Honda VT500FT Ascot
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Last updated 6/27/10

We were browsing Craig's List after breakfast on the Sunday after Christmas when the Ascot appeared.  The photos on CL usually leave a lot to be desired, and these were no exception, but the bike looked to be mostly all there, the ad said it ran, and the price was right.  And I had always admired Honda's little mid-80's street tracker.  After a short conversation with the seller, we were on our way, trailer in tow.

The description wasn't far off.  It started, with a jumper-cable assist, and did it's best to idle on the one cylinder that was able to support combustion.  I motored out of the driveway and was pleasantly surprised to feel the other jug kick in as I opened the throttle, probably just a clogged pilot.  The bike felt solid, no unusual shakes, rattles, or wobbles.  The brakes kind of worked, and the bike shifted smoothly through all six gears.  A quick check of the charging system showed it to be up to speed, so I made the deal and loaded the little Ascot in the trailer.  It would have a much better life where it is was going than from whence it came.

The previous owner had a friend paint the body work red.  They could have done a lot better, but it doesn't look bad, really.  It may clean up just fine.  From the over-spray evidence is appears they painted everything while it was still mounted on the bike.

From the looks of the carbs, it wasn't hard to imagine that they may be a little dirty on the inside.

It had obviously not led a pampered life, much of it having been spent outdoors.

Between the worn out fork seals and the leaky front brake caliper, everything up front was coated with a liberal dose of oil and dirt, although the shaft-drive allows the rear to stay relatively clean.  Notice the big black box under the swing-arm in the front.  That's the resonance chamber for the exhaust.  People that know say these bikes don't run well if you just cut this chamber off and plumb the exhaust straight through.  I've found a NOS set of Mac duals that will allow me to tidy up this area of the bike and loose a few pounds as well.

That Acerbis headlight might look OK on a dirt-bike, but not on the Ascot.  It would definitely be on the chopping block.

A lot of clutter here in the original design with the coolant over-flow bottle, exhaust system with all the various shielding and huge resonance chamber under the swing-arm, and passenger peg bracketry.  I'll probably do something a little different here to try and open things up a bit.

Next on the list is a tear-down and assessment.  Decide on a course of action, and get moving.  My plan is to have it done for Bike Week in March.

The Tear-Down

Pipe Mockup

Rollin on Two

Engine In

Getting There


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