How Long Do Honda VT800s Last? (4 Examples)

The 1988 Honda VT800C was a one-year-only Shadow V-twin.

Honda achieved these extra cubics by taking the original VT750C and boring it an additional 5.1 millimeters. 

This was the sixth year for Honda’s Shadow series, and because of its exclusivity, the Honda VT800 is an absolute collectible; for all practicality, just how long will a Honda VT800 last?

You will find out in this article.

Here’s the short answer to how long Honda VT800Cs last:

A well-kept Honda VT800C can last for over 70,000 miles. Some 800Cs have been on the road for over three decades and have clocked over 100,000 miles. Still, consequential factors like service, storage, riding, and ownership habits affect the longevity of a VT800.

How Many Miles Do You Get on a Honda VT800C?

You’ll rack up well over 70,000 miles on a VT800C if you’re servicing it per the upkeep timetable in the owner’s manual. Ownership conventions like keeping the bike away from the weather and air-caustic chemicals go a long way.

Other significant factors are how regularly you ride it, and your general riding manners; redlining or stinting your VT800 will shorten its longevity.

But don’t take out word for it; we’ve shuffled the platforms to uncover real-life owners of high-mile Honda VT800C Shadows:

  1. One collector claimed they bought their VT800C Shadow used back in the day with 15,000 miles on it only to pack another 58,000 miles themself.
  2. A VT800C Shadow rider I encountered has a clock-reading of 78,878 miles, all original. 
  3. Another VT800C rider we heard from claims 41,543 miles on their Shadow’s clock. This Shadow proprietor stores their bike in the garage on a trickle charger during the workweek, riding it on his days off. 
  4. And finally, a longtime Honda home mechanic claimed he clocked 127,000 miles onto his VT750C Shadow, the same basic bike with just a slightly smaller engine. This guy said he rides her constantly, and he rides rough. What’s his secret? Regular engine care.

The most influential facet on how many miles a Honda VT800C can last is the owner’s focus on motor maintenance. A well-kept Honda VT800C Shadow’s lifespan will be much more than one that goes 10,000 miles without fresh oil regularly. Servicing your Honda VT800C per the maintenance schedule Honda delineates in the bike’s owner’s manual can preserve your Shadow for well over 70,000 miles.

Fundamental upkeep is an aspect of motorcycle privilege, including oil and filter changes and swapping out or spot-cleaning your air intake filter. The Honda VT800C Shadow is liquid-cooled. A liquid-cooled engine stands up to the heat better than an air-cooled motor, providing you keep up with the bike’s coolant levels and freshness. 

  • Coolant needs to be inspected, topped off as needed, and replaced per the schedule Honda checklists in the owner’s manual.
  • It’s a rare bike, but I’m told the VT800’s owner’s manual is still available online, through Honda, and in forums. 

A liquid-cooled engine ensures your bike stays unperturbed by the heat, both from the internal operation and from sitting in traffic in scorching weather all the time. That said, liquid-cooled motors are sealed and without airflow. 

If you fail to keep up with your Honda VT800C’s coolant levels, its motor can overheat and seize.

Servicing your oil, air cleaner, brake fluid, and engine coolant will keep your Honda VT800C Shadow on the road for way more than 70,000 miles.

However, failing to do so will shorten the number of miles your VT800C will last.

 What Is Considered High Mileage for These Models?

The used market considers a Honda VT800C Shadow high-mileage after about 35,000-40,000 miles. A well-kept VT800C can have more than twice that number; there are more trustworthy attributes than mileage that confirm how much life a VT800C has left. 

The most precise indicator of whether a Shadow’s longevity is up is the cruiser’s history.

Think about it—you want to take home a bike that’s got 10,000 miles and three dents in the tank, or would you prefer one that’s got 30,000 miles on the clock but looks pristine as it’s been ridden responsibly and serviced regularly?

Just because a Honda Shadow VT800C is deemed high-mileage doesn’t mean it’s not in suitable condition; peek into the Shadow’s upkeep history for a more objective review.

  • For instance, a high-mileage Honda VT800C with just a single prior owner is more alluring to me personally than, say, a low-mileage 800C that was the first bike for three different riders. 
  • Nobody wants to pay for a bike that three different people used as a prop to learn how to balance on, redlining the engine to impress their dates.

The most accurate method of deducing whether a Honda VT800C has a long life left isn’t the high mileage; it’s the owner’s use habits. 

See if the owner can provide service history records. If they can, chances are they cared for their Shadow with attention to detail.

  • Poll the owner on how the VT800C was stowed.
  • Ask how he rode it and if it had any previous owners. 
  • If there isn’t a maintenance history, ask the previous VT800C owner specific questions like how often they got the brakes serviced and if they topped the coolant off themselves after riding on hot days, who changed the oil, and how often.
  • If they don’t have explanations for the basic questions, odds are good the seller didn’t ride frequently.
  • Or maybe they rode often but didn’t keep up with general services. 

Either way, routine service and maintenance are more useful than the mileage in specifying the longevity of a Honda VT800C. 

