ADVrider (
-   Some Assembly Required (
-   -   Honda FT500 rumbler/scrambler/tracker kinda thing ( 07-20-2012 05:58 PM

Honda FT500 rumbler/scrambler/tracker kinda thing

It's my first post, about my third bike. In the past (3 years) I had a Kawa KZ400 four cyl. and a Suzuki GS850. At the time I worked as a bicycle repairman in Amsterdam. I had a low budget and lots of enthusiasm. How low and how many? I didn't have a license yet, so I went to a driving school in The Netherlands. They asked me 1500 EUR for starters and said it will take at least 6 months. Bollocks... I called up some driving schools in Poland (where I come from) and told them I have 2 weeks vacation and I wish to get a license. Usual fee was 200 EUR, I paid 100 EUR extra and did the whole course in 10 days. Voila! Now the bikes.

I got each of them in non running condition for around 200 EUR. I knew how to fix bicycles and I thought motorbikes are pretty much the same except for the engine. In order to make them road worthy I used to paint them flat black, duct tape the things that were moving and shouldn't, WD-40 the things that were not moving and should, and hammer the rest into shape. 'Never use force, use a hammer' was my slogan. 'If it doesn't help, use a bigger hammer'. 'If still it doesn't help it means you have an electrical problem'.

Equipped with lot's of hope, a hammer and a spanner I used to squeeze 10000km out of them till they were squirting more oil out than I put back in. I had to sell them for parts for 100 EUR or less. In course of that motorcycle introduction period I learned that: 1. I hate 270kg four cylinder bikes, 2. I want to be able to go off road, 3. a 270kg four cylinder bikes suck big time off road.

Here's an example of how desperate I was to ride a motorbike:
Make sure to notice the hand guards cut out from oil containers, bold rear tire, bicycle speedo and ducttaped seat. Don't get me wrong, it was perfect!

Here's how to use a motorbike as a hammock anchor:

I returned to Poland early this year and was really bike hungry. Even though my budget doubled, all I could lay my hands on was the ugliest bike in the world (in my opinion), a 1982 Honda FT500.

I started striping it down. I made quite a mess in front of the house.

I got those fenders from old Polish WSK for 5 EUR, deal of the century.

They had this really cool old school rubber flappy end, I love it.

I know there is a proper way to close a o-ring chain. There's probably also the old Indian way, the Japanese way and the German way, most proper of them all for sure. But I don't know any of them.

Da front mock up.

In order to make it dirt worthy I purchased a pair of second hand enduro tires. Second hand tires are quite popular here. My story behind it goes like this: Zee Germans buy brand new tirez for zzeir brand new shiny BMWs. Than zzey put an ADV sticker on and commute on zzem for the next 5001km. At that point they scream: Mein Got! Zee sticker on zee tire sayz I can ride only 5000km on zzem. What waz I sinking? So they go to a garage and buy a new set of rubber. Than a Polish man with a van comes buy and buys those perfectly good tires for 5 EUR and later sells them to me for 40 EUR. What a rip off!

More to come, stay tuned.

Kennon 07-21-2012 01:10 PM

cześć, im definitely subscribed to this i love back to basics builds despite little work done for now it already looks 200% better congrats man i hope it turns out as you want it to be.

Kennon 07-21-2012 02:54 PM

work in progress
This was after first shakedown ride:

Great success!

I had a problem with the rear brake. It was sticky and didn't want to let go, was braking all the time. I tried to fix it with a friend of mine. First off, the air bleed valve was broken and rusted in place. We tried to drill it and turn it out with this fancy left thread tool for broken screws. We got as far as braking the tool. Than we tried to bleed it out thru the brake lane screw. Not a good idea. We dismantled the whole thing, pumped the cylinders out, cleaned them from rust and shit, put the whole thing back together and guess what, no change. Luckily he had the same Honda FT500 laying in pieces in he's garage. He decided to lend me his rear brake. We put it on, bleed it out and... you guessed it, no change. The brake was still on all the time. We ended up swapping the whole master cylinder assembly.

The next day I had more shakedown action scheduled - riding 2up 100km to my special lady's family. I deliberately planned the route thru B, C, D and forest roads.

It worked out just fine. Was able to run steady 50-70km/h on fire roads. On the tarmac 100km/h was perfect, could cruise at 120km/h but it's no fun without a wind shield. I'm 186cm tall and I'm of NOT an athlete posture, so at those speeds I get really tired sitting upright.

