With the notable exception of the now-discontinued Rune, no one will ever accuse Honda’s cruisers of having an excess of personality. Particularly, in the mid-size cruiser range where the Shadow Spirit 750 plies its trade, Honda produces machines of almost mind-numbing efficiency. The new C2 edition of the Shadow Spirit—which is in the process of replacing the DC—is striking, in that it takes the rebellious custom cruiser concept, then demystifies and sanitizes it until the resulting bike is as innocuous (and inviting) as the original Super Cub 50. As we all know, you meet the nicest people on a Honda.
And, all those nice people, especially those who are just acquainting themselves with the sport, need a bike to ride that is free of personality—personality being defined as quirks that you simultaneously appreciate and endure. This isn’t to say that Honda isn’t trying with the Shadow Spirit. The designers went with what they describe as a “next-generation hot-rod cruiser” styling package that seems more lukewarm than scalding. Changes are most apparent at the extremities. The 21-inch spoked front wheel is something new for Honda cruisers, and the quasi-bobbed back fender and minimalized taillight restates the rear end. Still, the C2 is hardly a head-turner. It’s a Shadow, after all, not a bright, bold statement, even with the Red/Flame paint treatment.
Riding the bike is an equally homogenized experience. Honda refuses to cut corners on handling and suspension, so the rough edges that we associate with customs have been carefully removed. The liquid-cooled 745cc SOHC, single-crankpin, V-twin dispenses vibration in carefully modulated dollops, and sends the power to the 160mm rear tire via a shaft drive. The drive chain has been banished this year, making an already anvil-reliable machine even more unfailing.
Ergonomics are typical of Honda—relentlessly perfect. The bar/seat/peg relationship is flawless (no extremes allowed here in the name of style), as are the foot and hand controls. The motor refuses to do anything unexpected, while retaining the power needed to cruise at extra-legal speeds on the Interstate. At the other end, nothing touches down prematurely when the local twisties are sampled with a touch of confrontation. For experienced riders, the bike does nothing to excite, but it remains a pleasant motorcycle to ride.
Helmet: Bell Apex Yakuza
Jacket: Cortech DSX Denim
Gloves: Icon Pursuit
Pants: Shift Denim Kevlar
Boots: Red Wing 968