cruiser motorcycles

Yamaha Virago 535 Vs Honda Shadow VLX 600: Detailed Review & Comparison

Yamaha Virago 535 Vs Honda Shadow VLX 600: Detailed Review & Comparison

Two of the pioneer Japanese motorcycle manufacturers, Yamaha and Honda, have always remained in the top spot when it comes to manufacturing entry-level cruisers. Both brands have always come with different branding and marketing strategies which have proved to be successful in most cases. Both motorcycle brands aim to produce a large number of units to reach more customers/riders around the world.

Two such great examples and attempts to capture the base-level cruiser market by both Yamaha and Honda include the Yamaha Virago 535 and the Honda Shadow VLX 600. Both these distinctive chopper-style bikes were successful models of their times which garnered immense public attention.

The Yamaha Virago 535, also known as XV535, is a slim mid-size cruiser and one of the few base-level bikes with a shaft drive. This bike had the most awkward, yet uniquely-styled stock handlebars ever seen on a cruiser. Meanwhile, the Honda Shadow VLX 600 can be referred to as a chopper due to its raked-out slim forks and a Softail-style tail section with the mono-shock hidden underneath the seat. Continue reading this article to learn about the detailed comparison between the Yamaha Virago 535 and the Honda Shadow VLX 600.

1. Specs Comparison: Yamaha Virago 535 Vs Honda Shadow VLX 600

Specs Comparison: Yamaha Virago 535 Vs Honda Shadow VLX 600
Yamaha Virago 535
Honda Shadow VLX 600
General Info
Yamaha Maker Honda
Virago 535 Model Shadow 600 Also Known as: Shadow VLX
XV535 Model ID VT600C
2004 Year Model 2008
Cruiser Motorcycle Type Cruiser
1988 Introduced in (Year) 1988
2004 Discontinued in (Year) 2008
Yamaha DragStar / V-Star 650 (XVS650) Successor Honda Shadow Phantom 750 (VT7502CA)
N/A Original Price $5,499
Around $2,000 Used Bike Price $3,000-3,500
535 cc Displacement 583 cc
V-Twin; Four-Stroke Engine Engine Type 52° V-Twin; Four-Stroke Engine
Two No. of Cylinders Two
SOHC; Two Valves Per Cylinder Valve Train SOHC; Three Valves Per Cylinder
59 mm Stroke 66 mm
76 mm Bore 75 mm
9:1 Compression Ratio 9.2:1
TCI (Digital) Ignition CD with Electronic Advance
Electric Starter Electric
Twin Mikuni BDS34 Carburetors Fuel Delivery System 34 mm Single Diaphragm-Type Constant-Velocity Carburetor
Slash-Cut Separate Dual Chrome Exhaust pipes Exhaust System Separate Dual Chrome Exhaust Pipes
47 Nm at 6,000 rpm Peak Torque 51 Nm at 3,500 rpm
46 hp / 34 kW at 7,500 rpm Peak Horsepower 41 hp / 30.6 kW at 6,500 rpm
161 kmph / 100 mph Top Speed Around 161 kmph / 100 mph
5.8 sec Acceleration (0-60 mph) 6.4 sec
47 mpg Fuel Economy 55 mpg (Average)
Five-Speed Constant Mesh Gearbox Four-Speed; Wide Ratio
Shaft Drive Final Drive O-Ring Sealed Chain Drive
Wet, Multi-Plate, Cable Operated Clutch Wet, Multi-Plate, Cable Operated
Steel; Pressed Backbone Frame Frame Double Cradle Steel Frame
298 mm Single-Disc Brake with Dual-Piston Caliper Front 296 mm Single-Disc Brake with Dual-Piston Caliper
Drum Brake Rear 160 mm Drum Brake
Telescopic Front Fork Front 39 mm Telescopic Front Fork
No Adjustability (Front) No
150 mm / 5.9 in Wheel Travel (Front) 145 mm / 5.7 in
Twin Rear Shocks Rear Softail-Style Single Rear Shock 
No Adjustability (Rear) No
85 mm / 3.4 in Wheel Travel (Rear) 90 mm / 3.5 in
Wheels & Tires
Steel Wire-Spoked Wheels Wheel Type Steel Wire-Spoked Wheels
19 in Front Wheel (Size) 19 in
15 in Rear Wheel (Size) 15 in
3.00S-19 4PR Front Tire 100/90 R19
140/90-15M/C 70S Rear Tire 170/80 R15
Dimensions & Measurements
182 kg / 401.2 lbs Dry Weight 207 kg / 546.4 lbs
195 kg / 430 lbs Wet Weight 214 kg / 472 lbs
720 mm / 28.3 in Seat Height 690 mm / 27.2 in
1,520 mm / 59.8 in Wheelbase 1,600 mm / 63 in
160 mm / 6.3 in Ground Clearance N/A
125 mm / 4.92 in Trail 161 mm / 6.3 in
31.5° Rake 35°
3.56 US gal Fuel Tank Capacity 2.9 US gal
1,120 mm / 44.1 in Overall Height 1,120 mm / 44.1 in
780 mm / 30.7 in Overall Width 840 mm / 33.1 in
2,225 mm / 87.6 in Overall Length 2,355 mm / 92.7 in

