Welcome – FT500 Cafe Racer
So the main point of this blog will be to document my progress on a project I just started. This past summer I bought a 1983 Honda FT500 Ascot. I took a bunch of pictures of it when I got it but somehow have managed to lose them. So that is going to kind of blow the before/after post when I finish this. However, I did snap a picture of an FT400 at the Honda museum in Motegi Japan earlier this year. From my limited knowledge the only difference with this bike is the engine bore. It is important to note that mine was nowhere near this nice.
Along with the bike I got a spare front wheel, gas tank, side covers, two starter motor shafts, carb, tail bodywork, bar controls, front fender, windshield, and a luggage rack. I paid $1400 for the bike which ran without trouble for the rest of the summer. By selling unused parts and smart shopping on ebay, I am hoping to complete this project without spending much more money. The ultimate goal is to stay under $2000. Most people that see what I am trying to do with the bike will refer to it as a cafe racer. I think the term can be misleading, so I usually just call it my project bike. I am going to try to make the bike much lighter (330 lb target down from about 375 lb starting), improve the handling, improve power, and improve the looks of the bike. Weight and handling will be the two main goals. Right now, my to-do list is as follows:
- Replace forks with a modern sport-bike set of inverted forks
- Replace handle bars with clip-ons
- Replace seat with a “cafe” style seat and tail (probably something I fabricate)
- Remove driver and passenger foot pegs
- Add rear sets to improve rider position
- Remove unnecessary frame tubing behind the rear dampers
- Remove any unused tabs from the frame
- Remove center stand
- Replace muffler with something lighter and more “open”
- Replace airbox with an air filter
- Replace carb with a larger diameter carb
- Switch over to 520 chain
- Remove electric starter, stator cover, and starter shaft
- Convert to a kick start using xl250 and xl500 parts
- Replace gauge cluster with something lighter
- Replace square headlight with a round headlight (probably a CB style)
- Replace wheels with something lighter
- Make some aesthetic improvements to the tank.
Obviously, I will run into issues which I will have to solve along the way. I will try to keep snapping pictures and keep the blog up to date. I will also be relying a lot on friends, co-workers, and the helpful people on the FT500 Yahoo message board (http://autos.groups.yahoo.com/group/honda-ascot/) and www.caferacer.net.