First Ride: 2010 Honda Shadow Phantom

We ride Honda’s dark new Shadow cruiser.

Photography By Brian Blades

2010 Honda Shadow Phantom - First Ride

2010 Honda Shadow Phantom - First Ride

It's a nice enough little cruiser, it really is, and it runs great, too, thanks to it being the first small Shadow to benefit from fuel injection: Hit the button in the morning and you're ready to roll pronto and hiccup-free, with a reasonably rumbly accompaniment.

It's even pretty cool-looking, with blacked-out components and fat tires riding wire-spoked wheels at both ends. Why, you could almost mistake this metric for a real... Wait, don't say "a real Harley;" the metric guys hate that. But in this case, since Honda wants a $1K premium for the "all-new" 2010 Shadow Phantom, you can't not compare it to aSportster 883 Iron. MSRP of each is $7999, and while Honda's known for technological innovation, Harley injected the Sportsters way back in aught-seven (and did an excellent job of it).

The Phantom does have a lower seat, which is a thing cruiser builders trip all over themselves to achieve, maybe because it looks cool, or maybe because in this case, "low seat" is code for "chick bike." Every manufacturer wants to court the ladies, and if you're new to motorcycling or a small person, it's really easy to stay in ground contact on the Phantom. In fact, it's just a friendly little all-around puppy of a motorcycle that goes, turns and stops perfectly fine—better than most of its breed, even.

While 745cc aren't quite enough to really light up the back tire or anything, the Phantom rumbles nicely along at 65, feels a little busy at 80 and buzzy beyond there—though it will pull itself up past the ton given room. The littlest Shadow's three-valve-per-cylinder, 52-degree, liquid-cooled Twin revs nice and smooth in the lower gears and beats the pants off cars. There's not a lot of acceleration, but Honda seems to have figured out how to sneak what sounds like more than the legal amount of noise past the gatekeepers, and maybe that's more important? Anyway, slightly slow is the way to go since, according to the Los Angeles Times, the Governator now wants to install speed sensors in 500 of SoCal's red-light cameras to write an estimated 2.4 million speeding tickets per annum and help make up the budget shortfall. Maybe decibel meters will be next?

The seat feels nice enough and the bolster's in the right place if you're around 5-foot-8 or so, though tall riders might feel cramped. The passenger seat's good for skinny asses and short hops. Those with bladder-control problems should consult their physicians before riding on back of the Phantom; big bumps deliver solid blows to the hindquarters. If you just don't want a Harley—and a lot of people don't—then the Phantom's a great choice. It does reign supreme in fuel capacity: 3.9 gallons and around 47 observed mpg means you shouldn't get stuck in the middle of nowhere.

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008 2010 Honda Shadow Phantom

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