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Old 01-16-2012, 12:42 PM   #1
thelen60 OP
Joined: Mar 2010
Location: Michigan/Kentucky
Oddometer: 12
Project - 1982 Honda Ascot FT500

Hi everybody,

I am new to the forums and I have been doing my best to search for information on my bike on my own, but I figured I would start a new thread telling the story of my bike and asking for advice. I currently own a 1982 Honda Ascot FT500 that I purchased it in the summer of 2009 for $325 and a shotgun (I paid $100 for the gun). I didn’t just buy it because it was cheap; I bought it because I thought it was cool. It had 12,000 miles on it and ran as it was.

I did have to do some repairs to it, including:
  • Rebuilt the forks/replaced the springs
  • Replaced the starter solenoid
  • Replaced the brake pads
  • Changed the oil
  • Replaced the choke cable
After all of that I was about $900 in. After putting 1000 miles on it (13,000 total), I took it in for what I assumed was jetting issues (I don’t like jetting carbs myself). Turns out that the butterfly valve broke and took a ride through the engine. The mechanic told me I would have to replace the valves and potentially rebuild the engine. Not having the money then, I have let it sit for the last couple of years. I decided to repair it and bought a carb for parts of eBay for $40. I took the bike into another shop for a second opinion and it turned out the previous shop had been trying to yank me. All it needed was some carb parts replaced (using parts for the one I had bought) and a battery and it fired right up. I was a little upset that I had taken it in - and paid $300 - to have something fixed that I could have done, but now I am looking forward to starting this project.

Now that it is running, I would like to start customizing it. What I ask of you guys is opinions on modifications and general knowledge on the bike, including any notorious problems of the bike that I should fix ahead of time. I know to some of you this bike is useless but I am interested in investing money into it and making it a little more my own. I have roughly $1200-1300 invested, so I’m not in too deep.

What I have in mind:
  • Digital speedometer – old one doesn’t work well/consistently off, any suggestions for an affordable one?
  • Air filter – planning on K&N, but it doesn’t look like they make one. Will any of their filters intended for other models fit? I already have a recharger kit, so it would be nice to get another K&N. Any other brand recommended? Would it be okay to scrap the airbox and just run the filter?
  • Slip-on exhaust – What aftermarket pipe will fit this bike? I’ve also thought of gutting out the current muffler and modifying it. Has anyone done that? The only problem is the stock can is ugly.
  • Seat cover/new seat/custom seat – the seat is in decent shape, but is starting to come unstitched. Opinions on the most affordable/functional solution?
  • Starter – I’ve heard one of the weaknesses of the bike is its starter and there is a specific part that should be replaced every so often. What part is this? Would it be possible or a good idea to convert to a kick start? Is there a better starter I could purchase?
  • Fork – I’ve heard that some FT owners will put Nighthawk fork on their bikes and it drastically improves the handling. My forks are fine, but I was unable to find the bushings that you are periodically supposed to replace when I did the rebuild (the current ones seem to be in acceptable shape). Should I try to find the bushings or just swap the fork out if there is ever an issue?

Sorry to create such a rookie thread, but I was having difficulties finding the specifics. I’m going to continue searching, but if I could get my questions answered here, it would save me a lot of time and effort. Thank you all for your help.

