Sunday, March 29, 2015

Black Betty's homecoming

The long anticipated arrival of the Honda Shadow VT 750 ACE happened today with the weather gods barely cooperating.

There was constant snowfall from Friday through Saturday morning with temperatures reaching down to -12C.  This morning we woke to sunny skies and -10C with a promise of +6C.  The promised high suffered a substantial discount because so far +2C is as much clemency as the sun could muster.

My poor Civic has been evicted. It's a case of one Honda making way for its two-wheeled cousin. Getting the bike into the garage meant riding through the snow that persists on the driveway.
The ride was uneventful, relatively speaking, and here are the numbers:
  • Kilometers ridden: 24
  • Times I stalled the bike: 6
  • Times I forgot to cancel the turn indicators: 2-3
  • Times I forgot to shift all the way to first: 0
  • Number of frozen fingers: 10
  • Times I needed to open the visor to dissipate fogging caused by nervous heavy breathing: 2
  • Times I dropped the bike: 0
  • Times I grinned ear to ear: 5
  • Times it occurred to me to listen to music on the Sena: 0
First ride impressions for the Honda Shadow:
  •  Nice torque at low revolutions, though I still managed to stall it more times than I should have.
  • Comfortable seat, stable ride at all speeds as far as I could tell.
  • Decent acceleration.
  • Balky turn indicator switch (got to check that, it might not be push-to-cancel).
  • Very loud exhaust, tolerable with earplugs, maybe not so nice for neighbours and bystanders.
  • Very good-looking, to my eye at any rate, though I could still do without the flames.
  • Good braking, front and rear.
  • Definitely needs a windshield and saddlebags to become a touring bike.
  • In my view (shocker alert), the Vespa GTS 300 i.e. beats the Honda Shadow hands down in the following ways:
    • Acceleration.
    • Comfort.
    • Highway performance.
    • Protection from the elements.
    • Suspension and ability to handle potholes, dips and bumps.
    • Ease of handling.
    • Overall fun.
And so the adventure continues, and a new chapter begins with the promise of great things to come.
PS: It looks like a managed to grab a narrow window of opportunity: Monday morning and it's snowing like mad. Sheesh!

22 comments:

  1. The flames may grow on you. It doesn't look common so it'll be easy to spot once you decide to hit as Sturgis or some other large gathering. ;-)

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    1. Ahhh, I knew someone would find a practical advantage for the flames and spotting the bike in a crowd may be it. Well done Richard, I believe you nailed it.

      I'll say that the flames did nothing, as far as I could tell to warm up the ride.

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  2. Congrats on getting the bike home and coming to grips with it in cold weather too.

    I rode one a while ago and I guess I was a little unkind about it, but then I'm coming from a different riding background to you. I also didn't have a lot of time for an extended ride.

    http://banditrider.blogspot.co.nz/2013/02/not-me.html

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    1. Andrew you wrote a great review, and I find myself in complete agreement. This is a bike that likes to take its time rumbling along like an old lion. Definitely not a tiger, and by no means a cheetah.

      Here's a clickable link to Andrew's ride report on the Shadow.

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  3. I'm still trying to figure out how people can still live in - temps. I mean, it's 19 C now and the natives are wearing parka's!

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    1. Rob, our blood is thicker, easy.

      Your blood could be thicker too, but the recipe requires you to freeze your ass off for 2-3 years, then it's a piece of cake.

      Your natives are in parkas, of that I am sure. I am equally sure that if you ride by a nearby hotel pool, the Canadians will be frolicking in the water like penguins.

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  4. Well done, David. I fully agree with your aspects comparing it to a Vespa. But this is a motorcycle, and you are supposed to suffer when riding, that's the whole point. If it would be widely known who good scooters are, everybody would want one, and how boring would that be, eh? ;-)
    I hope that things will warm up soon, and you can get a decent ride in on Betty to find out that cruising isn't that bad either...

    BTW maybe we should change that exhaust... I could hear it from the other side of the pond.

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  5. Sonja, I am loving the experience, what a blast. And some amount of pain is what riding is about, I agree. What fun would it be otherwise?

    No kidding I think that swapping the exhaust is a priority. If you're OK with that, I would do it myself just before getting the bike serviced and then have the dealer check the quality of my wrenching. We could then sell the Cobra pipes and re-invest the proceeds.

    My colleague here has the very same Shadow but with OEM pipes. We could put the decision off until I can take a ride over to her place and do a comparison sound test. There's no rush to get the servicing done and to make the change.

