Honda Shadow Phantom: Beginner Bike Profile + Owner Reviews

2020 Honda Shadow Phantom - Hero

A True Japanese Classic

Shaking in their biker boots! That’s what the Honda Shadow caused in a certain head office in Milwaukee back in 1983. The fear was such that by 1984 the US government introduced tariff restrictions on imported Japanese bikes over 701 cc. Clearly, it would take more than that to stop this legend in the making.

The Honda Shadow in all its various forms during the last 38 years, has proven that a 750cc V-Twin cruiser really is an amazing ride. Over a 10 year run, the Honda Shadow Phantom brings the joy of back-to-basics riding within reach of new and experienced riders. With a torquey 745cc V-twin engine, and a clean uncluttered look accented by an extensive blackout treatment the Shadow Phantom is worthy of consideration for the cruiser crowd wanting to stick to a sensible budget.

Our Take: Why You Should Buy A Shadow Phantom

2010 Honda Shadow Phantom - Cornering - black

V-Twin cruisers are massively popular in North America, but why are some just so much more popular than others? Here are the basics of the secret sauce, you have to look damn good, you have to come with some power, and you need…… that sound.

Honda ticks each of those boxes with the Shadow Phantom plus, it is far lighter than its American peers, the 745cc engine is renowned for its reliability, and the bike is smooth. Buttery smooth power delivery, silky smooth gear changes, and from heels to hands hardly a negative vibration is felt.

The Shadow Phantom is longer and lower than many realize when they first approach one, but the low saddle and always good ergonomics from Honda give riders natural confidence to push the bike off its stand. A Phantom is all about keeping things simple, hence the clean lines that really look great with the black finishes. The fat tire look definitely creates a substantialness to the whole esthetic, but once rolling riders find the easy-handling traits Hondas are known for.

Traditional elements are retained on the Phantom. The classic fuel tank carries the simple gauge cluster showing only the speed and mileage. The front fork has a 34° rake and leads to a classic wire-spoke wheel and a single 296mm disc with a twin-piston caliper. At the rear, classic dual outboard shocks control the shaft-driven rear wheel, which is stopped with a traditional drum brake.

Honda has years of refinement into this package and that should matter to a new rider. The low seat height of 25.8 inches allows confident foot planting to the ground. The 745cc liquid-cooled V-Twin is practically unbreakable and churns out 48 lb-ft of torque to push the 549 lb machine with ease. Power to handle long road trips, 2-up riding, anything you want to throw at it, the Phantom takes in stride and all without a single element of intimidation just sweet sounds from the exhaust.

Bottom line: To be a legend in the Cruiser bike world doesn’t require 100 plus cubic inches, and 800 plus pounds of chrome. 38 years of 750cc V-Twins out of Japan, have made this beyond clear. Honda stereotypes exist because of bikes like the Shadow Phantom. It has the right look from every angle and backs it up with power, comfort, handling, and reliability. That is how you walk the walk and talk the talk. It is very hard to find fault with recommending a Shadow Phantom to new riders.

Reasons to buy the Shadow Phantom:

  • V-Twin power
  • Smooth shaft drive that is darn near maintenance-free
  • The low seat height inspires confidence
  • Great exhaust note with more rumble than expected
  • The styling is on point
  • The fat tires and blacked-out design looks great
  • Affordable and holds its value well

Reasons not to buy the Shadow Phantom:

  • If you are wanting any tech features you won’t find them here
  • I know it’s a classic feature to have a drum brake…but really?
  • Where’s the ABS? It is finally optional in 2018

Production Run & Notable Model-Year Changes

Production Run & Model Generations

Introduced in 2017 the Rebel is a clean, modern, Bobber-style bike.

