Is Honda’s 2024 Shadow Phantom cruiser a new Harley-Davidson Sportster? That is the question posed by Vice President and Editorial Director Mark Hoyer during our official preproduction video meeting. Honda has a history of building upon the Sportster legacy as outlined during the Is Honda’s 2021 Rebel 1100 DCT Cruiser a Modern Sportster? and 2021 Honda Rebel 1100 MC Commute Review articles and videos. And now that The Motor Company has exited this segment (its entry-level bike is the 2023 Nightster), if you’re seeking a full-sized V-twin cruiser that’s less than 10 grand, your options are limited for a new motorcycle.
The Shadow Phantom is positioned as a middleweight bobber-style cruiser from Honda Motor Japan. It’s $8,399 and is powered by a 745cc liquid-cooled 52-degree V-twin that sounds awesome. It’s hard to believe but, American Honda has been importing these Shadow cruisers into America since 1983. This marks the 41st year of Shadow! The Shadow Phantom fits into the V-twin cruiser world in a segment ignored by its rivals: affordability, as it’s the least expensive full-size cruiser in the entry-level segment (Harley-Davidson and Indian Motorcycle’s entry-level cruisers are both more than 10 grand).
For its price, retailing at $8,399, plus another $300 if you desire ABS, you get a lot of bike for your money. This 745cc engine features three-valve cylinder heads, two intake valves, one exhaust, powered by overhead cam. It’s good for right around 40 hp at the 15-inch rear wheel. It also makes just around 40 lb.-ft. torque. You’d be surprised how much get-up-and-go it has at lower speeds. You’re certainly not going to win any drag races in terms of top speed, but around town this thing gets up to 50–60 mph quickly.
A five-speed transmission puts power back to the tire. It has a nice clean shaft final drive. If you are not familiar with shaft final drive, it’s nice because it makes for a clean appearance. There’s no adjustment necessary and no messy chain lube to dirty the rear of the bike. It also boosts maintenance intervals; you barely ever have to change the oil in the rear differential in these things, and that’s really American Honda’s secret sauce with its V-twin motorcycle. These motorcycles are built really well.
You’re going to be hard-pressed to find another motorcycle in the V-twin category that is priced less than $10,000 with this type of build quality—this is a very well-built motorcycle. It’s worth mentioning that Honda imports many of its more affordable motorcycles into America that are built from its Honda Thailand factory.
This product, on the other hand, is manufactured in Kumamoto, Japan, where Honda builds its Gold Wings and other top-of-the-line bikes that cost well over $25,000, so you know when you purchase this Shadow Phantom you are getting a quality motorcycle.
In terms of handling, the Shadow Phantom weighs right around 540 pounds and it’s a generally easy bike to ride. Of course, 540 pounds is a lot of weight for a new rider, but because this motorcycle has such a low seat height—25.6 inches—if you’re new to riding, you’ll get along with this bike pretty well. The clutch has a good feel, the brakes are responsive without being overly so. The throttle response also is nice and easy plus you can feel the power pulses of the engine. The exhaust and engine note are flat-out awesome. You literally feel like you’re riding a Harley-Davidson because the engine and exhaust harmonics are spot on. The bike sounds that good. Kudos to Honda for paying attention to the details like engine exhaust sound which is so important in a V-twin bike.
Styling-wise this Honda has pleasing lines. We like the contrast cut machining on the cylinder heads and the general proportions. It would be nice if Honda fitted an LED headlight. Oddly enough, the turn signals are LED rather than a halogen bulb setup. In typical cruiser form, Big Red applied too many “Honda” logos, which looks odd. Realistically in this segment, V-twin customers (mostly) aren’t going to want to say they’re riding a Honda. So if Honda could remove these logos and offer a more agnostic product, that would do really well for it in the sales department. You’ve got to remember younger people these days are more brand agnostic than ever. That’s one area where Honda could really improve; just don’t logo the bikes, similar to what its Rebel lineup is doing. The rear license plate hugger is a little bit big, but by removing three 12 or 14mm Allen bolts on either side of the bike we can actually replace that whole piece with something tidier from the aftermarket.
At the end of the day, this bike is a really great value in the middleweight V-twin bobber segment. It looks cool, it rides awesomely, the engine exhaust note is splendid, and if you’re looking for an affordable easy-riding V-twin cruiser to cruise around town on plus have some fun with your friends on the weekend for shorter rides, this bike will be a good fit for you.
Helmet: Shoei RF-SR
Jacket: Alpinestars SMX Air
Gloves: Alpinestars Megawatt
Pant: Alpinestars-Diesel Shiro
Boots: Alpinestars Faster-3 Rideknit
2024 Honda Shadow Phantom Technical Specifications and Price
|PRICE:||$8,399 (base)/$8,699 (ABS)|
|ENGINE:||745cc, SOHC, liquid-cooled V-twin; 3 valves/cyl.|
|BORE x STROKE:||79.0 x 76.0mm|
|FUEL DELIVERY:||Fuel injection w/ 34mm throttle bodies|
|FRONT SUSPENSION:||41mm telescopic fork; 5.5 in. travel|
|REAR SUSPENSION:||Dual shocks, spring preload adjustable; 3.5 in. travel|
|FRONT BRAKE:||2-piston caliper, 296mm hydraulic disc (base) / 2-piston caliper, 296mm hydraulic disc w/ ABS (ABS)|
|REAR BRAKE:||2-piston caliper, 276mm hydraulic disc (base) / 2-piston caliper, 276mm hydraulic disc w/ ABS (ABS)|
|WHEELS, FRONT/REAR:||Spoked; 17 in./15 in.|
|TIRES, FRONT/REAR:||120/90-17 / 160/80-15|
|SEAT HEIGHT:||25.6 in.|
|FUEL CAPACITY:||3.9 gal.|
|CLAIMED WET WEIGHT:||543 lb. (base) / 553 lb. (ABS)|