Honda VT 1100C3 Shadow Ace Tourer

(Photo Mark Salsgiver)


Make Model

Honda VT 1100C3 Shadow Ace Tourer




Four stroke, 45°V-Twin, SOHC, 3 valve per cylinder.


1099.2 cc / 67.07 cu-in
Bore x Stroke 87.5 x 91.4 mm
Compression Ratio 8.5:1
Cooling System Liquid  cooled


2x 36mm Keihin   carburetors


Starting Electric

Max Power

67 hp / 48.9 kW @ 5500 rpm

Max Torque

102 Nm @ 3000 rpm
Clutch Wet multiplate


5 Speed 
Final Drive Shaft
Frame Double cradle

Front Suspension

41mm Telescopic forks, 150mm wheel travel

Rear Suspension

Dual shocks, spring preload adjustable, 100mm wheel travel

Front Brakes

Single 336mm disc  2 piston caliper

Rear Brakes

Single 276mm disc 1 piston caliper

Front Tyre


Rear Tyre

Seat Hieght 730mm / 28.7 in

Dry Weight

265 kg / 584.2 lbs

Fuel Capacity

15.8 Litres / 4 US gal.

Exclusive Features
· The Shadow Tourer engine uses an offset-dual-pin crankshaft for added power and smooth performance for all-day rides.
· Engine smoothness is further enhanced with a rubber cushion engine-mounting system.
· Specially designed free-flowing two-into-two exhaust system featuring right and left-side mufflers and long muffler-extenders.
· Large handlebar-mounted windscreen offers excellent weather protection.
· Large-capacity, 35-liter color-matched, locking hard saddlebags offer secure, weatherproof luggage space protected by chrome bars.
· Unique cast aluminum 11-spoke wheels feature strength and light weight.
· Wide, low-profile radial tires offer good wear characteristics, handling and comfort.
· Chrome front and rear fender-lower covers provide protection and great looks.
· Wide passenger seat gives good long-distance comfort.


· The Shadow's liquid-cooled, rubber-mounted 1099cc 45º V-twin engine pumps out massive low-end and mid-range power.
· The engine's broad power delivery and five-speed transmission offer exceptional rideability around town or on the open road.
· Three-valve cylinder head design utilizes two spark plugs per cylinder for efficient combustion and high power at all rpm.
· Maintenance-free hydraulic valve-lash adjusters make routine valve adjustments a thing of the past.
· Other maintenance-free features include solid-state digital ignition and automatic cam-chain tensioners.
· Dual 36mm CV carburetors offer crisp throttle response at all rpm.
· Reliable electric starting system.
· Extensive use of chrome finishing on engine parts, including crankcase covers, clutch cover and starter cover.
· Black-finished crankcases and cylinders with buffed fin edges complement chrome finishes.


· Specially designed steel frame gives the Shadow American Classic Edition Tourer a long, low custom stance.
· Massive, 41mm extended front fork provides 150mm of plush yet responsive travel.
· Dual chromed shocks feature an advanced internal valve system for a comfortable ride.
· Large-diameter front disc brake with twin-piston caliper combined with a rear disc brake provide excellent stopping power.
· Shaft final drive system provides smooth, low-maintenance operation.
· Relaxed, comfortable riding position results from a long, low chassis and low, 28.7-inch seat height.


Additional Features
· Comfortable riding position with low, wide handlebar, broad, deep rider's seat and removable passenger seat.
· Powerful halogen headlight.
· Convenient push-to-cancel turn-signal switch.
· Comfortably padded large-diameter handgrips.
· Polished aluminum handlebar switch housings and triple-clamp assembly.
· Large, 16.8 litre gas tank offers extended range and added custom styling.
· Transferable one-year unlimited-mileage limited warranty.



No longer relegated to the boulevard, they are becoming regular fixtures on the open road. Granted, Harley-Davidson has been building touring-capable cruisers for years. And now, the Japanese manufacturers are getting in on the action. Witness Yamaha's Royal Star Tour Deluxe, Honda's Valkyrie Tourer and Kawasaki's soon-to-be-unveiled Vulcan 1500 bagger.


These are big, hairy-chested mega-cruisers, however, and they aren't for everyone. Enter Honda's early-release 1998 VT1100T Shadow American Classic Edition Tourer. A combination custom and touring machine, the Tourer caters to those who crave torquey V-Twin power, but in a smaller, more nimble


Such versatility isn't exactly cheap, though. At $11,499 our two-toned Tourer (available in solid colors for $10,999) costs as much as Honda's highly touted, 174-mph CBR1100XX, and $3200 more than Yamaha's unadorned Virago 1100 Special.


But the VT comes equipped with full cruiser-touring regalia-that is, windscreen, saddlebags and padded sissy-bar. The injection-molded plastic bags are identical to the Valkyrie Tourer's-same front-hinge design, same easy release fasteners, same 20-pound capacity-and are more than sufficient for daily commuting or weekend trips. Up front, the non-adjustable polycarbonate windscreen is small enough to see over and offers good coverage, though some taller testers complained of minor buffeting.


The VT1100T is actually the latest in a long line of Shadows. Now, this gets a little confusing, so bear with us. . The VT's family tree is multi-branched and dates back to [ the 1985 debut of the original Shadow 1100. Honda redesigned that bike in '87, and the result was a more Harley-esque appearance and increased bottom-end power. Eight years later, Honda attempted to inject even more eau de Harley into its cruiser line with the Shadow ACE, which used a single-pin-crankshaft design. This year, the ACE is unchanged, while the Shadow receives engine and cosmetic updates, including a revised riding position, and an ACE-like seat and exhaust. It also gets a name change, and is now known as the Spirit 1100.


