Although motorcycle sales have taken a serious downturn along with the economy, middleweight cruisers are still a big chunk of the market. That’s because most brand new riders choose this size motorcycle as their first bike and re-entry riders choose the midsize bike as they re-enter the market as well.
Honda offers two new midsize bikes for 2010; the Shadow RS which I reviewed a couple of months ago, and the subject of this review, the Honda Phantom. The 750 Aero and Spirit are still available though no 2010 models are listed on Honda’s website. According to “anonymous” sources at Honda, the Aero and Spirit have not been discontinued. However, since dealers are still sitting with 2009 and even 2008 versions, Honda saw no reason to produce 2010 Aeros and Spirits. The bottom line, you now have four middleweight cruisers to choose from at your Honda dealership.
By far, the Phantom is the hottest looking of the 750’s. Honda went with the blacked out custom look which is all the rage these days. The handlebars, air filter cover, primary cover, the lower forks, the headlight shroud and the spoke rims are all matte black. What hasn’t been blacked out has a matte brushed aluminum cover. A few chrome bits remain such as the 2 into 2 shotgun exhausts, the mirrors and gas cap, that’s about it.
The Phantom is also long and low. It has a 64.5” wheelbase, a 34 degree rake and a low 25.7” seat height. Up front, the bobbed front fender covers a wide 120mm tire on a 17” rim. A single 296mm twin piston caliper brake does the stopping. Out back, a drum brake will have to do. The rear tire is a reasonably wide 160/80-15. There are dual shocks with spring preload adjustability offering 3.5” of travel.
While the 745cc liquid cooled 52 degree V-twin is a carryover from years past, it is now fuel injected. The wide ratio 5-speed transmission is geared just right to take advantage of the motors’ sweet spots. A shaft drive puts the power to the rear wheel. Honda accomplished its goal of a highly stylized bad ass looking cruiser, as they say; the proof is in the pudding. Looking cool isn’t enough, the bike’s gotta be a cool ride as well.
Fortunately, the Shadow Phantom can deliver the goods. The riding position is just about perfect. The reach to the bars is just right. The forward controls fall readily to, foot? The clutch is an easy pull affair, the shifter is light and smooth and the available power is more than enough. The bike provided to me by Lakeland Fun Bike Center had a Cobra 2 into 2 blacked out drag pipe look that sounded and looked great, but did sacrifice a bit of low-end torque as no fuel injection enhancement device had been added. Once the revs climbed a bit, the 750 moved out just fine. You’ll easily leave normal traffic behind at a stop light. While the motor is a single pin crank without balance shafts, it is very smooth throughout the rev range. At highway speeds, the Phantom doesn’t begin to get a little buzzy until 75 mph or so. A quick pass at highway speeds will call for a downshift. While the Phantom can hold its own on the freeway, that’s not what this bike is designed for…the Phantom is a boulevard cruiser and at that, it excels. Maneuvering through traffic is a breeze. Handling on a winding road is a pleasure because there’s plenty of lean angle available with the forward mounted pegs. The transmission offers just the right ratios to keep you cooking through the twisties.
Overall, the Shadow Phantom is a terrific looking bike that’s a ball to ride. It handles very well at all speeds and has plenty of power. With Honda’s reputation for bulletproof reliability and 50 mpg, you can’t go wrong. For a closer look, head down to Fun Bike Center Motorsports at 1845 E. Memorial Blvd, Hwy. 92 and Gary Road, Lakeland, FL 33801. You can also give them a call, 800-226-3008, tell them Motorman sent ya.
Copyright 2010 Jerry “Motorman” Palladino