'Round The Campfire > The B.S. & Off Topic Board

What attracts you..your "cycle orientation" why the FT500?

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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.

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.


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.

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

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.


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