First Generation – Shadow Phantom (2010-2020)

2016 Honda Shadow Phantom - Gray - Side profile

  • Clean lines and cool looks influenced by “bobber” styling
  • 745cc liquid-cooled 52º V-twin.
  • Extensive blackout treatment

Owner Reviews of the Honda Shadow Phantom

2010 Honda Shadow Phantom - Beauty shot

Press & Magazines

Road test: 2010 Honda Shadow Phantom, RS

“What really is authentic, however, is that the Phantom is the best of Honda’s Shadows to ride. Perhaps it’s the 120/90-17 front tire that adds a little gravitas to its handling or the new fuel injection that adds to its throttle response, but the Phantom performs beyond its smallish 745 cubic centimeters. The 52-degree V-twin should have little trouble keeping up with some of the competitors’ 800-cc and 900-cc competition.” – David Booth – April 9, 2010

Here’s What Makes The Honda Shadow Phantom A Good Beginner Bike

“It is quite rare for people to go for a cruiser as their learner motorcycle, but Honda has given an eased-out approach that makes it even more soothing to just jump on one and worry about nothing. In fact, the Honda Shadow Phantom has been made popular, even by new lady-riders across the globe, thus showcasing its beginner-friendly characteristics.” – Tijo Tenson – January 2021

2019 Harley Sportster Superlow vs. 2019 Honda Shadow Phantom

“Although it has a long wheelbase and an extremely relaxed rake, in addition to decidedly non-sporting ergonomics, the Honda Shadow Phantom does better in the corners than you might expect. As it’s low to the ground, it doesn’t demand much to initiate a turn, and the 15-/17-inch wheel combo helps turn-in.”

Ultimate Motorcycling – Don Williams -June 7, 2019

What Owners Like

  • The looks – Classic blacked out cruiser
  • Riding comfort – Honda ergonomics seem to suit a wide variety of bodies
  • The power – hard to beat V-Twin torque
  • Fuel efficiency owners report up to 56 mpg with easy cruising
  • The Sound – the exhaust note carries a surprising rumble

What Owners Complain About

  • The rear drum brake is weak
  • Not many color choices
  • So smooth and capable it’s almost boring

The Bottom Line

It is a Honda, with that comes a set of expectations and the Shadow Phantom lives up to them all. It is a great-looking bike, but it doesn’t shout look at me. It has the power to match the looks and delivers it with typical Honda smoothness and reliability.

When compared to the competition, the Shadow Phantom will always be near the front of the pack. Doesn’t matter if you are talking performance, looks, sound, or comfort the Honda Shadow Phantom will run with the best of them and do so at a lower price and more reliably.

For 38 years Honda has been putting new riders onto its 750cc cruisers, that is the sort of sales record that shows they have this figured out.  It is no secret there are many choices when shopping for a cruiser bike under $9000, I found plenty of clean low mileage used Phantoms around $5000. When measuring smiles per dollar, it is awfully hard to go wrong with the Phantom.

2010 Honda Shadow Phantom - Front angle - black

Honda Shadow Phantom Competitors

If you’re looking at a Shadow Phantom, you may also want to check out:

Honda Shadow Phantom Specifications

The important specs are listed below. See the Wikipedia page for more detailed specifications.

Engine 745cc Liquid-cooled, SOHC V-twin; 3 valves/cyl.
Top speed Est. 160 km/h (100 mph)
Power 44.9 HP (33.5 Kw) @ 5,500 RPM
Torque 47.9 ft/lb (65 Nm) @ 3,500 RPM
Transmission 5-speed

F: 41mm telescopic fork; 4.6-in. travel

R: Dual shocks Preload adjustable; 3.5-in. travel


F: 296mm Single disc

R: Drum

Optional ABS after 2018

Tires F: 120/90-17, R: 160/80-15

L: 2395 mm (94.3 inches)

W: 825.5 mm (32.5 inches)

H: 1090 mm (42.9 inches)

Seat height 655 mm (25.8 inches)
Weight Wet: 249kg (549 lb)
Fuel capacity 14 liters (3.7 gal gallons)
Fuel consumption 56 mpg (4.2 L/100 km)

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