Honda VT500C Shadow

Discussion in 'Road Warriors' started by mikesova, Mar 25, 2010.

  1. mikesova

    mikesova Michigander

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    I just sold my 82 CM250C and thought I wanted to get a small thumper dual sport, but have since decided that I would like to get a road bike that can do some small touring (image traveling from mid-michigan to the bridge/UP or something like that) I already have an XR200 for doing trails. Locally there is a 1986 Honda VT500C Shadow for sale. I'm not really partial to cruisers, but this one doesn't look "too cruisery". I have ridden my brother in laws 2003ish Honda Shadow Aero and I really don't like the forward controls, but this Shadow doesn't look too bad. I assume it's like most other UJMs. What attracted me is that it's a 500 so it's a little bigger and more powerful than the 250 and it's shaft drive so I don't have to mess around with the chain. This particular bike has 8,000 miles. From what I can tell the owner bought it, had his buddy tune it up, change the oil, and put new tires on it. He then proceeded to drop it in his driveway, denting the tank, knocking the turn signal off, breaking some plastic trim around the gauges and dinging up the headlight case. Apparently he got scared off and wants to get rid of it now, so now his buddy is selling it for him. They are asking 950$ Does this sound like a good price and is this a good bike? I am mainly looking for something that won't get blown around like that cm250 and will be comfortable to ride for 4-5 hours. Any opinions are appreciated. Are there any issues with this bike, like electrical or something of that nature and would it make a good road ADV bike? I'm thinking I could now go on some rides with my brother in law with his shadow.

    I think I'm going to try and test ride it tomorrow. BRR. :)

    Here's some pics:

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    #1
  2. Hughlysses

    Hughlysses Long timer

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    It looks like a very nice bike, and that price sounds like a deal to me. My knowledge comes from my 1983 VT500FT Ascot, which is basically a "standard"/streetracker version of the same bike. The 500cc V-twin has decent power and a wide power band, and gets decent mileage. Wear parts like clutch plates, brake pads, oil filters, etc. are easy to get from Honda or aftermarket suppliers. Some Honda factory parts are starting to become unavailable, but you really shouldn't need much of that sort of thing unless you wreck the bike. You see a lot of these bikes parted out on ebay, which can be a good source for parts. Since many more Shadows were built than Ascots, used parts are more plentiful.

    The main significant weak point with these bikes is the ignition coils. After ~27 years of baking in the heat above the engine, many of them break down. This manifests as a miss-fire at wide open throttle above 5000 RPM, or especially as difficulty cranking when hot. OEM coils are still available from Honda or aftermarket coils are available from Dyna (which require a little work to fit). If your bike ever exhibits these symptoms, buy new coils (don't waste your money on used ones).

    Another thing to watch out for is the "power chamber" in the exhaust system. It's located between the header pipes and the mufflers, and is mounted under the frame in front of the rear wheel. It adds volume to the exhaust system to improve the exhaust tuning. The bottom of the chamber sometimes rusts out. An OEM replacement from Honda (IF available) costs over $400. The best fix is to take it to your local muffler shop and ask them to cut out any rotted sections and weld or braze in new metal.

    We have an Ascot Group over on Yahoo, but there are quite a few Shadow riding members too. It's a good source of info for keeping these bikes running. Check it out at: http://autos.groups.yahoo.com/group/ascotvt500enthusiasts/
    #2
  3. mikesova

    mikesova Michigander

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    I'd like a low maintenance bike if could get one. Do you think because of it's age it would be more prone to breaking down? I figured 8k miles wasn't too much for a liquid cooled bike.
    #3
  4. Hughlysses

    Hughlysses Long timer

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    If you replace the coils (~$150 investment) it's pretty much as reliable as any modern bike out there.

    Other than changing fluids and filters, the only routine maintenance required is adjusting the valves (screw and nut adjustment, no shims required) every ~8,000 miles or so (I forget the factory recommended interval). It's an easy bike to work on. With only 8000 miles on the clock, it's probably good for another 42,000 or more if you make any effort to take care of it.
    #4
  5. mikesova

    mikesova Michigander

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    Would you replace the coils on a perfectly functioning bike just as a precaution?
    #5
  6. Hughlysses

    Hughlysses Long timer

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    I wouldn't necessarily do it first thing, but I'd plan on it. The coils generally don't fail suddenly, and aren't likely to strand you with no warning. Worst case is you might stop to get gas on a hot day this summer and have difficulty re-starting the bike until it cools down.

    You can even get by with weak coils (at least for a year or two) by reducing the spark plug gap to the minimum recommended width. The bike has two spark plugs per cylinder which are connected electrically in series. Reducing the spark plug gap reduces the voltage requirement for the coils and will make it easier for the coils to fire which helps when they start to get weak.
    #6
  7. plugeye

    plugeye mc caregiver

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    if it was me, streamline the rearend/ fit a solo saddle/ sport style bars.
    the only drawback for me is water-coolin, but i'd deal with it.
    keep the exhaust stock, sounds good muted. this 500 v-twin is one sweet motor. like the shaft-drive too. i had a vt500ft for a short time, it had a 6-spd & 9k or 10k redline.
    jump on it.
    #7
  8. mikesova

    mikesova Michigander

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    Yeah, I would way rather have the ascot, as i'm not a huge fan of that half sissy bar thing at the back of the seat. I hope those controls aren't too forward. Meh, If I don't like it, I won't get it. I just would like a reliable bike that requires little maintenance.
    #8
  9. plugeye

    plugeye mc caregiver

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    i'm surprised just how wide the powerband is, you can ride it like a cruiser or dial it up near the top & it performs & moves very well.
    i'd still have the ascot if it fit me better.
    #9
  10. mikesova

    mikesova Michigander

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    If they are asking 950$ and it runs and looks good, what would be a good lowball to throw at him that won't cause him to take a swing at me :rofl. I don't NEED the bike and the main reason why i'm interested is that it's less than 5 miles from my house and it's a small shaft drive. I would like the bike if I got a screaming deal on it. I want to be able to easily sell it for what I have into it, if I so choose to. :deal

