Project Ascot: Getting dirty with a 1983 Honda VT500FT

Discussion in 'Old's Cool' started by TwinDuro, Feb 27, 2016.

  1. TwinDuro

    TwinDuro Befuddled Adventurer

    Joined:
    Jun 10, 2007
    Oddometer:
    527
    Location:
    Pac Nor-Wet, WA
    First off, this thread is actually called "Project A$$hat" but I didn't want to get in trouble with the mods (if they say A$$hat is OK to put in a thread title, it's gettin' changed reallllll quick like!) :bmwrider

    There's always a good story on how any of us ends up joining the cult of the motorized two wheeled conveyances (I could yarn on about mine forever...na, that would bore you to tears); here's my Brother's:

    We're (along with my older sister) a group of travel-happy siblings that have had a lot of adventures over the years and have been fortunate to be able to trot the globe doing stupid things and having fun wherever we can find it. Because, really, isn't the best part of life just dickin' around with your family and friends? :D

    It all started late last spring when my older brother Andy, over a couple of excellent craft beers with our buddies (you'll notice that good brewskis will take a prevalent role in this thread :drink), said: "It's about time to get my motorcycle endorsement and start riding with you miscreants; you can't monopolize all the fun! I'm gonna sign up for the MSF course right now!" Due to the wonder of smart phones, electrons, Bikram yoga, sweat lodges and other witchcraft that I don't exactly understand, about 3 minutes later, he was signed up for the MSF basic rider course.

    I've had the sickness myself for many years on a bunch of barely-running eclectic heaps and love everything with a motor and wheels (especially old stuff) and love riding with my family (my Dad got back into motorcycling after a 35 year hiatus when I became interested in Honda Trail 90s about 13 years ago) and friends, but always hesitate to heckle the folks close to me into getting into motorcycling. I feel like riding a motorcycle is something everyone should come to their own conclusions about and figure out if it's right for them without getting pressured...

    That's exactly what my bro man did (although maybe a little excitement about motorcycles on my part rubbed off, who knows, osmosis is a helluva thing!) and before I knew it, he was on my XT225, learning the ropes and getting into neighborhood dirt bike mischief! :clap


    [​IMG]
    (Here's Andy on his first ever motorcycle ride with my Mom cheering him on)

    After he got a hang of basic motorcycle workings (he picked up the song and dance real quick, having ridden bicycles a crap ton in the last several years and also having extremely good dexterity, unlike his carny-handed brother!) and getting comfortable with the clutch and shifting, the eve of his MSF course soon approached, and he passed with flying colors in July of 2015. With a freshly minted Warshington Driver's license bearing the infamous "3- Two Wheeled Motorcycle Only" endorsement now burning a hole in his pocket, he hopped on my XT, I jumped on my Connie, and we took a long, dangerous trip two miles away to Wally World and back. He was hooked (that's Andy on the left)!

    [​IMG]

    In the coming days and weeks, we rode around a little and having waaaaay too much rolling stock sitting around the "Twinduro Corral of Misfit Motorcycles," I told my brother he was welcome to ride whatever was running and safe (brakes, who needs those?) at any given time. He got some good use out of my XT225 (check out more of that bike if you feel in this old thread: http://advrider.com/index.php?threads/4-days-of-pnw-wandering-hood-river-or-bust.848733/ ), but even with all the bikes we had, Andy, understandably, wanted a bike of his own (one that actually ran I assume: "A bike on the road is worth two in the shed!" :lol3).

