Author Topic: Off To The Races - the build begins  (Read 17398 times)

Kettle One

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Off To The Races - the build begins
« on: November 29, 2013, 05:36:01 PM »
It all started a few years ago when my brother & I and a few close friends participated in a "650 Challenge". The rules were:
1. Acquire a motorcycle not greater than 650cc
2. Total budget for acquisition, repairs, etc not to exceed $650
3. Ride 650 miles in a weekend to meet up at an Irish Bar in WV (The Brazen Head, near Snowshoe)

One of the bikes was a 1984 Honda VT500 Ascot. I had never seen one before, and my first impressions were along the lines of "Jeez that looks ugly". But that motor did look good.
Fast forward to this year's Bull City Rumble in Durham NC. I was strolling around with a mate of mine who happens to be a custom bike builder of note. We came across a stock VT500 and I asked him what he thought of it. His verdict was that it would make a fantastic cafe racer.
So I called up my mate Bill from the challenge and mentioned that if he was ever thinking of selling I might be interested. Long story short I now own it.

First order of the day was to get all the bodywork off to see what we are dealing with. I haven't got a final concept fully baked yet, but if you stay tuned you will see how this will develop.

Kettle One

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Re: Off To The Races - the build begins
« Reply #1 on: November 29, 2013, 07:37:55 PM »
First step was to get all the main body work off to see what we are dealing with. I switched out the stock bars for an old pair of drag bars just to bring the handles down.

J6G1Z

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Re: Off To The Races - the build begins
« Reply #2 on: November 30, 2013, 06:55:19 AM »
Nice Donor Bike! Be careful with those body pieces, side panels & gauge cluster. They are eBay gold.

Your exhaust was manufactured by MAC. I had the same exhaust on my first Ascot, but my pipes had the black ceramic type of finish. There is something wrong with the way that your top pipe is mounted. I think it needs to be raised in the back some. The mid section & lower section of pipe that comes out of the rear cylinder should have the two horizontal sections sitting flat & horizontal instead of angled like they are. I hope that I explained that clearly. I think by raising the very rear most portion of the pipe it should level out with the ground. MAC makes two types of baffles for these pipes. They have a street baffle which you most likely have & they have a race baffle. The race baffle is a straight piece of perforated pipe that runs from the down pipe exit to the end of the megaphone. Supposedly the race baffle with the proper damping material is a bit quieter & more throaty than the street baffle. According to MAC's online catalog, these baffles are still available. Please check out this post for more info: http://ascot500.com/index.php?topic=33.0

Good luck with your project. I can't wait to find out what your plans are.
J.

Kettle One

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Re: Off To The Races - the build begins
« Reply #3 on: November 30, 2013, 07:05:22 AM »
Interesting to hear about the body panels. They will be sold at some point.....to fund this project! Thanks for the info on the Mac pipes. I don't plan on re-using them so they will probably be sold too. They are a bit rusty in places, but could certainly be rechromed or ceramic coated.

Kettle One

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Re: Off To The Races - the build begins
« Reply #4 on: December 03, 2013, 11:14:17 AM »
Here's a couple of ideas of what I am currently thinking for this build. Pretty radical styling change but I think it's totally possible.
« Last Edit: December 03, 2013, 11:21:20 AM by Kettle One »

Kettle One

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Re: Off To The Races - the build begins
« Reply #5 on: December 03, 2013, 11:25:51 AM »
I removed the lower exhaust pipe just to get an idea of what one pipe each side could look like. I borrowed a Ducati Supersport tank from a friend. It has a nice big hollow underneath and follows the line of the frame nicely but would need some mods to get it to fit down lower on the frame. It's also too wide at the front end so would interfere with the handlebars.

Kettle One

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Re: Off To The Races - the build begins
« Reply #6 on: December 03, 2013, 11:29:52 AM »
Dropped the forks 3.5 inches in the trees and tried my Suzuki GT750 tank for size. Would be an easy fit but IMO does not look right for what I am after.

thumperdh

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Re: Off To The Races - the build begins
« Reply #7 on: December 03, 2013, 06:28:53 PM »
Dropped the forks 3.5 inches in the trees and tried my Suzuki GT750 tank for size. Would be an easy fit but IMO does not look right for what I am after.