To help me navigate I invested 16 EUR in a second hand, first generation TOMTOM GPS. It was missing the mounting bracket, had a fucked up charger and was a size of a medieval cathedral. I know there are people out there paying more for a GPS system and a special adventure Touratech handlebar bracket with a special adventure Touratech rain cover than I paid for the whole bike. If you don't have what you like, you have to make it yourself. Or at least I do it myself.

I strap it on the front brake master cylinder reservoir and duct tape the speaker and charger socket, so it's waterproof. Works like a charm. And if I brake it, it will cost me a good dinner in a restaurant to get another one like this, ha!

Ross1969 07-21-2012 03:27 PM

Why did you put the bike on a pallet and blocks to remove the wheels - it has a good centre stand that just needs a bit of wood under it to lift the whole bike off the ground.

Hey the bike is not ugly - I have 3 FTs.

VxZeroKnots 07-21-2012 11:01 PM

fucking excellent, keep it up. 07-22-2012 03:13 AM


Originally Posted by Ross1969 (Post 19182374)
Why did you put the bike on a pallet and blocks to remove the wheels - it has a good centre stand that just needs a bit of wood under it to lift the whole bike off the ground.

Hey the bike is not ugly - I have 3 FTs.

I put it on the pallet so I could tie it to something. I needed it to keep stable while I was abusing it with power tools.

It's a mater of taste, for me that front light contraption is just out of space. It's to high for starters, and that piece of plastic stuck underneath just to cover the horn and some cables is lame and plane ugly. The overall balance of the bike is distorted by very light and tall front compared to the fat and full of plastic fantastic rear.

But I like the bike for what's underneath, there's a lot of potential.

Just look at those beauties:

Ross1969 07-22-2012 05:49 AM

Yes, I have seen those photo's before - as you say lots of potential - keep on abusing with the power tools! 07-25-2012 03:34 PM

I want this bike to be fully functional, a daily street tracker, a weekend in the country side scrambler. Form has to follow the function.

That's why lately I was riding it rather than building. I was putting some parts on, than off, checking how does it work on the pavement and in the woods. The rear fender for instance, with it's old school flappy rubber turned out perfect. It gives the old scrambler look AND it actually works. It's short enough to have an aggressive and composed look and long enough to keep my ass dry. I think I have to fabricate such a flappy rubber for the front as well. Front fender looks cool, but when riding in wet I got shit flying of the tire directly in front of it. And when when offroading, the engine and exhaust are covered in 1cm thick mud, which dries out to create concrete like substance. Also I'm thinking about switching the bars to some taller MX ones. These are perfect for the twisty roads, but when I have to stand on the dirt, I have to lean forward too much and it doesn't help when doing jumps.

Anyways, here are some pics of this evolution process.

There's this little MX circuit just 5min out of my town. I was going there every day to practice a little and have fun. When I thought I'd mastered it, I realized I was doing it the wrong way round all the time. How stupid can you be.

That front plate has to be changed. Now it's too big and it dominates the front, makes the bike look smaller.

I already replaced the fork seals and installed the harmonica rubber fork covers.

Here's a selection from military training ground just north out of my city. On weekends it's open to the public and you can find some off road enthusiast over there.

That's just the beginning of how I'm gonna test this bike ;)

Ross1969 07-26-2012 01:38 AM

It will be interesting to see what you come up with to replace the oversize plate on the front. The offset front light makes the bike look wrong. The starter motor is the weak point of the bike- take the end cap off once in a while to keep the contact points cleaned and lubricated otherwise it will fail. If you never carry a pillion then a seat chop would be an idea to improve the overall look?

bdjuju 07-26-2012 01:43 PM


Originally Posted by Ross1969 (Post 19215353)
It will be interesting to see what you come up with to replace the oversize plate on the front. The offset front light makes the bike look wrong.

I suppose it's a matter of taste. I like it!

This would probably be too modern looking, but I have something similar on my Monster:
Or maybe get arty like this Wrenchmonkees piece:
Speed holes?

lord_oblivion 07-26-2012 02:01 PM

Subscribed :1drink 08-04-2012 04:55 PM


Originally Posted by bdjuju (Post 19219563)
I suppose it's a matter of taste. I like it!

This would probably be too modern looking, but I have something similar on my Monster:
Or maybe get arty like this Wrenchmonkees piece:

Speed holes?

That's the kind'a thing I'm looking for :) Do you have a picture of your monster?