    The original plan was for us to fix up my old metallic purple (code named: "Statutory Grape") 1973 Honda CB350G for Andy to ride, but reality got the better of us, and we both soon realized we didn't have the time to do a full mechanical overhaul on a bike right then and there. Also, with lots of higher-speed highway/interstate riding in his future, Andy wanted a bike that could do everything, but yet wasn't a handful or too buzzy at 75mph. For the record, I love, and a I mean _LOVE_ Honda 350 twins, but realize their limitations as comfortable highway bikes, so we shelved the CB350G project. On a similar, but different note, keep your eyes peeled for an upcoming build thread of my 1971 SL350 with XR400 suspension in the next week or two. I'm fortunate to be working in cahoots with the original SL350 Badass, inmate LC Garage, and the infamous Oregon Coast (and the whole Outta Sight Racing Team) this next month to get a rowdy group of vintage Hondas ready for Ladybug's Wallowa Jamboree in June: http://advrider.com/index.php?threads/2016-wallowa-valley-adventure-jamboree.1109567/

    Andy and I talked bikes, weighed options and kept our eyes peeled. I thought to myself "what would be a good bike to start out on, be relativity low maintenance, have enough power to keep Andy interested, yet be a good all-rounder?" One of my favorite Hondas from the early '80s popped into my head: VT500FT Ascot! With a lovely 6 speed transmission, shaft drive, liquid-cooling, hydraulic valve-lifters and a torquey, yet revvy, V-twin, I figured it would be right up Andy's alley. :ricky


    I showed him photos of an VT Ascot and he fell in love with the look of the bike. He chuckled about the fact that the bike was called "Ascot" and asked if he had to wear the silk neckband that shared the name while riding it. We both immediately thought about Fred from Scooby Doo and how "Ascot" wasn't a very manly name for a bike. :imaposer

    I then explained to him that the name was a reference for Ascot Park in Los Angeles, which was the hot bed of everything awesome in flat track and sprint car racing for a long time, with bad asses like Kenny Roberts, Mert Lawill and Gene Romero tearing around the dirt oval back in the day. The Ascot name given back it's manliness, the search was on! After a couple of weeks, we found an '83 in Vancouver (Washington) for a good price that had been repainted metallic gray and was well maintained. We test rode it, talked to the owner (a younger kid who wanted to step up to an SV650 with a dad who was an engineer; they both were sticklers about bike maintenance) and when the deal was done, Andy was the proud owner of a sweet 1983 Honda VT500FT. "Project Asshat" was born! :D

    [​IMG]

    The bike came with a really nice home-made luggage rack, a Sargent seat cover and a box full of spares with a Haynes manual. With Andy on his new bike and me on my Connie, we had a great ride home to the Tacoma area from Vancouver, taking the back way through Chehalis, Bucoda, Tenino, Rainier and up through Roy on Highway 507. Of course, we had to stop at Dick's brewing in Chehalis for a cold one and some deli fixin's before we hit the road for home :beer


    [​IMG]
    (There's Andy with his Ascot, my Connie and a local's awesome Beeza!)


    We took the brewery tour and had some fiiiiine brews!

    [​IMG]
    (This was "The Better Half Unite Red Ale," a collaboration beer brewed by Dick’s Brewing Owner Julie Pendleton with women from around the world. Damn good too!)


    [​IMG]
    (Dick's Lava Rock Porter)


    We had a great ride home on a perfect afternoon, and somewhere I've got photos and GoPro video of it, but for some reason can't find it right now (I've got a bad case of CRS, I'll add them when I find 'em). On the trip home, we saw a rare '79 or '80 AMC AMX, and being a huge dork for '70s and '80s cars that no one really cares about, I had to stop and talk to the owner, who had some great stories. Apparently, he pulled it out of a barn where it sat for a few decades, got it running on the road again, and was driving the pee out of it. It had the 304 V8 and 4-barrel carb to boot and he was planning on keeping it original and patina'ed and just mechanically overhauling it. Sounds good to me! He also liked Andy's new bike and knew the model well: "not many of those around" he said. :D

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]


    When we got home, Andy and I immediately agreed that one of the Ascot's few styling flaws, the square headlight, had to get the hell off the front forks! With MortimerSickle's sig line: "I miss round headlights" ringing in our ears, we ordered a metal-bucket H4 headlight from Emgo and bolted it up:

    [​IMG]

