The History of the Honda Shadow Aero


The Shadow Aero is a cruiser-style motorcycle designed and produced by the automotive company, Honda. A part of the Shadow family motorcycles, Honda designed the Aero to feature added power over its other cruiser models, as well as a sleek, retro look meant to compete with Harley-Davidson in the classic-cruiser market. In 2011, the starting MSRP for a Honda Shadow Aero was $8,000.


  • After years of research and development, Honda released its first two Shadow models in 1983. The first Shadows were the VT500C and VT750C. Both models featured a cruiser-style design. In 1984, as a direct result of increased tariffs placed on foreign motorcycles in the United States, Honda released the Shadow 700 instead of the 750. Later Honda Shadow models included 600 cc, 800 cc and 1,100-cc motorcycles.

Origin of the Aero

  • In 1995, Honda released the Shadow American Classic Edition, and this would be the precursor to the Aero. In 1998, Honda released the Shadow Aero only as the 1,100 cc, VT1100C3 model. Honda continued to produce the Honda Shadow Aero VT1100 until 2003. In 2004, the company decided to forgo the 1,100 cc size for a smaller 750 cc model. As of 2011, Honda continues to produce the Shadow Aero VT750C.

History of the Shadow-Aero Design

  • In 1998, Honda designed the Shadow Aero with a classic appeal. In fact, according to "1999 Honda Aero Review," "...the Aero was conceived as a kind of contemporary interpretation of the streamlined appliances and machinery that were briefly popular in the late 1930s." The article says that Honda based the Aero designs on work by Raymond Loewy, who also designed the Studebaker Avanti and train locomotives. Notable and original design features on the 1998 Honda Shadow Aero were decorative fenders, laced wheels, whitewall tires, long fishtail exhausts and an attractive headlight nacelle, the chrome shroud around the headlight.

Key Features of the Shadow Aero

  • Although similarities existed between the 1,100 cc ACE and Aero models, there were key differences. For instance, the Aero featured a larger two-into-one exhaust than the ACE model. In addition, the Aero produced approximately 55 horsepower at 4,700 rpm, which was an increase of five horsepower over the ACE. The also Aero weighed 50 lbs. more than the ACE. In 2004, Honda discontinued the 750 ACE, 750 Spirit and 750 Nighthawk in favor of the Shadow Aero VT750. The key difference between the 2004 Shadow Aero and these models was that the Shadow Aero used a quieter, smoother shaft-driven transmission.

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