In the meantime I got stuck really bad in the mud:








It was a fuckin' nightmare... It was a lazy Sunday afternoon and I went to this military training ground close to my city. Having fun in the dirt, broke the clutch leaver AGAIN (that was 2 weeks ago, update: this week I broke it AGAIN, at this rate I'll have to buy them in boxes). Anywas around 1800h I was going thru this tank trail, it was a little wet after the rain. And I misjudged one puddle of mud by far. I went right into it and buried the bike in this shit up to the axles. I was alone and there was nobody else in the area. Why is nobody riding tank trails on any Sunday like in the old days? I was pushing/jumping/wrestling the bike 1cm at a time and an hour later I was 1m back. At that time I noticed there was a very subtile ssssssssssssssss......... like noise coming from the rear of the bike. I decided to reject that fact for the sake of my mental health and carry on. Good news was the Sun was getting lower and it wasn't so hot. Bad news was the Sun was getting lower. At that moment the pushing/jumping/wrestling technique stopped working. And the bike was still up to the axles in the puddle. At one time I was very close to a mental breakdown. I sat and calmed down. I had to get it higher to be able to push it back. I laid the bike on the side and started putting branches, sticks and anything I could find around under the wheels. Than put it upright and tried to push it. Not enough. Laid it again, put stuff in the holes, put it upright, tried to push it. I did it countless times. 2 hours later I managed to get it out another 50cm, and the Sun managed to get behind the horizon. I kept my mind busy thinking about the the small problems and direct solutions to them. I was too afraid that If I looked at the big picture I would panic. The big picture was that I was fucked and it was getting dark. I kept stuffing wood under the bike, pushing, falling and getting stuck in mud myself for another hour. Now it was dark for real and I couldn't get it out any more. I was shaking from exhaustion and couldn't feel my members. I had one last idea before I died. I gave it a shot. I put one big branch under the bike, laid the bike on it and started rotating it. It worked. When I got the bike the other way round, I fired it up and rode out of this shit. After 4 hours! Remember that subtile sssssssssss....... noise I rejected before? Well, it turned out to be very real. I had to ride 10km home on a flat rear tire.

I had mud in my mouth, in my hair, in my shoes, in my eyes and in my pockets. It was even in my dreams, as I was very shaken by the hole incident and couldn't sleep that night. I hope this lame story will relief me from the trauma hehe ;)

I got the tire back on in the repair shop the next morning and noticed another funny thing, there was no give in the rear suspension. It was stuck compressed all the way down. I relieved it with a crowbar, the bike jumped up from the side stand and fell down breaking off the clutch lever completely. Anyways I think my rear springs are shot dead. I put them on the hardest setting and when I ride alone it's kinda good, but when I ride with my special lady the suspension goes all the way down and get's stuck there. Before I was able to ride thru forest with her on the back without bottoming out. With the middle setting. So far on the 'must replace any time soon' list are the rear master cylinder, front wheel bearings, NASA spec hardened super strong composite clutch leaver and rear suspension.

Last week I loaded the bike into my van and went 600km south to my grandfather's 80th birthday party. He lives in a really beautiful hilly countryside. When I wanted to get the bike out of the car I noticed the rear tire was flat again. Like the last time, there was no puncture. It's tubeless tire and the dirt got between the tire bed and the rim leading to a leak. This time I invested 8 EUR in an inner tube so this shouldn't happen again. I hope.

JStory 09-03-2012 08:36 PM

You're cracking me up.:rofl Keep it up, man. Cool bike. 10-12-2012 04:27 AM

I know it's a bit lame but I didn't work much on the bike lately. And I don't think I'll be able to do more stuff before the spring. One it's getting cold in here, for riding and building, second I have other stuff to put cash into right now. But the project is not over yet! I have some ideas for a retro tank, taller seat, bars etc. This bike was designed as some kind of a flat tracker plastic wannabe, so the seat is very low. And for me, with my 186cm it's very low. When I go off road it's very difficult for me to stand up on the pegs. Or I'm just a wimp and got to do more knee-ups. When I think of it, it actually might be the latter...

A couple of weeks ago I went to Branna (CZ) to watch a classic motorcycle race. It was a 600km go there, meet some strangers on bikes, get wasted, sleep in a tent, wake up at 8 to the sound of 2 stroke open pipe vintage bikes going thru the village, be sick all morning, miss most of the races because of being sick, make a few lousy pictures and go home kinda trip. Great stuff.

Here's how the bike presented itself in the pine forests near Czech-Polish border, 100% apocalypse ready:

now it's waterproof

PS Does any body have a clue about putting spoked wheels and rear shocks replacements on a Honda FT500?

13.1 10-12-2012 12:05 PM

check out this forum for help with your wheel/shock plans:

fotoduda.....keep posting up your experiences, they are great:eek1

this is the most interesting new rider/new wrencher posting I have seen an a good while.


Times are GMT -7.   It's 06:58 PM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.5
Copyright ©2000 - 2015, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.
Copyright ADVrider 2011-2015