    Much better! Also, after the buffety ride home from Vancouver, Andy wanted to add a windshield to cut back on long-ride-wind-blast fatigue, so I let him try out the Slipstreamer S7 Spitfire that I've had good luck with on my XT225. The beauty of having multiple bikes around is that you can always have a great source of parts! :D


    [​IMG]

    It worked great for him (he's about 6'1") and so he ordered a smoked version of that windshield and at the same time (and because we can't leave anything alone), he admitted that he didn't really like the stock-style Dunlops that came with the bike. They were decent tires, but not worthy of a bike called "The Asshat." With Andy showing a ton of interest in riding gravel roads and two-track (he's an avid hiker and enjoys traveling to hard-to-reach remote trail heads) we conferred upon a set of Kenda K761 80/20 tires which I've had good luck using over the past 20k miles on my XT.

    (Here's a side by side comparo shot of the two tires)
    [​IMG]


    We consulted inmate Kenstone about his luck with running these exact same tires on his VT500FT "Shascot," which's he's ridden all over hill and dale. We took a rear 110/80-18 just like Ken did and flipped it around for the front, since 18" front dual sport tires are just about non-existent and a swap to a 19" or 21" front wheel isn't in the cards. This has worked beautifully so far. Here's a link to a thread showing Kens bike, which has been good inspiration for Andy and I: http://advrider.com/index.php?threads/vt500-ascot-for-tracker-or-dual-sport.947109/#post-26465085

    Here's a before and after of the rear:

    [​IMG]

    In true ADV fashion, inappropriate tools were used, warnings were ignored and cussing ("persuasion words" I like to call 'em) ensued, but we eventually got 'er spooned on and balanced:

    [​IMG]

    While we were back there, we serviced and adjusted the drum brake, because it wasn't working quite right. The performance was falling somewhat short of "full lockup, bad-ass sideways slide in front of your buddies" good. Turned out a bad glaze had formed. Once that was busted on both pads and drums and everything was cleaned and lubed, all was good and she stopped on a nickle.


    [​IMG]


    [​IMG]

    We had to use my patented, extremely high-tech, 100 year old bead popper on both the front and rear. Those old Dunlops just wouldn't yield to a 160lb. ruffian jumping up and down on them! It does say "malleable" on it... :D

    [​IMG]

    We successfully spooned the new K761 on up front (these tubeless tires are a workout!) and did the 'ol stick on balance weight routine as well. Checked the brake pads in the front binder and plenty of life left there:


    [​IMG]

    About that time, the brown truck showed up with Andy's new Slipstreamer windshield and we happily bolted it on.

    [​IMG]

    Amazing how a round headlight, windshield and tires changes the look of a bike...

    [​IMG]


    Andy let me ride the Asshat around for awhile to scrub the mold release off the tires (for some reason, these Kendas are slick as snot for about 50 miles, even more so then other new tires I've used over the years). I did some grass tracking in the local green belt and the new tires made a helluva difference! I also learned how much fun this bike was in light off road riding (foreshadowing...:deal); the engine is so much fun!

    The very next weekend, some of our friends invited us out to Ocean Shores for a weekend of camping. Andy rigged up a pair of soft bags, and a duffle we had kicking around on the back of the Asshat and I loaded up the Wolfmans on my XT, and we took off:

    [​IMG]


    [​IMG]

    Being of the adventurous and not-so-bright sort, instead of taking Highways 8, 12 and 101, or Highways 6 and 101 to get to the coast in a safe, timely manner, we took a route I'd never traveled before. The road cut diagonally NW through the forest and ended up popping out on 101 right before the 101/107 junction. The route started in Oakville and went down Garrard Creek Road, which turned into FS68900/Brooklyn Road which then morphed into North River Road. If it's on Google Maps, it must exist, right? :evil

    It was a beautiful, old twisty two lane road that wound through the trees, but as we went, we noticed it kept getting tighter, and narrower and twistier... At that time, we passed a wildfire crew talking around an F-550 brush rig, but since the road wasn't closed, we kept going.


