The Bikers Den

Honda Shadow Project

I got a 1993 Honda Shadow 1100VT in trade for some solar gear this winter.  It was in good condition for a 15+ year old bike, well ridden with 40,000 miles.  It was well maintained but had signs of its age such as rusty chrome, tank dents, scrapes and various broken and worn parts.  It was the “classic” black tins with white inners and red pinstripes.  Of course it also had the honking Honda Shadow logo on the sides of the tank.  The only upgrade that seemed to have been done was the addition of a nice Mustang seat.   The previous owner also gave me a set of bags he had for the bike- perfectly functional but ugly as hell.  They were stripped off almost as soon as he left.  A perfect project for an overhaul!

The Shadow project as it began

The Shadow project as it began

One of the first things I did was hit the chrome with various polishes to try and rid the bike of tarnish and rust.  It seemed like a never ending job.  I also wiped down the engine and frame to get rid of years of road dust and grime.  It seems like this is still needed but there is a noticeable difference on quite a few of the parts like the exhaust, lights and sissy bar frame and shocks.  I then started to go through the basic functions of the bike.  Most of the switches were stiff so I did a combination of spraying them out with contact cleaner and disassemble/cleaning to get them working better.  One thing I did notice was the foot brake pedal did not trigger the brake lights.  I fittled around with the switch and wiring long enough to realize the switch needed to be replaced.  I found a replacement switch from a parted out 1993 Shadow 600 and figured close enough.  Hit buy on Ebay and waited for it to arrive.  The connector was a bit different and shorter than the one on my Shadow so I spliced the old wire and connectors together to make a working switch.   After a few minutes af adjustments I had a perfectly functioning rear brake pedal and lights.

At this point I was confident enough to register the bike with the MVA giving me 30 days to get a safety inspection done.  I scheduled it for a Friday I had off and watched the weather forecast carefully.  December weather around here could be a full blizzard or acceptable riding weather- I was banking on something closer to the later.  The day came and was good for riding with good gear and the inspection was uneventful.  I got the full registration, title and documentation and it was time to start playing.

I watched Ebay for things I might need and began ordering.  I picked up- a brake pedal cover, a sissy bar bag, used but great condition saddle bags, LED bulbs, LED flasher unit, generic chrome bolt covers, chrome cable covers, chrome radiator cover, replacement bolts for the tins and paints to redo the tank and fenders.  For paint I decided to use Auto-air paints since I have been playing with airbrushes for years and used the various paints from this company and have been pleased with the results.  I settled on nightmare blue hot rod sparkle for the main color and accents with aluminum large flake.  To do this I needed to set down a base of dark sealer.  I ordered a quart of each (way, way more than I needed) and reducer along with 6 spray cans of 2K clear coat.

I stripped off the fenders, gas tank and 2 fork wraps from the bike.  I also had a windshield by Givi I wanted to add to the bike so I stripped it of the hardware and shield so it could be prepped.  To prep the parts I used a tube or redi-mix body filler on the tank dents.  I built up a few layers to fill the dents.  I then began the task of sanding.  I did it all by hand and simply scuffed the fork covers and windshield frame.  The tank and fenders needed a much more heavy sanding to get through the pinstriping, decals and smooth out the filler.  i then got everything wiped down and setup in my garage for painting.  I used a cheap $12 HarborFreight Quick Change Airbrush and my Paske Talon Airbrush for all of the spraying.  I layed down 5-8 coats of the dark sealer as a base on all of the parts using a heat gun to dry coats after being applied.  It went on great and was reduced with the recommended reducer 1:4.  I then applied the blue sparkle in a similar fashion with the first coat being a real light dusting.  I applied at least 8 coats of the sparkle.  After letting everything settle for 48 hours I then hit everything with a water based clear top coat to hold it down.

I cut my designs for the graphics using a plotter/cutter on removable vinyl.  It took me a few attempts to get the sizes of the designs I wanted right.  I settled on a tribal-like theme.  i cut stencils for the tank tops, sides, front fender and rear fender.  I weeded the templates and stuck clear transfer tape to the top of the vinyl stencils so I could peel off the backing and not go crazy trying to place them on the parts.  Once I had everything laid down where I wanted I hit the openings of the stencils with a quick coat of the water based clear coat to prevent the paint from bleeding under the vinyl.  I then hit the stencils with the aluminum large flake which I reduced the same of the other paints.  This stuff is a pain in the ass to work with!  The flakes a heavy and the base of the paint is thin and it dries slow- a perfect recipe for runs, drips and complete paint avalanches.  It also built up really quick and looked super sloppy.  I almost gave up but hung in there until I had decent coverage but it was so damn thick it obscured the stencil edges.  I let it dry for a few days and it did settle down but I was not sure how it would edge when I removed the stencil.

I then added highlights and shading to the design using my Talon airbrush.  During the process both my main airbrush compressor and heat gun up and died on me.  I switched out to a small backup compressor and old blow dryer.  Anyone who has airbrushed using templates knows you don’t really know what you have until you unmask.  I really though the aluminum paint would tear or lift when I unmasked so I was reluctant to do it.  I was surprised when it came off clean and the edges were super sharp.  It was time for clear coating.  I had 6 cans of the clear coat and used every last bit.  About half way through I stopped, gave the stuff a few days to cure and did a 1500 grit wet sand to take out some of the roughness and hopefully give me a glassy finish.  I only got in 2 really good coats after the wet sanding before I ran out of clear coat.  I would have liked to have a few more coats on it to give it more depth but didn’t want to order more clear coat and wait so I declared the painting portion done.

Shadow Tins Painted

Shadow Tins Painted

I let everything cure for a few days before reassembling the bike.  I still have to get some parts to mount the shield.  I look off the rear chrome rack and removed the rear signals from the bike.  The Matzui Semi-Hard Bags mounted using the 2 rear bolt holes on the fenders where the sissy bar is bolted on.  Everything assembled well and took about 2 hours to get secured.  I only need to install new rear signals which I ordered and should have in a few days.  I’m using LED reflectors that bolt onto the license plate sides and will add 2 LED strips to the saddle bags for improved visibility.

Shadow Done Rear

Shadow Done Rear

Shadow Done Side

Shadow Done Side

Shadow Done Front

Shadow Done Front

Shadow Done Tank

Shadow Done Tank

Still to come- new tires, new footpegs.

 

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