    I'm kind of impulsive, if you haven't gathered that yet. I'm still trying to determine if I want a street oriented bike or a bigger dual sport that's nice on the road.
    #10
  11. soboy

    soboy Long timer

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    Lowball offer - $500. Tell him the damage he did plus the new coils will cost you more than that to fix. Bring cash. Nice bike, btw!
    #11
  12. mikesova

    mikesova Michigander

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    that sounds about right for an old honda cruiser. I have decided to reschedule due to less than 40 degree weather today. :eek1 Next week will be 70 :evil
    #12
  13. geo-k

    geo-k Been here awhile

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    I have a '84 VT500C. Paid $1,000 for it because it was the only half way decent bike I could find with a valid legit title in my area.
    Had mushroomed valve tips (suspect it was from aftermarket exhaust), and somebody here likened early Honda valve hardness to lumpy mash potatoes. So, I would check valve clearance to see how they look.
    Sight glass on front master cylinders goes opaque, and mine was replaced with a dime.
    Also have seen issues with cooling system with some online posts. My water pump housing weeps a little bit, and the fan doesn't want to kick on.
    Also had notchy feeling steering head bearing.
    This one looks great. If you don't mind the look, get it.
    You could probably change out the seat for a -83-84 and lose the back rest look, and maybe switch to a flatter bar (you could also switch to a more modern master cylinder in the process).
    It is tough as hell to find decent runners in my area for under $1k. They go quick, so move it or lose it.
    If you have any specific questions on VT500's, feel free to PM me.
    #13
  14. Hughlysses

    Hughlysses Long timer

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    #14
  15. Silver King

    Silver King Maita'i roa ae!

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    +1 Change ANYTHING on that motor and it's going to cause you eternal pain. I hate hate hate hate hate hate that version of the Shadow. HATE!!! The carbs have to be twisted off of a very non-compliant rubber manifold to get to the jets. Each carb has a different jet. :beccaThen there's the spark plug issue. Two plugs per head. The rear cylinder clean up plug is buried deep deep inside the head and requires some fancy wrench work to get it out. The CDI went bad on mine and had a hell of a time finding one that worked. IIRC, the Ascot will work but you need to get creative with it.

    I should specify that 1) I bought this bike from a motorcycle mechanic that couldn't fix it (Duh....but I was young) 2) the carbs had Uni pods and an aftermarket exhaust.

    I eventually fixed it to running but the mixture problem drove me to the edge of insanity.

    Spend your money on something cooler like a CB750. :freaky

    Here's two shitty pics of my self-inflicted nightmare:
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    [​IMG]
    #15
  16. ExTex

    ExTex Been here awhile

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    I had a Shadow 500 and thought the engine was very good. At 8000 miles, it should be good for many years. The bike was a bit small for me and I am NOT a cruiser type of person, but as cruisers go, the 500 is one of the least-crusier styles. As stated, the coils go bad and the MC window clouds up. All in all, not a lot of problems for a 20 year old bike. I changed the buckhorn handlebars for Nighthawk 650 bars and improved the handling a lot.

    At $900, it is a good buy.

    Ride Safely,
    #16
  17. mikesova

    mikesova Michigander

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    Have any pics?
    #17
  18. Rescue Wagon

    Rescue Wagon Been here awhile

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    I had one as my first bike. The biggest complaint me and my wife had was the seat. It became painful to ride a long way on the factory one, so the first upgrade I would recommend is a new seat and ride the tires off of her.

    Not that I'm proud of it, but I had no clue what proper maintenance was when I owned it and it ran forever. Lots of power and just fun to ride.

    And lastly how can you go wrong with this bike for $950???????
    #18
  19. ExTex

    ExTex Been here awhile

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    Sorry, no photos left around. The handlebar change went well.
    All cables fit, but the master cylinder had more angle than I wanted.
    I showed it to the Honda serviceman and he said it was ok, but I wanted to play... so I installed the MC from a Ninja 500. It has a lever distance setting. That worked well... I think the brakes worked better than original.

    But, I had to fabricate a mirror holder (perch) since there was none on the Ninja MC. I bought a mount for a KLR650 and solved that problem.

    The bike rode better and the brakes worked better than the original.
    Sorry I don't have a picture.

    Ride Safely,
    #19
  20. kraven

    kraven Hegelian Scum

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    You might go down to the dealer and survey what service parts will cost and if still available.
    A lot of parts for the old 80's bikes are now non-available from H and there is no aftermarket to speak of making intake rubbers and such.
    These are basically throwaway bikes at this point.
    #20