Author Topic: What attracts you..your "cycle orientation" why the FT500?  (Read 2368 times)

johnnymot1

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What attracts you..your "cycle orientation" why the FT500?
« on: January 18, 2014, 08:02:24 PM »
Asking this as much of myself in the quest to find the answer.....For me, it just hit me.. in about 3 weeks.... One FT500 I'm mentioned I'd buy if the owner put it up for sale, months back....Later, his offer,much like a puppy that needed to be cared for as "you are the only person who knew what this was" to a purchase, and then 4 more for "parts" to build several of these....Driven almost by an unseen force....I can recall an innate attraction to the GB500 in college, and ownership of several thumpers (6-7 I think).....What brought  you to the FT500?  How many to you own?

Through your wisdom, answers, insight and confessions, I seek my own answer on the FT500 path of enlightenment.

J6G1Z

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Re: What attracts you..your "cycle orientation" why the FT500?
« Reply #1 on: January 19, 2014, 06:52:37 AM »
I think that both the FT & the VT Ascots have "classic lines" and are great looking bikes. My first Ascot purchase was purely by accident. It was in 1988 & I was visiting back home, when I stopped by an old school friends house. In his garage was a real clean black VT500FT Ascot. I was struck by how nice it looked & thought that it looked like a street legal combination of one of my all time favorite bikes the HD XR750 & the ole Flat Track or TT bikes that used to race in my area when I was a kid. I thought it was just a great looking bike. I didn't know anything about the Ascots at the time & hadn't been on a bike in about 10 years. We started to talk about the bike & I learned that he was bored with it. Then he offered to sell it to me. I couldn't afford it though. He then offered to let me make monthly payments, so I bought it & a couple of days later rode it about 275 miles back to my home. There is a short write up of my ride in the Cool Rides section of this forum. I eventually let that bike get away from me when I was starting a business & have regretted selling it ever since.

When I got back into bikes this time around & hopefully for the rest of my life, the Ascot was on my radar. This time I wanted an FT for the simplicity of the air cooled single. I think the FT Ascot is the only vintage Japanese bike that had an electric start, air cooled large single cylinder engine with disk brakes on each end. With just a few simple modifications (described in the FT500 Ascot essentials) the bike makes an excellent little "Roadster" and is my "Go To" bike out of all the others. I ride it the best out of the bunch.

I now own 4 Ascots. Two FT's & Two VT's. One FT is in good condition & is my rider, while the other was a bike that had been layed down lightly that I'm in the process of rebuilding & modifying. Likewise, I have on VT that is a rider & one that was in an accident & serves as a parts bike.

Both Ascot models are truly great bikes that just happened to be released during a tough time for motorcycle sales. There was a general down turn in bike sales as a whole, plus the Sports Bikes were starting to be released. The American motorcycle buyer has almost always had the bigger is better mindset & the middle of the road displacement of the Ascots just kind of got skipped over. Many were sold brand new several years after their release when the dealers finally offered them for $999.99 just to get them off the sales floor. That's one hell of a nice bike to pick up new for a grand.

J.

johnnymot1

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Re: What attracts you..your "cycle orientation" why the FT500?
« Reply #2 on: January 19, 2014, 09:21:30 PM »
I agree on the lines and looks of the bike. I think a good part of my "obsession" as an owner of 5 bikes (and 6 frames as of today) goes back to my XR500 days, and my first DR650, along with a longing for a GB500 in college. Simplicity would be a close second on the list as well.

Seems many of us have the more than one Ascot ownership in common too.  A VT is on my list if it comes up, as I owned a 500 shadow and the 60 degree 500 honda (name escapes me) too. Sweet, sweet engines. The single cylinder simplicity is like owning a openal pocket knife and getting the most out of it for me. I'm anxious to go the original route on a bike, or two maybe and see how much I can get out of a "modified" FT.  I see a good bit of bikes come through were I live and work and the simplicity and durability is the key for me.

