How Long Do Honda VT700s Last? (4 Examples)

 The Honda VT700, aka the Shadow 700, was a mid-sized cruiser produced between 1984 and 1987.

The Shadow 700 was a simple American-style cruiser outside, but its specs were locked and loaded for its day.

With a liquid-cooled V2, four-stroke 695cc beast of a motor, and a 6-speed wet multi-plate transmission, the Shadow 700 was as reliable as they came back then, but just how long does a Honda Shadow 700 last?


Here’s the Short Answer to How Long Honda VT700 Shadow 700s Last:

The Honda VT700 Shadow 700 can last over 70,000 miles if serviced and maintained routinely, stored securely, and ridden regularly and responsibly. A Honda VT700 has a state-of-the-art engine that can last for more than 30 years if well maintained. 

How Many Miles Do You Get on a Honda VT 700?

A Honda VT700 Shadow 700 will last for more than 70,000 miles if you service it per the owner’s manual maintenance schedule. There are Shadow 700s on the road with over 100,000 miles. Miscellaneous motor parts will wear and tear and require replacement; the engine will keep operating.

But don’t abide my words on the matter–

Here are five instances of real-life VT700 Shadow 700s with high miles that are still on the road:

  1. “Over 60,000 miles on a VT700. Most all my miles ridden are highway miles at 60 to 75 miles an hour. This seems to show that at around 40,000 to 45,000 miles, the rings wear to show up on the plugs as oil fouling/high-speed miss, and then doing a compression check, the tale is told as low, out of spec compression! So if I keep up the pace, mileage-wise, I am suitable for another ten years or so! that will make me 75 then. I rode around lake superior this summer. Looking at going to Seattle next summer! I’ll take her anywhere!! I live in Iowa. not much of anything other than the normal oil, filters, tires, rear brake pads, starter, battery, alternator! The alternator is primarily because of that little wire connector from the alt. to the wiring harness. Cut that little sucker out and solder and shrink wrap the wires if you get a bike! You can thank me later! Also, I do all my maintenance like brake fluid flush, coolant flush, final drive oil change! Not too much for a 21-year-old bike that still runs like new! At the 1st 40,000 mile re-ring also replaced the rubber diaphragms in the carbs. I did not notice them causing any problem other than they had cracks! When doing the re-ring, check the cam chains and tensioners. My cam chains were just out of spec, so I have replaced them twice now!”

  2. “My VT has 85,000 miles on it now; I purchased it new in 1987. About 4000 miles ago did my second re-ring job on it! The bores and pistons were still within spec, and the bottom end is as tight as new!”

  3. “[My VT700 has] over 80,000 miles, runs like new, and will ride anywhere. I replaced a water pump, fuel pump, and a rotted carburetor slide valve diaphragm.”

  4. Another rider I encountered clocked 65,000 miles on their Shadow, noting their VT700 still runs like a clock. They predict a long life on their Shadow and credits the VT700’s 6-speed transmission for robust reliability and long-term longevity.

What Is Considered High Mileage for These Models?

A Honda Shadow 700 is a medium-sized cruiser, and cruisers are considered high-mileage after 50,000 miles. The odometer reading of a VT700 Shadow 700 impacts resale worth but not longevity; a well-kept Shadow can last over 70,000 miles. High-mileage only affects used-market pricing. 

The mileage number on a Honda VT700 is expressive of a negatively affected lifespan only if the bike lacks service documents or shifts hands often. 

A Shadow is a favored option among new riders.

Once a bike has been the first bike to multiple riders, it’s likely been “broken in” rough, repeatedly. 

A VT700 Shadow that’s only had a single owner, on the other hand, has high miles on the odometer, which could represent that the shadowy steed was broken in properly.

A reasonable break-in period is essential to the lifespan of a Honda Shadow 700. This simple but straightforward fact makes examining the vehicle’s ownership and service history more significant than reviewing its mileage.

A Honda VT700 Shadow 700’s record indicates more about how much life it has left than if it’s considered high mileage because:

  • A low-mileage motorcycle odometer reading could result from deterioration or long spans of sitting in a shed unused and unmaintained.  
  • A 700 Shadow with low miles, but a collision record is less practical than a well-kept Shadow with high miles.
  • Search the bike’s VIN and dig up any collision reports associated with the VT700 you’re considering, regardless of the bike’s mileage reading.
  • A high-mileage VT700 Shadow 700 with an evident service record of oil changes, regular fluid top-offs, regular valve clearance inspections, and a previous owner who was careful to store and ride the bike properly will last long despite its considered high mileage. 

In short, while the blue-book value of a Honda Shadow 700 may depreciate after 50,000 miles. If it was maintained regularly and stored and ridden properly, a high-mileage, low-priced VT 700 could be an intelligent purchase.

Related: How Long Do Honda VT250s Last? 3 Examples

How Many Years Does a Honda VT 700 Typically Last?

A Honda VT700 Shadow 700 can last over 30 years if adequately stored, serviced, and cared for in general. There are Shadow 700s that have been on the road since 1984. With a minimum lifespan of around 70,000 miles, VT700 are ridden on average for 4,000 miles a year.

That said, how many years a Honda VT700 Shadow 700 can last depends on multiple factors. 

