Author Topic: Essentials for the FT500  (Read 15161 times)

J6G1Z

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Essentials for the FT500
« on: August 16, 2013, 06:39:32 AM »
Essentials for the FT500

You own a FT500 and you want the bike to perform to its full potential without spending
big bucks for engine hop-ups, etc. There are several easy tasks beyond the basics (i.e.,
changing the oil, putting air in the tires, adjusting the valves, lubing the cables, etc.)
which a FT500 will noticeably benefit from. You don’t need to spend a lot of money.
But in this author’s opinion, the following modifications and maintenance should be
considered “essential.” Modifications

1. Change the carburetor jets. If you do no other modification to your FT500,
increase the carburetor’s main and low-speed jet sizes by two sizes. Total cost is
about $10 and you’ll never regret it. Honda put a wonderfully sophisticated
carburetor on the FT500; and then they installed the leanest jets that the engine
would run on. That was why they put such a fancy carburetor on it: their
engineering exercise attempted unusually fine control over the air/fuel mixing.
And the engine’s performance suffers from the lean jetting. The carb’s overall
design is great: it has an accelerator pump, an anti-backfire circuit, and three
separate metering jets (pilot, low-speed, main). A new one would probably set
you back $600 to $800. Yes, the carb design was/is great, but the stock jetting
makes it run like a 350cc engine. If you increase the main and low-speed jets to
#145 and #58 respectively, the engine will thank you: every time you run it.

2. Change the air filter. After 23 years, it is time to change the air-filter: it was a
good run. The total cost will be about $10. Go to a powersports dealer (i.e. dirt
bikes) and buy a sheet of sea-green air-filter foam and some air-filter oil. Remove
the paper element from the original air-filter (I burned mine out with a little help
from charcoal lighter fluid). Use a scissor to cut the sheet to the right dimension
and install it inside the original air-filter canister. Before you put it in, spray the
air-filter oil on the side facing the inside of the air-filter can.

3. Increase the counter-shaft sprocket size to either 16 teeth or 17 teeth. The
FT500 comes standard with a 15 teeth CS sprocket. Now that the engine runs
right with the new carburetor jetting and new air filter, for $15 you no longer need
to ride around on an under-geared bike. You can buy the sprocket from most
motorcycle parts suppliers. I purchased my 17 teeth CS sprocket from
denniskirk.com and the DK part number is: 8-254-17 (sixteen teeth CS sprocket
part number: 8-254-16).

4. Replace the rear-shocks. Although the FT500 will never be a Grand Prix racer,
it has the light-weight and geometry to be a pretty snappy good handling bike. By
the early 1980’s Honda was designing some extremely good suspension systems.
But for some unknown reason the shocks they installed on the FT500 were subpar.
From the get-go they were little better than pogo sticks. For $125 (yes, and
that is a sizeable piece of change) you can get a set of Progressive Suspension
Essentials for the FT500 2 GRN Rev. 0, Jan 06
gas-charged shocks that really work. With new shocks the back end doesn’t
either wallow in curves or hobby-horse over bumps. You will definitely notice the
improvement. It is also a good opportunity to lower the bike’s saddle height half
an inch if that sounds attractive to you. The standard shocks are close to 13.0 inch
in length. You can order a pair of 12.5 inch ones. The DK part number is: 58-
344. The full size 13.0 inch part number is: 58-345. If you get the 12.5 inch
shocks, drop the fork tubes 0.75 inch in their clamps to re-level the bike a half
inch lower than standard. I’ve been riding the lowered version for five years now.

5. Change the fork oil. The FT500 has a pretty good front fork, although many
riders consider it under-damped for pavement work. Unless you spend an
inordinate amount of time running the FT500 on dirt roads where large front
suspension displacements are nominal, the FT500’s street handling can benefit
from thicker fork oil for increased damping. The ATF that comes standard in the
bike has a “weight” of about 7 to 7.5. If you change to either 10 weight or 15
weight fork oil you will find that the FT500’s front end loses none of its
compliancy going over bumps, but it will just feel more “planted.” It is a very
confidence inspiring change: especially for highway riding. Cost is $10. Keep
the air pressure in the fork at 10 psi unless you want a Cadillac-mushy ride. (Bel-
Ray is a popular brand available in many motorcycle stores. Also DK part
number: 30-1529 for 10W)

If you do the entire set of the above modifications, you will end up with a bike that you’ll
want to hug every time you get back home after a ride. Trust me. You will.