I love that GT tank on there. I have a GT in that exact same color.
1982 FT500
Conti Classic Attack tires
Foam filter mod
Round headlight
Rejetted carb
Progressive springs
Supertrapp muffler
Thumperstuff header

J6G1Z

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Re: Off To The Races - the build begins
« Reply #8 on: December 04, 2013, 06:39:40 AM »
I wonder how an early CBR/Hurricane tank might look? I think they're more slender at the top.

Looks like you have to decide if you want a Super-Bike type of look where the top of the tank is fairly flat & the back of the tank drops down like the first picture.

Or the more traditional CAFE or Tracker look where the tank is flat along the bottom & the line extends back to the seat/tail-piece section.

I think the second option would be easier, but it is also the most common. I'm surprised that you are finding tanks that have a large enough tunnel underneath to clear the backbone framework of the Ascot.

Of course the original Ascot tank has very clean & attractive lines to it, but that pretty much locks you in to a Tracker look.

Keep up the good work.
J.

thumperdh

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Re: Off To The Races - the build begins
« Reply #9 on: December 04, 2013, 07:56:45 AM »
I found this old picture of an FT racer a while back that reminds me of the direction you're looking to go.

1982 FT500
Conti Classic Attack tires
Foam filter mod
Round headlight
Rejetted carb
Progressive springs
Supertrapp muffler
Thumperstuff header

Kettle One

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Re: Off To The Races - the build begins
« Reply #10 on: December 05, 2013, 07:24:32 AM »
Looks great! I wonder what forks those are. I would like to keep the stock wheels so would be good to know what forks would be compatible.

J6G1Z

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Re: Off To The Races - the build begins
« Reply #11 on: December 05, 2013, 07:47:41 AM »
Those are probably Honda Hurricane forks. They fit into the original FT500 triple clamps. Those wheels look like Hurricane wheels.

J.

Kettle One

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Re: Off To The Races - the build begins
« Reply #12 on: December 09, 2013, 07:42:00 AM »
I mocked up a front end configuration using a friend's Suzuki SV650 forks and the stock front wheel. Aside from the different front axle size, the SV forks steering stem is about an inch too short so they wouldn't work. I have two choices for forks now:
1. Look for forks that will fit the Ascot triple clamps (37mm). I'll look into Honda Hurricane or similar.
2. Find something with a longer stem.
The research continues!

J6G1Z

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Re: Off To The Races - the build begins
« Reply #13 on: December 09, 2013, 08:11:55 AM »
Check out the All Balls Racing web-site. http://www.allballsracing.com they have a conversion page that gives you a better idea of what fits what & which bearings you will need. http://www.allballsracing.com/index.php/forkconversion

You should probably try to stay within the Honda family if you can. Another favorite swap is GSXR forks. They seem to be more available than any of the other modern front ends. You want to try & source the whole thing from the wheel to the clip-ons/handle-bars & hand controls. Later on you can sell what you don't end up using.

Here is a listing of fork tube, steering stem & axle sizes: http://www.customfighters.com/forums/showthread.php?t=29199
Here is another potentially helpful post: http://www.customfighters.com/forums/showthread.php?t=5747

Good luck, I'm real interested in what you end up using.
J.
« Last Edit: December 09, 2013, 08:24:58 AM by J6G1Z »

Kettle One

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Re: Off To The Races - the build begins
« Reply #14 on: December 09, 2013, 08:30:11 AM »
Thanks for the links. I had the AllBalls conversion site bookmarked from previous builds, but it does not consider steering stem length. So I've found Axle Diameters, Steering Stem Bearing sizes and fork stanchion diameters, but nowhere can I find a list of steering stem lengths. That would be the last piece of the puzzle!

J6G1Z

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Re: Off To The Races - the build begins
« Reply #15 on: December 09, 2013, 08:38:49 AM »
The first generation Honda CBR Hurricane has 37mm upper fork tubes if I recall correctly. The complete front end also has the correct fork tube spacing to slide right up into the earlier single cylinder FT500 Ascots triple clamps. I do not know if the VT500FT & the FT500 share the same triple clamp spacing.

There are a few specialty companies that will press the original steering stem out of the lower triple clamp & press it into the new lower clamp if the diameters are the same. If the steering stem diameters are not the same, you will either need to turn it down or bush it up to fit the new lower triple clamp. Then you may need to bore out or bush up the top triple clamp. Most any "good" local machine shop should be able to perform these fairly simple machine operations. You need to approach them with cash & try to speak to the owner directly. Casually mention that you will pay in cash & do not require a receipt. Many times a shop owner will take on some small one off job for cash that he can put in his pocket.

