Some people buy cruisers to make a statement, and others buy them because they’re a comfortable way to get around town in style. While the 2015 Honda Shadow Aero is nowhere near a statement bike, it’s a fine motorcycle – a good-looking machine for getting from Point A to Point B in urban and suburban locales.No one can question the reliability and simplicity of the Honda Shadow motor. The liquid-cooled 52-degree V-twin requires virtually no maintenance and should run for decades without complaint. Add in the shaft drive and all you’re likely to need to do for the Shadow is change the fluids now and then, and maybe drop in fresh filters for the air and oil.
Shifting is impeccable on the Shadow Aero, and the five-speed transmission is fine in conjunction with the wide powerband. There’s enough power for freeway excursions, and the docile mill makes all-day cruising on the streets or highways effortless.
The ergonomics fit the styling – classic cruiser. The Honda Shadow Aero has wide, pullback bars that nicely match the forward foot controls and sub-26-inch seat. The seat looks welcoming, but it gets uncomfortable after about an hour or so. In reality, most Aero riders won’t ride that long without taking a break, so it should suit the average owner. Companies such as Mustang and Saddlemen offer stylish options should you feel the need for a seat upgrade.Honda limited the suspension travel to keep the seat low, so there’s 4.6 inches in the front and 3.5 inches in the rear. The dual shocks take up most hits on city streets nicely, with the high-profile Dunlop tires aiding in comfort. The 120 front and 160 rear have nice footprints, giving you a stable ride in town.Despite the very relaxed 34 degrees of rake and 64.6-inch wheelbase, the Shadow Aero is reasonable agile in traffic. Credit the relatively light wet weight of 560 pounds and low seat height. The good suspension action and beefy-enough 41mm forks all help things along.If you’re a city guy, you will find nothing to complain about the Honda Shadow Aero, except perhaps the cheap (but light) plastic fenders. Honda loves its plastic fenders on its cruisers, but we’d like to see real steel on a bike with classic styling like the Aero.County riders who take to the twisties will find the Honda Shadow Aero strangely unsatisfying. Usually, Hondas have superb handling, regardless of the model, but the Aero is an exception.If you push the Aero into a corner at anything other than the most casual speed, be prepared for an unsettlingly vague feeling. At first, I thought the front tire was going flat, it was that wishy-washy. Well, the air pressure was fine.The wide bars being to flimsy, and the handlebar clamp being rubber mounted to the triple clamp, undo the Aero’s cornering manners. There is simply too much flex between your hands and the triple clamps for any kind of secure feeling. The only solution is to slow way down and cruise through corners as smoothly as possible.Rough roads don’t bother the Honda Shadow Aero’s suspension, and the fattish Dunlop tires that work well in the city also perform great in the canyons. You can easily lean the Aero over until your heels drag (something that doesn’t happen too soon) without any sort of rubber-induced drama.The single front disc and rear drum might seem inadequate, but they work fine at the speeds the Aero is happy attaining. ABS is available as an option for $300. If you ride in the dry, it’s not really necessary as both ends have great feel, but we’d get it anyway at that price.A motorcycle as mature, affordable, and capable as the 2015 Honda Shadow Aero is a pleasure to ride. You do have to accept its limitations in performance, styling, and handling, but if you live within those parameters, you get quite a bit of motorcycle for $7499.Photography by Kelly CallanRiding Style
This week we ride two genre-departing motorcycles from the established American manufacturers. Jess McKinley gives us his thoughts on the all new Harley-Davidson Pan America Special, and Ron Lieback gives his on Indian’s latest version of the FTR 1200 S.