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Cobra RS750 Scrambler Makes a Shadow Cool

Alex Kierstein December 21, 2010 In General 14 Comments

While everyone, whether you ride or not, can appreciate a truly cool-looking motorcycle, it is particularly remarkable when a decidedly lame motorcycle goes under the knife and comes out lust-worthy. Cobra USA came up to the plate and decided to swing at the curveball Honda Shadow 750, a pitch few customizers would attempt even a bunt on. I can’t get over how much I love the resulting Cobra RS750 Scrambler, and I think you’ll agree with me that there’s something about an underdog bike being transformed into a stunner that’s even more compelling than a bike that started out great.

I'm being flattering - this is by far the best looking Shadow stock.

I’m sure that a few people out there honestly love the Shadow 750, which is admittedly a dead-reliable 7/8ths scale Sportster alternative. It’s not terribly expensive, and the 52-degree V-twin has been around since the dawn of time. It’s a twin-plug, 3-valve motor breathing through a pair of 36mm Keihin carburettors, producing a respectable 44 HP and a generous 46 ft-lbs of torque in a sort of heavy 503 lbs package. The bottom line is that reviewers find the Shadow fine for kicking around town, but it’s clearly not going to set any hearts on fire. However, it’s mostly the dowdy and uninteresting cruiser styling that lets the Shadow down. (Although the RS, pictured above, is a step in the right direction.) It’s inoffensive but it’s also snooze-worthy. I’d take a stock Shadow if someone handed me one for free, but it’s never a bike that I would consider dropping hard-earned cash on.

That’s what’s so special about the Cobra RS750 Scrambler. First of all, with the really simple addition of some scrambler bars, high pipes, and a UJM-style saddle, the stance and attitude of the bike changes completely. Re-sculpted fenders, a relocated gauge cluster, and fork gaiters round out the look. The result seems like the modern reinvention of a scrambler that never existed in the first place, all without significant modifications to the frame or engine. It’s really just a cosmetic redressing, and it truly works wonders. Now, the Cobra package doesn’t address what I’m sure everyone is going to notice about the statistics I’ve quoted above – mainly moderate power levels and a porky 503 lbs weight. Perhaps some of that is trimmed off by ditching the enormous stock Shadow exhaust pipes and some of the other bits and pieces. It’s a little hard to tell because as of this moment, the Cobra RS750 is a concept and not a production conversion kit. While I know the response has been huge and there’s apparently been a campaign to get Honda North America to embrace and produce the bike, or at least give Cobra its blessing, it still seems up in the air at the moment. If this speaks to anyone, you should drop Cobra a line and tell them to produce the parts!

The bottom line is that it only took some well-considered and simple modifications to turn a bike I’d never want into a bike I desperately want. Let’s give credit where credit is due. Good work, Cobra!

If you want to drop Cobra USA a line and tell them to build the Scrambler, click on this link to go to their contact form. Source: Cobra USA via the Kneeslider. All images courtesy Cobra USA unless otherwise noted.

  • jjd241

    Can't….Stop….Looking

  • IronBallsMcG

    The tracker is pretty nice too.

    <img src="http://thekneeslider.com/images/2010/12/cobra-rs750-tracker.jpg&quot; width=600>

  • Smells_Homeless

    My first new bike was an ACE 750. I did a bunch (~10K one summer) of touring on it. The engine is a sweet-sounding, easy to maintain honey, and since it's a Honda, it's as reliable as an anvil. I only had one complaint about it: I couldn't pass a loaded semi on that thing. Now admittedly, I'm a fat guy. But damn was it gutless.

    I fixed the power thing by replacing it with a VTX 1800. It has its own issues, but that's another story.

    • Maymar

      Heh, I've ridden a CBR125R – try riding one of those, and we'll talk about gutless. On the other hand, it's surprisingly entertaining having to strategize to maintain 60mph, including tucking (provided you don't have a loaded semi bearing down on you).

  • CJinSD

    If Honda takes up the concept and offers them for a premium of less than a thousand dollars over the standard bike, then it might make sense. The stock one in the photo looks just fine to me, and the only problem I have with it is the mass. The Scrambler looks great, but the value in motorcycles comes with knowing when to leave them stock. Vanity parts prices add up fast, and you'd always be better off spending the money by going further up the manufacturer's model range instead. Besides, modifying standards is a great way to end up looking like a hipster dufus, and that is unacceptable.

    • Han_Solex

      The entire readership of <a href="http://www.bikeexif.com” target=”_blank”>www.bikeexif.com begs to disagree with you. Plenty of people leave bikes stock. Plenty modify them poorly. A few modify them very well, somehow managing not to be hipster fools. I can appreciate the first and last category.

      • My current bike is completely stock in appearance, but only because it's one of the rare bikes that I feel they got 100% correct at the design table. The original CBX, the Vincent Black Shadow and the Vetter Hurricane are the only other ones I can think of off the top of my head.

        I look at the overwhelming majority of bikes and there is at least one thing about them I would do differently, something that I think looks slightly "off" or somehow needs improvement. In those cases, I am not afraid to make changes.

    • bzr

      Modifying standard bikes makes you a hipster? Methinks you've been reading too much Hell for Leather there. 😉

  • ptschett

    A bike like this could put Honda on my list. After 5 full seasons and 40,000 miles on my KLR650 I'm thinking about what's next, and right now it's either a new KLR, the Suzuki V-strom 650, or Triumph's own Scrambler.

    • You know, I was about to wax eloquent (or try, anyway) about how much this reminds me of a Honda 450 Scrambler, really a nice bike, but the mere mention of the Triumph Scrambler made me forget all about how admittedly right this bike looks. The Triumph beats this hands down, thanks for reminding me.

  • Maymar

    I'm really not feeling it. Through some combination of no ride height in the back, and the front wheel's rake angle, its cruiser roots show through too much. It's about 90% of the way to something really bitchin', but as it is, I'd rather have the stock Shadow.

  • It looks better than a regular Shadow for sure, but its awkward looks are just a testament to how awkward a Shadow looks in stock form.

  • dead_elvis

    I find Shadows to be about as close to beige as you get on two wheels, & the scrambler treatment doesn't do much to spice it up. Part of it is the huge radiator just sitting there up front, and part of it is that Honda's V-twins are the most soporific sounding out there. If anything, this seems to do a disservice to the memory of Honda's versatile smaller bikes – this is for posing, and no amount of quick wrenching will turn in into any sort of real scrambler, track toy, or cafe racer. Triumph gets the scrambler appearance & proportions right (although that's not a machine I'd want to huck down singletrack too quickly, either), but they're starting with a more appealing package to begin with.