The Honda Shadow 1100 Is Too Powerful For A First Bike
Anything over 600ccs of power for a first-time bike is a lot. The torque of the 1100 engine can get you into trouble without proper experience. The VT1100C engine has a displacement of 1099 cm3 / 66.9 cui with a horsepower net of 58.4 kW / 79.4 PS / 78.4 hp (SAE net) at 6000 RPMs. The torque net is 99 Nm / 73 ft-lb at 4500 RPMs. Packing 3 valves per cylinder the Shadow 1100 can peak at 120 MPH. Without the necessary experience, lifting the front wheel, exploding out of a full stop, over-steering from excessive speed, and shooting through traffic can all be very dangerous.
The power is excessive for two reasons. First, the learning curve for a first bike will be slow. Mistakes will be made. You have to ask yourself, “Do I want to make a mistake at 20 MPH or 120 MPH?” With more power comes more risk, and the risk of life or limb on a 1100cc engine is not worth it. If you’re an athletically dexterous rider that can pick it up easily on the first try: you are the exception that proves the rule.
Secondly, excessive power is enticing. No matter what your skill level, the temptation to use your equipment as designed is overwhelming. When starting out, it’s always better to work your way up the cc ladder one step at a time. Building the fundamentals of proper riding technique on a lighter, less powerful bike is vital to learning better early habits,
Many riders attest to enjoying “unrestrained joy” when riding their 600cc bikes because you can really open them up. But they often complain about the mental and emotional restraint it takes to ride a 1000cc bike that demands constant cautious constraint to keep the unbridled power in check. The limitations of traffic, speed limits, and everyday riding conditions are not suited for machines that are made for the professional track.
The Honda Shadow 1100 Is Too Heavy For A First Bike
At over 600 pounds with a full tank of gas, this motorcycle is going to be a beast to lift off the ground. Maybe you can be a first-time bike owner and never spill your ride, but some do. And when that happens, a lot can go wrong. At this bone-crushing weight, you can get burned, broken, and seriously injured … never mind trying to lift it back upright. A heavier bike by the nature of physics will be more difficult to deal with, and everyone makes first-time mistakes. If that mistake results in a tip over, you’ll wish you’d started with something lighter.
The true test of riding skill is not at faster speeds when the bike rides with solid lines, but at slower speeds where steering and mobility are more difficult to control. During your motorcycle test for a license, you are tested on slowly working your way through pylons, and a heavyweight bike makes it far more complex of a task.
If you’re sold on buying a 1100cc engine as a first bike, the Honda Rebel is about a hundred pounds lighter with the same power. This might be a better option especially since it has several driving modes that can help beginner slowly progress their skills when starting out. Weight affects mobility, especially at slower speeds.
The Honda Shadow 1100 Is Too Stressful For A First Bike
Enjoying a stress-free bike experience is one of the most important reasons for owning a motorcycle. It’s about the road, the wind, and the sound of power as you practically fly through space and time. Describing the freedom that comes with open-air riding is difficult. But the point is that it should be exciting and stress relieving not stress inducing. Pushing the limits of your skill set too early ruins the experience.
The first time you went to an amusement park, you didn’t head for the massive, iron behemoth in the middle of the park. You rode the Winne-The-Pooh ride and worked your way up to the Snoopy Coaster, and then the Pirates of the Caribbean ride. By the end of the night, you would finally approach the twisting, high-speed monster coasters. The same is true for riding. Work your way up to the larger engines, and enjoy the process. Step up little by little, and the thrills will be incrementally better each time. It is the spoiled rotten bratty child that demands everything now. Save something for later, and get the lower cc engine for your first bike.
Confidence Is Key
When you feel good you’ll enjoy the experience better. The positive energy will reflect in your cycle skills. When your confidence is compromised your skills will be as well. You’ll enjoy it less, ride your bike less, and maybe even give up altogether. It’s discouraging to be stressed out when you’re starting a new hobby. Your mode of transportation should transport you to another world, but this takes skill built from confidence.
Learning a new skill set on a lighter, more agile, less powerful bike will build the confidence to get you to that other world. Stepping up in ccs with a new more powerful bike is a fun next phase in your new hobby. Moving too quickly in the world of motorcycles is not only dangerous but less thrilling. Starting with a 250cc or 450cc keeps the fun in learning the fundamentals of riding; therefore, I do not recommend starting with a Honda Shadow 1100.
About THE AUTHOR
Benjamin Rathbun has been hooked on motorcycles since 1987 when he bought his first bike, a 1973 Honda CBR450 for $300. Since then he has been through countless bikes and continued his two-wheeled hobby passing it down to his 21-year-old son who rides with him on the weekends in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Benjamin believes that nothing clears the mind faster than flying 26 inches above the asphalt on his Harley-Davison.Read More About Benjamin Rathbun