though some riders experienced shifting problems with one bike or another, no
one motorcycle consistently missed shifts for everyone. Some shift-lever
adjustment would doubtlessly remedy the problems for those who had them. No one
noted complaints about ratio staging, neutral finding or lash, either. The Honda
clutches were very slightly preferred to the Virago's, though the Virago was
still very good.
1998 Honda Spirit Side Right View
Honda 1100 Spirit: Price...
read full caption
1998 Honda Spirit Side Right View
Honda 1100 Spirit: Price - $8599-8899; displacement - 1099cc; wet weight - 592
lb; seat height - 28.5 in.; wheelbase - 65.0 in.; fuel capacity - 4.2 gal.; fuel
mileage: 42.5 mpg; quarter-mile acceleration - 13.86 sec., 94.1 mph.
Each bike has its own unique ergonomic arrangement. The Spirit is classic
American cruiser with a buckhorn bar and feet forward positioning. The A.C.E.
moderates that with a lower bar and a more forward saddle. The Aero has the only
floorboards and a turned-back bar. The Virago has its own odd handlebar shape --
which looks funky but fits most riders well -- and puts the footpegs more
rearward than the others. Although different body types rated different bikes
tops in this area, the Virago was most frequently picked as the most
comfortable. One rider picked the A.C.E. The Aero bent some riders the wrong
way, prompting mild criticism of the floorboard arrangement and handlebar.
We think the best saddle in the class belongs to the standard model Virago. The
button-tuck design on the Special model we rode is thinner and has more pressure
points than the plain standard-model saddle. The seat on the Virago Special
finishes just behind the other three seats in this group. Smaller riders
generally got along better with all of the saddles than the bigger riders;
though the Aero ended up with slightly higher marks overall than the A.C.E. and
Spirit, which tied for second.
Though the A.C.E. and Aero vibrate more than the others, nobody complained.
Suspension compliance varied from the soft rates of the Virago to the firm
settings of the A.C.E., which most felt had the poorest ride compliance. The
other three were rated favorably. Adding a passenger might overload the Spirit
and Virago more than the others.
1998 Honda Aero Side Left View
Honda Aero 1100: Price -...
read full caption
1998 Honda Aero Side Left View
Honda Aero 1100: Price - 9699; displacement - 1099cc; wet weight - 666 lb; seat
height - 28.5 in.; wheelbase - 66.1 in.; fuel capacity - 4.2 gal.; fuel mileage
- 35.1 mpg; quarter-mile acceleration - 14.73 sec., 87.5 mph.
None of these four machines become awkWard in any particular mode, though the
Aero's bar ends can hit your legs in tight turns. The Aero also has the most
controlled suspension and is the most stable. Though you don't have to muscle
it, it does require more forceful steering inputs than the others. Some testers
felt the handlebar shape was a bit awkWard while riding through the mountains.
The A.C.E. is almost as stable, but turns more easily. No one complained about
its handlebar. Its suspension may be the best compromise of comfort and control
here. It received high marks for precision, suspension and steering ease.
The Virago has the softest suspension settings, which means it bounds around
slightly in corners. It also suffers from the most shaft effect. Shutting the
throttle in a turn made it drop more than the others. The Yamaha has the
quickest, most responsive steering, which made points in twisty sections.
Though a little tauter than the Virago, the Spirit's suspension is not as well
controlled as the other two Hondas. The combination of a high and wide
handlebar, semi-soft suspension, and semi-slow steering response, left all
riders lukewarm about the Spirit's handling manners. No one liked it as much as
the other three, and though the order above it differed, the Spirit was
universally last. However, no one felt it handled badly, either -- they just
preferred the others.
All four are handy and easy to balance at low speeds, withstand side winds well,
and offer reasonable cornering clearance.
All three Hondas offer excellent feel and good power from their similar,
single-disc front brakes; thanks to the twin-piston caliper design. The Virago
gets even greater power from two discs up front, with good control from the
double-action calipers. The rear brakes (drums on the Spirit and Virago, discs
on the A bikes) on all four performed well, too.
