4-Stroke Engine Basics and Top Idling Mistakes – Honda Shadow Performance Tips

on June 13, 2019

Today on the blog, we’ll talk about your Honda Shadow’s 4 stroke engine basics and how certain idle positions might actually be damaging your bobber’s motor.

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Finding the right idle speed is a big part of tuning the Honda Shadow platform. Getting it right is of UTMOST importance. We’ll get to that… but first, let’s start with the basics.


4-Stroke Basics: Honda Shadow Edition

The basics of a 4-stroke motor (internal combustion engine) are SUCK, SQUEEZE, BANG and BLOW. Here’s what that means:


  1. SUCK [intake]: the stroke that pulls air and fuel into your motor
  2. SQUEEZE [compression]: the piston comes up to compress the fuel and air
  3. BANG [combustion]: ignition from spark plug
  4. BLOW [exhaust]: the piston continues its movement to blow the spent gasses out of the motor


For a Honda Shadow VT600, this process repeats about 1200 times per minute at idle—and faster than that at higher speeds. Ideally, though, you want to see a Honda Shadow VT600 idling at about 1200 RPMs.


Getting your idling “sound” right

Here’s your one and only warning: DO NOT turn RPMs down low to get a lower idling “sound” (like a Harley’s idle) on your Honda Shadow! Why? Because the oil pump in a VT600 motor is based off RPMs. So if your RPMS are too low, you’ll starve your top end for oil. You might take off fine, but once you’re a little further down the road you’ll have white smoke coming out of your exhaust (as result of blow-by).


Turning down your RPMs will cause your Honda Shadow's valves and valve guides to wear out and then you’ll get oil going past your cylinders… basically, all sorts of crap will happen. Because on a microscopic level, the oil is there to lubricate the cylinder. If you starve the passages for oil, then you won’t have the oil you need to coat your motor when it gets hot—and this will eventually damage your Honda Shadow’s motor.


Can Honda Shadows idle low and slow?

A lot of bobber owners try to get their Honda Shadows to make that low, idling sound similar to that of a Harley, but it’s just not advisable. Honda Shadows aren’t meant to be tuned that low and slow. Take heed and DO IT RIGHT the first time so you’re not setting up your motor for failure!


For more on Honda Shadow idling and idle speed mistakes, watch this VIDEO!


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