The Honda Shadow has been a staple in the Japanese manufacturer’s line-up of motorcycles since 1983, but it wasn’t until 1984 that the Shadow was sold in the United States. Initial models were 500 cc and 750 cc, but the 750 cc engine was reduced to 699 cc so it could be imported into this country. When tariff restrictions on Japanese motorcycles of 750 cc or more were dropped in 1985, Honda began importing Shadows with more powerful engines. Following Honda’s practice, not too many changes were made to the Shadow bikes over the years, with Honda sometimes skipping a model year, and re-introducing a bike that had been thoroughly revised. Honda produced five models of the Shadow in 2004: Shadow Sabre, Shadow Spirit, Shadow Aero, Shadow VLX, and Shadow VLX Deluxe. The Spirit, with a 1099 cc motor, is considered the most popular model; Honda introduced the Spirit 1100 in 2001. In 2009, Motorcyclist Online magazine ranked the 1995 Honda Shadow No. 43 in its list of the 50 best used bikes to buy, commenting the engine is ""asthmatic but runs forever.""
The Honda Shadow is a mid-range classic cruiser. It looks sufficiently like a Harley-Davidson, the DynaGlide in particular, to appease riders who want, but can’t afford, a Harley. While the Shadow can hold its own on the road with Harleys at speeds of more than 100 mph, its muffler system is not as loud as a Harley nor does the Shadow vibrate as much. The smaller Shadows make good entry-level motorcycles, while the Shadow Spirit, also known as VT1100C, is deemed a good motorcycle for a rider getting back into the sport. Owners say the Shadow is reliable as long as basic maintenance is performed in a timely manner. In 2004, the Shadow Spirit was available in black or pearl blue.