Review of the Honda Shadow A.C.E. 750 from the Middleweight Comparison

Honda's Shadow A.C.E. 750 was the middleweight contestant in Cruiser's retro 8-bike comparison test of V-twins.

Honda Shadow A.C.E. 750 Deluxe
Honda Shadow A.C.E. 750 DeluxeCruiser

We have been waiting for this machine to give us a complete set of 800s. We predicted that an 800-class Honda V-twin was on the way in our first issue, but we expected that Honda would base it on the 800cc V-twin used in the unique Pacific Coast. That engine sprang from the motor created for the original 700/750/800 Shadow, which was last produced in 1988.

Honda surprised us however, by basing the new 750 Shadow on the 583cc powerplant from the Shadow VLX. Bore was widened 4.0mm to 79mm and stroke was extended by 10mm to 76mm to bump displacement up to 745cc. Much was carried over from the 600 engine: a 52-degree V angle, liquid cooling, a single cam atop each cylinder head prodding one exhaust and two intake valves, and even the 34mm carb throat size. Honda says that combining greater flywheel effect from a heftier AC generator with the longer stroke, provides better low-rpm power and feel, though we suspect that valve size, lift, duration, and carb size contribute as well.

Honda Shadow A.C.E. 750 Deluxe
The Honda Shadow A.C.E. 750 Deluxe's power is based on the Shadow VLX engine.Cruiser

Of course, plenty of engine components were changed, including its appearance. The 750 uses two plugs per cylinder, has a 9.0:1 compression ratio instead of the 9.2:1 ratio of the 600, and gets a new emissions-reduction system that injects air into the exhaust ports to ensure a complete burn of the exhaust gases. Perhaps the biggest change is in the drive line, where the 750 gets a welcome fifth transmission ratio, though the transmission is still regarded as a wide-ratio arrangement. The final drive is by chain.

You won’t find many similarities to the 600 in the chassis. Instead of the 600’s single-damper hard-tail-style rear end, the 750 uses a pair of shocks with chrome enclosures. A large rectangular-section backbone tube runs from the cast steering head to behind the engine. A rectangular-section swingarm pivots on forged frame sections. Beneath chrome covers, 41mm fork tubes, backed up by a brace, provide rigidity up front. The wide low look of the machine starts with a hefty 120/90-17 front tire, mounted on a wire-spoke wheel. It’s carried rearward by the full front fender, seven-inch headlight, long, wide 3.7-gallon tank, wide solo saddle, full rear fender, and 170/80-15 rear tire. The rear wheel is spoked to a 180mm brake drum. A twin-piston caliper applies friction to an 11.7-inch disc up front. As on the A.C.E. Tourer, the disc has a solid carrier, making it hard to use a disc lock.

In many ways, we rated the A.C.E. 750 as Honda’s best styling effort to date. The U.S. version has the white-faced electronic speedometer up near the wide, pulled-back handlebar, which is clamped atop rubber-mounted risers. European versions have the speedo on the fuel tank, which gives the tank a bit more visual weight. The U.S. placement puts the speedometer and its warning lights much closer to the rider’s line of sight. We were surprised that the chrome shroud around the gas cap is secured by hardware-store variety screws; a very un-Honda-like slip.

The passenger saddle is removable, and doing so gives the bike an even lower, longer look. Honda stylists put extra effort into the details, creating a pretty new stretched-out headlight shape, nicely curved rear fender rails, and the first billet-style footpegs ever fitted to a mass-produced cruiser. The actual finish of the metal on the cast pegs is pretty dull, begging for polish and chrome. Rubber rings around the pegs provide traction. The looks of the big oval airbox on the right side of the engine stirred some controversy, especially since it was plastic. Honda also uses plastic for the shroud around the steering head as well as the side panels.

There are two versions of the A.C.E. 750. Our test sample is the Deluxe rendition, which starts at $6599 in black, and includes chrome steel covers for the upper fork legs, chrome engine cases, chain guard, and foot controls. Adding on our sample’s two-tone paint ups the price to $6799. The standard model, with its forks stark naked, polished engine cases, and black paint on those other items, is available only in black for $6299.

This article was originally published in the August 1997 issue of Motorcycle Cruiser.

High Points: Low Points: First Changes:
Smooth engine Down on power Install narrower handlebar
Great looks with original touches Chain drive
Roomy accommodations Too much plastic
Good suspension
Honda Shadow A.C.E. 750 Deluxe
The Shadow gives you the option of having a passenger on the back with this removable seat.Cruiser
Specifications:
Engine & Drivetrain
Type: Liquid-cooled, 52-degree tandem V-twin
Valve arrangement: SOHC, 2 intake, 1 exhaust valve per cylinder, operated by rockers, screw-type adjusters
Displacement, bore x stroke: 745cc, 79 x 76mm
Compression ratio: 9.0:1
Carburetion: 2, 34mm, Keihin CV
Lubrication: Wet sump, 3.1qt., spin-on filter
Minimum fuel grade: 87 octane
Transmission: Wet multiplate clutch, 5 speeds
Final drive: Chain, 41/17
Chassis
Wheels: Wire-spoke, 17 x 3.00 front, 15 x 3.50 rear
Front tire: 120/90-17 Bridgestone Exedra tube-type
Rear tire: 170/80-15 Bridgestone Exedra tube-type
Front brake: 11.6-in. disc, Dual-piston caliper
Rear brake: Drum, rod operated
Front suspension: 41mm stanchions, 5.1-in. travel
Rear suspension: Dual dampers, 3.5-in. travel, adjustment for pre-load
Fuel capacity: 3.7 gal. (0.9 gal. reserve)
Handlebar: 33.4 in. wide, 1.0 in. diameter
Inseam equivalent: 32.4in.
Electrical & Instrumentation
Charging output: NA
Battery: 12v, 14 AH
Forward lighting: 55/60 watt, 7.0-in. headlight, position lights
Taillight: 1 bulb
Instruments: Speedometer, LCD odometer/tripmeter, warning lights for neutral, high beam, oil pressure, turn signals, sidestand, coolant temperature
Performance
Fuel mileage: 37—49 mpg, 43.4 mpg ave.
Average range: 161 miles
RPM at 60 mph, top gear: 3360
200-yard, top-gear acceleration from 50 mph, terminal speed: 68.2 mph
Quarter-mile acceleration: 15.09 sec., 86.2 mph