It’s not that high mileage isn’t an element at all, but a Shadow’s worth depends on numerous factors.

  • A VT800C might be deemed high mileage after 45,000 miles, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a good value. 

You may get more than 10 years of riding for just a few grand by buying a Honda VT800C at a cheap price because it’s regarded as high mileage.

Related: How Long Do Honda VTR250s Last? 4 Examples

How Many Years Does a Honda VT800C Typically Last?

A Honda VT800C can last over 30 years, provided it’s ridden responsibly and regularly and winterized before a long storage duration. A VT800C will last decades if it’s stored out of the elements and away from air-caustic chemicals and serviced often. 

A few aspects that can shrink the years a Honda VT800C is suitable for are:

  • Lengthy or chronic exposure to drastic climates, whether hot or cold
  • The owner’s commitment to Honda’s motor upkeep timetable as outlined in the VT800C’s owner manual
  • Checking and preserving tire pressure, brake fluids, valve adjustment, battery voltage, etc. 
  • Riding your VT 800C without overworking the motor and maintaining the idle spec

Is the Honda VT800C Reliable?

The Honda VT800C is regarded as one of the most reliable cruisers for a combination of its components; its robust, mid-sized, liquid-cooled motor and its shaft-driven gearbox. Shaft-driven transmissions require less maintenance and incur minor wear from standard operation.

Reliability is generally assumed to be a matter of engine quality. The VT800C has a sick enough liquid-cooled motor to brag in that class, but the dependability of its shaft-driven transmission does a lot of serious work. 

Honda’s stature as one of the most reliable brands comes from engineering engines that work like a car’s engine; 

  • stable revs in the mid-range, 
  • strong mid-range make downshifting and accelerating smooth, 
  • the motor doesn’t overwork itself and therefore performs reliably for the long haul.

These liquid-cooled V2 motors don’t need to overwork, causing them to be as dependable as a Honda automobile.

Related: How Long Do Honda VT700s Last? 4 Examples

Does a Honda VT800C Last Longer Than Other Motorcycles?

A Honda VT800C lasts longer than other cruisers because of its robust, sealed, and liquid-cooled V-twin engine and shaft-driven gearbox. Shafts undergo less wear, permitting VT800Cs to last longer than competitors. Shaft-driven transmissions demand less maintenance than the chain drives on other bikes. 

Regarding the VT 800C Shadow outliving the rivals, fewer CCs are more. 

Due to the lightweight motor and the innate throttle response of the VT800C’s carb and shaft drive, its horsepower handles like 1200.

Horsepower isn’t always signifying of power. Just because other bikes can put out 80 hp doesn’t mean that they’re not working towards exploding their heads at every twist of the throttle. 

The Honda VT800C Shadow was categorized as a mid-sized cruiser, although size-wise on the upper end. 

It’s a bored-out 750C, which already provided plenty of power, but the 800C’s extra bore stroke action gives it an advantage in the higher gears.

The mere supremacy of Honda’s engine design makes the VT800C Shadow last longer than other motorcycles.

What Typically Breaks First on a Honda VT800C?

The first thing to break on a Honda VT800C Shadow is the starter relay. There will be a clicking noise during starter relay failure. If your VT800C’s starter relay dies, the power surge won’t make it from the battery to the starter motor, and the bike’s engine won’t ignite.

To get a detailed image of how the relay dies, let’s evaluate how the component operates:

    • Your starter relay transmits a signal to your battery as you engage your 800C starter switch. 
    • That signal activates your battery to fire a surge of electricity.
    • The surge your battery releases hits your starter motor, activating the spark that starts your engine. 
    • The electrical surge that ignites the operation can’t reach the starter motor without parting back through the starter relay. 
    • The starter relay facilitates the VT 800C’s battery current in conducting the electrical circuit required to start the VT800C’s motor.

Related: How Long Do Honda VTR 1000s Last? 5 Examples

3 Great Tips to Make Sure Your Honda VT800C Will Last Long

Here are tips to help you get the longest life you can out of your Honda VT800C:

1. Upkeep Your VT 800C Per the Owner’s Manual

  • Check the motor oil quality and level before and after long rides
  • Replace the oil per Honda’s suggestions and upkeep timetable
  •  Use the Honda suggested type and quality of motor oil
  • Oil usage boosts during summer and decreases during winter, so top off per the weather
  • Keep up with brake pads and fluid, air filter, tires, and engine coolant

2. Ride Your VT 800C Appropriately

  • Avoid rash and hard accelerations
  • Avoid hasty braking
  • Avoid high revs and redlining
  • Don’t let the bike sit unused without proper winterization
  • Ride frequently

3. Store Your Honda VT800C Adequately

  • Store your Honda VT800C unexposed to the weather, either underneath a tarp, tent or inside a garage. 
  • Storing your VT800C under a fortified structure is exemplary, but corrosive chemicals like acidic pool cleaner can get airborne and cause corrosion, decreasing the lifespan of your Shadow. 
Was this article helpful? Like Dislike

Click to share...

Did you find wrong information or was something missing?
We would love to hear your thoughts! (PS: We read ALL feedback)