Honda's 600cc Shadow VLX V-twin offers the perfect balance that keeps it moving out of showrooms year in and year out. It's big enough to rely on for highway transportation, small enough to not intimidate short or inexperienced riders, stylish enough to provide pride of ownership, and affordable enough that almost anyone can afford it or buy one as a second bike for a spouse.However, the VLX faced a major challenge for 1998 when Yamaha rolled out the 650cc V-Star -- the first small-displacement V-twin to be drawn in current-cruiser fashion. Not only did the V-Star pack more displacement, longer and more comfortable lines, and an additional ratio in the gearbox, it also blew away the VLX with a lower price. Rumors began circulating that Honda was about to roll out a new VLX to pick up the gauntlet. Since the VLX engine is the basis for the very appealing Shadow A.C.E. 750, there was speculation that the new 600 would follow that tack. So when Honda called and asked if we'd like to sample the new 600, we said, "yes" immediately.