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7 Common Failures Of The Honda VT700: Problems And Disadvantages

Manufactured from 1984 to 1987, the Shadow 700 was a simple American-style cruiser equipped with a liquid-cooled 695cc V2 four-stroke engine and a 6-speed wet multi-disc transmission. If you are motorcycle lovers and you are interested in this model, it is good that you are aware of the common faults of the Honda VT700.

The VT700 had a reliable engine for its time, as Honda was as steadfast as its reputation. However, there are some issues that were reported by motorcycle owners of a VT700.

Common failures of the Honda VT700

Despite being a good motorcycle, a VT700 hasn’t been produced for many years, VT700s are considered vintage bikes, which is why we thought we’d address some of the most common issues an old faithful can run into. Honda VT700.

1. Vacuum system leaks air

This first problem is especially common if the previous owner of your Honda VT700 failed to maintain the engine with a regular tune-up.

  • Over time, if not maintained at suggested service intervals, the VT700’s carburetor air-fuel ratio will perform poorly.
  • If your VT700 ran lean for an extended period of time, even if it happened before you bought the bike, running at an improperly tuned air-fuel ratio could lead to a leak in the vacuum system.

A vacuum leak on a Honda VT700 usually reveals a problem with the rubber boots. First of all, you can see that the rubber is going bad.

Next, inspect the throttle shaft seals. Replacing leaking throttle shaft seals is an intricate process. It’s a difficult job that may involve seeking the advice of a professional vintage Honda technician.

You may be lucky enough to catch one of the first performance-related signs of a displaced air-fuel ratio manifesting itself before a vacuum leak forms. Keep a feeling for a drop in engine power or throttle reaction.

The only true answer to a leaking vacuum system is to isolate the leaking part and replace it. If a vacuum leak is not fixed before the rushing air further affects the fuel ratio, further leaks can result.

2. Clogged or misfiring carburettor

The most typical problem on a vintage bike like the Honda VT700 is a failing carburetor.

You will most likely have to rebuild the carb on a Honda VT700 if the previous owner did not do it shortly before you bought it.

Find out about the service history before buying a used Shadow 700 and find out when the carb was rebuilt. If it hasn’t been rebuilt, don’t worry; it’s simple enough to do it yourself. That said, it’s not a healthy step to skip: if the carb needs to be rebuilt, or even just a good cleaning, try to make some money for the time you’re going to spend on the job ahead.

Cleaning the carburetor is a must when it comes to preserving the operation of your VT700.

Despite the legendary reliability of the VT700, small fuel pathways clog up in any carb over time as the engine burns. Running a clogged carburetor corrodes Honda carburetors just as quickly as a carburetor on any other motorcycle.

This would be especially sensitive if the VT700 was sitting unattended for years before you bought it.

To diagnose a failing carburetor on a VT700:

  • During operation, you should be aware of any changes in engine performance.
  • Look under your parked VT700 Shadow for any fuel leaks.
  • Check for fuel in the airbox, this is another sign of a bad carburetor.
  • If your VT700 runs on the choke, either fully or partially, you could have a bad carb.

So what to do if there is oil leaking from the carburetor of a Honda VT700? If you think the carburetor is a concern, the quickest resolution is:

  1. Remove the bad carb from the VT700 in question.
  2. Take the carb apart and examine each part, degreasing as you go.
  3. There are excellent DIY instructions available on various blogs and forums online; You should feel no shame in taking it to a knowledgeable Honda mechanic for a quick clean rebuild and vacuum timing.

3. Fork oil leak

All bikes lose fork oil, eventually. A VT700 leaking fork oil is not indicative of a defect in the bike. Since it’s especially common on vintage motorcycles like the Honda VT700, we figured there’s no reason not to give it a space in this article.

Left unchecked, oil from your VT700’s fork could leak into the bike’s brake pads, ultimately impeding the braking process of your bike. Oil-stained front brake pads are as high an accident risk as they come.

In extreme circumstances, a VT700 with a leaking fork can cause front suspension damage, completely obstructing the damping capabilities of your VT700 and putting the rider in further potential danger.

If your VT700 is leaking fork oil, accessible solutions are:

  • Change fork bushings
  • Change fork oil seal
  • Change the fork oil with new fluid

4. The motorcycle that loses oil

A vintage cruiser like the VT700 leaking oil is more than just a nuisance. If your engine spills oil all over the pavement while you’re driving, you’re risking your safety and injecting another dubious variable into every drive.

An oil leak is not only a significant risk of collision, but a VT700 engine with an oil leak is at high risk of overheating.

  • The engine performance of a VT700 that is starved of oil will be greatly diminished.
  • There is also increased friction on engine parts when the various critical components are not properly lubricated, leading to faster wear.

An oil leak is as easy to detect as it is dangerous, at least. Here are the main areas to inspect an older VT700 for oil leaks, in no particular order:

  1. oil pan seal
  2. hoses
  3. tubes
  4. head gasket
  5. Oil filter

The easiest way to repair an oil leak is to disassemble all the parts of the oil system, wash them, use a scraper to loosen the old gaskets and replace them with new ones.

