How to Adjust Honda Shadow Valves with a Feeler Gauge

on July 23, 2019

Adjusting your Honda Shadow’s valves and finding juuuust the right amount of clearance can be a bit tricky. Feeler gauges come in handy, but if you don’t know the “feel” you’re looking for, they’re useless. Today on the blog we’ll explain exactly how to find that sweet spot – the perfect valve adjustment for your Honda Shadow.

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A TJ Brutal Customs customer asked us, "Can we talk about valve adjustment on my Honda Shadow? I have done it three times and my valves seem loud. Yes, I was top dead center on the compression stroke, I started at .006 intake and .008 exhaust. Last time I went .005 and .007. Should I just go a little tighter?"


STOP IT RIGHT NOW!!! Let’s talk through this.


Valve clearance & feeler gauges

First of all, DO NOT crank things down to .005 and .007 – that’s going to be very bad for your motor. The valve clearance is extremely important. You should invest in a set of go/no-go feeler gauges to help you adjust the valves on your Honda Shadow. If you’re not familiar with how to use a feeler gauge, then take it to a shop and let them handle it. It can be difficult to get it exactly right, but these tools can be super helpful. It’s called a feeler gauge because it helps you feel the drag between you’re the tappet and your valve.


Should I go tighter on my valves?

No, you should never go tighter on your valves. You should go to .006 and .008 – that’s where you need to be. Again, if you can’t get it right, take it to a shop. There are several options in terms of tools that would allow you to adjust those easily.


You’ll see a 10mm nut on the top of the tappet that will allow you to loosen it up. There’s a square head on each of the nuts. The tool can be a little difficult to operate so there’s a little handle that has a sleeve and a wrench that goes through the top. You can loosen the 10mm nut with that and adjust the tappet up and down.


Getting it right

Take your time when adjusting your valves. Be sure you get it right; double and triple check! You also need to make sure your Honda Shadow is adjusted to top dead center. If you don’t know how to find top dead center, here’s a helpful video.


When you’re turning over the motor, turn it counter clockwise. If you have to go back a little bit to get that notch, go a little further forward then go back the other way—this way you’re taking up all the slack with the cam chain and adjusting it properly.


If you don’t get it right, you’ll have serious problems. Your intake should be .006 and your exhaust should be .008 (inches). Invest in a good feeler gauge set. Again, it’s difficult to describe how to do this because it’s really all about the “feel.” You don’t want it to pull through super tight OR have it slip right through… you want it to move through with some ease but a little bit of drag. It’s just a “feel.”


The test

OK, so here’s a great test to see if you’ve adjusted your valves properly. Start while you’re on your intake. Let’s say you’re using a .006 feeler gauge and you’ve gone through the valve and tappet. If it feels like it slides through well, then go up to an .007 and see if it slides through easily. If it does, then you’re not tight enough. That’s the test: if you go up a size from the feeler gauge and the bigger size slides through with any amount of ease, then the gap is too big and you need to adjust it. This is a great and simple way to check your valve clearance.


For a full video explaining how to adjust your valves, watch this:



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