Star Road Star S And Honda Shadow Aero 750 - Long-Term Bikes

'Bout time we score some long-term metal for '09 here at Motorcycle Cruiser. This one came just in time to put a couple miles on it and get it set up for me. Something magazines frequently gloss over is the little things that sometimes need to be done to get a bike set up for a given rider. In the case of our long-term Roadie, the right mirror was looking at my shoulder and the left lane, while the heel shifter was flying sky high and was practically unreachable.

The mirror was a no-brainer, just had to loosen up the 17 mm jam nut at the base and rotate it out some to get it in the middle of its adjustability when set up for me. That way, if anyone else rides the bike it should be within the tool-less adjustment range.

The heel shifter was a little trickier. From the looks of it, with a nice easy-to-reach allen-headed set screw on top, it should be a snap. Alas, once loosened it still can't clear the engine case. You have to reach underneath the shifter to the main shifter shaft set screw (far less easy to reach) and remove the whole shebang to adjust the rear shifter. If you only have simple 90-degree allen wrenches, don't even try it, the short end won't reach (without removing the floorboard), while the long end doesn't have enough leverage. Breaking out my set of allen drivers (5 mm) and an extender it came right out.

Once in my hand, I could see that the standard set-up was marked at the factory to help workers put the bike together. This made it easy to drop the rear by one notch. It probably could have gone another spline down but one was enough to get it reachable.

Once set up properly for me the bike is a dream to ride. It is the epitome of a cruiser. Everything about it is smooth. Power comes on from the get go, nothing shocking, just plentiful, smooth torque. This was a groundbreaking bike when it was released a decade ago, and it seems to have only gotten better with age. The front end has gained a few gobs of chrome, the controls are styled and effective, the bars are in exactly the right place, the suspension is soft, but not squishy.

What, exactly, could we ever do to improve it, you ask? Well, we're not even going to try. Instead, we're going to use the Road Star's ten years of relative stagnation as a positive. With arguably more aftermarket support than just about any other metric sled, we're going to customize it. With a little work we want to make this the most head-turning staff bike ever.

First up is a set of bars from Burly Brand and a seat and bags from Corbin. -BB

We met the Aero Shadow during our baby bagger shootout last issue. It came in near the back of the pack due to poor suspension, power, handling, and an uncomfortable seat. But the shorter riders who rode it said it was the only bike in the test that felt like it was made for them. With a dearth of good options available for the smaller rider, and the 750 being one of the bigger-displacement small rider bikes, we decided to keep it around and see if we could fix some of its shortcomings.

Since it was already dressed out for the baby bagger comparison with some of Honda's very nice accessories including windshield, bags, and sissy bar, it was well on its way to fixed up nicely as it sat. We put about 700 miles on it in the initial shootout, and have tooled a little around town since then. Over the next several issues we're going to shore up the gaps as we take a decent platform up to the next level.

This go-around we went with a seat swap. The stock butt cradle has a wide stance any Minnesota congressman would be proud of, as well as being comfortable for about half an hour. We wanted a saddle that pulls the rider's knees closer into the bike for less wear-and-tear at the hips and better control. We also thought a good aftermarket seat would throw some sleek into the style mix.

Saddlemen's Tattoo Profiler seat filled both prescriptions. It's not only narrower than the Honda cushion, it's also thinner vertically and sleeker. The flame stitching is a nice touch we weren't counting on when we called them but adds a dash of the hot rod aesthetic. Comfort-wise, the Profiler drops the ride height just enough to make putting your feet down even easier than with the stock seat. The seat utilizes a SaddleGel insert in the foam, so you get flexible firmness that won't warp in inclement weather.

Here's how easy it was to install. Open the box and remove the seat. Have your significant other call order a pizza on the phone while you install the seat. There's a real good chance you'll be done before they're done on the phone. The hardest part was removing the stock seat, and all that took was an 8mm hex socket for the rear bolt and a 6mm Allen wrench for the two side bolts. You'll need to retain the back bolt but not the side ones. The front sits flush with the back of the gas tank, so it also looks cleaner than its stock cousin. Retail priced at $322.99, the Tattoo Profiler is an economical custom seat for an economical cruiser.
-Mark Maske

Saddlemen Profiler Tattoo Seat $322.95
Custom Windshield $449.95
Leather Saddlebags (18 liter, plain) $529.95
Saddlebag Mounting Brackets $139.95
Chrome Backrest Carrier $129.95
Chrome Backrest With Pad (Tall) $134.95
Star Road Star S
MSRP: $13,090
Caretaker: Bartels
Measurements: 6'0"/192 lbs/33" Inseam
Odometer: 343
Miles Since Last Issue: 38.8
Honda Shadow Aero 750
MSRP: $7299
Caretaker: Masker
Measurements: 5'5"/173 lbs/28" Inseam
Odometer: 1121
Miles Since Last Issue: 163