2. Aesthetics: Yamaha Virago 535 Vs Honda Shadow VLX 600

2.1 Aesthetics: Yamaha XV535 Virago

Aesthetics: Yamaha XV535 Virago
Photo Credit: Bikes Wiki

Aesthetically, the Yamaha Virago 535 is a well-built and beautifully finished bike with several distinctive elements that you may not find on any other motorcycle. Overall, this bike has a slim silhouette with several lightweight and chrome-finished parts. The exhaust pipes are also small and curvy with a slash-cut tail section. Despite the taller front-end stature and 19-inch large front wheel, the forks are less raked-out than the Honda Shadow VLX 600, resulting in a shorter wheelbase. Resultantly, the seat height of this bike becomes slightly taller, compared to the Shadow VLX 600 and most conventional cruisers. The Yamaha XV535 Virago has a high ground clearance of 6.3 inches which is not common in cruiser bikes.

To save up the space between the twin cylinders, the twin Mikuni carburetors are nicely placed between them, and the air filter cover is fixed slightly forward on top of the front cylinder. The gas tank looks quite small and slim but still, this bike has an adequate gas storage capacity of 3.56 US gal thanks to the under-seat fuel storage compartment to help improve the range of this bike. The rider and passenger seats are well cushioned and have a rough look, giving a classic vibe to this bike.

The front and rear fenders are also quite light and slim and are neatly chopped to ensure a proper view of the wire-spoked wheels and tires. The Yamaha XV535 Virago also features a small round-shaped headlamp with a single dial gauge resting on top of it.

2.2 Aesthetics: Honda VT600C Shadow VLX

Aesthetics: Honda VT600C Shadow VLX
Photo Credit: Mikes Motorbike

The V in the VLX stands for “V-Twin engine”, L means “Lowered”, and the X depicts the extended front forks/rake. Overall, the Honda Shadow VLX is a V-Twin conventional cruiser with a chopper front-end look. The rider seat has been shaved off to make it slim, resulting in a huge dip. Meanwhile, the passenger seat is installed at a good height, on top of the elevated rear fender.

The Honda Shadow VLX is an overall skinnier cruiser with slim and lightweight motorcycle parts. This bike's taller front end is due to the 19-inch large front wheel and adequately raked-out skinny forks. The frame of this bike is also a conventional chopper-style with an inclined backbone, meeting at the rear wheel axle which allowed the rider seat to be installed at a low height. As you move towards the rear, the tail section gets taller thanks to the chubby rear tire and elevated rear mudguard and passenger seat. The Shadow 600 VLX has a similar headlamp and a single-dial gauge. The gas tank is quite small, offering only 2.9 gal of fuel-carrying capacity. This bike also has separate dual short exhaust pipes. Being a chopper, the Honda Shadow VLX 600 has a bigger wheelbase and is wider than the Yamaha Virago 535, making it a substantially heavier bike.