And then there's the subject of this road test, the Tourer, which mates many ACE parts-frame, gas tank, engine covers, etc.-with the Spirit's engine.
Honda wanted to revert back to the Shadow's original horsepower and torque levels. So instead of the ACE's single-pin crank, the Tourer was given the Spirit's offset dual-pin design.


The liquid-cooled, 1099cc, 45-degree Vee-motor has three valves per cylinder-two intake, one exhaust. Rubber-mounted, it breathes through a pair of 36mm Keihin carbs, and spent exhaust gases exit through a new 2-into-1 -into-2 system.  But does it make more power?


On the CW dyno, the Tourer produced 53 horsepower at 5000 rpm and 63 foot-pounds of torque at 3000 rpm. That's a slight decrease from our 1994 test Shadow, which made nearly 59 horsepower and 69 footpounds of torque. On the other hand, that's a noticeable increase over the ACE, which made only 44 horsepower and 61 foot-pounds of torque.


Furthermore, the Tourer's five-speed gearbox was the recipient of some serious twiddling. Perhaps responding to complaints about the ACE's lack of acceleration off the line, Honda configured the Tourer with a lower first gear and a lower secondary reduction ratio. The result is plenty of bottom-end grunt, thank you very much. So much so, that the bike will accelerate cleanly from a dead stop in second gear. Engine and gearbox modifications weren't the only changes. The swingarm was reinforced, and the wire-spoke wheels were ditched in favor of heavier-duty cast-aluminum jobbies that accommodate tubeless radial tires-a Shadow first.


Finally, the suspension was recalibrated for a firmer ride. Up front, the 41mm Showa fork offers 5.9 inches of travel, and the dual chromed shocks have 3.9 inches. Only the shocks are adjustable, via easily accessible five-way preload ramps. While the ride isn't Cadillac-plush, the suspension does soak up most pavement bumps and ripples, a big improvement over earlier ACEs.


Last on Honda's Things To Tweak List was the seat. Appearance-wise, the saddle is identical to the ACE's. But denser foam was added, and the contour was altered to provide more support in general, and to the inner thigh area in particular.

So, how does it handle? Thanks to the broad, 32-inch-wide handlebar, there's plenty of steering leverage. The Tourer swings into fast bends with little effort, and handles low-speed maneuvers with aplomb. Cornering clearance, while good, particularly for a cruiser, is improved slightly by removing the %-inch footpeg feelers. All in all, the Honda gets above-average grades in the twisties.


Even so, the Tourer isn't about canyon carving, it's about tooling through the countryside in comfort. And once there, the stretched-out riding position is oh-so relaxing, no matter the speed.

What goes, of course, must stop. And the Tourer comes up aces in the braking department with its twin-piston gle-disc combos. Stopping distances, however, were slightly longer than those of past ACEs, likely a result of the increased heft brought on by the travel-oriented add-ons.  Splrlt 1100-derived engine produces more horsepower and torque than standard ACE's powerplant. Reduced vibration is another benefit.

Does the two-tone, teardrop-shaped gas tank look familiar? It should, it graced the ACE. In fact, a similar tank bedecked the original 1985-86 Shadow. Only, there was a catch:


The Shadow's version was really a holding reservoir for the main tank, located beneath the seat. The Tourer's, however, is the real deal and holds 4 gallons of fuel.

Spacious saddlebags are identical to the Valkyrie's. Industrial-strength mufflers stifle noise, not to mention 5-6 horsepower, compared to the Shadow's shotgun system.


Despite its mass, the Tourer handles downtown duty with dignity. Its low 28.5-inch seat height, agile handling and strong low- to midrange power make stoplight-to-stoplight trolling a particularly pleasant activity. Although the mechanical clutch performs well, small-handed riders had trouble reaching the lever. Since the Tourer's target audience includes women, a VFR750-like, thumb-wheel adjuster would be a helpful addition.

As content as the Tourer is romping down Main Street, it's equally happy at speed. On the freeway, it's partial to plugging along at legal speeds. It will, of course, go faster; when we pulled out the CW radar gun, the Honda ripped off a 97-mph pass. And at the dragstrip, the VT knocked off the quarter-mile in 14.10 seconds at nearly 90 mph. That may be a few tenths and several mph slower than our last test Shadow, but the Tourer fares well when compared to Harley-Davidson's similarly saddled Road King, which posted a 14.48-second quarter-mile at 89 mph, and a 94-mph top speed. (To its credit, the Tourer bests both bikes in top-gear roll-ons.)


Like its predecessors, the Tourer will be assembled in Honda's Marysville, Ohio, factory. Honda isn't willing to quote production numbers, but those figures could be high if touring cruisers turn out to be more than a passing fancy. Thus far, reactions have been positive. Whether traveling crowded city streets or parked outside a restaurant, the Tourer captured many admiring glances. And more than one passerby stopped to comment on the bike's heavily finned V-Twin, gleaming chrome and flowing curves.


The bottom line is that the Tourer and bikes like it, take what used to be short-range boulevard bombers and convert them into versatile, all-day bikes. Think of them as cruisers with a higher calling.