2007 Honda Shadow Spirit 750 - Between The Lines

Honda Shadow Spirit 750C2

FirstRide

Honda's Shadow Spirit 750 for 2007 isn't technically a new model. But it does boast several serious refinements, and for that, Team Red has tagged on alphanumeric characters to the original designation. The resulting Shadow Spirit 750C2 is both a mouthful and an eyeful. So when Honda offered us a ride on this newish model last month, we were all over it.

The biggest news is the Spirit's drivetrain-instead of a chain, it now has shaft final drive. While that adds nearly eight pounds to the bike, the Spirit is still considered to be one of the lightest middleweights around, with a dry weight of just over 500 pounds. But the real visual double-take is the Spirit's new, narrow 21-inch front hoop, which replaces the previous 19-incher for a more aggressive, custom attitude.

So what's the C2 for? Think of it as a kind of Version 2.0 designation: Because Honda chose to leave the current chain-drive Shadows in the '07 lineup until the shafties ship, it had to come up with a way to differentiate the two.

You can feel the difference the minute you sit on the C2-at 25.7 inches off the ground, the 2007 bike is nearly an inch lower than last year's model. The deeply dished saddle is now a one-piece "gunfighter" style, and the sculpted edges integrate more seamlessly with the rear fender. To carry the theme, a re-contoured, straight-cut rear fender now features an integrated taillight, and the airbox boasts a teardrop shape. All this rides on a new single-backbone frame design, similar to that of the C2's 750 stablemate, the Aero.

Though Honda says the C2 retains the hard-edge dragbike styling of yore, from the saddle it looks and feels more evolved. For instance, the new handlebar is more pulled back than the previous drag-style bar. There are concessions to price, however-the slightly larger 3.7-gallon tank now sports a speedo, but the tank seam is still a ghastly eyesore between the seat/tank junction.

Start the Spirit 750C2, though, and all is almost forgiven; the authoritative blat issuing from the bullet-shaped, staggered dual exhausts is a welcome improvement over the anemic tenor of last year's model. The bike starts easily enough, as the switch to a single 34mm CV carb from dual carburetors produces acceptably responsive acceleration and, says Honda, a clean-burning engine that's in compliance with '08 emissions rules.

Once underway, you won't need a heavy hand to push the Spirit around-that 21-inch-front tire offers a surprisingly light feel with little of the flop we were expecting. The slightly longer wheelbase-now 65 inches-delivers a stable ride at highway speeds. And while the 41mm fork offers 0.5 inch less travel than the 2006 model, the dual shocks out back have 0.3 inch more stroke. This translates into a zero-sum situation on the road-the rear has a tendency to transmit road irregularities while the front soaks up most bumps acceptably. All in all, however, the Spirit C2 is the welcome evolution of a popular model. Now that Kawasaki has dropped the Vulcan 750 from its lineup, Honda and Moto Guzzi are the only major manufacturers still offering 750 cruisers. -Andrew Cherney