2010 Honda Shadow RS
Do the letters RS stand for Resembles a Sportster?
Written by Barry Winfield, photos by Brian J. Nelson
Go to the “Honda Shadow RS” Overview Page
According to Honda’s affable press relations manager Jon Seidel, the 2010 Shadow RS is a model originally intended for the Japanese market. It was spotted at Honda’s HQ in Japan by visiting American Honda management, who immediately put their dibs on it.
That’s not surprising. It’s a cool-looking bike. What is surprising is that this was conceived as a Japanese-market model in the first place. The bike looks an awful lot like an 883 Sportster from that most-American of motorcycle companies, so you’d think the US market would be the first consideration.
Well, turns out the Japanese product-development people had a good idea the U.S. management of Honda would pick it up as a companion to the long-lived Shadow Spirit 750 and Aero, as well as to the more recent Shadow Phantom. The big difference is that while all those other variants share their basic architecture, this new Shadow RS actually has a lot of new componentry.
The wheelbase is 61.5-inches (about three inches shorter than the rest of the Shadow family), and the 41 mm front fork has a rake of 32.5-degrees and a 4.6-inch trail. It has a higher seat height (at 29.4-inches) and weighs about 50 pounds less than its siblings, at 507 lbs.
While the engine is still the tried-and-tested, liquid-cooled 52-degree V-twin, displacing 745cc, it is now fed by Honda’s programmed fuel-injection system, with a single 34mm throttle body breathing life into each of the two cylinders via dual intake valves. As before, a single exhaust valve in each cylinder handles the expulsion of spent gasses.
The V-twin produces 45-horsepower at 5,500 rpm and 48 pound-feet of torque at 3,500 rpm. It doesn’t sound like much, but the flexible nature of this engine makes it very easy to live with, and it supplies adequate throttle response at almost any engine speed.
The transmission is a smooth-shifting five-speed, and braking is provided by a single 11.6-inch disc in front, pinched by a twin-piston caliper, and by a drum brake out back. Good old roller chain is used for the final drive, twirling a 16-inch spoked rear wheel shod with a 150/80-16 Dunlop. The front wheel is a 19-incher with a 100/90-19 equivalent.
Available in either Pearl white or Metallic gray, the new Shadow RS retails for $7,799, and the model is in dealers right now.
In keeping with our usual format – we present the review from three separate perspectives: 1) a Beginning Riders , 2) an Intermediate Rider , 3) and an Expert Rider . We hope you find this format helpful…. The Honda Shadow RS Review for Beginning Riders - Click Here . Honda Shadow RS review for Intermediate Riders- Click Here . Honda Shadow RS review for Expert Riders- Click Here.
We still think new riders should stick with 250cc motorcycles, but if a Rebel just looks too small and silly to you, then we suppose that the light and low Shadow RS might be okay if you’re careful. It’s certainly friendly enough with its low seat and relatively light mass, and the light clutch and flexible engine make starting off a simple affair.
There’s no tachometer to distract a new rider, and the light and slick shifting mechanism make that operation pretty much as easy as it gets. The brakes don’t have the instant bite of a Ducati, and take quite a firm tug to supply urgent deceleration, so that’s okay for beginners, too.
With its lazy, flexible nature, the engine encourages unhurried riding, and the laid-back tempo of its sound and power delivery just take the edge off one’s need for speed. But the bike will run freeway velocities high enough to keep up with traffic, and that’s better from a safety standpoint than the underpowered two-wheelers many beginners are steered toward.
With its relatively normal riding position, the Shadow RS is a lot like a standard motorcycle, and that stance is easier on starter riders than the fully feet-forward posture of more dedicated cruisers. Finally, Honda’s steering geometries are always very benign in nature and stable at speed, which makes it unlikely that newbies will get crossed up in normal riding.
It seems to us that this is a fine bike for intermediate jockeys. It is easy to maneuver and has relatively low-slung mass to avoid the dreaded toppling moment. The flexible nature of its engine make it easy to ride, with a pleasant exhaust beat and just enough of that famous V-twin pulse coming through to the rider to provide mechanical presence.