J6G1Z

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Re: What attracts you..your "cycle orientation" why the FT500?
« Reply #3 on: January 20, 2014, 08:38:37 AM »
It's hard to beat a VT500FT Ascot for a nearly no maintenance bike. It has mags, so there are no spokes to worry about tightening. Shaft drive eliminates the need to adjust & lubricate a chain, plus there is no chain lube spooge being thrown around. The Ascot is the only shaft drive bike that I've ridden that the shaft torque didn't effect the suspension in the rear-end. I've ridden a couple of Yamaha shaft driven bikes that jacked up & down as you changed the throttle positions. Other than changing the engine oil & filter, shaft drive lube, plus the engine coolant, there isn't much that needs to be done other than ride the bike & enjoy it. With some sticky tires & some nice shocks in the back, they can handle some pretty aggresive cornering. They are just fun all around good bikes. That Overdrive 6th gear lets you do some light touring, as long as the gas stations are no more than 110-125 miles apart. The bike just settles down in 6th gear & cruises at 70-80 mph effortlessly. Just great bikes. Keep your eyes open & hopefully you will find a clean one that doesn't have a collector type of price attached to it.

Good luck
J.

nightw50

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Re: What attracts you..your "cycle orientation" why the FT500?
« Reply #4 on: February 18, 2015, 03:23:24 PM »
When I was a kid I always wanted a BSA Gold Star 500. After owning my own bike shop and rebuilding a GS for a customer I realized that a BSA big single was a piece of junk. The Ascot fit the bill perfectly.  Plus it could be a daily rider.

WTF304

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Re: What attracts you..your "cycle orientation" why the FT500?
« Reply #5 on: February 18, 2015, 09:46:38 PM »
My friend came across one that was setup as an ice race bike, just about all stock minus the lights except the headlight. So i tried it out while he was on his yfz450 brand new when they first came out, and i was impressed at how well the FT went. The ascot doesn't have that crazy acceleration as the quad but it wasn't far behind and once it got moving it flew passed.those quads are all about acceleration, we got chased one day and both got away .... the ascot had a good run that day lol. Couple weeks went by and i ended up buying it after one of his other friends got it impounded. I kept a few things from it and got rid of the frame since it was tweaked from god knows what. Just last year i was looking for a bike and low an behold an 82 FT listed for 600 $ and was all their. Had some white plasti dip paint all over which didn't look bad but wasn't my thing. Real nice guy was his first bike and he was the second owner, i offered 500 $ cause it didn't start ( bad battery) plus i was going to say I'd give him less but he did put time and money into it and it had a title ( unlike most of craigslist ). Me and a friend i worked with went and picked it up after work, peeled off the plasti dip and i couldn't believe the condition it was in, original paint that was hardly faded. A fresh battery, spark plug and fuel and it fired up, plus I've got a whole other engine i held on to for over 10 years so even if it didn't run i had one i know did.

It was a smart buy both times, a real good feeling bike. Only thing i had a little confusion on was the style of it. It's basically to me a street styled bike with the front end of something like a cruiser, much like the magna. Never did get why but still a good looking bike, think the 90's VFR interceptor cowl would have been a nice final touch.

Never had the pleasure of the VT500FT, I'll have to keep some eyes and ears out for one.

J6G1Z

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Re: What attracts you..your "cycle orientation" why the FT500?
« Reply #6 on: February 19, 2015, 07:34:03 AM »
I believe the Ascots design or image was influenced by the Harley Davidson XR750.

The Ascots are a Flat Track appearing type of bike to copy the bikes that ran at the Ascot Speedway in California:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ascot_Park_(speedway)
http://www.speedway.org/programs/us/Ascot/Ascot.htm

J.

war bird radio

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Re: What attracts you..your "cycle orientation" why the FT500?
« Reply #7 on: April 01, 2015, 08:39:50 PM »
Why the FT500 for me?

My first bikes were Kawasaki H1's, had two of them... the go fast bike of the day... didn't handle worth a darn.
Then it was Honda inline 4's... CB500's, 750's... Loved them heavy little beasts. That's till I had a head on with a car riding my  CB750...

Went to the dirt with a 1980 YZ400... fun! but too much bike for western Oregon skidder road riding so I traded it for a Honda XR200... Just loved the torque of the single fourstrokes... XR, XL Hondas.... Always wanted a XL500 enduro.... Had XL185's, 250's, 350's but no 500.

Was looking real hard at the Suzuki DR650's the last few years. Enough old school and new for my liking but didn't want to spend that much... That's when I remembered the FT500. I saw them when they first came out but was still riding inline 4's and poo-pooed the little single.

Came across two for sale last year so I bought them.... both ran but I'm using one for parts and riding the other. Just enough power to be fun but not enough to get in much trouble. Corners real nice and it's fun on the two lane farm roads I ride on to and from work... about 60 miles round trip... 55 mph is just fine and don't go much over 60 when feeling frisky.

Have been out on 3 rides this year, still too cold for commuting tho. I got caught in a rain/hail shower the other day, man that hurts with an open face helmet!

John