Can a Honda Shadow VLX600 Take a 5th Gear?

on October 03, 2019

Ever wonder if you could get a 5th gear inside your Honda Shadow VLX600? Is it even possible? Is it advisable? Let’s discuss in today’s blog post.


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A customer asks, “is there a 5 speed transmission that will marry up to the Honda Shadow VLX 600?”


The short answer is NO and here’s why.


The Honda Shadow VLX600 is a 4-speed transmission. This is commonly referred to as a “unit construction motor.”


4-speed vs. 5-speed

Unit construction motors differ from a “big twin” which you might find on a Harley—in which case the motor is separate from the transmission. If your bobber’s transmission is separate from the motor, you could interchange and swap out pieces, modifying it however you want. However, with a unit construction motor, the transmission is built into the actual bottom end. The motor and transmission are one piece on a Honda Shadow VLX600 or VT600—you can’t split them apart.


If you’ve ridden a Honda Shadow VLX600 or VT600 before, you’ll remember that as you’re shifting through the gears, that 3rd gear is pretty darn useful. You can use from as low as 20mph all the way up to wide open throttle before you hit 4th gear. And on that model, 4th gear is actually more narrow than 3rd.


On the other hand, with a 5-speed Honda Shadow like the Honda Shadow VT750, you’ll realize that the 5th gear isn’t really that beneficial. The Honda Rebel 250s had 5 gears, too, and if you’ve ridden one of those you’d certainly be able to feel the build up to 5th gear. With a 4-speed transmission like the one on the Honda Shadow VLX600, the jump from gear to gear is really short and quick.


Why it won’t work

If you’re wanting to change the gears on your Honda Shadow VT600 there is no 5-speed transmission that’ll marry up to the VLX simply because of the way it’s designed.


If you were to put a 5th gear inside that transmission all you'd really get is a 3rd gear that was split in half, rendering it pretty worthless. You'd need to redesign the whole motor to accept a fifth gear.


As mentioned before, the Honda Shadow VT750 has 5 gears but you don’t gain much benefit over the 4-geared Honda Shadow VT600.


Is there an alternative?

If you want to get less vibration at highway speeds, you can bring your rear sprocket down a few teeth. We’ve actually already written a long post on that, so head on over to this linked post for more info on adding teeth:

Adding Sprockets & Adjusting Gear Ratio for Optimum Honda Shadow Performance


This post will show you how to bring highway vibrations down but bear in mind that when you do this you’ll have to work your clutch and throttle a lot more. You’ll also have much slower takeoffs.


Why we love the Honda Shadow VLX600

The Honda Shadow VLX600 is geared really well for all-around performance. The gearing allows you take off really fast—you’ll definitely spank Harleys off the line (maybe not all of them, but a lot of them at least). The VLX600 is a light, nimble bike; it’s steering is fantastic. It has a lot of elements that make it a great bike for all-around riding but if you do a lot of highway riding, you might want to bring the gear ratio down.


For more on this and to get TJ’s recommendations, watch this video:


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