3. Engine & Performance: Yamaha Virago 535 Vs Honda Shadow VLX 600

3.1 Engine & Performance: Yamaha XV535 Virago

The Yamaha Virago was discontinued in 2004, but you can still find a used Virago 535 in perfect condition. There are several positive aspects of why this bike is still a desirable entry-level cruiser and ideal for learning motorcycle riding. Firstly, the engine size is only 535 cc which is reasonable for new riders. Regardless of being a low-capacity cruiser, it does not compromise on its pretty looks.

As soon as you open the throttle, the Virago 535 picks up the pace nicely. Though the acceleration is not abrupt, the power delivery is quite linear and smooth. If you are a trained intermediate rider, you will find this motorbike boring due to its unimpressive peak power and base-level engine. The 535 cc V-Twin engine produces only 34 kW of horsepower at 7,500 rpm and a torque of 47 Nm at 6,000 rpm, making it a slow-moving bike.

The XV535 Virago can touch a top speed of around 100 mph but the ride does not remain comfortable and enjoyable as the handlebars start to buzz excessively. The shaft final drive serves as a crucial component on this bike to make sure the ride stays smooth as you accelerate.

3.2 Engine & Performance: Honda VT600C Shadow VLX

Another great entry-level bike by Honda in the mid-size cruiser category is the Honda VT600C Shadow VLX. This bike looks small from the exterior but as soon as you get on this bike, it feels good and fun to ride. The good thing about the low-capacity engine is that the power output is very well distributed across the gear levels and it accelerates smoothly. The overall weight of this bike, together with its engine, makes it an exciting bike for beginners. The one major downside of the Honda Shadow VLX 600 is its four-speed transmission which gives an edge over its competitors like the Yamaha Virago 535 or the Yamaha V-Star 650. The 583 cc 52° V-Twin power plant generates a decent power output of 41 hp at 6,500 rpm and a torque of 51 Nm at 3,500 rpm. The engine, together with the nicely fitted exhaust pipes, produces a nice sound.

4. Riding Position & Comfort: Yamaha Virago 535 Vs Honda Shadow VLX 600

4.1 Riding Position & Comfort: Yamaha XV535 Virago

Riding Position & Comfort: Yamaha XV535 Virago
Photo Credit: Motorcycle News

Starting with the most unusual feature of the Yamaha Virago 535, this bike has one of the most distinctive handlebar designs. The handlebar is installed on top of reclining risers to provide it a reasonable height and pulled-back angle. The handlebar is fitted to the risers such that it then tilts in the opposite direction to the rider and as it extends, it curves back to stay within a good reach. Due to being extra curvy, the bars are not wide but the reasonable height allows riders to sit in a comfortable upright riding posture.

The legroom on this bike is not quite spacious as the foot controls are somewhere slightly behind the forward position. However, the rider does not feel his/her legs excessively kinked up during the ride. Overall, the rider triangle and ergonomics of this bike make it perfect for average-sized riders.

4.2 Riding Position & Comfort: Honda VT600C Shadow VLX

Riding Position & Comfort: Honda VT600C Shadow VLX
Photo Credit: Motorcycle Cruiser

Despite its smaller stature and size, the Honda Shadow VLX does not feel like a smaller cruiser when you sit on it. Comfort-wise, it offers a spacious rider triangle as you may find on a mid-size and large conventional cruiser. The foot controls are sufficiently forward to make the rider stay relaxed during long-distance rides. The seat height is quite low as you sit on it for a flat foot operation even if you have a normal or short height.

The buckhorn-style handlebars on the Honda VT600C Shadow VLX are nicely reclined, making riders sit upright. The arm position is also quite comfortable and slightly high due to the low seat position and a taller front end. The ergonomics of this bike suit almost all types of riders.

5. Maneuverability & Handling: Yamaha Virago 535 Vs Honda Shadow VLX 600

5.1 Maneuverability & Handling: Yamaha XV535 Virago

The Yamaha XV535 Virago takes enormous advantage of its slim design and low weight in terms of light and confidence-boosting handling. This bike performs exceptionally well whether it is smooth linear performance or turning corners at different speed levels. All the brilliant qualities this bike encompasses, including agility, light handling, nimbleness, and low weight, make it a true beginner-friendly bike.

