Riding a motorcycle is one of my favourite hobbies. I had a 2004 Suzuki Katana 600 for a few years until selling it to buy an engagement ring for the stunning woman who is now my wife. I've gone the last few years without riding because weddings are expensive and the economy wasn't great for a sales guy last year.
I was finally able to get back on a motorcycle for the first time since July 2008 earlier this month.
I decided to go with a 2001 Honda Shadow.
This is a very different bike from my previous experience. First of all, the biggest difference is that this is a cruiser style bike compared to the sport-touring nature of the Katana. That means a very different riding position, which is far more comfortable for a longer ride. You're sitting up with your legs in front of you instead of crawling forward to control the bike. I had a bit of a hard time on my first ride because I kept trying to put my feet in the position I was used to and there is nothing there except the exhaust.
The engine on the Honda Shadow is a 745CC compared to the 600CC on the Katana. What I've noticed so far is that there is more torque with the shadow on the low end than the Katana. The Shadow doesn't really feel like it wants to go that fast whereas the Katana was really just warming up at around 7,000-8,000 RPM. There is no tachometer on the Shadow so I can only go by sound and feel, but I would guess it's happiest around 3,000-4,000 RPM.
Here is a great review of my exact model of Honda Shadow Spirit 750.
With the Katana, I would find myself up around 140-170km/h without even thinking about going fast. I was constantly reminding myself to slow down. That's one of the big reasons I stayed away from the sportier style of bikes this time around.
The Shadow is happiest at 80km/h in 4th gear or 100km/h in 5th gear. Not that it isn't capable of moving quickly, it just has an obvious preference for certain speeds. This makes for a great riding experience along country roads or winding hills, Which is more in line with what I want to do anyway.
As for the rest of the gear, I am riding with a Shoei helmet, Alpine Stars Gloves, and a Joe Rocket jacket and boots.
I fell in love with this helmet when I first saw the movie How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days. For some reason, it was pretty hard to find this helmet. I looked for 3 years before finding it at the Toronto International Motorcycle Show. This is my second helmet, both of which have been Shoei brand. This time around I went with the Shoei Multitec flip up, mostly because I like the flexibility of being to ride with an open face on occasion. It also doesn't hurt that it makes the helmet much easier to get on and off. I love how quiet it is, even at high speeds. Overall, very well worth the investment.
The Alpine Stars SP2 gloves are made for racing and have all of the necessary safety features that you would want if you were to be in a high-speed crash. I don't necessarily need this much protection for what I'll be doing, but I figure it can't hurt. It has extra thick padded leather and carbon fibre knuckle protectors and is pre- formed to make it easy for you to grip the controls of your motorcycle. The black on black colour is perfect for bringing this sports glove to a cruiser.
I bought this jacket when I first got the Katana. You will immediately notice that it is black and blue, which is a bit of a fashion faux pas on a cruiser, but I like the jacket so much that I don't care one bit! It has removable ventilation areas, extra padding and built in armour to protect the elbows and the spine.
The great thing about motorcycle gear is that the more you wear it, the more comfortable it gets. I need to work the gloves in a little more but, everything else is perfect.
As a good friend once told me, remember to keep the rubber side down.