Head-to-Head Showdown: Honda Shadow vs. Kawasaki Vulcan

The main difference lies in their engines; the Shadow comes with a 745 cc engine, whereas the Vulcan has a 649 cc engine. There are some minor differences in torque, transmission, and seat height. For example, the Shadow offers a bit more torque than the Vulcan.

In addition, they are similar in many aspects, like both use twin 4 stroke engines, and they both offer a comfortable ride. So, deciding between them can be quite confusing. Let’s get into the details to clear doubts.

Honda Shadow Specs

The Honda Shadow was first introduced back in 1983 targeting the cruiser bike segment all over the world. Over the years this bike has continued to hold its legacy. 

Their latest model came out in 2023 powered by a masterpiece 745cc liquid cooled engine. 

Additionally, the Shadow’s wide-ratio five-speed gearbox enables you to travel along the highway at a relaxed speed.

Specifications – 2023 Honda Shadow PhantomValues
Engine745cc liquid-cooled 52-degree V-twin four-stroke
Torque47.9 lb/ft
Available colorsAdventure Green, Matte Black Metallic 
Seat height25.8 inches
TransmissionWide ratio five speed
Braking systemFront: 296mm single disc with;  twin-piston caliper; Rear: 180mm drum; 
TiresFront: 120/90-17; 
Rear: 160/80-15

Read Also: 5 Common Honda NT700V Problems And Solutions

Kawasaki Vulcan Specs

The Kawasaki Vulcan is one of the most popular touring series bikes from Kawasaki which was first introduced in 1986. 

It entered the market as an entry level cruiser but soon turned out to be in the premium line with the latest model coming out in 2023.

Latest Vulcan S comes equipped with a 649cc parallel twin engine which provides the perfect power and torque for an excellent cruising experience. 

Specifications – 2023 Kawasaki Vulcan SValues
Engine649cc parallel twin 4-stroke, 2-cylinder, DOHC, liquid-cooled
Torque46.3 lb/ft
Available colorsPearl Matte Sage Green, Metallic flat spark black
Seat height27.8 inches
Transmission6-speed with positive neutral finder
Braking systemFront: Single 300mm disc with twin-piston caliper (and ABS)Rear: Single 250mm disc with;  single-piston caliper (and ABS);
TiresFront: 120/70 x 18; Rear: 160/60×17;

What Are the Similarities Between the Honda Shadow and the Kawasaki Vulcan?

As stated both are similar in many aspects. So before making a comparison between them let us look into the similarities.

Bike Style

When looking at both Honda Shadow and Kawasaki Vulcan you will notice they are both cruiser style bikes intended for long rides. They look exactly the same.

Twin engine

Even though they use engines with different displacements, the engine type is the same. Both of these bikes use twin 4 stroke engines.

Comfortable riding positions

The Vulcan and Shadow both come with similar riding positions, they have a laid back riding position which makes them comfortable for long rides.

Honda Shadow Vs Kawasaki Vulcan: Quick Comparison Table

Even though these bikes might look similar at the first glance but they have many differences between them, our comparison table below will list them for a quick look.

Criteria 2023 Honda Shadow Phantom2023 Kawasaki Vulcan S
Engine745cc liquid-cooled 52-degree V-twin four-stroke649cc parallel twin 4-stroke, 2-cylinder, DOHC, liquid-cooled
Torque 47.9 lb/ft46.3 lb/ft
Final DriveShaftSealed Chain
Seat height25.8 inches27.8 inches
Transmission Wide ratio five speed manual6-speed with positive neutral finder
BrakesFront: 296mm single disc with twin-piston caliperRear: 180mm drumFront: Single 300mm disc with twin-piston caliper (and ABS)Rear: Single 250mm disc with single-piston caliper (and ABS)

Read Also: 5 Common Honda Talon Problems And Their Solutions

What Are The Differences Between honda shadow And kawasaki vulcan?

Honda Shadow and Kawasaki Vulcan vary in many aspects like engine, torque and more. 

Now let’s discuss their differences in detail so you get the point how the differences may influence your riding experience. 


 honda shadow  Engine

Even though both of these bikes use dual twin engines, the displacement and specification varies.

You will find a 745cc liquid-cooled 52-degree V-twin four-stroke engine in the Honda Shadow. 