A few aspects that influence how many years a VT700 endures are: 

  • Commitment to the machine upkeep timetable drafted by Honda in the VT700’s owner’s manual. Per Honda’s instructionsmaintaining steady oil and filter changes, air intake examination, cleaning, replacements, brake services, and all the routine lubricants and checks will keep your VT700 on the highway for years to come. 
  • Standard Shadow 700 upkeep (inflating tires, examining valves clearance, etc.). You must perform VT700-specific maintenance tasks in routine, like reviewing the valves and adjusting them accordingly. Furthermore, some more general inspections, like the PSI in your tires, affect the longevity of your Shadow 700.
  • Lengthy exposure to harsh weather situations, whether scalding or freezing. Exposing a VT 700 to extreme weather circumstances, such as igniting it in below-freezing temperatures, riding it tough on hot summer days, or idling in gridlock for extended spells, will seriously affect how many years the bike will last.
  • How tough you ride your VT 700, and what the bike is used for (travel vs. commuting). Shifting at the appropriate RPMs and maintaining your RPMs where they’re meant to be, as outlined in the owner’s manual, will extend your VT700’s motor life. 

Is the Honda VT700 Reliable?

The Honda VT700 Shadow 700 was considered one of the most reliable medium-cruisers of its day and one of the most reliable machines in the 80s Shadow line. Since its 1984 launch, the VT700 has remained one of the most durable motors of its era. 

Honda VT enthusiasts seem to consent that the soul of the steed is the VT700; its motor is its most vital asset. 

The VT700 came in an era where Honda’s engineering team was celebrated as ahead of the proverbial curve when it came to motor design.

To be sure, Honda had a good thing with earlier engine designs, but with the Shadow 700’s VT700 motor, they enhanced an exemplary thing to be renowned. 

The VT700 engine had hydraulic valve adjustment, one of the expressions of Honda’s successful attempt to engineer reliability. Its motor was a 3-valve liquid-cooled 694cc SOHC V-2 coupled to a shaft-driven 6-speed gearbox, as reliable as they came back then.

The Shadows were never unreliable, but Honda nailed their reliability reputation down with the VT700.

Liquid-cooling is a significant factor in the Shadow 700’s reliability, as motor overheating is a fundamental culprit behind less-than-dependable motorcycle performance. 

Related: 7 Most-Common Problems With Honda VT500

Does a Honda VT 700 Last Longer Than Other Motorcycles?

The Honda Shadow 700 lasts longer than other mid-sized cruisers due to the impressive specs of its VT700 motor. That said, regular maintenance is required to keep VT700s lasting longer than other bikes. 

Even the most reliable vintage cruiser like the Shadow 700 is only as dependable as its owner. 

Routine VT700 maintenance will bring prolonged survival compared to contemporary vintage cruisers. 

  • From oil changes to air filters, regular maintenance and routine servicing is the first step to keeping a Shadow 700 on the road for a long time. 
  • First, oil changes every few thousand miles are crucial to your bike’s overall performance.
  • Inspecting, washing, or replacing your air filter is another straightforward but essential step towards ensuring your Shadow 700 lasts longer than other vintage bikes.

If your VT700’s air filter gets jammed with crud or pierced by debris, your Shadow 700 will run rich or lean, which can shrink its longevity.

As we noted multiple times elsewhere in this piece, the VT700 is a liquid-cooled motor. Liquid-cooled means remaining cooler when idling and riding your VT700 in extreme weather or heavy traffic. 

That said, liquid-cooled system also requires some upkeep, maintaining your coolant levels, and relacing your coolant to keep it fresh. 

Preserving your liquid-cooled VT700 engine will maintain your Shadow 700 better and keep it enduring longer than other bikes.

Related: How Long Do Honda VT600s Last? 6 Examples

What Typically Breaks First on a Honda VT700?

The first thing to break on a Honda VT700 Shadow 700 is frequently its Stater and Regulator/Rectifier. The VT700’s recognized longevity relies on its dependable, consistent sealed, liquid-cooled engine. These sealed motors get hot inside; excessive heat can burn the Regulator/Rectifier early. 

Unfortunately, Honda overlooked the effect the sealed engine would have on specific components in the early days—extended “field” period of troubleshooting is the downside to innovation. 

It took Honda some time to engineer stators and R/Rs that could take the heat the VT700 kept sealed in its liquid-cooled cases. 

The dominance of the Honda Shadow 700’s VT700 ensued before Honda had developed upgraded charging system components; the Regulator/Rectifiers that came stock on the Shadow 700 would sometimes fail early due to the extreme heat exposure. 

The inner engine cases would hot that the coating on the nearby stator wires would become brittle and flake off.

Over time, the deteriorating wires could short out the stator.

An overheating R/R wears stator after stator in this exact manner, causing your replacement stator to fail and be little more than a temporary answer until your R/R itself finally fails, and you replace it. 

  • Other R/Rs on the moto-market handled more dependably, including the more modern R/Rs from Honda.
  • Do some research, as some of the aftermarket and modern components may fit your VT700, while other “Shadow” parts are intended for the newer line.

4 Great Tips to Make Sure Your Honda VT700 Will Last Long

Here are four tips to help prolong your Honda VT700’s life:

  1. Service your VT700 Shadow 700 according to the maintenance plan drafted by Honda in the owner’s manual.
  2. Store your Honda VT700 out of the elements and away from corroding chemicals and dampness.
  3. Examine your Honda VT700 routinely, with awareness of coolant levels, valve clearance, and tire PSI; modify accordingly.
  4. Ride your Honda VT700 responsibly and regularly, sufficiently preparing/winterizing for any long-term storage.
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