Only picture that I currently have of it:
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Old 01-17-2012, 03:18 AM   #2
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Joined: Jun 2007
Location: Barrie, ON
Oddometer: 102
Maybe, check in here ( ) and see if someone can steer you in the right direction.
There is never enough time or money to do it right the first time.
2008 DR650, 2006 V-Strom 1000
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Old 01-17-2012, 05:14 AM   #3
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Joined: Jul 2006
Location: Tijeras,NM
Oddometer: 482
87-90 CBR600 forks and front wheel will slide right into the stock triple clamps, that will give you a 17" front wheel and dual discs. The rear wheel is almost a direct bolt-on, however I think you may need to make a bracket to anchor the brake caliper stay,(the link that keeps the caliper from trying to spin). Ascot is on top, CBR on the bottom.
Not sure what you can do about the starter solenoid, they've been discontinued from Honda for at least 15 years.
I got an XL500 motor and was going to make mine a kickstart, but sold the bike and never got around to it. I also removed the bushing where the starter pinion shaft(I think that's what it's called) goes into the side cover and replaced it with a needle bearing. That seemed to help.
Not sure if oil filters are still are still available. The MC8 filter was only used on the 500 Ascot, so if the dealer has one in stock it's probably been on his shelf for 30 years.
I can't think of anything else at the moment. Fun bike-Good luck.
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Old 01-17-2012, 05:16 AM   #4
thelen60 OP
Joined: Mar 2010
Location: Michigan/Kentucky
Oddometer: 12
Thanks for the reply. I tried checking out the Yahoo group, but for some reason it kept saying that the servers were down. I'm finding more and more information on the bike, but it is somewhat discouraging. There doesn't seem to be a lot of love for the bike and most people say it's not worth putting money into. I was looking for a more personalized answer/opinion for what I want to do and what parts are available that will fit this bike. Thanks.
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Old 01-17-2012, 05:21 AM   #5
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Location: Tijeras,NM
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No problem, Try checking some vintage road race forums, thats where I got most the info I had.
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Old 01-17-2012, 05:43 AM   #6
Joined: Sep 2010
Location: Southern New Jersey
Oddometer: 5,660
Great looking bike!
I almost bought one when they came out, they were dirt cheap and I almost just put one on the charge card.

I have a hard time thinking other bike parts will not fit, (starter and filters) as the Japanese were big on using the same stuff on lots of models, sometimes with minor changes.
You do not KNOW what fits what, but can sometimes find something by looks.
Buying used stuff off ebay is one route, making parts or modifying parts is another option.
A good bearing supply house can replace bushings with roller bearings, often has any bearing or seal you need, at much lower cost then anyplace else, electric motor shops, starter rebuilders, might have something to fix the starter, etc. Sears hardware sells brushes for electric motors, you just need to get creative.

Rather then replace the speedo, I might look into why it has problems, cable needs work, most speedo's come apart for cleaning, or an ebay special might work.
Or it might just start working with use...

There are always places that do seats, there are three around me that I know of without searching, they tend to also do car and boat seats, and will do whatever you want, new foam, thicker and denser if you want, whatever cover and style you want.

Cars, bikes, and anything else I fix myself, because many places just want to make money.
I can not remember how many times some shop gave me a line of total BS about something just to make money off me.
Car dealers, tire shops, some bike shops, they all do it, and I have heard some silly stuff spouted by them in order to get someone to spend money.

With the internet and shop manuals, there is no reason to get taken these days, or even much reason to take something to the shop.

There is no reason you cant fix that bike up and have lots of fun for many years, you can even buy a 2nd bike for spares and keep it going for a long time.
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Old 01-17-2012, 06:11 AM   #7
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Location: personal hell
Oddometer: 4,162
Old bikes are worth putting as much money into as you want to if you love the bike and are fixing it for you. People that say they are not worth it would never own the bike in the first place and only see them as something to get running and resale.

Parts are out there. They're just not as easy to find as newer bikes. It all comes down to what's the bike worth/how much does it mean to you.
When i die bury me upside down so the whole world can kiss my ass.
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Old 01-17-2012, 07:08 AM   #8
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Joined: Nov 2008
Location: Creswell, Oregon
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I had a FT 500 Ascot back in the day. It was a fun bike that got fair mileage. Now days I see them once in a while on cragslist and think I should get one for my wife. I'd want to put knobies on it for her to use as a gravel road exploring bike.

Mike M.
Creswell, Oregon
'14 KLR 650

Ride what makes you giggle in your helmet
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Old 01-17-2012, 11:56 AM   #9
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Joined: Jun 2007
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Originally Posted by thelen60 View Post
Hi everybody,

Only picture that I currently have of it:

Did you find this ADV forum thread?
I did not read it all, but, it might contain some helpful links and info.

BTW, Head gaskets......... They ALL seem to leak.....
And your head light is not stock.....still a fine looking bike.
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Old 01-17-2012, 12:41 PM   #10
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Joined: Mar 2007
Location: Your Mom's house
Oddometer: 11,100
What are you going to do with it?
Or should i say,what kinda riding do you want to do?
Tour,commute,two up,road race,etc?You might get the advise you need,or want if your alittle more detailed.

Everyone will have a different opinon on it.

If you want to wrench on bikes,or your going for a look and feel in a bike they don't make anymore.Or dable in the vintage stuff,,its only you that can deside if putting money and time into it,is worth it.

