2001 Shadow 750 ACE, the Best Bike Ever?

I’ve been riding my 2001 VT750 CD2, Honda Shadow 750 ACE (American Classic Edition) for a little over three years and have put about 35,000 miles on the bike. In that time, I have kept up on the routine maintenance, replaced the tires, customized it with my own choices of accessories, gotten out of two traffic tickets, and ridden my daughter to her first grade class. For the first two years I had it, the bike sat outside in the elements all day (In Southern California, that means intense sunlight, and a couple dozen rain showers). I did garage it at night. The only problems I have had with the bike in all that time are a flat tire, and two breakdowns, both electrical.

When I bought the bike, it was nearly ten years old and had only 14,000 miles on it. I bought it at a dealer, and paid about $3700 (about $4400 with taxes, titles and license). Gas prices were through the roof, and I figured the bike would pay for itself with the savings on gas and avoiding wear-and-tear on my ten-year old SUV.

I was right. Here’s the math.

35,000 miles/45 mpg (I’ve rounded down) = 778 gallons of gas
35,000 miles/18 mpg (I’ve rounded down, but not much) = 1944 gallons.
1994-778=1166 gallons of gas. 1166 gal X 3.00/gal = $3500. (Dealer price of the bike was $3700).

Keep in mind in 2008, gas prices were upwards of $3.50/gallon. I have used current gas prices in Los Angeles for these figures.

Maintenance, tires, and breakdowns are probably a wash when compared to the wear and tear of 35,000 miles on a 1999 Ford Explorer with 150,000 miles on it.

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The bike is not only beautiful (compliments abound), but my mechanic has called this bike “practically bullet-proof”. This biggest surprise came with the cost of maintenance. Tires run between $150 and $250, and last about 14,000 miles. The drive chain needs to be replaced about every 10,000 miles. An oil change runs about $60, but if you do a bit more maintenance at a dealership (or shop), that can jump to $150. Honda suggests one every 4000 miles, with a larger maintenance package (including a valve adjustment) done every 8000. That maintenance can run close to $250.00.

For a weekend cruiser, this bike might easily go ten years with nearly no maintenance. This one did. The tires hadn’t been replaced, and there had been no need to replace the chain. Averaging 1400 miles per year, I doubt if the previous owner even changed the oil more than once in all that time. The only thing that showed some wear was the fact that there was an after-market battery in the bike.

Brand new, a Honda Shadow 750 runs about $6500 plus taxes, titles, and license. You can find a used one for about half of that, and I’ve seen them as low as $1500. The bike utilizes a V-Twin engine, which is extremely reliable, and the seating position is comfortable even for me, at 6’0, 185 lbs. Once in a while I feel like I’d like the pegs a bit farther forward, but for the most part the bike has been everything I hoped it would be.

I currently commute 110 miles daily (round trip) on the bike. It is a mid-sized cruiser. A 650 sport bike will dust it. Most of the bikers I see on cruisers ride bigger bikes,. There are 1300’s, 1400’s, even 1600 or 1800’s. After three years, the 750 does begin to seem small. But a bit of reflection reveals that no matter how big the other bike is, it’s not going much faster than mine most of the time.

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The word about this bike on the street is “everything you need and nothing you don’t”. I’ve found this entirely accurate.

The bike is small enough to maneuver through traffic and split lanes, yet big enough to avoid “cc envy”. My typical speed in the open is about 85 or 90, but I’ve taken the bike into triple digits on many occasions. Do I really need more than that? My ego used to take a shot whenever someone on a sport bike wailed past me, and I knew I was never going to catch up with them. But I was already doing 80. Did I really want to catch up with them? Maybe, if I were younger, I would. But for now, being able to cruise at 90 on the freeway, wipe down my chrome at home, and enjoy the admiration of on-lookers is enough. Keep in mind, this is not an $18,000 machine. It is an entry-level bike that delivers everything it promises. Personally, I don’t think that Honda has ever offered a better looking 750. I see Shadows all of the time. But only once have I seen another 2001 750 ACE. And even in red it’s a pretty bike.

My bike currently has 50,000 miles on it. I have no doubt that it’s good for at least as many more.