The Yamaha Virago 535 has a narrow front tire profile wrapped around a large wheel and a fat and wide rear tire. Such arrangement enable impeccable linear performance, stability, control, road grip, and traction. The Virago 535 also has ample ground clearance for an improved turning radius and cornering clearance.

5.2 Maneuverability & Handling: Honda VT600C Shadow VLX

There are several opinions regarding the handling and maneuverability of the Honda Shadow VLX 600. This is because it depends on how skillful the rider is. The Honda VT600C Shadow handles decently and is an easy-to-ride bike. It has an overall slim and lightweight design to ensure better control and stability. Comparatively, the Shadow VLX is heavier and bigger than the Yamaha Virago 535. This bike has a longer wheelbase, a narrow front tire profile, and a large front wheel, providing it a raked-out front forks. The chopper-style front end ensures better linear and cruising performance on highways and open roads but it makes the Shadow VTX a less suitable bike for riding within the city and particularly on busy roads. This bike also has a low ground clearance, making it difficult to turn tight corners without scrapping the foot pegs.

6. Pros & Cons: Yamaha Virago 535 Vs Honda Shadow VLX 600

6.1 Pros & Cons: Yamaha XV535 Virago

Yamaha XV535 Virago Pros Yamaha XV535 Virago Cons
Unconventional cruiser styling Not suitable for longer rides
Distinctive handlebars’ style The overall ergonomics are less comfortable
Lightweight Basic performance characteristics
Features slim silhouette Low-powered engine
Decent ground clearance Not suitable for cruising
Uniquely designed exhaust system Handlebars start to vibrate at moderate speeds
Well-padded seat  
Ensures upright riding stance  
Handles and maneuvers well  
Good for beginners  
A low-priced used bike model  
Perfect for riding on busy roads  

6.2 Pros & Cons: Honda VT600C Shadow VLX

Honda VT600C Shadow VLX Pros Honda VT600C Shadow VLX Cons
Perfect beginner-friendly cruiser Small fuel tank size
Adequately stylish Low ground clearance
Suitable for light cruising Low cornering clearance
Chopper front-end look Lacks in the handling and maneuverability departments
Low seat height Features four-speed transmission
Easy to ride  
Highly comfortable ergonomics  
Suitable for vertically challenged and even taller riders  
Decent handling and acceleration  
Sufficiently powerful in its class and category  

7. Verdict: Yamaha Virago 535 Vs Honda Shadow VLX 600

To give a verdict regarding which cruiser is preferable and performance-wise better between the Yamaha Virago 535 and the Honda Shadow VLX 600, we must consider them as beginner-friendly bikes. Firstly, both bikes are great commuters and valuable cruisers in their respective categories. The Virago 535 and the Shadow VLX 600 are unique in terms of their purpose and design. The former has a typical design and features, providing this bike an unconventional ergonomics, style, and performance characteristics ideal for city traveling and daily commuting. The engine size, power figures, and handling characteristics are ideal for new riders.

Contrarily, the Honda Shadow VLX 600 has a more conventional outlook than a cruiser. This bike may look smaller in terms of its engine size, but as you start riding it, the comfort and the performance it offers will make you feel as if you are riding a bigger bike. Despite being an entry-level cruiser, it can serve you longer than a normal beginner bike as it has more to offer. The Shadow VLX 600 not only fits as a good daily commuter, but it is also a reasonable cruiser for light cruising and weekend-long rides. Overall, the Honda VT600C Shadow VLX is a better bike than the Yamaha XV535 Virago.

8. Aftermarket Parts and Customization Options

As one of the leading manufacturers of supreme-quality versatile motorcycle luggage bags, Viking Bags offers a wide range of luggage-carrying options to install on your cruiser, including Sissy Bar Bags, Swingarm Bags, Tank Bags, Backpacks, Tool Bags, Handlebar Bags, Tail Bags, and Roll Bags. You can also find almost all types of Saddlebags that perfectly fit your particular make and model, including the Honda Shadow 600 VLX.

Moreover, to make your rides comfortable and to provide some rest to your back during the ride, Viking Bags also has Backrests/Sissy Bar Pads available at its online store for Honda and Yamaha motorcycles.

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