Maintenance

1. Overhaul the starter solenoid assembly. If you do nothing else on this list of
suggestions, disassemble the starter solenoid assembly and lubricate the lock
cam’s and fork claw’s shafts. After 15 years without lubrication, the lock-cam’s
shaft starts sticking. And when that happens, that little part will cause the rest of
the starter to self-destruct. If the lock-cam can’t release when the starter button is
released, the pinion gear can’t be rejected off the ring gear, and you have Big
Trouble Brewing.

2. Tighten the balancer chain. The chain that drives the engine balancer system is
inside the engine cases and needs to be adjusted every 8000 miles. You don’t
want a chain driving a pair of oscillating weights loosely whipping around inside
the engine cases.

Originally sourced from: http://autos.groups.yahoo.com/group/honda-ascot/files/

« Last Edit: August 16, 2013, 07:26:43 AM by J6G1Z »

WildeMonster

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Re: Essentials for the FT500
« Reply #1 on: August 31, 2013, 09:47:19 AM »
Where can I get those size jets for the carb? I found the #145, but am having trouble locating a #58. I found a Polaris one, are they interchangable? This is my first project I am really getting into myself, so sorry if I am asking dumb questions. Thanks for the info!

J6G1Z

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Re: Essentials for the FT500
« Reply #2 on: August 31, 2013, 10:07:18 AM »
Where can I get those size jets for the carb? I found the #145, but am having trouble locating a #58. I found a Polaris one, are they interchangable? This is my first project I am really getting into myself, so sorry if I am asking dumb questions. Thanks for the info!

I bought the 2 jets from Mark at Thumper Stuff  http://www.thumperstuff.com/FT500.html  out of Washington state. While your at it you might want to pick up a 16 or 17 tooth countershaft sprocket. I went with the 16 tooth. I think the 17 tooth requires some very minor clearancing that I didn't want to mess with.

Another source of jets is SUDCO or Jets-R-Us. I think they might be on the expensive side though.

Don't worry about asking questions, that's what this forum is for.

Good Luck
J.

WildeMonster

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Re: Essentials for the FT500
« Reply #3 on: August 31, 2013, 12:17:59 PM »
I actually found a link to the thumper stuff page shortly after posting this. I will be giving them a call. Thanks again!

Iainhugh

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Re: Essentials for the FT500
« Reply #4 on: April 26, 2014, 02:35:09 PM »
Im in the process of getting my bike ready for summer and I took the carb of to clean out the bowl. It was filthy! I'm looking to change the jets to the ones mentioned above. I have taken the bowl of and there is  128  and a 78 and also a hole that has a wee rubber stopper in it. Are these the jets that get changed. I have no workshop manual. I'm in the yahoo group but I can't get into it. Although I still read the posts everyday threw the emails.
Thanks
Iain

J6G1Z

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Re: Essentials for the FT500
« Reply #5 on: April 26, 2014, 06:06:30 PM »
The main jet is the large one that hangs down below the carb body casting.

The low speed jet is tucked out of sight up into a tube that is part of the carb body. I use a gunsmith type of screw driver to reach up in there. You don't want to strip the screw drive notch on this jet.

Good luck
J.

Iainhugh

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Re: Essentials for the FT500
« Reply #6 on: April 27, 2014, 01:38:23 AM »
Thanks for the help J
Iain

J6G1Z

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Re: Essentials for the FT500
« Reply #7 on: April 27, 2014, 05:48:44 AM »
No problem. Here are a few semi-fuzzy pictures of what the old jets look like.

The short stout one is the main jet.

The long slender one is the low speed jet & is the more difficult one to locate & remove.

The material of both jets is fairly soft & the screwdriver slot can strip out real easy. You really don't want to strip out the low speed jet as it would be the most difficult to remove. You would most likely need to try an e-z-out & some drilling. Use the best condition screwdriver that fills the slot that you can find.

Good luck
J.

PS. Pick up a service manual as soon as you can. You really need one.
« Last Edit: April 27, 2014, 06:01:36 AM by J6G1Z »

Lefty

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Re: Essentials for the FT500
« Reply #8 on: April 27, 2014, 04:46:38 PM »
Great info & thanks for posting it up, I'm looking to make my FT a little more responsive and also swapping the stock exhaust for something a little throatier-not into loud, but if I'm re-jetting & deleting the air box & doing the filter mod, I may as well do the exhaust while I'm at it.
 I've seen pics of the Thumperstuff header, looks pretty much like stock but better, but I've also seen pics of FTs with custom headers where the pipes collect about 6 inches from the head & one pipe goes the rest of the way down & I think it looks way better, I'm wondering if this is a set up for Hi compression only? I'm going to start searching this subject, as I don't want to do something($$$) that's not going to benefit a stock piston.