Good luck
J.

Kettle One

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Re: Off To The Races - the build begins
« Reply #16 on: December 09, 2013, 08:51:57 AM »
J, could you measure the distance between the triple clamps on your FT and let me know? If you measure from the top surface of your lower to the underside of your upper, then I can compare with the VT. Thanks!

J6G1Z

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Re: Off To The Races - the build begins
« Reply #17 on: December 09, 2013, 08:52:36 AM »
The VT500FT sure has an elegant looking engine!

Do you have any plans in trying to remove the swingarm, or to swap a Shadow rear-end on to your project? The Shadow came with a 16" rear wheel & has a slightly higher gear ratio. Some guys swap the Shadow rear-end onto the Ascot with the 18" rear wheel to pick up some more top end speed & a better cruising speed.

You will need a special tool to remove the swingarm retention nut. It's a castellated nut & requires a special castellated socket to engage it to remove. Here is a post on that tool: http://ascot500.com/index.php?topic=140.0

Good luck
J.

J6G1Z

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Re: Off To The Races - the build begins
« Reply #18 on: December 09, 2013, 10:42:13 AM »
Well I tried to take some accurate measurements off my FT500, but I had to eyeball it a bit due to parts of the bike being in the way.

The distance between the triple clamps from bottom to top varies depending upon where you take the measurement. Along the left upper fork leg looks to be about 6" & 5/8ths of an inch from the top of the lower triple clamp to the bottom of the upper clamp.

The distance between the forks inside to inside is approximately 5.725" on my "el cheapo" 6" digital caliper.

As I said... There was a bit of eyeballin' going on, so these may not be 100%. If you need any other measurements or pictures, just let me know & I'll see what I can do.

Good luck
J.

PS. How well does that Bike Lift work for you? How high does it lift the bike & do you recommend it? Been thinking of picking one up from Harbor Freight.


Kettle One

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Re: Off To The Races - the build begins
« Reply #19 on: December 09, 2013, 10:55:31 AM »
J, many thanks for this info. It will be close enough I believe. I bought the lift from a friend of mine who upgraded to a Kendon. I find this one very useful. It will raise the bike about 2 feet when you have it under the motor. I also made a timber "platform" with wheel chock and I use the lift under that to get the whole bike up to a good working level. If you look closely at the pic you will see two arrows which are the guide marks to get the lift in the right place.

J6G1Z

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Re: Off To The Races - the build begins
« Reply #20 on: December 10, 2013, 07:27:44 AM »
Nice looking RD project. I have one of those also. They are my other "favorite" bike.

Pretty cool bike lift you put together. I might have to try something like that. Sure beats being hunched over all the time.

J.

Kettle One

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Re: Off To The Races - the build begins
« Reply #21 on: December 10, 2013, 07:41:18 AM »
Once you have it up on a lift you will never want to work on another bike at ground level! HUGE difference in ease of working. My setup was quick, dirty & cheap. I'm keeping my eyes open for a Kendon though :)

Kettle One

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Re: Off To The Races - the build begins
« Reply #22 on: December 10, 2013, 09:00:29 AM »
Got some measurements off the steering stem. It is quite a bit longer than the FT. I can't find these corresponding dimensions for other bikes listed anywhere online so it might be a case of carrying a measuring tape around at the next bike meet! I could also have the VT stem remounted in a different lower triple clamp.
If anyone knows of other bikes that have a similar long stem I would be delighted to hear from you!

J6G1Z

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Re: Off To The Races - the build begins
« Reply #23 on: December 10, 2013, 10:57:51 AM »
Are you looking to go with the new style inverted forks, or the old style standard forks?

I think I would look for either a CBR, GSXR or Ducati/Aprilia front end & have the steering stem swapped. I've seen some good prices on Ducati front ends on eBay. Most of the Sport Bike forks are a few inches shorter & will not only lower your bike, but also quicken the steering some.

What is the spacing between the forks?

J.
« Last Edit: December 10, 2013, 11:09:04 AM by J6G1Z »

Kettle One

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Re: Off To The Races - the build begins
« Reply #24 on: December 10, 2013, 11:57:24 AM »
Between the forks is 145mm (5.71 inches). I'm thinking about sticking with old style forks. I think they will fit the overall look better. Would likely also be less expensive.