    Eventually the crumbling asphalt popped out of the woods and turned into a 50 foot wide gravel road. We stopped and I asked Andy (having a flashback to the horror I had myself at riding a large street bike at high speeds on gravel for the first time years ago), if he felt comfortable attacking the road. I said and meant "No pressure and no worries, if you want to stick to pavement, we'll back track a bit." Like a true brother of mine, he said "let's do it!" and on we went. It turned out we we're skirting a wild Fire (August 22nd, 2015), and as the air got blue and hazy, we learned far too late that we should have maybe exercised a little more caution in our route planning. :lol3

    [​IMG]


    We aired down the tires on both bikes to 15psi to make the gravel riding a little less squirley. I've found that the Kenda K761s seem to like 15psi for off-pavement use over the years and the lower pressure totally changes the grip for the better. After 10 or 15 awesome miles of gravel with scenic views up the yin yang, we popped back out onto the pavement at the Brooklyn Tavern ( http://historicbrooklyntavern.com/ ) where some concerned locals waved us down to ask about the fire. We had no idea the area was burning up and rode through it all obliviously :imaposer Here we are in Vesta, WA, stopping to air the tires back up:

    [​IMG]

    That's all for now. The next installment will be the 2nd half of Andy's first trip and then back into all of the modifications we're doing, muahahahahaha!:muutt









    #1
    SlipChip and Wkendwrench like this.
  2. jellycow

    jellycow NX NX NX NX NX NX NX NX NX

    Joined:
    May 29, 2005
    Oddometer:
    1,513
    Location:
    South side of the Netherlands
    Great read! But sorry guys, you can't top your mom yet for she is barefooted waving her son off for his first ride. You'll have to grow a bit more coolness before overtaking her :-)
    #2
    bike, Jurkhead, Brewtus and 1 other person like this.
  3. DaveB74

    DaveB74 Adventurer

    Joined:
    Feb 6, 2013
    Oddometer:
    54
    Location:
    SW Ohio
    I have a pristine '84 that I was planning to sell when I get home next month. Repurpose?........well maybe......
    #3
    Jurkhead and TwinDuro like this.
  4. Bar None

    Bar None OLD DUDE Supporter

    Joined:
    Mar 2, 2007
    Oddometer:
    13,932
    Location:
    SWFL WNC
    Location and photos? PM? I've had two VTs over the years.
    #4
    TwinDuro likes this.
  5. Bar None

    Bar None OLD DUDE Supporter

    Joined:
    Mar 2, 2007
    Oddometer:
    13,932
    Location:
    SWFL WNC
    OP, nice one you have. Thanks for the photos.
    #5
    TwinDuro likes this.
  6. Brewtus

    Brewtus Buffoonery, Inc.

    Joined:
    Jul 30, 2008
    Oddometer:
    7,525
    Location:
    Portales, New Mexico
    Back in the Dark Ages when I was still working in Honda dealerships, we called those bikes "Assclots", but "Asshat" works also. :lol3

    Cool thread! :thumb
    #6
    TwinDuro likes this.
  7. JustinLonghorn

    JustinLonghorn Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Apr 15, 2014
    Oddometer:
    109
    Location:
    Frederick, MD
    Rad. I just picked up one of these gems.
    #7
    Jurkhead and TwinDuro like this.
  8. TwinDuro

    TwinDuro Befuddled Adventurer

    Joined:
    Jun 10, 2007
    Oddometer:
    527
    Location:
    Pac Nor-Wet, WA
    I'm glad you folks are enjoying the story so far!