Lefty

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Re: Essentials for the FT500
« Reply #9 on: May 17, 2014, 02:53:37 PM »
I was looking at those shocks on Dennis Kirk- the springs are separate, not a big deal,  did you  buy both sets & install the springs yourself?

J6G1Z

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Re: Essentials for the FT500
« Reply #10 on: May 17, 2014, 04:00:11 PM »
I was looking at those shocks on Dennis Kirk- the springs are separate, not a big deal,  did you  buy both sets & install the springs yourself? 

I’m not familiar with the DK shocks.

I ended up ordering a pair of HAGON shocks for my FT hybrid bike. Hagon shocks come with a spring for your weight & are ready to bolt on.

Good luck
J.

EDIT: http://hagonshocksusa.com
« Last Edit: May 18, 2014, 10:03:16 AM by J6G1Z »

zaqattack

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Re: Essentials for the FT500
« Reply #11 on: June 21, 2014, 08:29:30 AM »
So as the summer rears around the bend I was out riding a few weeks ago and hit 10000 miles on my ascot. As soon as the odometer turned I started hearing an engine ping (sharp metal ring that went with the rpms). I knew it was inevitable that something was going to act up soon and already had the shop manual on the way, but now that it's here I have a few questions. 1) This essentials list includes tightening the balancer chain, how is this achieved? 2) The manual says to replace the chain anytime you replace a sprocket and to replace both sprockets at the same time, is this necessary? 3) Any ideas on the sound? cam tensioner or balancer?

J6G1Z

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Re: Essentials for the FT500
« Reply #12 on: June 21, 2014, 08:53:56 AM »
So as the summer rears around the bend I was out riding a few weeks ago and hit 10000 miles on my ascot. As soon as the odometer turned I started hearing an engine ping (sharp metal ring that went with the rpms). I knew it was inevitable that something was going to act up soon and already had the shop manual on the way, but now that it's here I have a few questions. 1) This essentials list includes tightening the balancer chain, how is this achieved? 2) The manual says to replace the chain anytime you replace a sprocket and to replace both sprockets at the same time, is this necessary? 3) Any ideas on the sound? cam tensioner or balancer?

I'm afraid I can't help you with the cam balancer chain adjustment as I have not had to mess with that yet.

As far as your drive train sprockets & chain.... You are supposed to treat the chain & the two sprockets as a matching system. Replacing all three as needed. In reality, the Ascot runs an oversized (530 pitch) chain & usually they last a long time. I have a bike with about twice the mileage that you have & the original chain had not stretched beyond service limits. Check out the sprocket teeth carefully to see if they show any signs of being worn or "hooking". I've replaced the front countershaft sprocket to a larger size, without replacing the chain or rear sprocket. Make sure that the end of your battery vent tube is routed away from dumping on the chain.

If you do need to replace the chain and/or sprockets, you might want to consider modifying your drive train & converting to a 520 pitch, or series, chain & sprockets like what was run on the Honda XR/XL-500 bikes. The 520 chain is about an 1/8th" narrower than the 530 & saves a bunch of rotating weight (supposedly about 6lbs.). Run a 16 tooth countershaft either way & then decide if you want to adjust the gearing further with the size of the rear sprocket. On my FT Ascot hybrid bike, I went to a 520 chain with 16/39 gearing to provide a bit more top end speed.

Good luck & please feel free to start a new post describing your symptoms. You might receive more replies that way.
J.
« Last Edit: June 22, 2014, 08:23:42 AM by J6G1Z »

scottly

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Re: Essentials for the FT500
« Reply #13 on: June 21, 2014, 06:23:52 PM »
The cam chain is self-adjusting on the FT.
The "ping" sounds like, well, pinging, or pre-ignition? Is it worse under loads, or does it stop when the throttle is backed off?

zaqattack

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Re: Essentials for the FT500
« Reply #14 on: June 21, 2014, 07:37:51 PM »
The cam chain is self-adjusting on the FT.
The "ping" sounds like, well, pinging, or pre-ignition? Is it worse under loads, or does it stop when the throttle is backed off?

It's not any worse under loads, it does soften when i back off the throttle. I haven't ridden it since.

Thanks J will do!
« Last Edit: June 21, 2014, 08:06:34 PM by zaqattack »

thewiddaman

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Re: Carb jets for UK bikes
« Reply #15 on: February 27, 2015, 02:29:06 AM »
After reading about the various improvements that can be made to the FT500 I ordered and received from Allens Performance a #58 low speed jet and a #145 main jet here in UK.

