Cobra turns Honda Shadow RS into proper lemonade

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While the 2011 Honda Shadow RS is finally acceptable enough to ride without wearing a brown paper bag, the 45hp Japanese V-twin still verges dangerously close to uncoolness. Working directly with Honda, aftermarket accessories maker Cobra Engineering has released 5 concepts to show the Shadow’s potential, 2 of which are knockouts.

The CL72-based high-pipe Scrambler and especially the Bubba Shobert replica Dirt Tracker are the kind of pure Honda heritage that gets us weak in the knees. So much so we wonder why Honda didn’t make these in the first place, especially considering the runaway success Triumph has had with its Bonneville and Scrambler models. The best part of this project is that Cobra has stated that 2 of the 5 are being commisioned to be built by Cobra’s Special Projects Division for the 2010 Long Beach Motorcycle Show.

The final vote has yet to be made for which 2 of the 5 concepts will make the cut, so let the begging and pleading for your favorites begin. And maybe, if we’re loud enough, Honda will be deafened and have no choice but to expand the RS platform to meet our wants and needs.

Cobra Custom Honda RS750: Five Concepts, Two Will Be Built

Yorba Linda, CA – Once again, Cobra Engineering will undertake a multi-bike custom project. Back in 1996 Cobra did a similar project with American Honda around the 750 Ace, building what would come to be known as the Four Aces. Now with the new RS750, Cobra will build two customs based around two of the five concepts presented here.
Said, Ken Boyko, VP of the Cobra Special Projects Division, “If we had enough time, we’d build all five of these bikes. Each is so cool and every one would be a blast to ride. But we plan to unveil these at the Long Beach Motorcycle Show on December 17, 2010 so we’re going to pick two and let the others rest for now.”
All five concepts have great potential wrapped around the RS platform and each could be an exceptional custom motorcycle on its own. The five concepts are: Scrambler, Café Racer, Street Fighter, Dirt Tracker, and Bobber.

The Scrambler: This version will be a recreation of the famous Honda CL72 (250) and CL77 (305) scramblers, down to the red frame, and rubber tank side pads. High pipes with distinctive heat shields are key visual cues for this bike.

The Café Racer: This style of motorcycle has made a remarkable come back, especially in urban areas. Single seats, lowered bars, raised pegs and chopped rear fenders are key markers, as are short megaphone mufflers and head pipes with no head shields.

The Street Fighter: Stripped to essentials with a small headlight, nasty exhaust and powerful brakes makes this style of bike perfect for the times. An engine that screams performance and paint that offends like Green Day on a good night.

The Dirt Tracker: Ricky Grahm and Bubba Shobert in the mid-eighties taking it to the venerable H-D Factory on the Miles and half-mile dirt-track circuit on their hand-built bikes, crafted by Ray Plumb and Skip Ekins. Cobbled together at first, the bikes evolved into beautiful, elemental tools designed to win at tracks such as San Jose, Indy, and Springfield, and win they did.

The Bobber: Bobbers hearken back to the post WWII era when returning soldiers wanted speed without the frills. They’d take whatever motorcycle they could find and remove just about everything but the engine, rolling chassis and seat. No front fender and a single seat with the rear fender “bobbed” about as short as it could be. Rattle-can paint, mostly flat black was the color of choice.

Cobra Engineering

  • robotribe

    Much better. I agree, though; these should be actual choices on the dealership floor and not bike show one-offs.

  • Deltablues

    The RS750-Fighter reminds me of the 1987-88 Super Magna.

    • Grant Ray

      I wouldn’t say that’s a good thing. Even as a 11 year old kid, I hated those bikes when they came out.

      • Deltablues

        I actually got to ride a Super Magna in the late 80′s. Funny thing is it made about 80hp and was quite nippy. The only part of the styling I liked was the view from the rear with those 4 exhausts though. Then I moved on to a 1988 Hurricane 1000.

    • Emmet

      The streetfighter is the worst design out of the five. That font end literally is the Harley XLCR cafe!

      It would be nice to see some alteration to suspension geometry, otherwise this is all cosmetic BS.

  • richard gozinya

    The description for the Street Fighter is just sad. Invoking Green Day? Really? Must’ve thought that one up while hanging out at the mall staring at the underage girls shopping at Hot Topic.

  • HammSammich

    That scrambler is gorgeous! I’m guessing the Shadow this is based on is pretty heavy, but I’d love to see Honda build a new Scrambler, preferably with a 500cc motor that significantly undercuts the weight of the Triumph, giving it some decent off road and trail ability.

  • MTGR

    I agree, the Shobert and Scrambler are easily the two best while the others are just more generic cruise-crap.
    Sadly, knowing Honda, that means they will likely be the two they will not build.

  • MichaelMM

    Meeeeeehhhhhhhhh. Yawn.

    They are still 45 hp pigs with shit suspension. Making them look faster only ups the poser quotient to me.

    • Grant Ray

      So, instead of broadening the range of available motorcycles and offering exciting product variants that speak to brand heritage, can actually bring in fresh blood to the industry, is affordable and perfectly powered for the beginner demographic the RS is clearly aimed at, you’d rather have more of the same? The same, which quite frankly, aren’t moving so well off dealer floors, if at all?

      All “real riders” start out as posers, even the ones who start off as kids in the dirt, me, you and everyone else.

  • Patrick from Astoria

    I know it’s verging on overdone, but one big vote for the cafe bike. Especially if they can give it a bit of modern sensibility and avoid making it look too much like an Ace Cafe time-warp victim (coughThruxtoncough).

  • the_doctor

    Café Racer and Bobber get my vote. Those are both quite awesome. Sure, they are, to quote MichawelMM “45 hp pigs with shit suspension,” but they are cool, and the product line is better for it. Variety, as they say, makes for a spicy meatball.

    • Patrick from Astoria

      Y’know something, though? These things are begging for some basic hotrodding. Cams, pipe, chip, tighten up the suspension: this could be the perfect canvas for an art form debased by the polished-swingarm-and-neon-lights showboys.

      Someone’s got five general ideas that they can put into a parts catalog. Lots more where that came from.

  • Wes Siler

    I vote for the tracker, looks just like an XL600R!

    • Deltablues

      I wish Honda would just put out a 2011 version of the XL600R or update the XR650L. Wonder why they have never embraced making a serious dual sport for the US?

  • rohorn

    Man Barbies. Dress ‘em up and imagine they (and even you) are something they never will be.

  • Mark D

    I love the tracker, assuming they’ll put a front brake on it, though ;)

    Throw that bikini fairing on the cafe, too, and you’ve got a winner.

  • chili sv

    Love the tracker and scrambler. And the old school marker rendering perfectly completes the picture.

  • parkwood60

    I also vote for the dirt track and scrambler. Cobra is no cosmetic only company, they will get more power out of them just for the hell of it. That same basic 3 valve V-twin was also in the Trans-alp and Africa Twin, so it can be made to make more power. The Africa twin makes 56hp, and if it won in Paris-Dakar it must have made more in race twin. I imagine the show bikes will make at least 60hp with less restrictive breathing and massaged engines. I will be disappointed if the flat track version makes less than 75hp breathing through those bike filters and an opened exhaust.

    • bluemoco

      I agree that the dirt tracker and the scrambler would be great concepts. I’d also cast a vote in favor of the Cafe version.

  • Tanshanomi

    Shopping for a new cruiser this spring, I wondered if I would regret not waiting until the RS was available. Then, just last night I read the less-than-flattering review of it in Motorcycle Consumer News. In the end, it’s just not that great a platform, no matter how it’s styled.

  • Marcos Armero

    I do my own cafe racer interpretation of this bike (