Styling & Finish
1998 Yamaha Virago Side Right View
Yamaha Virago 1100: Price...
read full caption
1998 Yamaha Virago Side Right View
Yamaha Virago 1100: Price - $7599-7799; displacement - 1063cc; wet weight - 536
lb; seat height - 28.1 in.; wheelbase - 60.0 in.; fuel capacity - 4.4 gal.; fuel
mileage - 40.0 mpg; quarter-mile acceleration - 12.72 sec., 95.7 mph.
In terms of appearance, these bikes were generally ranked in alphabetical order:
Aero, American Classic, Spirit, Virago. The retro styling of the new Honda,
particularly in the orange/cream paint scheme we rode, received almost universal
approval. The A.C.E. was close. Most people like the Spirit better than the
"1970s post-industrial" look of the Virago. The Special version of the Virago we
tested has more chrome than the standard model; but some of it seems excessive
or, as on the unpolished rear drive housing, wasted. The paint quality got high
marks all around. The Spirit was a 1997-spec machine, which differs graphically
from the '98 model but is otherwise the same.
Since it was designed in an age when motorcycle makers were competing to see who
could include the most features, the Virago is loaded. It includes a centerstand,
tachometer, self-canceling signals, a reserve fuel switch on the handlebar, and
dual horns, which actually provide enough volume to be heard. The Yamaha's fork
lock is integrated into the ignition atop the fork; which is convenient for both
the owner and the thief, who only has to subvert one lock to steal the bike. The
Hondas use separate fork locks (operated by the ignition key) and locate the
ignition locks behind the engine on the left. The Hondas have self-adjusting
hydraulic valve trains. The Spirit comes with saddlebag guards, though they are
available for the rest. The A.C.E. currently has the most customizing options,
but we expect the Aero to catch up quickly. The Virago, however, lags in this
Once you determine your priorities, picking a tandem 1100cc V-twin gets easier.
There are two areas where there are major differences: looks and performance.
The Virago is significantly faster than the others and, to most eyes, the
homeliest. If the styling doesn't grate on you and the looks of the Aero or
A.C.E. don't raise your pulse rate, the Virago's functional advantage -- and
low, low price -- make it an easy choice. If styling is a prime consideration,
the Aero or A.C.E. probably top your list. The added flair and power of the Aero
easily justify its price. If you want cleaner styling than the Virago offers,
but still want the smoothness of the offset crankshaft, the Spirit might be your
Shadow -- though we'd recommend riding an Aero before you dismiss it as too
buzzy. This class offers no dominant player, just a series of attractive
choices; none of which have any glaring functional flaws. No matter which one
you choose, you'll find someone on our staff who agrees with your choice.
1100S98 Lg 1998 4 Bike Group Shot Front View
Jamie Elvidge: If I could morph the Virago's engine with the Aero's look and the
A.C.E.'s ergonomics, I might get a perfect 1100 V-twin. The Virago tops my list
in the performance category. It's quick and easily controlled, even with its
spongy suspension. I like to get some bang for my buck, so the price here is
definitely right too. Yamaha's time-honored twin could take the whole cake, I
believe, with a trip to the restyle shop. The Aero, although undeniably
attractive with a ready-to-pounce profile, is a little too long and low for my
taste. I felt like I needed glasses to read the speedo and my lower back didn't
appreciate my hands and feet being anchored so far forward. The A.C.E. gave me
the best fit. It may lack power, but the comfort combined with taut suspension
(something I prefer), bearable vibration, and above-average looks make it my
pick for a long haul.
Evans Brasfield: Leave it to Honda to introduce the Aero and eviscerate the
competition, even if two-thirds of those competitors are also from Honda. The
A.C.E. had the looks department locked up until the Aero appeared with its cool
headlight/instrument cluster, which cleaned up the handlebar lines and set the
tone for the whole long look of the bike. What about the fishtail pipe? In this
case, size definitely matters, and the Aero's exhaust note clinches the
Usually, I lean toward function over aesthetics in a bike, but this time I
didn't have to compromise too much. Although the Virago has the power, the
Yamaha has a face only a mother could love. Yeah, I know it's got a great
personality, and with a few suspension mods, it would run away from the Aero.