That said,,,,,the Ascroft was a good little bike that Honda try'd going after the flat track crowd.As a matter of fact,,Ascroft was a Flat track,,ah track in CA,hence the name.
There basicly a XL500 motor in a flat track style chassi.So motor parts,are swapible.You might want to sreach XL500,or XR500 threads.
If you were looking to get alittle more power out of it,,,,,i'd look at which XR500 parts are swapible,heads,carbs,CDI's,etc.

Well,now for the other part of my semi rant.
Its a 1982,,,,,,,20 years old,,,,i personaly,if i wasn't looking to do vintage stuff,or since its not really a runner at this point.Save my cash for a newwer bike,with better,,,well everything.Just my opinon.

For the money you got into it,theres alot of more modern runners in need of less work.
Theres alot of nice Suzuki SV650's,or Kawi Ninja 250/500R's,Suzuki 500GS's,out there on the cheap.And there alot more bike then the little Honda.
More power,better brakes,easyer parts,etc,etc.

I'd save my cash,sell the Honda and take my time figure'n out what i want to do with a motorcycle,and shop around.
Like i said not down'n your ride,just my honest opinon.Hope i helped,,good luck.
"Hes not called the Angry White Man for nothing,much more fitting then the,Unicorn Clouds and Happy Trees Man".... UpST8

Theres a name for people without beards,"Women".
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Old 01-17-2012, 01:08 PM   #11
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Joined: Jul 2006
Location: Tijeras,NM
Oddometer: 482
[QUOTE=NJ-Brett;17771195]Great looking bike!

I have a hard time thinking other bike parts will not fit, (starter and filters) as the Japanese were big on using the same stuff on lots of models, sometimes with minor changes.

Unfortunately, the Ascot was a unique model, basically an XL/XR500 motor with an electric starter,oil filter,2nd counter balance shaft and a 12 volt electrical system. The starter was more like an automotive starter(ie. Bendix) and that oil filter, while similar in size to the Honda KFO filter,the MC8 filter was slightly larger. MC8 was Honda's product code for the 82-83 Ascot. No other Honda filter will fit properly(trust me on this one, I worked in the parts dept. at Freehold Honda for almost 15 years.) You might however find a Yamakawazuki that would work.
Electrical parts from XR's won't work as they were still using 6 volt systems, I think the XL was 6 volt as well, but I'm not 100% sure.
Again, a cool bike, but, unless you are really determined, I wouldn't throw too much money at it.
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Old 01-17-2012, 07:30 PM   #12
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Location: personal hell
Oddometer: 4,162
the 82 XL500R is a 12 volt bike. and a lot of the parts will swap. top end parts. the lower half of the motor is different. I've looked at waht it would take to get the electric start off a ft and putting it on my XL. lot of trouble.

i think putting the kick start on a ft might be easer. i don't know how much of the trans is the same as the XL, i didn't go that far. good luck with your build.
When i die bury me upside down so the whole world can kiss my ass.
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Old 01-17-2012, 07:59 PM   #13
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Joined: May 2005
Oddometer: 10,511
I put some info of my FT500 Dual Sport Conversion with pics over on the other FT thread referenced here. Hop you enjoy them.

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Old 02-02-2013, 04:31 PM   #14
Joined: Aug 2007
Oddometer: 8
Honda Ascot

Hey out there, I happen to have an ascot project bike I'm working on. Turning it into a single seater, I never liked how far the tail stuck out. So I have an extra seat in real good shape. I picked up the bike with a spare as well so there are plenty of parts to go around, second motor as well. Let me know what you're looking for, maybe I've got it.
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Old 02-03-2013, 05:57 PM   #15
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Joined: Feb 2008
Location: Socal=Mt. Laguna & Palomar Mtn.> Now in Idaho Yea!
Oddometer: 161
I bought a new red FT500 in the summer of 1984 for $995 when Honda was fire selling them. A very neat bike. I'm looking for one myself to bring it back to stock condition. I know at this time dumping money into the Ascot might not sound like the best investment of money. But, I really like these bikes. Perhaps 10 or 20 years from now they'll command more collector respect. Until then, I'll have a great little bike to ride :)
Now: 2007 BMW XMoto

Then: Suzuki SV1000S, Honda 919, BMW XChallenge, Honda FT500, Suzuki GS650E, Yamaha XT500, Kawasaki 500 H1, Yamaha DT175, Suzuki TM125, Suzuki TS100.
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