    Very true Jellycow! Our wonderful mother is always a hundred steps ahead of us boys in the cool factor department! When I was 16, and learned of a Trail 90/110 get together at Carnegie off-road vehicle Park 750 miles south of us near the SF Bay Area in California ( http://ohv.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=1172 ), she said: "get your stuff together and let's go!" and we drove our little Nissan pickup 1500 miles round trip over the course of 5 days, just so I could ride with a bunch of like minded crazies for the weekend. Best Mom ever! :clap Also, I'm sure when he reads this thread, my friend Eddy VK will shake his head, but rijden goed Jellycow! :D
    #8
  9. McJamie

    McJamie STROMINATOR

    Joined:
    Oct 3, 2009
    Oddometer:
    1,760
    Location:
    Courtice, Ontario, Canada
    I always thought this bike would be a good choice for this ( there are some Transalp genes in there somewhere). Narrow, not too heavy, easy to ride. All the things you want in a home-made ADV bike. Maybe fitting a bigger tank of some kind?
    I would figure out a rudimentary skid plate of some kind. A slight prang anywhere along the bottom will put an end to things in a big hurry.

    I like it.
    #9
    TwinDuro likes this.
  10. Mach Z

    Mach Z Budding ADV Addict!

    Joined:
    Dec 24, 2011
    Oddometer:
    118
    Location:
    Tsawwassen, BC Canada
    Vancouver called... they want their Ascot back!
    #10
    TwinDuro likes this.
  11. TwinDuro

    TwinDuro Befuddled Adventurer

    Joined:
    Jun 10, 2007
    Oddometer:
    527
    Location:
    Pac Nor-Wet, WA
    Thanks McJamie and Mach Z!

    You're one step ahead of us McJamie! We also noticed how vulnerable all of the bit (engine cases, radiator hose, oil filter, water pump) bits are under the lower frame tubes of the Ascot, and after consulting with fabrication wizard Luke, we've decided to remedy that with a 3/16" thick T5052 aluminum plate. Photos to come :evil For fuel, we're planning to supplement the stock tank with a 1 gallon Rotopax as needs require. Not near as slick as a larger tank, but workable.

    Andy and I spent all yesterday working on the Ascot and got a ton done. I've got to get caught up with the rest of the thread, but in the meantime, here's a teaser photo of the mock up we did:

    [​IMG]
    #11
  12. TwinDuro

    TwinDuro Befuddled Adventurer

    Joined:
    Jun 10, 2007
    Oddometer:
    527
    Location:
    Pac Nor-Wet, WA

    Mach Z, Andy (he's inmate Jurkhead, he'll post here soon) and I are planning a future trip with the Ascot and XT up to Victoria, our goal to ride and camp up to Port Hardy... Not Vancouver, but farther north then we usually travel (except for that one time I was in Whitehorse, but that's a totally different story)
    #12
  13. Jurkhead

    Jurkhead Like an ol' hammerdog

    Joined:
    Aug 1, 2015
    Oddometer:
    2
    Location:
    Seattle
    Stardate log, Captain uninformed brother 2/29/2016: we see a strange light gleaming brighter than any star we've seen. Could of that be... No... Two wheels...?

    Attached Files:

    #13
    TwinDuro likes this.
  14. Jurkhead

    Jurkhead Like an ol' hammerdog

    Joined:
    Aug 1, 2015
    Oddometer:
    2
    Location:
    Seattle
    New potential project name: ASSCLOWN
    #14
    Brewtus and TwinDuro like this.
  15. TwinDuro

    TwinDuro Befuddled Adventurer

    Joined:
    Jun 10, 2007
    Oddometer:
    527
    Location:
    Pac Nor-Wet, WA
    Great to see you here on ADV brother!!! :beer:freaky:rickyThings just got real guys!!! :rilla
    #15
    Jurkhead likes this.
  16. TwinDuro

    TwinDuro Befuddled Adventurer

    Joined:
    Jun 10, 2007
    Oddometer:
    527
    Location:
    Pac Nor-Wet, WA
    :dealAlso, as Jurkhead posted, the intense red light you see from the back of Project Asshat is from a set of Swift TIR4 LED strobe beacons set to steady burn. Should create visibility when needed...and by visibility, I mean temporary blindness :wink:

    Lots more to come on Project Asshat's upcoming auxillary electrical system... Let's just say, she'll have more switches and buttons to push and make more noise then a game of Super Simon :lol3
    #16
    Jurkhead likes this.
  17. TwinDuro

