Blog: Goodbye Shadow

My 2004 Honda Shadow admires its own shadow along the Blue Ridge Parkway.
My 2004 Honda Shadow admires its own shadow along the Blue Ridge Parkway.

The other day I said goodbye to a friend of mine. It had been a little while coming. I went out to the garage and negotiated the obstacle course around the 1987 BMW K100LT that needs a new battery, the 1975 Honda CB750 that needs a tune up, the Honda Spree scooter that’s in pieces at the moment, the 2004 Honda Shadow which has been my main ride for the past eight years, and my new ride, the 2013 Honda Interstate which is in desperate need of a bath. Hidden back there somewhere was the lawn mower. It was time to knock the grass down so the neighbors won’t call someone to bale hay in my backyard.

My 1987 BMW K100LT and I have a complicated love/hate relationship.
My 1987 BMW K100LT and I have a complicated love/hate relationship.

My trip around the motorcycles to get to the mower convinced me that it was time to sell one of my bikes. Like most guys, I’m reluctant to get rid of anything that still works well and occupies a soft spot in my heart, such as a favorite, faded pair of blue jeans or a well-ventilated T-shirt from a long-ago motorcycle race or rally.

It was almost time to renew the registration, so I figured if I thinned the herd by one bike I could save a little cash and maybe buy a trailer or that scooter my wife has had her eyes on. After mowing the grass, I started thinking about which bike would get listed on the Internet. The BMW K100LT holds a strange allure with me, one of those complicated love/hate relationships that seem to go on forever. Can’t sell that one. My transformation of the Honda CB750 into a café racer is just a few details away from being done, and it has just 12,000 original miles on it. Can’t sell that one either. The Honda Spree is too much of a basket case to bring in enough money to buy trailer tires, much less the trailer itself. Pretty much stuck with that one.

The Honda CB750 cafe racer project is almost complete. Almost.
The Honda CB750 cafe racer project is almost complete. Almost.

No way was I going to put the new bike up for sale, so it came down to the Honda Shadow. I bought that bike new and put nearly every one of the 57,000 miles on the odometer. The Shadow and I have been up and down both coasts. It has moved with me from Tifton, Georgia, to Olympia, Washington, back to Georgia, and now here in Raleigh, North Carolina. I’ve done so many rides on the Shadow—trips to Ohio to visit family, annual weeklong trips with my buddy Bob, weekend rides to clear my head—that I’ve lost count. We’ve scraped floorboards on the Tail of the Dragon, cruised lazily up and down the Blue Ridge Parkway, and wound our way along the Pacific Coast from Northern California to Washington.

The Shadow has never let me down. I rode it almost 100 miles with a bald spot on the rear tire when I miscalculated how much tread I had left before taking off on a 2,000-mile trip with Bob. I ran out of gas twice, and I haven’t forgotten to flip the petcock back from Reserve since. Rain storms, crazy wind, even a little snow on a couple occasions.

My 2013 Honda Interstate has overshadowed my Honda Shadow.
My 2013 Honda Interstate has overshadowed my Honda Shadow.

Why would I sell a bike that has been such a reliable workhorse? As well as the Shadow has held up to the miles and as good as it still looks after a thorough detailing, it isn’t perfect. It has spoked wheels, which look great but I hate cleaning all those spokes and I prefer tubeless tires, which offer easier flat fixes out on the road. The 750cc V-twin is very dependable, but on more than a few occasions I’ve wished for more horsepower. It doesn’t have saddlebags. I bought a large set of bags but they didn’t fit, so I’ve got a smaller bags on the bike now. But they don’t hold enough for a 4- or 5-day trip.

Within a week of listing the Shadow on the Internet I received a serious offer from a new rider who lives about 50 miles away. I agreed to deliver the bike if he’d pay in cash, so on a rainy Saturday morning I loaded the bike in the back of my truck and headed out with my wife riding shotgun. I unloaded the bike and watched as the new owner looked it over, and then sat on the seat while gripping the handlebar for the first time like I did so many years ago. He couldn’t stop smiling. I signed over the title, the new owner handed over the cash and we shook hands to seal the deal.

As I was pulling away, my wife said, “I hope he takes care of that bike. I didn’t see a garage, and it’s too nice to leave sitting out.”

“It’ll be fine,” I replied as I caught a glimpse of the new owner wiping the last few raindrops from the Shadow’s tank. I turned the corner and lost sight of the bike, but like most bikes I’ve owned, I won’t soon forget my Shadow.


  1. I just turned 75,000 miles on my 98 Shadow Aero. Dependable. The only mechanical work I’ve needed to do is to replace an O ring in the cooling line. I love that bike. I look occasionally, and get a lot of grief from the Harley fanatics I ride with. I tell them that when they’re Harley turns 75,000 and they haven’t had to do anything but put gas in it, then we’ll talk. I’m gonna miss this old friend when she goes. Thanks for this article.

    • Thanks,
      I don’t know why but I don’t get a lot of grief from the Harley guys anymore,
      I think they respect the dependability of those old Honda’s.
      I appreciate your comments.

  2. A warm hello to you all from across the pond here in merry olde Engalnd!
    I know exactly what you say about the Honda Shadow, and not only the Shadow but most Hondas anyway. I started my biking life somewhat late (I’m in my early 60’s!) and the first bike I purchased was a Honda Shadow 125VT, which I understand isnt available in the USA. Underpowered it may be, but I still have it and ride it now and then when I want a change from my other muse, a Yamaha Virago 535 cruiser! In the tie I have owned the Shadow, it has needed nothing doing to it mechanically, aside of normal wear and tear such as brake shoes and pads, oil, oil filter, air filter, and thats it. And no, although I have been tempted by other bikes, I will not be selling the Shadow. I dont see why I should. It still runs, and still attracts attention at the stop lights!


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