5. Electrical system failure/corroded electrical components

The wiring harness, battery, and charging system can be problematic on an older VT700 that sat outside for a while in its previous owner’s yard.

  • Check the electrical system with a multimeter. Compare the results to the specifications in the service manual, particularly the year of the VT700 you are testing. You should be able to get a free or cheap digital copy on the web through Honda or various third party portals.
  • Connect the multimeter to the battery with the machine off and examine the reading.
  • Then turn the machine back on and note the voltage.
  • then twist the throttle and note the voltage reading.
  • Compare these documented readings with the manual specifications to see if the output matches the model voltage.

If the difference between the Honda numbers and the noted readings are off, you have a problem somewhere in your Shadow 700’s electrical system. If you’re lucky, it’s simply an aging battery.

The electrical components that you will likely need to replace on a worn-out Honda VT700 are:

  • Battery
  • stator
  • Rectifier Regulator
  • fuses

Meddling with electronics and wiring is a unique skill; If you are not convinced of your electrician’s aptitude, let a professional handle the wiring harness and troubleshoot.

6. Corroded brake system

Brakes are essential to the cruiser experience, and while the VT700’s braking system was stellar more than 30 years ago, it’s due for an upgrade.

To say that the VT700’s braking system is dated is honestly a matter of taste. Many bikes live by the if it ain’t broke don’t fix it philosophy, and the VT700’s braking system had enough stopping power that it held up.

It’s more about the simple fact that nothing lasts forever: the braking system on your Shadow 700 will wear out over time, even if it’s well maintained. If you are doing your research because you are about to buy a used VT700, take note of the reality of vintage brakes and test the brakes before you buy the bike.

A Shadow 700 with failing brakes is not roadworthy, so try to get the dealer to renew the pads and fluids before you buy it. If not, ask the seller to reduce the difference so that you can do it yourself.

  • Brake fluids should be changed every two to three years, at least.
  • Ask the previous VT700 owner when they last changed their brake fluids.
  • And once the bike is yours, continue to maintain fluid levels between fluid cleanings.

If you take your VT700 home without checking the fluids, don’t worry:

  • When the brake fluid is new, it is clear or clear amber in color.
  • If the brake fluid in your VT700 is dark, presumably it needs to be replaced.
  • Not replacing old brake fluid can corrode the brake system.
  • Check the rubber brake ducts for any observable deterioration, along with the master cylinder gasket.

7. Rust and dirt in the fuel tank

Probably the most common problem Shadow 700 owners expressed when purchasing their vintage cruiser was fuel tank corrosion.

If you have corrosion in the fuel tank of your VT700, it is a crucial problem that you must solve instantly. If rust is released from inside your Shadow’s tank and flows through the fuel lines and into the carburetor, it damages other components in the VT700 engine.

These scales can eventually clog fuel lines as well.

  • Briefly examine the fuel tank of your VT700. Use a flashlight to pay special attention to the sides of the fuel tank, examining for rust or any other discoloration from corrosion.
  • If your Shadow’s tank is corroded, have it handled immediately before starting the bike.
  • You can use retail products to relieve your Shadow’s tank of corrosion; make sure the product you use is approved by Honda for use in your VT700.
  • You will have to use an abrasive brush to clean the rust, even if you use a specific product.
  • Be sure to minimize metal shavings from getting into the fuel lines while scrubbing, and to clean, rinse, and dry the tank before starting it up.

Don’t try too hard; in the worst case, there are several reservoirs available on the aftermarket that will fit your Shadow 700.

If you are lucky and the previous owner kept your VT700 properly stored and the tank is rust free. In that case, keep your motorcycle’s fuel level at the maximum to prevent moisture from entering the tank and rusting.

The good and the bad of the Honda VT700 motorcycle

We already let you know the most common failures of the Honda VT700; Next, we will tell you some positive aspects that this motorcycle has:

  • Parts are easy to get
  • Reliable
  • fun to drive
  • Low maintenance
  • Classic/historic series Shadow VT
  • The VT700’s engine will run forever once you clean it
  • Vacuum system leaks air
  • Clogged or misfiring carburettor
  • Fork oil leak
  • motorcycle oil leak
  • Electrical system failure/corroded electrical components
  • Rust and dirt in the fuel tank
  • corroded brake system

What do the reviews say about the Honda VT700 motorcycle?

Opinions and comments about the Honda VT700 tend to be good.

Ok, first let’s start with age. The bike is almost 20 years old and runs like a beast! I have this bike two years ago with about 19,000 miles on it. … With redline at just over 8000rpms (plus it has a tachometer), the bike can haul the big boys. 6 speed, shaft drive, hydraulic lifters, hydraulic clutch, liquid cooled…Had to replace stator and rectifier…on top of that this bike has been more reliable than my car.

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