Regarding changing jets in the carb - I presume that this applies to American bikes only with the Keihin VB10 carb.
My UK spec bike is fitted with a VB11 carb and in the Honda workshop manual it lists for the carb as follows:

Carb Type VB11 CV type 35mm bore
Main jet    PRIMARY # 78
                 SECONDARY #128

When I strip the carb, if the existing jets are as the manual, the new main will be bigger but the primary will be smaller.
Is this because it is a different model of carb or because of less restrictive emissions regulations here in the UK at that time?
Any ideas about the jets would be most welcome!!
Cheers Rob
 

J6G1Z

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Re: Essentials for the FT500
« Reply #16 on: February 27, 2015, 05:07:28 AM »
Hi Rob,

This is the first time that I've heard of this situation. I would be willing to bet that the USA bikes may have had to meet a more strict emissions requirement. If you can measure or somehow determine which jets have the larger orifice, I'd be inclined to use the larger jets. Better a bit rich than lean, especially for an air cooled engine.

Good luck & please let us know what you find out.
J.

PS. Check out this old FT500 Ad: http://ascot500.com/index.php?topic=82.0  There is mention of a larger carb than on the US models. Don't know if this was a typo or what.

WTF304

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Re: Essentials for the FT500
« Reply #17 on: February 27, 2015, 02:08:48 PM »
You guys run a different grade fuel then we do, I'm sure the less strict emissions play a role aswell. But you also have to account for different locations as far as altitude, and climate. Weather plays a good role with fuel/air mixture

Kornfed

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Re: Essentials for the FT500
« Reply #18 on: July 15, 2016, 01:03:27 PM »
So I changed the jets to the recommended sizes main and low-speed jets to
#145 and #58 respectively.
With the original jets it was running poor so with a white spark plug but now it's running way to rich. Resulting in a black spark and at higher speed the engine holds in and is running bad. :( At lower speed it's running good
The original main jet is #128 so I think I need a smaller size then #145.
Slow jet is #45 original.
« Last Edit: July 15, 2016, 01:13:42 PM by Kornfed »

J6G1Z

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Re: Essentials for the FT500
« Reply #19 on: July 15, 2016, 04:38:11 PM »
Have you updated the air-filter as described?

Have you removed the rubber air-filter intake snorkel?

Sounds like you may need more air flow.

J.

Kornfed

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Re: Essentials for the FT500
« Reply #20 on: July 17, 2016, 03:30:18 AM »
No airfilter is original. Haven't thought about that.
So first thing I'm gonne try.
Mounted an ramair filter, fits very well and problem solved.
Thanks.
« Last Edit: July 17, 2016, 06:47:48 AM by Kornfed »

hednik4am

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Re: Essentials for the FT500
« Reply #21 on: May 01, 2017, 07:56:14 AM »
I did a few of these over the week with varying levels of success. Changed the fork springs and the oil and it seemed to help a bit. Didn't get a change to drive it much after to really sort things out. changed the air filter, and have some rear shocks coming in today. I tried to get the carburetor out but that thing was in there good. So I loosened the  rubber boots, unhooked the throttle cables, and turned it enough to be able to get to the float bowl and the jets. I took the stock ones out and added the 58 and 145. That's when everything went downhill. The float filled backup and then when I would start it it just wouldn't idle. It would just sputter like it need a bit more something to run. It was fine anywhere in the throttle range but not idle.  Twisting the small gray nob at the bottom (I'm told this is a air fuel mixture thing) counterclockwise would help it idle a bit better. I had to turn it almost half a turn. How much is too much? Then there was the popping sound after you let the throttle off. Noticeable but not awful. It would idle with the choke/enricher up a bit too. So I increased the idle and it ran, but the exhaust had a stronger smell too. It just ran more rough at idle but not awful. It would just idle well at low before. I think in trying to get the carburetor out I might have cracked the intake manifold/heat regulator assembly I noticed a small crack when put it back together but I don't think it was large enough to do anything, but I could be wrong. I took her for quick 5 minute spin and the bogging down at 1/4-/3 throttle was gone and she was great off a stop. Like a new bike. I moved her back inside and messed with throttle some more and the air screw thing. Then a puff of smoke from the intake boot and it died. Started again but just rough a again. It would run but still just blah. Popping still there. Smoke seemed to be nothing. I have't taken the plug out but that's next. What might be going on here ? Would the jets have done this ? i love this little bike but I i just don't know what to do and hope nothing is ruined ?