    I noticed (how could I not) that on compression the bike backfires "pop - pop - pop". That could be the after-market exhaust not providing enough back pressure, or just a tune-up issue. If the latter, the dealer should be able to fix it. Backfire on acceleration would be more serious, but that's not happening. There's a FAQ on the Cobra site on backfiring, so I don't think it's a cause of concern. In the meantime, the cure is just to pull the clutch.

    Peter Sanderson recommends the "chopped" version of the Switchblade screen, what do you think? I like to be able to just see over the screen and I think that the chopped model will do that. I can easily assess that at the Honda dealer because all the used bikes in inventory seemed to have that model of screen.

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    1. David, I am all for reselling the Cobras and going back to OEM, I don't need that kind of attention, the flames will be irritating enough for fellow road users (and we have the air horn to make noise).

      And the chopped Switchblade looks perfect, I also like to be able to look over it. It would be nice to get a tinted version if available. What do you think?

      I am excited!

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    2. Okie dokie then.

      I'm still not going to rush switching the pipes.

      A tinted screen is fine with me.

      If you want to do the shopping and shipping, I"ll do the installing and riding.

      If it turns out that the chopped model is too tall, the local glass shop will be able to cut it down in a flash.

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  6. Hooray for making it home safely. Sounds like you just made it before the the snow.

    I am sure you and Sonja will get many miles of smiles from riding it.

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    1. Thanks Brandy. I enjoyed your comment on Andrew's blog about nursing the badly damaged Shadow home.

      A long time ago I owned a Subaru Chaser. Towards the end of its life the gas pedal had two settings. If you pushed hard it was wide open, if you eased up, it was at idle. I was the only person who could drive that car. The thing that made it possible was a) it was a very small car, and b) it had a very small engine.

      Sounded to me like that Shadow was much more of a handful. I'd say that warranted a merit badge or two.

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  7. Congrats to both you and Sonja on the new ride. I have to agree with you - get rid of the loud pipes, the flames are enough of an attention getter! Enjoy the ride.

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    1. Karen, I think we have a consensus on the pipes.

      Farkles are arriving Thursday night (12V outlets, Stebel air horn) so there are chances that the wrenching will begin. I already have two RAM mounts in hand.

      Yesterday I was poking around and found an intact tool kit where the manual said it would be, and found an existing SAE plug. I didn't test to see if it is switched to the ignition or not, I'm hoping not. That's one less electrical chore to tackle, not that I'm complaining mind you.

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  8. Good on you getting the new beast home! She stalled because your not used to her yet and she was protesting a little because she knows you live your scooter more! Sometimes with my shadow I have to adjust the idle a bit, it is related to temperature for Scarlett anyway. You may be riding a little low in the powerband & just not used to shifting. Not to worry it will come. I fully agree about scooters, people who've never ridden one have no idea what they are missing. Just keep working on the friction zone & shifting and it will all come together.

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    1. Dar, about once or twice a year I manage to stall the Civic and that takes special talent.

      A couple of hundred kilometers in and I agree, the stalling will largely be a thing of the past. At least it's not like developping a relationship with a horse. I'm fairly sure the Shadow doesn't think. Heck it may not even have a CPU as powerful as the Vespa's.

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    2. Sounds like Dar is going to give you some (free?) riding lesson ;-)

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    3. Sonja, the free lessons started before I left for Florida to ride the Blue Beast with Michael in the lead. I stalled that one less, but only because it had twice the displacement, so much more torque.

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  9. Ps Betty will look pretty good with saddle bags. I think you might need some leather tassels hanging from the grips (promise me you won't, that's one farkle you can do without)

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    1. We're working on some saddlebags, leather tassles, not so much. Besides, the bike's Kuryakyn grips (chrome and rubber, with a Klingon-inspired motif) are going the way of the Cobra pipes in order to make way for noring Hot Grips.

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  10. Overall fun is a devastating category, but I find it switches between machines as variety is the spice of riding. I'm glad you are continuing to stall, it is your trademark. Don't lose it.

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    1. Michael I completely agree. If I had Doug's ample storage, the Shadow would be number two in a long line of alternatives. A KTM might be number three. Alas, space dictates content, and there's no more of it.

      It's nice to have a trademark, even when it's a trifle embarrassing as in this case. Gives one tbe feeling of being 'one of the guys' :)

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