Still, the Aero is the machine I'd rather escort to Cruiser Night at the local
watering hole. Call me shallow, but good looks are important. Having the
second-best performance only sweetens the prize.
Honda, with its relentless improvements, has a firm grip on the 1100 class --
for now. A Star-ized Virago 1100 would really shake things up.
Brasfield, Motorcycle Cruiser's former associate editor, can be reached through
his website: Evans Brasfield.
Art Friedman: As Evans requested, I'll call him shallow. A pretty face has
turned his head. Sure the Aero is a striking companion for a dalliance at the
drive-in; but for a lasting relationship, the comfort, performance, and handling
of the Virago win me over.
I wouldn't kick the Aero out of bed -- er, the garage -- for eating crackers,
however. It is beautiful, and I enjoy it when trolling around town. It should
also put to rest that tiresome saw about Japanese cruiser styling being an
imitation. This motorcycle sets new standards for flawlessly executed retro
looks. Though the flat floorboards, turned-back handlebar and bucket saddle are
just fine when motoring down Main Street, it gets old after a 100 miles or so.
The Virago continues to be a pleasure when no one else is looking. It's more
confident on a challenging road or in heavy traffic. It's more comfortable,
particularly on a long ride. And like the old song says, "She's ugly, but she
sure can cook." The Aero's performance gains leave the A.C.E. in its dust. The
A.C.E. is a pretty but uninspired ride. The Spirit falls behind as well, though
it remains a pleasant-enough machine.
I agree that Yamaha owes it to cruiser enthusiasts everywhere (and to itself) to
give the Virago 1100 the Star treatment. Don't change the engine performance one
iota, or mess with that wonderful chassis too much. Just give her some clothes
that she can flaunt on Saturday night. -- E-mail Friedman at ArtoftheMotorcycle@hotmail.com.
Richard Cicchino: You won't be disappointed if you buy any one of these
motorcycles. Spending two days on the road with these four machines was an
The Aero has eye-catching good looks and the most power of the Hondas. It has
neat features like the speedo and the exhaust note, but the floorboard position
makes long rides a bit uncomfortable.
The A.C.E. has classic styling and was the most maneuverable, but it lacks the
power of the Aero. (Don't believe Honda's claim of a five-horsepower difference;
it feels like 10 or 15.) The Spirit rounds out Honda's line nicely, with great
Honda quality and a proven track record.
Then there is Yamaha's Virago, a bike that has been around forever for good
reason. With proven reliability, great power, wonderful handling and comfy
ergonomics, it was also the cheapest of the bunch. If I were buying one of these
1100 V-twins, it would be the Virago. With the extra cash, I'd buy some neat
goodies for the bike and myself.
Cicchino is a veteran rider and a California Motorcycle Safety Program
Kevin Smith: I have two favorites in this group, depending on how we define our
terms. Honda's lovely new Aero sweeps the beauty pageant, no question. The
period motif is handled deftly, with deeper fenders that still look graceful and
well-balanced. The detailing is clean, and the finish work is impeccable. I
especially like how the motorcycle seems to drop down out of the way of your
view in front. Snuggling the speedo into the headlamp shell feels much less
intrusive than propping it up in my face, as the other Shadows do.
But the Aero isn't my first choice when it's time to ride, especially if the
route has a curve or two along the way. Then, Yamaha's venerable Virago easily
seduces me with its narrow, close-coupled feel, and class-crushing horsepower.
In this company, it is far and away the sportiest, fastest, most responsive
player. That may not rate high on everyone's priority list. But I'm not prepared
to give up the inherent benefits of speed and maneuverability a motorcycle
offers in traffic, nor the unbridled delight of swinging through corners with
some enthusiasm, just to make a styling statement. (But one look at the gaudy,
overdone splashing of chrome geegaws all over the Virago would tell you that.)
The high but narrow handlebar gives fine control into and out of corners,
throttle response is lively, and the Yamaha does pretty much whatever you ask of
it -- just like a modern motorcycle should. That's what catches my eye.