    TwinDuro Befuddled Adventurer

    Joined:
    Jun 10, 2007
    Oddometer:
    527
    Location:
    Pac Nor-Wet, WA
    So much has happened since the last post it isn't even funny, but because I don't have the sand at the moment, here's a little update... :bmwrider

    Andy (Jurkhead) never really liked the turn signals on the Asshat... The rears are cheapie replacements that are falling apart (lenses are held on with electrical tape) and the fronts are the originals. While the front signals are totally functional, they stick out what seems like a mile, and lets face it, are totally stock and must be messed with! :deal

    Because the Asshat is going to see off-road and rough-road use, we're putting a set of Cycra Probend alloy hand-guards on, just in case. Below are the photos showing how we're installing the Swift TIR4 LED strobe beacons on the Cycras. Here are the plastic shields. The lower one is as-delivered and the upper one has the center hole enlarged and the mounting holes drilled for the Swifts:


    [​IMG]

    Enlarging the center hole in the hand-guard for the 4-wires from the LEDs to pass through. I'm not too worried about compromising the strength of the hand-guards with enlarging the hole one size. Cycras are beefy! Warranty? We don't need no stinkin' warranty! :chace


    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Here's a look see at the LED installed using stainless 6-32 screws and nylock nuts. The screws are Allen-button heads, so they are very low profile and the head doesn't seem to interfere much with the hand-guard/shield fitment from the backside. You can also see the four wires coming from the LED. Black is for negative, Red for positive, Blue for pattern control (these babies have 22 different flash patterns, none of which will be used on the street except for steady-burn, lol) and yellow for light-to-light synchronization.

    [​IMG]

    Finished product. We're really happy how they turned out, and oh boy howdy, do they throw some light! (12W worth of LEDs, each):


    [​IMG]

    Initial impression of these LEDs is that they're extremely well built, very sturdy and with poly-carbonate lenses and metal housings, if Jurkhead breaks one, well, he was probably doing something awesome! Because the LEDs on the handguards are somewhat directional, and can't easily be seen from the side of the bike , we're also adding some small, LED marker lights on the side in the old turn signal mount holes. These will act in unison with the hand-guard LEDs (they'll burn steady as running lights normallay, and flash when the turn signals are switched on). To mount these little guys, we had to enlarge the holes in the headlight ears to 3/4"


    [​IMG]

    We then scienced the $hit out of the little LED to see how much I needed to back-cut the hole so the rubber grommet would snap in with authority

    [​IMG]

    Made more chips...

    [​IMG]

    and BAM, instead side marker light :D

    [​IMG]

    Although all of the lenses are clear on these LEDs, they illuminate Amber and are all SAE/DOT approved... Super sexy! That's it for now. Can't wait to show you all a video of how these things light up. To say the least, they're all brighter then a strait-A student (thanks for that one Carpy!)
    #17
  18. k-moe

    k-moe Long timer

    Joined:
    Jun 27, 2012
    Oddometer:
    6,804
    Location:
    44º W
    I'll give a word of caution about the Kenda 761 tires. While they are a good tire, they are always going to be somewhat "slippery" (though not dangerously so). I ran a set on my scooter several years ago, and could get the back to break loose in a corner (on pavement) with the judicious application of a whopping 12 horsepower. It was very controllable, and very fun. They were great on gravel roads though.
    #18
    TwinDuro likes this.
  19. zap2504

    zap2504 Dave E.

    Joined:
    Feb 15, 2006
    Oddometer:
    1,615
    Location:
    Middletown, PA
    Are the surface-mount LEDs also a Swift product? Sources for both LED units?
    #19
    TwinDuro likes this.
  20. wmtunate

    wmtunate Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Apr 10, 2014
    Oddometer:
    161
    Location:
    Detroit
    An '83 Ascot was my first bike. It was a bit short for me (I'm 6'2"), but it was a fun bike. Looking forward to more updates in this thread.
    #20
    TwinDuro likes this.