Whereas the Kawasaki Vulcan S comes with a 649cc parallel twin 4-stroke, 2-cylinder, DOHC, liquid-cooled engine. 

The Honda engine is renowned for its low-end output and torquey qualities. Generally, V-Twin engines produce excellent low-end and midrange power. 

On the other hand, an excellent mix of power and smoothness is often provided by the Kawasaki Vulcan S.


Another minor difference between them is the engine torque; the Shadow comes with a torque of 47.9 lb/ft which is a tad higher than the 46.3 lb/ft torque of the Vulcan.

Even though the difference in torque is very less you will still notice some difference in performance during riding. 

The Honda Shadow can provide better accelerations and responsiveness at low speeds. 

On the other hand, the Vulcan can be suitable for riders who want higher RPM ranges and a sporty bike riding experience.

Read Also: Honda ST1100 Problems [Quick Troubleshooting Guide]

Final Drive 

For regular users, the final drive may not matter much but if you are a bike enthusiast it can be a deal breaker for you. 

Honda Shadow uses a shaft drive system as a final drive but the Kawasaki Vulcan uses a sealed chain. 

The sealed chain system usually requires more maintenance than the shaft drive system. 

However, power delivery can be more efficient in the sealed chain system as there are less mechanical parts than the shaft drive system.

Seat Height

The Shadow has a lower seat height of 25.8 which can provide a more laid back riding position and can be better for riders with shorter height.

Whereas, the Vulcan has a higher seat height of 27.8 inches which provides a more upright sitting position. 

This can be more suitable for riders who are taller and prefer upper riding positions.


The Honda Shadow comes with a five speed manual transmission to guarantee effortless gear changes and a comfortable ride. 

And, this system offers a wider variety of gear ratios, enabling better adaptation to various riding circumstances.

On the other hand, the Kawasaki Vulcan S comes with a 6 speed manual transmission with a positive neutral finder. 

Hence, you will have more gear changing options than the Shadow. Additionally, the positive neutral finder mechanism helps the rider to locate neutral while changing gears more quickly.

Braking System

One of the key features of any bike is the braking system; braking system and your safety is highly interrelated. 

The Honda Shadow has 296mm single disc front brake with twin-piston calipers and a 180mm drum in rear. 

You will get efficient braking performance and better modulation thanks to the twin piston caliper.

Whereas, the Kawasaki Vulcan S is equipped with a single 300mm disc with twin-piston caliper (and ABS) in the front and 250 mm single disc with single-piston caliper (and ABS) in the rear.

The larger disc size means there will be a better heat dissipation in the braking along with greater stopping power. Moreover, the added ABS provides extra safety in the braking.

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Honda Shadow or Kawasaki Vulcan: Which Cruiser Motorcycle to Choose?

Making the final decision between Kawasaki Vulcan S and Honda Shadow Phantom can be confusing due to the many similarities they have. 

If you are on the taller side looking for a more sporty riding experience and you like an upright sitting position, the Vulcan can be a good choice. Additionally, the 6 gear transmission will allow you to have better control.

On the other hand, if you are a bit on the shorter side and you prefer laid back cruising style, the Shadow can be a great choice. It will also be more friendly for beginners due to its low riding position. 


If you are thinking of buying a cruiser bike between the Honda Shadow and Kawasaki Vulcan, the choice can be confusing. So, keep reading our FAQs below, which will help you clear up your confusion. 

Which Is More Beginner Friendly: The Honda Shadow Or The Kawasaki Vulcan?

Both of these bikes are beginner friendly as they are easier to control and they have comfortable riding positions. However, the Honda Shadow might be a superior option for beginners due to its laid back seating and low riding style. 

Which Bike Is Heavier : The Honda Shadow Or The Kawasaki Vulcan?

The Honda Shadow has a weight of 549 pounds compared to the 498.3 pounds of the Kawasaki Vulcan. So, generally speaking the Kawasaki Vulcan should be easier to move around than the other option. 

Does The Kawasaki Vulcan Or Honda Shadow Come With An ABS Braking System?

Only Kawasaki Vulcan offer ABS braking system which is a great addition; ABS braking provides the riders with extra safety during sudden brakes. On the other hand Honda Shadow only offers disc and drum brakes. 

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