But it’s also pretty smooth and enjoyable in most riding situations. Revving it hard brings a little buzz to the bars, but even that is completely in keeping with what the bike’s doing at the time. With plenty of leverage at the bars, the bike steers lightly and willingly, and its handling is altogether predictable and stable.
We’ve said it before; the personality of a motorcycle, the way it feels, sound and responds, is the critical aspect of ownership. And Honda does a great job in that department. The new Shadow RS is a terrific balance of performance, economy, comfort, style, and general fun to ride.
Experienced riders will enjoy this machine for the same reasons everyone does. It’s a thoroughly pleasant little bike to get around on. No, the acceleration does not tug your arms out of their sockets, and cornering speeds are governed by the relatively low slung footpegs touching down, but neither its humble power or cornering clearance are a serious impediment.
Indeed, if you wind the bike out it hustles away from traffic with no difficulty. Only the upright riding position deters you from high freeway speeds (or long periods at speed), and carving through a series of bends is still fun, and can be managed at better speed than you might think.
The broad torque band makes a lot of downshifting unnecessary, and Honda’s middleweight V-twin pulls happily from low revs with no shuddering or shaking. Unless you’re rushing to keep up with fast friends, you can just let the engine pick up from low speeds until it reaches its sweet spot.
Despite the lonely front disc and its relatively humble caliper, braking performance seemed adequate at moderate lever pressures. A stronger squeeze brought more response, but it was seldom called for. Feedback from the front end felt good, and we were soon carrying some brake right down to the apex of corners with confidence.
Because the pegs aren’t kicked out all the way forward, the riding position is somewhat like that of a standard motorcycle, and the handlebars are positioned very conveniently. We couldn’t find anyone in our group of disparately proportioned journalists who wasn’t impressed by the ergonomic triangle (the relationship of bars, pegs and seat) on this bike.
Everyone kept asking me—the obvious beanpole of the group—if I wasn’t cramped on the bike. Or if my knees fouled the bars at full lock. And the answer was no. It felt perfectly fine, if a little small for my elongated frame. Even the seat seemed adequately supportive for the distances we rode.
A couple of riders tried the pillion seat on the Shadow, and thought it uncomfortable, with a rearward sloping angle that did not provide enough support. So, if you plan to take a passenger along with you, a replacement seat might be something to think about.
At the end of the ride we found ourselves at Dan Gurney’s All American Racers’ headquarters. Gurney developed the low-slung Alligator motorcycle, among other things, and I think he probably approved of the low seat height on the Shadow RS.
As is the custom these days, the new Shadow RS is accompanied into the dealer showrooms by a bunch of accessories. About 20 of them at last count. Go take a look. This is a great way to own a quality cruiser—with a refined powertrain and well thought-out chassis—for reasonable money.
Go to the “Honda Shadow RS” Overview Page
Honda Shadow RS Specifications
Engine Type: 745cc liquid-cooled 52° V-twin
Bore and Stroke: 79mm x 76mm
Compression ratio: 9.6:1
Valve Train: SOHC; three valves per cylinder
Induction: PGM-FI with automatic enrichment circuit, one 34mm throttle body
Ignition: Digital transistorized with electronic advance
Transmission: Wide-ratio five-speed
Final Drive: O-ring–sealed chain
Front: 41mm fork; 4.6 inches travel
Rear: Dual shocks with five-position spring preload adjustability; 3.5 inches travel
Front: Single 296mm disc with twin-piston caliper
Wheelbase: 61.5 inches
Rake (Caster Angle): 32° 30’
Trail: 134.0mm (5.3 inches)
Seat Height: 29.4 inches
Fuel Capacity: 2.8 gallons, including 0.7-gallon reserve
Estimated Fuel Economy: 56 mpg
Colors: Metallic Gray, Pearl White
Curb Weight*: 507 pounds
*Includes all standard equipment, required fluids and full tank of fuel—ready to ride.
Honda’s fuel-economy estimates are based on EPA exhaust emission measurement test procedures and are intended for comparison purposes only. Your actual mileage will vary depending on how you ride; how you maintain your vehicle; weather; road conditions; tire pressure; installation of accessories; cargo, rider and passenger weight; and other factors.
Go to the “Honda Shadow RS” Overview Page
Meets current EPA standards.
Models sold in California meet current CARB standards and may differ slightly due to emissions equipment.
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